Here, Eat This

My 2019 Sandwich Eating Resolutions

The Rotisserie Chicken sandwich at Rhotey Rotisserie is how you make chicken interesting...and delicious.
The Rotisserie Chicken sandwich at Rhotey Rotisserie is how you make chicken interesting...and delicious. Photo by Jeff Balke
At the start of a new year, many of us like to make resolutions. Some choose diet and exercise. Others plan to give more time to a charity or spend more time with family. All those are great, but will someone please think of the sandwiches?

Over the past year, I have had the distinct privilege to write about many of the fine sandwich offerings in Houston. I have plenty more lined up for 2019. But, it got me to thinking, what exactly am I looking for in my sandwiches in the new year? This is important stuff. The fate of the sandwich world hangs in the balance, and let me just say there is no more important world than sandwich world — also, how great a theme park would THAT be?

More Tortas (and Bánh Mìs) please.

More ethnic everything for that matter. There has been one torta and two bánh mìs on the list so far (more to come), but I want to find some unique foods in this wildly diverse city. I realize that sandwiches in certain places are rather confusing, but I'm betting there's a way to do tikka masala in between slices of naan. Can you imagine?

Where's the barbecue?

One thing conspicuously missing from my list this year has been a staple of Texas food for generations. Fact is, people take their 'cue so seriously, many hate even the concept of sauce let alone some sort of sandwich concoction. Why spoil the beauty of meat perfection? Well, because it is freaking amazing, that's why? The smokey flavor of great charred meat blended with something other than raw onions and pickles needs to be more of a thing, Houston.

Bring me the holes in your walls.

I've found some really amazing little places around town. I need more. Sure, there are little counter shops everywhere serving turkey and cheese, but there are also some remarkably elevated foods being dished out inside the hundreds of strip centers all over town. Bring them to me.

But, also, show me something not just for the take-out crowd.

Admittedly, most of the places I've found sandwiches this year are focused mostly on sandwiches. They are lunch destinations in general. But, I know chefs out there love meat, cheese and bread. While I'm sure most fine dining places don't generally put a ham on rye on the menu for obvious reasons, a really cool and creative sandwich — even if it is only at lunch — would be lovely and I'm available for digging into it.

Healthy (and vegetarian) wouldn't be bad either.

Because sandwiches are so often filled with meat, it can be tough to satisfy that craving when you don't eat flesh. Never mind Asian tofu, I'd love to dig into some good veggie-centric offerings or even some meat substitutes. I have a couple on my radar and they tend to be healthier as well, which is always another consideration. I can't keep eating like this and expect to keep my waistline intact forever.

For the love of God, someone reproduce the El Capitan from Bowl.

For those of you who remember, Bowl was a little sandwich-and-soup spot on Richmond Avenue that left us all too soon. One of my favorite offerings there was the El Capitan, a panini with prosciutto, brie and a drizzle of honey. It was insane. So, like, get on that, you guys.

It's time to expand the scope of best sandwiches.

Breakfast sandwiches. Avocado toast. Wraps. What else can fit into the category? I will always set aside tacos, burgers and hot dogs because they deserve their own special wing of the sandwich-y hall of fame, but I'm game for options that may not exactly fit the standard bill.

Make poultry amazing.

I've found some very good chicken and turkey options out there, but it feels all too often like birds are part of the mail-it-in category at almost all restaurants whether they go between bread or not. They are both very versatile and there are plenty of ways to make them stand out. They may be boring, but they are a staple of many cuisines and if we are going to put them on sandwiches, shouldn't they be amazing?
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke