Bread has been paired with meat and plants since roughly the end of the Stone Age. It is said that the ancient Jewish sage Hillel the Elder relished eating a Passover sandwich of Pashcal lamb and bitter herb between two pieces of matzoh. He lived to be 120 (which says something about enjoying a good lamb sandwich from time to time), yet passed away long before Hellman the Younger invented mayonnaise. History truly is tragic.
How do we define sandwich? Does pulled pork rolled in a tortilla -- a combo of meat and bread -- qualify? Not according to a judge in Worcester, Massachussetts, who in 2006 ruled that a "sandwich" must include at least two slices of bread -- and "under this definition and as dictated by common sense, this court finds that the term sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans."
Translation: Panera Bread Co. lost its no-compete-clause case against Qdoba Mexican Grille.
So... no burritos on this list. Nor any burgers, even if they do meet the criteria (we have enough burger smackdowns). And no prissy upscale panini from the more elegant lunch menus around town. Just ten fine sandwiches (five of which we featured yesterday) at affordable prices:
Grilled Mahi Sandwich at Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market: $8.95
Old Miami is fast becoming but a figment of memory; Garcia's is the grizzled veteran restaurant still around to tell the stories. It relates them via the vista of Miami River rolling by, via the worn warehouses and docks across the way, via fresh, simple food from simpler times. The mahi, like all fish here, comes right off Garcia's own fleet of fishing boats, into Garcia's fish market, and onto your plate -- with some frying or grilling in between. The sassily seasoned fillet (we like it grilled) is folded into a soft bun with lettuce and tomato. Acup of creamy coleslaw joins the plate with a choice of side: yellow rice, fries, plantains, and so forth.
Pan con Lechon at Sergio's: $6.15
Described on the menu as "pork, pork, and more pork," which means that you're probably already sold on the sandwich. Chunks of roast suckling pig, nice and juicy, get jumped with grilled onions and garlic/citrus mojito sauce which seeps into the wide, soft Cuban bread. File this treat under "Why we love Miami."
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Pâté Sandwich at La Sandwicherie: $7.50
The new shop is bigger and sleeker than the original, but that doesn't say much, as the original is a bunch of stools lined along an outdoor counter that runs up a South Beach alley. But really, the new place is bright and pretty and serves exactly the same sandwiches prepared in just the same way as the little-counter-that-could (and still can). Sandwiches come on croissant, whole wheat bread, or crisp French baguette. The last is the only way to go. A counterperson will spread the rich duck pâté onto the bread, then you can instruct as to your choice of condiments: lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, black olives, red onions, cucumbers, cornichons, mayonnaise, and a knockout French vinaigrette. Putting 'em all in will drown out the meat, so choose with discretion. Make sure, however, to include the cornichons.
Banh Mi at Shing Wang Bubble Tea Cafe: $6
It's prepared with real crispy Vietnamese French bread -- the traditional eight-to-nine inch roll that here gets lightly toasted. There are some dozen banh mi variations, including roasted eel; sardine; lemongrass chicken; and vegan "ham." The classic comes with a slight spread of butter and homemade mayo, Vietnamese deli meats, pâté, cilantro, and pickled carrots, daikon, and cucumbers. We pay the extra buck ($6) to get the version with pork roll thrown in.
Shrimp Po-Boy at The Rum Cake Factory: $8.50
Don't care much for the name of this place, even if the rum cake is real good. Evelyn & Larry's Po-Boy Shop would better draw attention to the unsweetened and hitherto under-heralded special of the house. Larry Robinson, the chef of this husband/wife partnership, comes from New Orleans and knows his way around seafood and a deep fryer. The catfish po-boy is just dandy, as is the fried turkey po-boy. But we lean towards the shrimp -- cleanly fried, vigorously seasoned, and befriended by lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and rémoulade sauce on soft French bread shipped in fresh from The Big Easy.