For the past two and a half years, I’ve been devouring every sandwich I can get my teeth on and documenting the delicious carnage at allsandwich.com. Why? Because just like you, I love a great sandwich. It’s the perfect meal any time of day, with endless variations of drool-inducing, ultra-tasty convenience. And when you add up our varied ethnic cafés, mom-and-pop deli shops and fabulous Strip eats, Vegas comes into view as a truly great sandwich city.
Choosing the best bites is no simple task. Parameters must be established. A top sandwich has to be built upon outstanding bread. To keep this list from getting too messy, no burgers, wraps or other alt-sandwiches were allowed. My favorites encompass a range of styles and ingredients from all over the Valley, though I tend to favor spots where sandwiches are the specialty.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best sandwiches in Las Vegas. Let the checklist eating begin.
Zoozacrackers. Wynn, 770-3365, $11.99.
The story: We may not all agree on the best in town, but I know we’re on the same page when it comes to the absolute necessity of pastrami. Best sandwich meat of all time? I think so, and I’m going with the house-made stuff at Wynn’s deli, because it’s the perfect blend of fatty, peppery and smoky. And because I love to eat a giant sandwich in a fancy casino. Don’t you?
The stuff: Just meat and mustard, baby: that beautiful, brilliantly pink pastrami stacked on soft rye, with a smear of spicy yellow mustard.
The right time: Immediately before or after winning big in Wynn’s poker room.
Bread & Butter. 10940 S. Eastern Ave. #107, 675-3300, $8.75.
The story: The breads and pastries at this Anthem-area brunchery are developing a cult following. Combine one of its most unique creations with a pile of Italian meats, and you’ve got a spectacular version of a New Orleans classic.
The stuff: Muffaletta bread is traditionally a round Sicilian loaf. At Bread & Butter it’s like they built a sandwich with thick, toasty, buttery pizza crust as the foundation. Ham, capicola, mortadella and salami bring the bite to go with provolone and fontina cheeses, topped off with pickled veggie giardiniera and salty olive spread.
The right time: Just before hibernation.
El Birotazo. 4262 E. Charleston Blvd., 888-0858, $7.
The story: This Guadalajaran gem is the epitome of satisfying sandwich simplicity: a crusty, baguette-like birote, juicy pork and spicy, sublime sauciness. It’s absolutely worth the trip east to the tiny taco shop to discover this treasure.
The stuff: A thin layer of refried beans and a succulent pile of carnitas is stacked on the dense, flavor-absorbing roll, then the whole thing is drowned in a light, tangy, slightly sweet tomato salsa. It’s not complete until you add blazing salsa picante, raw white onion slices and a squeeze of lime.
The right time: Your hangover is raging. You need something spicy to sweat it out and kick-start your system. The torta ahogada is ready to provide sweet, porky relief.
Payard Patisserie & Bistro. Caesars Palace, 731-7110, $17.
The story: I’m not sure if the French invented the ham and cheese sandwich, but they’ve certainly perfected it. Food writers use the word “decadent” all too often, but this crackly-cheese creation can’t be described any other way. The priciest dish in my top 10 is worth every penny.
The stuff: Two sweet slabs of perfect brioche are saturated with Swiss and Gruyère, layered with ham and rich bechamel sauce and crowned with a sunny-side up egg.
The right time: Since you missed Bastille Day, let’s go with any available Saturday.
Meatball Sub with Broccoli Rabe
Eddie D’s. 6870 S. Rainbow Blvd. #114, 541-8792, $8.99.
The story: Improvisation is essential in sandwich making. You must be able to mix and match your favorite flavors, and that’s what I’ve done at one of our city’s top Italian delicatessens. The folks at Eddie D’s tell me I’m the only one to create this combo … each time I order it.
The stuff: Beautifully flavored beef and pork meatballs and long-simmered marinara sauce are stuffed into a hard sub roll, which gets softer as it soaks up the meaty, spicy flavors. The kicker: Add rich, garlicky broccoli rabe for a little bitter contrast. It’ll blow your mind.
The right time: When you can’t possibly consume another tired Italian sub from those chain shops, recalibrate your senses at Eddie D’s.
Cheez Whiz Steak
Pop’s. 501 S. Decatur Blvd., 878-6444, $8.99.
The story: Las Vegas might not have an official sandwich, but we do have a great, authentic cheese steak, and Pop’s is the place. Rolling up to that crazy A-frame on Decatur for an outdoor meat-feast is something every Vegas foodie must experience. Customize if you like, but the original is unbeatable as-is.
