Ten Great Miami Sandwiches, Part One

The name supposedly comes from the Earl of Sandwich, and we are supposed to believe that whenever someone in his court wanted meat between two pieces of bread, they would say "I'll have what Sandwich is having." That seems a bit far-fetched, no?

Anyway, here are five fine sandwiches available for a mere song (although you may have to sing a bit longer for Macaluso's $15 hero, our priciest pick).

Tomorrow, another five.

Colita de cuadril at Las Vacas Gordas ($9.99)

This Argentine parillada in Normandy Isle has been grilling up steaks and slathering them with chimichurri since 1996. Most folks come here for sizzling steak dinners, but sandwiches are available at the bar and to take out. Most popular of these is the skirt steak sandwich (entrana), but the colita de cuadril -- AKA tri-tip or sirloin bottom -- is a singularly flavorful cut of meat. The steak comes from the tri-tip roast, which is a triangular section of the sirloin - the point where the sirloin joins the round and flank primals (sort of like the tri-state area where New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut meet). One of the tri-tips characteristics is that it soaks up marinades and seasonings like a sponge. It is also well-marbled, but should only be eaten rare or at most medium-rare; anything more and it gets tough. Here the steak gets sliced and slipped into French bread. Potent chimichurri comes on the side.

Bagel, CC, and Nova at The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.: $8.49

The story of the American bagel is rooted in New York City, but the round roll played a sound role in Miami Beach history as well; anyone who ever visited Wolfie's or The Rascal House can attest to that. Einstein's and other pretenders filled the void left by a lack of authentic bagel vendors south of North Miami, but now TOBWBC has opened on South Beach. This means residents can enjoy a bagel (more than a dozen varieties) with shmeer of cream cheese, nova lox, and thinly sliced tomato and red onion. Nothing like it with a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, reading The New York Tim -- er, reading The Miami Heral -- um, while looking over stuff on the Internet.

BLT at Gigi: $9

There's nothing worse than tinkering with a beloved American favorite like the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Yet Gigi has managed to fix a food that wasn't broken. It does so by trading up from skinny strips of bacon to a thick slab of brown sugar-cured Berkshire pork belly -- and likewise upgrading from toasted Wonder Bread to an olive oil-griddled bun. Of course the other acronymic ingredients remain (L & T), along with a Mason jar of pickled vegetables -- add a smattering of these to the sandwich if you wish to tamper with a classic even more dramatically. In either case, hold the mayo.

Brisket sandwich at Sparky's Roadside Barbecue:$8.50

The brisket of prime beef at this downtown barbecue joint is rubbed with a mix of some two dozen seasonings before being slow-cooked and smoked with young hickory and apple woods shipped from Maine. The resultant meat is juicy and just damn delicious in a freshly grilled bun. Apply one of the five homemade barbecue sauces if you wish, but there's plenty of flavor without it. A side of waffle fries and homemade cole slaw are served on the side.

Meatball Hero at Macaluso's: $15

The explosion of burger joints locally would suggest Miami has an infatuation with seasoned ground beef plunked inside of bread. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Macaluso meatball hero: Ground beef lightened and enriched with bread and eggs, cooked in chef/owner Michael D'Andrea's Staten Island Italian-American-style sweet/tangy tomato sauce, stuffed into fresh Italian bread and topped with melted mozzarella cheese. Fifteen dollars might seem steep, but there is so much meat involved that if you go by weight it's a bargain.

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