My 10 Favorite Houston Sandwiches

Like Ginny Braud, I love sandwiches. Let me say that again: I LOVE sandwiches. Everyone who knows me knows this. It's become almost embarrassing given the fact that I'm on the wrong side of 40 and I still get giddy over a food item designed almost specifically for children. And I'm not really all that picky. A good P, B and J is perfectly awesome. I probably would even dive back into a bologna and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread if it were served with some Hawaiian Punch, like when I was 10. I have a problem.

Okay, maybe that's stretching it, but you get the picture. So, with November 3 being National Sandwich Day, I really had to drop my list of my 10 favorite sandwiches in Houston. I omitted hamburgers, hot dogs, gyros and anything that you wouldn't call a sandwich if it were listed on a menu. Frankly, I had a tough enough time narrowing it down without having to include burgers.

10. Baked Ham and Swiss - Nielsen's Delicatessen

Nielsen's is one of my favorite places to grab a sandwich and go. The tiny little storefront on Richmond barely has any seating, but the food is fantastic. I opt for the baked ham and swiss cheese. The only thing that is typically served on it is their homemade mayonnaise, which is the stuff of legend. If God loved mayonnaise (and I assume He does), He would slather his sandwiches with this stuff. You can choose your bread, but I always go for white in honor of my Scandinavian genes (all 25 percent of them). You'd be nuts not to grab a small cup of their potato salad, which is rich and creamy, like what you'd get at a heaven.

9. Turkey, Bacon and Avocado - Natachee's

Sometimes, a simple sandwich is the best answer. Turkey, bacon and avocado doesn't sound all that incredible, but Natachee's makes it work, particularly on warm, toasted sourdough bread. The creamy avocado and touch of mayo are the perfect foil to the thick, crunchy bacon and bread. With all the good things they offer, including the delicious open-faced meatloaf sandwich, I almost never get anything else there. Grab some of the best fried pickles in town to go on the side.

8. Fried Shrimp Po' Boy - Calliope's

A good fried shrimp po' boy is nearly an art form and, for my money, no one does it better in Houston than Calliope's. The shrimp are fried to golden perfection and the trimmings are simply lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo. But, the reason to order any po' boy here is the bread. From what we hear, the folks at Calliope's are sworn to secrecy about the origins of their bread and with good reason. It's a nearly-perfect sub roll with a bit of bite on the outside and warm soft dough inside. It is very difficult to find bread this good, let alone a po' boy to match.

7. Sliced Egg - Cricket's Creamery

Years ago, I discovered this little coffee shop on 19th Street. When I lived in the Heights, I visited with regularity and my sandwich of choice was the sliced egg on sourdough. Layers of hard cooked eggs are placed on romaine and tomato. The fresh bread is covered in a smoky tomato mayonnaise they make in-house. Add a pinch of salt and you are good to go. I recommend a cup of their potato soup, which is made using a creamy cauliflower base, as a side. Yum!

6. Smoked Turkey and Swiss - Antone's

If there is such a thing as a sandwich institution, Antone's is probably ours. Unfortunately, there is only one original left, but it is worth the trek to Bellaire to grab one of their amazing po' boys. As much as I love the "super," my favorite is still the smoked turkey and swiss. The smokey flavor of the turkey and the twinge of tangy sweetness from the sweet pickles turn what would otherwise be a boring turkey sandwich into something much more interesting. While the imitators, located in various spots around town, are not bad, the original is still the best, even if there is only one.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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