Local Spotlight

Lobster, Lamb and Beef, Oh My! Seven Stellar Sandwiches

It's easy to get a tuna salad sandwich or a BLT these days, but sometimes you want something different, something, well, just more. I recently set out to locate the tastiest and most memorable sandwiches around Houston, and, after much work, am honored to present, for your dining pleasure, this list of seven stellar sandwiches.

7. The Lobster Roll at Up Restaurant What is it about lobster that makes everything taste so, so good? Up Restaurant's untraditional take on this New England staple, served on a round toasted brioche bun and piled high with fresh chunks of lobster meat, is fantastic. A bed of pickled carrot and cucumber slaw is reminiscent of the Vietnamese banh mi, while a spicy aioli dressing gives the sandwich an unexpected kick of heat that makes it all the more memorable. Two thumbs up.

6. Lamb slider at MKT Bar at Phoenicia Specialty Foods Yes, a slider isn't exactly a sandwich, but when you get three small freshly baked pitas full of pulled lamb marinated in Turkish coffee barbecue sauce and topped with pickled red cabbage, they put plainer, regular sandwiches to shame. Think of it as a lamb-y take on the traditional pulled pork sandwich, with a touch of Turkish flair.

5. The Reuben at Brooklyn Athletic Club If you haven't tried the Reuben at Brooklyn Athletic Club, you're missing out. In between fluffy, buttery-crisp marbled rye bread, thick layers of corned beef intermingle with house-made pickles, sweetly sour sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing to profoundly delicious effect. Seriously, this is the kind of sandwich you won't forget, down to the final rich bite.

4. Bo Saam at Revival Market Think of it as a Paleo sandwich and you'll see why Revival Market's Bo Saam made it onto this list. Instead of bread, you get crisp lettuce leaves. For the meat, Ryan Pera offers slices of slow-cooked grass-fed beef brisket marinated in spices. And then there are pickled vegetables, including kimchi, to add to your liking. Deconstructed Korean sandwich or lettuce wrap, it's just plain good.

3. Chicken Panini at Philippe French dip sandwiches are so yesterday. At Philippe Restaurant, the chicken panini is like the French dip of the millennium. Roast chicken panini, crisp on the outside, oozes with hot melted cheese. A slaw of sightly pickled shiitake, carrot, ginger and sprouts add a crisp brightness to the sandwich, and for a dipping sauce you get a bowl of thick and tangy Thai peanut sauce -- French dip with a dose of Asian, and it's never tasted better.

2. Truffle Egg Salad Sandwich at Local Foods The sandwiches at Local Foods are all good, but after you try the Truffle Egg Salad sandwich, you might never order anything else again. It has to do with the plush puff of pretzel bun, the soft creamy mix of egg salad gracefully touched with just the slightest hint of truffle oil, and the way all of this combines with the tomato, market greens, Parmesan and aioli to create a bite so tasty that your brain will immediately register "Yes." As with all sandwiches you order at Local Foods, you get your choice of a couple of sides -- try the Asian slaw and the kale, raisin, and pine nut salad, or whatever is your fancy.

1. The Grilled Chicken Club at Latin Bites Chef Roberto Castre makes a mean pollo a la parilla (grilled chicken). Marinated overnight in special spices, then grilled on an open flame, the chicken is moist, tender and insanely good. So when he takes that same grilled chicken and turns it into a chicken club sandwich with caramelized cashews, celery, dried cranberries and avocado on slices of buttery toasted Slow Dough brioche bread, you get not only these beautiful textures and layers of flavors -- crisp, fluffy brioche, crunchy bits of celery and cashew, smooth and creamy avocado, smoky char-grilled chicken -- you get one hell of an awesome sandwich. Served during lunch only, choose the sweet plantain sides for a Peruvian spin on the classic club. Sweet potato fries, house salad, and home fries are also available.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham