Diehard fans of a truly well-crafted sandwich will tell you that one of the best places to enjoy their favorite meal is a deli. Whether it's a classic Jewish or Italian deli or a more new-school artisanal shop, you can rest assured that your sandwich will be carefully made with the best ingredients, which are often made in-house -- and let's not forget the all-important pickle on the side. From an unforgettable pastrami on rye to legendary Italian cold cuts, here are the most famous deli sandwiches across the U.S.
Sol's Sandwich Shop & Deli
First opened in 1968 by Palestinian immigrant Saleh "Sol" Bajalieh, this longtime favorite deli was recently reopened by his three sons after Bajalieh's death. While the Reuben is a popular option, the smoked turkey with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on fresh bread is huge local hit -- smoked turkey and chicken are Alabama staples. Don't miss the signature tabouli salad as a side to your sandwich.
TJ's Sandwich Shop
This unassuming shop delivers big with an impressive lineup of crave-worthy sandwiches and "steamers" -- Vie de France brand hoagies (aka sub rolls) coated with delicious parmesan garlic butter. Don't miss the Gobbler, which features pan-seared turkey breast topped with caramelized onions, bacon, and cream cheese with the option of jalapeños for a bit of heat.
MVP Sports Deli & Eatery
Despite having a Chicago sports theme, this Anchorage shop has developed a loyal Alaskan following for its massive deli sandwiches (including a whopping 9-pound sandwich challenge). The signature MVP Pastrami Cheesesteak is a unique mashup, piled high with housemade pastrami doused in creamy Italian white cheddar cheese sauce, and a fresh Italian relish. Available in three sizes: Amateur (quarter-pound of meat and cheese), Rookie (half-pound), or Pro (one pound), you can also customize your sandwich at the toppings bar.
Not Your Typical Deli
Tucked away in a strip mall, this hugely popular Gilbert deli and bakery stands out not only because of its incredible food, but also because it trains and employs adults with developmental disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum. The slow-roasted Italian Beef with provolone and giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables) is a fan favorite, as is the Cubano (try the hot dog version, too), and you don't want to miss the freshly baked cookies.
Philippe The Original
Los Angeles, CA
For the uninitiated, a French Dip is a hot sandwich on a crunchy French roll, made with roast beef (though it could be ham, turkey, pastrami or even lamb), and served with a side of jus -- a beef broth from the cooking process -- for dipping. Philippe's in downtown L.A. claims to have invented the sandwich nearly 100 years ago, though nearby Cole's makes the same claim -- so it's a good idea to taste test both. Just don't forget the hot mustard.
Celebrated chef Justin Brunson runs several restaurants in the Denver area, but if you're looking for an exceptional sandwich, Masterpiece Deli is the place to be. You can't go too wrong whatever you choose, but the stellar standout is the braised beef-brisket sandwich, smothered in Taleggio fondue with caramelized onions, red wine gastrique and arugula on a freshly baked baguette.
Rein's New York Style Deli
Just off the I-84 highway, Rein's is a must-visit that offers all the delicious trimmings of a classic Jewish deli. Served on rye bread, the legendary and hefty corned beef is not to be missed, though some fans swear by the Vernon Chicken Salad Club and the Reuben. Whichever you choose, you'll definitely want to take home some half-sour pickles and stop by the bakery for chocolate rugelach and other sweet treats.
What began as a small shop in Wilmington's Little Italy opened by siblings Lois and Alan Margolet in 1976 and named for their grandfather has grown into a popular nationwide chain. For the signature sandwich, The Bobbie -- named for the siblings' aunt -- the shop slow roasts whole turkeys and serves the meat, hand-shredded, on a fresh roll with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo -- essentially the perfect combo of Thanksgiving leftovers, but available year-round.
A popular destination for Cuban exiles since 1971, Miami's Little Havana is home to Versailles, the place to go for an incredible Cubano. Featuring loaves of Cuban bread that are traditionally made with lard or shortening, the sandwich includes brown sugar-glazed ham, roast pork, thick-cut Swiss, sliced pickles, and a swath of mustard, and is pressed to perfection. The delicious creation is thought to have originated with Cuban workers in cigar factories in Tampa and Ybor City more than 100 years ago.
The Conquistador sandwich at this South African-inspired shop is not only a favorite locally, but has conquered numerous best of lists for the state and country. Deceptively straightforward, the hulking sandwich features baked chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, and a housemade special sauce, all served on crunchy French bread.
Hawaii's famous kalua pork -- where a whole pig is smoked underground with sea salt, banana leaves, and koa wood -- is given a fiery spin at 808 Deli. Here, the "Porkie" panini is made with barbecue pork, mango salsa, and pepper jack cheese on rye bread with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce. It's best enjoyed on the beach across the street.
This charming shop, owned by the husband-and-wife team of David and Sarah Kelly, has become a destination for sandwich lovers both near and far. With an emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients, each sandwich is carefully crafted, including the famous Italian, made with Genoa salami, speck, ham, Mama Lil's sweet hot peppers, pickled green tomatoes, greens and garlic-herb aioli on freshly baked bread. Get it with a side of bacon-bleu potato salad, and don't skip the homemade sodas and baked goodies.
Al's Italian Beef
The Italian Beef is considered Chicago's signature sandwich, so what better place to have one than at the original shop that invented it? Created during the Depression -- when meat was scarce -- by Al Ferrari, along with his sister and brother-in-law, the classic features thinly sliced, dry-roasted, and spice-rubbed beef that's soaked in "gravy" or au jus and served on an Italian roll with giardiniera and sweet peppers. Get the whole sandwich "dipped" in the gravy for the full experience.
Since 1905, this legendary spot has been turning out incredible Jewish deli favorites like pastrami, corned beef, and smoked tongue. But it's the local specialty, peppered beef, that sets it apart from the pack. The sandwich features lean beef round that's been salted and cured, then peppered, smoked, and seasoned with paprika and sugar, which is then piled high on fresh rye bread with mustard and a pickle on the side.
B & B Grocery, Meat & Deli
Des Moines, IA
While Iowa is known for loose-meat sandwiches (basically a Sloppy Joe without the sauce), if you're in search of a deli sandwich, look no further than this humble neighborhood grocer's "Killer" sandwiches. The legendary Dad's Killer Sandwich is a beast consisting of roast beef, turkey breast, smoked ham, corned beef, pepper cheese, Swiss cheese, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, Kosher pickles, mustard, Miracle Whip, and Tuscan Italian dressing, all on an Italian hoagie roll. Come hungry.
For over 20 years, this artisan bakery has been turning out delicious, hearty breads and other baked goods, so you definitely don't want to miss their excellent sandwiches that make use of those freshly baked loaves. The notable standout is the Spicy Tuna Melt, a fiery spin on the deli classic, that features Southwest spiced tuna, jalapeño cream cheese, and white cheddar on grilled white sourdough.
This no-frills deli and liquor store hasn't changed much in over four decades of business, and hopefully it won't anytime soon. For their legendary, made-to-order deli sandwiches, they smoke their own meats, including the not-to-be-missed country ham. Be sure to get it with a side of housemade pimento cheese, and maybe grab a beverage from the walk-in cooler, a former ice house, that's said to be the coldest in town at around 24 to 26 degrees.
Central Grocery & Deli
New Orleans, LA
While eating po'boy sandwiches is certainly a must when visiting New Orleans, you definitely don't want to miss out on the Muffuletta. This NOLA original, said to have been invented at Central Grocery & Deli in 1906, is made with a round sesame-studded Sicilian bread and filled with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, provolone, and a unique olive spread, consisting of green and kalamata olives, garlic, onion, capers, spices, and red wine vinegar.
The Coffee Pot
While the original Coffee Pot, a sandwich institution in Maine, may have closed in 2009 after nearly 80 years of business, a new business opened a few years back to carry the torch. The signature sandwich, beloved by generations, consists of a soft split-top roll that's filled with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, then uniquely topped with layers of salami or ham, American cheese, and pickles.
