At its core, a sandwich consists of two slices of bread and filling in between. It’s a go-to meal that transcends cultures, from Cuba’s medianoche to Vietnam’s bánh mì. But taking the world’s favorite handheld snack from good to great involves the perfect balance of flavors and textures and the right bread to make the ingredients shine.
These Miami eateries know the formula, displaying their own flair, complexity, and versatility while still retaining the fundamentals of a sandwich. Sure, a homemade PB&J sometimes hits the spot, but try a stacked-bread behemoth from any one of these spots that are pushing the envelope of sandwich construction.
Located in Wynwood, this beloved hole in the wall serves the best Cuban sandwiches in the 305. Enriqueta's lures in regulars with mainstays such as pan con bistec ($5.75) and the sandwich cubano preparado con croquetas ($7). The latter takes the standard Cuban — ham, roast pork, melted Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard between two pieces of bread — and adds a welcome twist, croquetas. Grab a stool at the counter, enjoy an authentic cubano, and see why Enriqueta's makes even first-time visitors feel like family. 186 NE 29th St., Miami; 305-573-4681.
2. Football Sandwich Shop.
If you want to win at lunch, score a touchdown of a meal at Football Sandwich Shop. Nestled between El Portal and Little Haiti, this brightly colored eatery, equipped with a drive-thru, has been serving delicious sports-themed deli creations since 1972. Choose from signature cold subs, nine-inch hot sandwiches, wraps, and pitas. Come with an appetite of a pro athlete and order the famous Zonker ($9.35), named for the legendary Miami Dolphins running back Larry Csonka. This monstrous sammie piles salami, ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oil, and mayo onto a soft hoagie roll. 8484 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-759-3602; footballsandwichshop.com
3. Josh's Delicatessen & Appetizing.
Pastrami on rye with coleslaw and a sweet-spicy mustard made in-house at Josh's Deli.
Priding itself as “a Jewish deli done wrong,” Josh’s Deli does just about everything right. Josh Marcus turns traditional Jewish deli staples into unorthodox works of art. Ten-day-aged Angus brisket, pastrami, turkey, pork, corned beef, and a repertoire of other meaty delicacies come perfectly cured, smoked, and/or roasted in-house. Try the oh-so-Miami "Jewban" ($13.95), a double-decker hodgepodge of rich, flavorful pastrami, slow-roasted pork, house-made pickles, mustard, Swiss cheese, and Cuban bread, all pressed together. 9517 Harding Ave., Surfside; 305-397-8494; joshsdeli.com.
4. Stephen’s Restaurant.
The pièce de résistance at Stephen's Restaurant: the grilled Rachel.
Photo by Karli Evans
Hialeah’s best sandwich shop has been offering guests a simple but standout menu of New York-style deli sandwiches and specialty creations since 1954. Although the hand-cut corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, tuna melt, and chicken salad club are on the list of must-try items, the pièce de résistance is arguably the grilled Rachel ($11.95), made with thick-sliced pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing. Order a side of unbelievably tasty potato pancakes ($4.50), and you’ll see why Stephen’s Restaurant still reigns as the place to go for a weekday lunch. Note: The eatery is open only Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 1000 E. 16th St., Hialeah; 305-887-8863.
5. Zak the Baker.
It’s no surprise that the man behind the best bread in Miami is also the mastermind of one of Miami’s best kosher delis. Drawing influence from Eastern European-style cooking and sourcing local ingredients, Zak the Baker's Zak Stern and chef Melissa Sosa churn out specialty sandwiches and savory platters for every taste and hunger level. Fuel your morning with the breakfast sandwich, boasting ZTB’s fresh sourdough multigrain bread cradling a vegetable omelet with sharp cheese, heirloom tomatoes, slices of fresh avocado, sprouted alfalfa, and house-made chili aioli drizzled on top. Other sandwich specialties, including herring tartine, corned beef, tuna salad and smoked fish salad, round out the menu. 405 NW 26th St., Miami; 786-347-7100; zakthebaker.com.