The Best Sandwich in Every State
We teamed up with Taste of Home and our collective readers to find the 50 greatest ways to fill two slices of bread.
There’s a sandwich out there for everyone: panini, sub, grilled cheese, BLT—you name it! As a crowd favorite, this lunch staple has been perfected to an art form.
When it comes to food across the country, each state has its own specialties. We have evaluated them all, from the best coffee shops and the best pizzerias to the most popular foods, and now we’re serving you the best sandwich in every state. Make sure to file this away before your next road trip.
Alabama: Chicken and white sauce
We don’t know what prompted Decatur’s “Big Bob” Gibson to make a barbecue sauce with mayonnaise and vinegar, but we do know it’s great on hickory-smoked chicken. Nearly 100 years on, that sauce is sold in grocery stores throughout the state.
Alaska: Salmon salad
The Last Frontier is also one of the last places where wild salmon thrive, and Alaskans turn their surplus into a sandwich spread by mixing it with mayo, celery, and onion and layering crunchy cucumber on top.
Arizona: Fry bread tacos
The toppings are far less important than the shell of Navajo fry bread, a cornerstone of Native American cuisine and culture but also a painful reminder of persecution. When the Navajo were forced out of Arizona about 150 years ago and had to subsist on U.S. Army rations instead of their own crops, they found that frying flour in lard created golden, pillowy bread.
Arkansas: Catfish po’boy
Though po’boys can come with any of a multitude of meats on fluffy French bread, fried catfish is fittingly the filling of choice in the birthplace of the commercial catfish industry. Make it the perfect meal by saving some room after for the best ice cream in every state.
California: French dip
Two Los Angeles eateries, Philippe’s and Cole’s, each claim to be the birthplace of this baguette sandwich with roast beef. The whole shebang then gets dunked in the beef’s jus (French for gravy). You may even be able to snag this at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Colorado: Fool’s gold
Peanut butter, blueberry jam, and a pound—yes, a whole pound—of bacon. Dreamed up in Denver and served on sourdough, this variation on the classic had one very famous fan: Elvis.
Connecticut: Clam roll
Fresh clams collected along the Connecticut coast star in several New England dishes. Frying them up for a sandwich with a splash of tartar sauce might just be the simplest.
Delaware: The Bobbie
Also called “Thanksgiving on a roll,” the Bobbie is a festive combination of roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing that’s served year-round at Capriotti’s, a deli chain native to the Diamond State. Its founders named the sub after their beloved Aunt Bobbie, who started the family tradition of piling Turkey Day leftovers onto a freshly baked roll.
Florida: The Cuban
This variation on the ham-and-cheese sandwich (with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and sometimes salami) is often associated with working-class Cuban immigrants. But it was actually considered a luxury item pre-World War II. A 1919 advertisement told wealthy Tampa residents that the Cuban made a great accessory for their evening drive.
Georgia: Pimento cheese
Combine pimento peppers, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise to make this tangy orange spread. It’s been served on white bread at the Masters golf tournament in Augusta since the 1960s, but when tournament runners changed vendors in 2013 and didn’t perfectly reproduce the recipe, players and patrons alike took notice—and called the gaffe PimentoGate. Make sure to also check out the best dessert in every state.
Hawaii: Kalua pork
Pit-smoked pork falls apart and joins tangy cabbage slaw and an optional ring of grilled pineapple on a Hawaiian bun.
Idaho: Huckleberry PB&J
Wild huckleberries are treated like jewels in the Gem State. Their taste is similar to that of blueberries—but more intense—and their jam is what Idahoans reach for when assembling the classic PB&J.
Illinois: Italian beef
Meat packers in 1930s Chicago found they could make tough beef palatable by slow-roasting it and then simmering thin slices in a spicy broth. Today the sandwich comes “dry” (the meat is shaken off on its way to the bread), “wet” (it skips the shake), or “dipped” (the bread goes for a bath too). As for toppings, “wit’ motz and hot” is the way to go, says RD reader Susan Osada. (That means with mozzarella cheese and hot giardiniera, an Italian relish.)
