The Art of the Sandwich: Ten to try

From the marvelous and meaty to the oh-so-cheesy, St. Louis offers some truly amazing sandwiches. Here are 10 you gotta try.

Short Rib Sandwich
A short rib sandwich is typically a hot mess, albeit a tasty hot mess. Thankfully, the version at Herbie’s Vintage 72 won’t have you looking like a 3-year-old at the table. Fall-apart-tender meat is held together by a cap of melty Fontina, and the ciabatta is soft enough so that nothing goes sliding when you take a bite, not even the caramelized onions.

405 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.769.9595

Back Bacon, Egg and Cheese
One bite of the Back Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich at Dressel’s Pub, and you’ll never settle for plain ol’ bacon and eggs again. Served on toothsome ciabatta, fried eggs add richness, lean back bacon adds a perfectly chewy-crisp savory note and blue cheese adds piquant depth of flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the sandwich’s other elements.

419 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, 314.361.1060

Hot Salami
There’s a reason the Hot Salami has been Gioia’s Deli’s signature sandwich for decades: It’s that good. The star here is the house-made salam de testa, a thick-sliced, soft salami with a salty, rich flavor served on crusty Italian bread. You can choose your cheese and toppings, but we see no reason to mess with a classic: This legendary sandwich is best when loaded up with pepper cheese, pepperoncini and yellow mustard.

Gioia’s Deli, 1934 Macklind Ave., St. Louis, 314.776.9410

Gulf Shrimp Po’ boy
Though Molly’s in Soulard is no longer getting shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico for its Gulf Shrimp Po’ boy, the sandwich’s hearty hoagie and tender, plump shrimp would still make any New Orleans native proud. Sweet and vinegary meet tangy and spicy as the house-made barbecue sauce that coats the shrimp combines with creamy remoulade to create a true Southern kick in every delicious bite.

816 Geyer Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.6200

Panino Fresco
Who said big, hearty sandwiches have to be filled with meat? Think of the Panino Fresco at Blues City Deli as a muffuletta for vegetarians. Served on the same round Italian bread, a thick slice of fresh mozzarella stands in for all that meat, providing the perfect mild base for the briny saltiness of the deli’s signature rustic olive salad. No meat also means a lighter, cleaner flavor. That said, we dare you to finish this monster of a sandwich in one sitting.

2438 McNair Ave., St. Louis, 314.773.8225

South Side Smoke
When it’s barbecue you want, the South Side Smoke at Stellina Pasta Cafe more than satisfies. Smokiness infuses every bite, from the tender, fall-apart pork to the light barbecue sauce to the silky Gouda. Accented by soft, sweet caramelized onions and served on a sturdy sea-salt ciabatta bun, this hearty sandwich will instantly find a place on your list of lunchtime favorites.

3342 Watson Road, St. Louis, 314.256.1600

Heart Stopping BLT
Sure artisan bread and farm-fresh tomatoes are nice on a BLT, but face it, it’s the bacon everyone cares about. Crown Candy Kitchen’s version will make your head spin the moment it’s walked out of the kitchen: Unabashedly old-school, it arrives on toasted white bread slathered with Miracle Whip and piled with tomato and features almost a full pound – a pound! – of crispy bacon.

1401 Saint Louis Ave., St. Louis, 314.621.7229

Tilapia Reuben
The mild flavor of the perfectly seasoned tilapia on Annie Gunn’s Tilapia Reuben allows the tangy Thousand Island dressing oozing from the toasty rye bread to take center stage. Caramelized onions add a touch of sweetness, sauerkraut creates a bit of sour, and melted Fair Oaks Swiss blends it all together to create a sweet-tart combo that will keep your mouth watering from the first bite to the last.

16806 Chesterfield Airport Road, Chesterfield, 636.532.7684

Chicken Torta
Stuffed with chicken, shredded Monterey and Cheddar cheeses, lettuce, pico de gallo, mayo and guacamole, the chicken torta at La Vallesana is packed with fresh flavor. Toasting the whole thing causes the stuff on the inside to meld into a delicious, slightly spicy, cilantro-y filling. Of the two salsas that accompany it, we love the way green one, made with tomatillos, chiles and cilantro, makes your lips burn.

2801 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.776.4223

Virginia ham
There’s ham and cheese, and then there’s Onesto Pizza and Trattoria’s ham and cheese. The South City pizzeria turns up the volume on the age-old pairing with a mountain of savory house-smoked Virginia ham topped with creamy Fontina cheese, tart-sweet apple slices and tangy stone-ground mustard for a memorable take on a classic sandwich.

5401 Finkman St., St. Louis, 314.802.8883