The stuff: A puffy-soft, 9-inch roll from the Amoroso bakery in Philadelphia, loaded with marinated, paper-thin sirloin saturated with grilled peppers and onions and tangy, gooey Cheez Whiz.
The right time: Around 3 a.m., when your great night with great friends doesn’t want to end, and you need to recap over a hearty (cheesy) meal.
Catfish Sloppy Joe
RM Seafood. Mandalay Bay, 632-7200, $15.
The story: It was on Oprah. It was in Esquire. Whether or not this is our city’s most famous sandwich, Rick Moonen’s lunchtime treat is one of the craziest, tastiest twists you could ever put on a home-style classic.
The stuff: Firm, meaty catfish sautéed with onions, bell peppers, paprika and barbecue sauce, piled high on a buttered bun with sliced pickles and potato chips.
The right time: When the mood strikes for a power-lunch on the Strip, between some killer clam chowder and Moonen’s guess-the-flavor ice cream game.
Banh Mi Thit Cha
Pho Thanh Huong. 1131 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8703, $3.25.
The story: The banh mi is one of the world’s great sandwiches, French-Vietnamese flavor fusion personified. There are plenty of Asian sandwich factories on Spring Mountain Road, but the strongest combo of beautiful baguettes with fine fillings can actually be found at this UNLV-area eatery.
The stuff: A warm, crackling fresh baguette is stuffed with savory Vietnamese ham, thin slices of steamed pork, a slab of earthy pâté and a bit of mayo. Vegging it up are pickled carrot and daikon, crisp cucumbers, cilantro and raw jalapeños.
The right time: Before payday. You don’t have to save up to treat yourself at Pho Thanh Huong, where somehow, dirt cheap equals delicious.
Johnny McGuire’s. Where's Johnny McGuire's? Funny you should ask.
The story: Johnny McGuire’s was the best thing about Town Square, an oasis of deliciousness amid all the mall madness. Consistency, fresh-baked bread and a nice balance of meats and veggies in every bite make all the difference. The aptly named Olympian is a true titan.
The stuff: Grilled corned beef, turkey and pastrami—a holy meat triumvirate. Fresh, crunchy goodness comes in the form of coleslaw tossed in Thousand Island dressing, and grilled onions and peppers, melting Muenster and ripe tomatoes complete this powerhouse.
The right time: During the Summer Games. Duh.
Naked City Pizza Shop. 3240 Arville St., 243-6277, $7.
The story: It was named Best Sandwich in the 2012 Weekly Awards. If that isn’t enough street cred, consider that Naked City Pizza Shop, now located inside Moondoggie’s bar, started life as Naked City Sandwich Shop Downtown next to Dino’s. So yes, the pizza’s great, but the sandwich is the soul.
The stuff: A smooth, sweet and savory combination of Italian sausage, delicate and slightly spicy capicola and fresh mozzarella on a huge sub roll.
The right time: You’ve had a few too many at your favorite dive, and you’re looking for somewhere to soak it all up with some tasty meatcheesebread. And then you realize: You’re already there.
Fried Egg Sandwich at ’Wichcraft Rustic yet artfully composed, ’Wichcraft’s sandwiches are worth the trip through the labyrinthine MGM. Yet this study in breakfast simplicity stands out—crisp bacon, fried eggs, frisée and blue cheese tucked into a soft ciabatta. MGM Grand, 891-1111, $8.50.
Diablo Lobster Roll at Lobster ME This new arrival, an upgrade on the already buttery-good lobster roll, is basically bouillabaisse on a bun—sweet lobster meat in spicy marinara. Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood, 562-7837, $19.
Whitefish Salad at The Bagel Cafe Las Vegas’ greatest New York-style deli is a neighborhood treasure, and my pick among its many tremendous sandwich offerings is this creamy, smoky, salty masterpiece. Put it on rye or a bagel. 301 N. Buffalo Dr., 255-3444, $10.50.
Capastrami at Capriotti’s I know I’m gonna hear it for not showing top-10 love for the city’s favorite sandwich shop, but I like Cap’s a lot, especially the messy, mega-filling Capastrami. Multiple locations, $8.50 for medium.
Lomo Completo at Rincon de Buenos Aires Good luck finishing half of this monster at the friendly Argentine deli: steak, ham, melted cheese, fried eggs, lettuce, tomato and onion. It’s breakfast and lunch combined on a crusty pressed roll. 5300 Spring Mountain Road, 257-3331, $10.99.