Indiana: Pork tenderloin
The Hoosier State is home to the Tenderloin Lovers Trail, along which you’ll find more than 70 joints serving fried pork hammered thin and bursting way beyond the bun.
Iowa: Maid Rite
The Hawkeye State staple was born when Fred Angell of Muscatine decided to steam hamburger meat instead of frying it. He piled the crumbly, seasoned pieces onto a bun and offered it to a deliveryman, who took a bite and proclaimed, “This sandwich is made right!”
Kentucky: Hot Brown
You wouldn’t have been able to get a drink at Louisville’s Brown Hotel when it first opened in 1923, but there was no prohibition on cholesterol. The recipe for the hotel’s signature open-faced turkey-and-tomato sandwich has been perfected since then. It currently calls for heavy cream, pecorino Romano cheese, parsley, paprika, and bacon, all on Texas toast.
This sandwich has as many origin stories as it does acceptable pronunciations. At Central Grocery & Deli in New Orleans (one of the sandwich’s purported originators), it is made with a round, Sicilian-style sesame loaf piled with ham, salami, mortadella, Swiss cheese, provolone, and marinated olives—and is pronounced “moofoo-LET-ah.” Others in the Big Easy call it “muff-uh-LOT-uh.”
Maryland: Soft-shell crab
“You can’t get more Maryland than soft-shell crab on white bread with mayo, lettuce, and local tomatoes,” according to Taste of Home reader Dorothy McGinnity, describing her home state’s signature sandwich.
Both Fluff, the marshmallow spread, and the sandwich it stars in were created in the Bay State. Leila Mercer of Hudson, Massachusetts, says, “In the 1960s, I think every child in New England could sing the jingle.” (“First you spread, spread, spread, your bread with peanut butter. Add marshmallow Fluff and have a fluffernutter.”)
Michigan: Meat pasty
The name for these half-circles of pie crust filled with minced beef and root vegetables rhymes (ironically, we assure you) with “nasty” and not “tasty.” But pasties were always more about practicality than flavor. The portability of these pocket sandwiches served Michigan’s copper miners of the early 1800s well—as it does today’s loggers.
Minneapolis has its Juicy Lucy (a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the meat patty instead of on top), but people fry up this freshwater fish all over the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Crisp lettuce, tangy tartar sauce, and lemon wedges—not to mention cold beer—are optional accoutrements.
Don’t let the name deter you: A “slug” was once slang for a nickel, which is what these burgers originally cost. The patties consist (partly or entirely) of extenders such as flour or beans, dating back to a Depression-era need to stretch limited supplies of ground beef. The town of Corinth has hosted an annual festival honoring this pioneer of protein substitutes since 1988.
Missouri: Burnt ends
The fattier edge pieces of beef brisket used to be trimmed off—until Kansas City cooks realized they were the tastiest parts! As the name suggests, burnt ends get smoked to a crisp. Then they’re cut into chunks, dribbled with barbecue sauce, and tossed on a brioche bun with pickled red onions.
Montana: Pork chop
About 100 years ago, John Burklund started selling pork chop sandwiches out of the back of a wagon in Uptown Butte. Onions, pickles, and mustard are the traditional toppings, though some prefer cheese, bacon, or egg.
The name of both the pocket sandwich and the Lincoln-based restaurant chain that made it famous, a Runza is a ground-beef-and-cabbage combination similar to Kansas’s bierocks. The big difference is that Runzas are rectangular (and sometimes also contain cheese).
New Hampshire: Moe’s Original
In 1959, Phil “Moe” Pagano of Portsmouth decided to buy a sandwich shop and sell only one type of sub: salami and provolone with onions, peppers, pickles, and olives, a recipe he learned from his mother. Moe’s Italian Sandwiches now has more locations—and more menu items—but the original offering is still the crowd favorite.