Chick & Ruth's Delly
Ownership of this famous deli may have recently changed hands from the family that ran it for five decades, but it still remains a local legend. You'll find a huge variety of sandwiches on house-baked bread, many named for local politicians, but the truly hungry can opt for the "Man vs. Food" challenge, featuring a 1.5-pound "Colossal" Reuben, paired with a 6-pound milkshake.
This small yet mighty sandwich specialist has received tremendous acclaim (and long lines) since opening in 2010 for their carefully crafted sandwiches made with in-house and locally sourced ingredients. Don't miss the signature Spuckie, which features a freshly baked ciabatta filled with hot capicola, fennel salami, mortadella, fresh mozzarella, and an olive-carrot salad. They also have one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the country.
Ann Arbor, MI
This Ann Arbor favorite has been a destination for foodies from all over since it opened in 1982. You'll find delicacies from all over the globe, as well as Jewish deli classics and sublime sandwiches. The biggest seller is easily the Reuben, which features Zingerman's legendary corned beef, Emmental Swiss cheese, locally made Brinery brand sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on grilled, rye bread from Zingerman's Bakehouse.
This chef-driven deli bakes its own breads, cures and smokes its meats, and sources locally as much as possible. While there are plenty of great options, it's the pastrami that draws the biggest crowds, featuring house-smoked pastrami, pickled cabbage, coarse-grain mustard, and rye bread. Double the meat to make it New York style.
United Deli and Grocery
Yes, this deli is tucked inside of a gas station. And yes, it's going to forever change your perception of what a gas station deli can be. While you'll find solid Southern specialties like a muffuletta, po'boys, and even a gyro, the big winner is Mike's Deluxe, which features ham, turkey, roast beef, avocado, cheese, bacon, and your choice of condiments, piled high on a roll.
St. Louis, MO
Regarded by many as an official state sandwich, The Gerber is a hot, open-faced sandwich on an Italian or French loaf that's coated in garlic butter, and topped with lots of ham, and melted provel cheese -- a local specialty that's a blend of Swiss, provolone, and cheddar. Ruma's Deli is considered the birthplace of this beauty, where you can also find the notable Prosperity sandwich that swaps the ham for roast beef and gravy.
As if the colorful local art wasn't enough to take in at this Montana favorite, the restaurant's famous Clubfoot sandwiches are sure to catch your eye. The signature sandwich is made with a foot-tall loaf of bread that's hollowed out, filled with ingredients and served upright. There are plenty of great variations, but one of the most notable versions is the ISIS Crisis that's filled with gyro meat, feta, Monterey jack, onions, green peppers, black olives, tomatoes, and lettuce, traditionally served with “Camel Spit” sauce.
The Crescent Moon Ale House
While most people associate the Reuben with East Coast delis, the origins of the famous sandwich are largely credited to Bernard Schimmel, who worked at the former Blackstone Hotel in Omaha. The Crescent Moon Ale House is regarded as the honorary heir to the tradition, where you'll find the tender corned beef cut into chunks rather than thin slices and served on dark rye bread that's slathered with Thousand Island dressing, covered in sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, and run through a conveyor-belt pizza oven.
Full Belly Deli
This irreverently creative deli offers up plenty of delicious variations on classic sandwiches served on a variety of freshly baked breads. But it's the Dirka Dirka that stands out from the pack: corned beef, pastrami, and Swiss cheese with pickles, yellow mustard, and jalapeño coleslaw. You can choose your bread, but the famous jalapeño cheddar is a solid choice.
Moe's Italian Sandwiches
What started as a small shop in Portsmouth specializing in just one sandwich in 1959 has since grown into multiple locations throughout New England with a slightly expanded menu. But Moe's original sandwich is still a must-order: mild-cooked salami, creamy provolone, thinly sliced onions and peppers, dill pickles, tomatoes, olives, and a splash of olive oil.