New Jersey: Pork roll
The star of this breakfast sandwich, usually served with egg and American cheese, goes by Taylor Ham in the northern part of the state. It was named after New Jersey Senator John Taylor, who developed the smoked pork product in 1856.
New York: Pastrami on rye
Seeded rye bread and spicy brown mustard meet pastrami piled so high it can slow down even fast-talking New Yorkers.
North Carolina: Pulled pork with vinegar and pepper
Tar Heels assert that their state is the birthplace of barbecue (much to the annoyance of their Carolinian cousins to the south), and they stay true to their original barbecue recipe by basting their pork in a thin vinegar sauce seasoned with red pepper.
Ohio: Polish boy
A Cleveland tradition since the 1940s, this kielbasa sausage sandwich skips the sides and has coleslaw and fries right on the roll.
Oklahoma: Chicken steak
Steak that’s been battered and fried like chicken is the official dish of the Sooner State. On a sandwich, it gets topped with lettuce and either chipotle mayo or country gravy.
Oregon: Banh mi
This combo of carrot, cucumber, cilantro, and your protein of choice traces its roots all the way back to the late 1800s, when Vietnam was French Indochina— hence it comes on a baguette. It has caught on here, thanks to Portland’s large Vietnamese community.
Who would have thought steak sliced so thin could create a divide so wide? But the Pat’s vs. Geno’s rivalry bifurcates the City of Brotherly Love, as do debates about provolone or Cheez Whiz, and “wit” or “witout” onions.
Rhode Island: Hot weiner
Not to be confused with hot dogs, hot wieners are much less processed and the buns are slightly sweeter. They’re served at “wienie joints” across the Ocean State, where it’s best to get them “all the way,” with mustard, meat sauce, onion, and celery salt.
South Carolina: Pulled pork with mustard sauce
Differing from their neighbors to the north, South Carolinians use mustard in their barbecue sauce. “Carolina Gold,” as they call it, has a tangy, mildly sweet flavor that pairs well with pork.
South Dakota: Pheasant salad
During World War II, thousands of troops—including a general named Dwight D. Eisenhower—came through Aberdeen, where the Red Cross had set up a canteen serving chopped pheasant, hard-boiled egg, and veggies blended together with relish and mayonnaise. Ike called it the best sandwich he had ever eaten.
Tennessee: Hot chicken
A Nashville woman, looking to punish her philandering beau for stepping out on her, doused his fried chicken in cayenne pepper. But it hurt so good that he decided to open up a sandwich shack and share the burn.
Texas: Beef brisket
Juicy, slow-smoked brisket—often cured with coffee and served with pickles, cheese, or jalapeños—satisfies even Lone Star-sized appetites.
Utah: Pastrami burger
After Crown Burgers of Salt Lake City started using deli meat as a burger topping, the craze quickly caught on. Burger joints throughout the state now offer pastrami burgers, usually with melted Swiss cheese and Utah’s famous fry sauce (a mixture of ketchup and mayo).
Combine several Green Mountain State staples and you get this grown-up grilled cheese made with sharp cheddar, fresh apple slices, and maple mustard, often accompanied by ham and turkey.
Virginia: Country ham biscuits
A Commonwealth staple since the Colonial era, Virginia ham pairs perfectly with buttermilk biscuits—and a smear of mustard, if you’d like.
Washington: Smoked salmon
The official state sandwich since 1987, smoked salmon on wheat “evokes everything I love about this state: the bounty of the sea and the history of the remarkable peoples who have called this place home for millennia,” says Taste of Home reader Donna Marie Eads.
West Virginia: Pepperoni rolls
“I’ve never seen a comparable sandwich outside of West Virginia,” Mountain State native Kris Childers says of these baked rolls stuffed with pepperoni (and sometimes cheese, peppers, or tomato sauce).
Wyoming: Bison burger
Buffalo meat is leaner than beef, so bison burgers are typically cooked rare to medium-rare to keep them from drying out. Onions and herbs are often mixed into the patties to add extra flavor.
Next, check out the official state foods of all 5o states—some of these may surprise you!