Town Hall Deli
South Orange, NJ
Quite different than the Sloppy Joe that comes to mind for most people, New Jersey's famous Sloppy Joe consists of a layered sandwich with two types of meat, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing, all layered between three long slices of super thin rye bread that's sliced into squares. Town Hall Deli lays claim to the original from 1935, which featured ham and beef tongue, though these days, the one with roast beef and turkey is the most popular.
This beloved gourmet sandwich shop offers a mouthwatering array of deli classics made with high-quality ingredients. For a bit of delicious local flavor, go for the Albuquerque Turkey, which features honey roast turkey, havarti, tomatoes, chipotle mayo, and the iconic New Mexico green chile, all on toasted sourdough.
New York, NY
When it comes to deli sandwiches, it doesn't get much more iconic than a pastrami on rye. And when it comes to delis, it doesn't get much more iconic than Katz's Deli -- a New York institution famous for its pastrami and corned beef. The pastrami is made from beef navel -- a fattier, more traditional cut -- which is coated with a secret spice blend, then cured for up to 30 days, smoked for up to three days, then sliced to order and served on rye bread with a swath of deli mustard. Katz’s is also one of Cheapism’s must-visit U.S. restaurants.
The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop
While the North Carolina debate over the best barbecue pork sandwich -- chopped (Eastern-style) vs. pulled (Western-style) -- may never end, you can rest assured that if you need a deli style sandwich, you need look no further than The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop. The shop offers a huge variety of options that utilize their deep-fried turkeys, but we recommend The Turkey Day with stuffing on buttered Texas toast, and a side of gravy and cranberry sauce.
The Red Pepper
Grand Forks, ND
A late-night favorite -- especially among University of North Dakota students -- since 1961, this classic eatery serves up a varied mix of tacos, burritos, burgers, and more. But it's their signature grinders that you want to try, specifically the Everything Grinder, which comes with ham, salami, turkey, slices of Swiss, taco meat, shredded Colby, and lettuce on a roll. Hope you're hungry.
At Trencher's Deli -- named for the Medieval precursor to a sandwich where stale bread served as an edible plate for whatever ingredients were on hand -- nearly everything is made in-house. The hugely popular deli bakes its own bread, smokes and roasts its meats, and even makes the condiments. Don't miss the Dutch Crunch, made with turkey, Swiss, bacon, tomato, arugula, and avocado mayo, served on a Dutch Crunch roll -- a baguette with a crunchy top.
While Laurelhurst Market offers an exceptional brasserie-inspired steakhouse, it also features a butcher shop where you'll find plenty of deli delights, such as sustainably sourced meats that are cured and smoked in-house. The cold corned beef and hot pastrami are favorites as are rotating specials like the fried chicken, but the ham and salami is a must-try classic, that includes provolone, red onions, pepperoncini, shredded iceberg, spicy mayo, oil and vinegar, all on a freshly baked ciabatta roll.
While you may have expected to see a cheesesteak listed here, ask any Philly local and they'll tell you the essential sandwich of note is the Italian roast pork. To experience a legend, head to DiNic's, a fourth-generation sandwich shop in Reading Terminal Market. There you'll find juicy, slow-roasted pork with sharp provolone cheese topped with sautéed broccoli rabe, inside of a semolina roll.
Hudson Street Deli
Tucked away on a quiet residential street, this humble deli draws fans from all over for its extensive lineup of excellent sandwiches. But it's the Italian Grinder -- a Rhode Island classic -- that's not to be missed. The sandwich is loaded with ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone, onions, banana peppers, tomato, and romaine lettuce, and topped with homemade Italian salsa in a Italian loaf from the famous Crugnale Bakery.
Brown Dog Deli
This friendly deli with two locations puts a strong emphasis on high-quality, local ingredients for their sandwiches. While you'll find several excellent classic deli options, they also offer lots of vegan and vegetarian choices, and an extensive list of specialty sandwiches. The top dog among them is the Apple "Butter" Jeans with melted brie, sliced Granny Smith apples, local apple butter, fresh arugula, honey ham, mesquite smoked turkey, and applewood-smoked bacon on a panini-pressed local French baguette.
The Pheasant Restaurant & Lounge
While a pheasant salad sandwich may sound like an oddity to outsiders, locals know that the state's most famous game bird makes for an excellent sandwich. Prepared similarly to a chicken salad sandwich, the traditional rendition features ring-necked pheasant with apple, dried cranberries, and roasted pecans, and is served with melted Swiss on grilled marbled rye bread.
This Nashville favorite has been drawing crowds since opening in 2008 and offers a tasty range of deli sandwiches, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. One of their first big hits has gone on to become an essential menu item, featuring grilled flank steak that's been marinated in a blend of Asian-inspired spices, then served with giardiniera, provolone, and mayo on a hoagie roll from the legendary Silke's Old World Breads Bakery.
Noble Sandwich Co.
This Austin shrine to exceptional sandwiches utilizes locally sourced, sustainable, and, in many cases, house-made ingredients. While you'll find unique takes on deli classics like the smoked duck pastrami and seared beef tongue, be sure to try the famous Noble Pig made with ancho-spiced ham, pulled pork, provolone, spicy mustard, mayo, and bacon on toasted bread.
Caputo's Market & Deli
Salt Lake City, UT
A legend of Salt Lake City, Caputo's is a foodie's dream complete with cheese cave stacked with aging wheels, shelves of gourmet chocolates and countless imported and domestic artisanal treats. The deli's sandwich offerings are equally impressive, including the hugely popular Meatball with housemade meatballs, marinara sauce, parmesan, and provolone on a fresh loaf of Italian bread.
Jericho Center Country Store
You'd be hard-pressed to find a deli or sandwich shop in Vermont that didn't serve some variation on the state's namesake sandwich. And while there are plenty of excellent options to choose from, many Vermonters themselves favor this historic country store's version, which features sweet ham, apple slices, honey mustard, Vermont cheddar, tomato, and onion, served on locally baked bread that's grilled in a panini press.
This neighborhood sandwich shop is known for using exceptional ingredients and putting creative twists on deli classics like the French Dip with a fresh horseradish-sriracha dipping sauce. The same goes for the pastrami, which comes grilled and topped with a housemade kimchi slaw, smoked gouda, Russian dressing, and locally renowned Billy Bread. The sandwich can also be made vegetarian by swapping in tempeh and skipping the kimchi, which contains fish.
Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
This Seattle favorite cures an extensive array of meats -- perfect for taking home by the pound or enjoying in a sandwich. While a salumi platter is a great way to sample the specialties, including seasonal hits like lamb prosciutto, you don't want to miss the Porchetta Sandwich, made with pork butt that's been filled with a meatball mix and spices, then braised for a very long time.
Since the early 1950s, travelers have been stopping by Cam's Ham for the legendary sugar-flaked ham sandwich and top-notch onion rings. The unique West Virginia favorite features thin flakes of sweet, lean ham, piled on a toasted Grecian bun, along with lettuce and a sweet and tangy secret sauce. Better yet, the regular-size sandwich will set you back only $3.29, while the large is just $4. Add a slice of Swiss for 50 cents more.
Benji's Deli and Restaurant
Since 1963, this no-frills deli has been a favorite destination for sandwich lovers far and wide. While you'll find plenty of great deli classics -- and a great breakfast -- consider the Hear-O Israel that was featured on "Man vs. Food." The famous half-pound sandwich is stacked with hand-carved corn beef, pastrami, salami, and pepper beef that have been steamed on the griddle, topped with Swiss, coleslaw, and 1000 Island dressing, all on rye bread.
The Bread Basket
While just about anything is elevated to new heights when served on freshly baked bread from this famous bakery, the delicate nuance of the oft-neglected egg salad is a perfect fit. It's a deli classic that's not to be missed. Also, be sure to take home a pie and some Danish.