The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Sandwiches

Categories: Top 10

LocalFood_615.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields
Assembling a roast beef sandwich at our No. 1 pick.
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2012 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

For this week's Rest of the Best list, we decided to focus on the wonderfully portable sandwich, a meal which pleases the pickiest of eaters and in the simplest of ways: bread, meat, maybe some cheese. With that in mind, we kept this week's list to low-key places serving straightforward deli-style sandwiches, preferably those who slice their own meat and carefully source products like cheese and bread (if they don't bake their own).

Banh mi, milanesas, cheesesteaks, tortas, the shrimp BLT I dream about at Frank's Chop House -- all of these are noble and noteworthy sandwiches. But today it's all about the humble deli sandwich.

See Also:
- Houston's Top 10 Barbecue
- Houston's Top 10 Burgers

Central Market 003.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
This is a messy sandwich. You've been warned.
10. The California Connection at Central Market

There's always a long line at the sandwich counter just around the corner from the deli inside Central Market. And as far as I'm concerned, the line is for its top sandwich: the California Connection. Slices of turkey are jazzed up with sweet, caramelized red onions, two kinds of creamy pesto, chipotle mayonnaise and melted provolone on soft sourdough bread. I like to add avocados for overkill, but the sandwich is terrific ordered as-is.

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Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
9. Honey ham and Brie at Carter & Cooley

As mentioned in a recent post covering the Top 10 restaurants in the Heights, the honey ham and Brie is my personal pick at Carter & Cooley most of the time. It also made Jeff Balke's list of favorite Houston sandwiches a couple autumns back. It's a simple, straightforward combo that just makes sense: sweet honey mustard and honey ham mixing with mushroomy melted Brie on a salty, savory onion roll. There's lettuce and tomato involved too, but who cares?

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
8. Italian hoagie at Paulie's

Topped with just a little oil, vinegar, pepperoncini peppers and salad stuff -- served alongside a couple of scoops of surprisingly light herb-laced potato salad -- the Italian hoagie and Paulie's is actually less top-heavy than its thick stacks of ham, Genoa salami and Provolone would imply. You'd expect to feel like a blimp after eating the hefty sandwich, but the best thing about the hoagie is how it leaves you simply and pleasantly satiated instead.

Location Info

Local Foods

2424 Dunstan Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kenny & Ziggy's Delicatessen Restaurant

2327 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

13 Celsius Wine Bar

3000 Caroline, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Frank's Americana Revival & White Star Bar

3736 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spec's Deli

2410 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kraftsmen Cafe

611 W. 22nd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nielsen's Delicatessen

4500 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Central Market

3815 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: General

Carter & Cooley Company

375 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Paulie's

1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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40 comments
SoftShellCrabJunkie
SoftShellCrabJunkie

Thanks, Katherine. Love your lists! There is one thing I'd like to share regarding muffalettas. It is fairly common knowledge that the sandwich originated in New Orleans. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that Cajun food and New Orleans cuisine are the same. (Hopefully, this will convince your editors that they need to send you on a long, restaurant-to-restaurant trip along I-10 to clear this up). The two are quite different, and no one in Louisiana would categorize a muffaletta as "Cajun". (Similarly, with a few exceptions, one should not expect to find authentic Cajun food in New Orleans).

diane
diane

Such a sandwich junkie so thanks for the list. Right now my new love is Revival Markets pork milanesa!

stina
stina

I think it's off the regular menu right now, but if you ask at Brasil, they make the most amazing heart of palm sandwich on focaccia.  You will not be sorry.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Also the crispy chicken or meatball sandwiches at busy boy on Hilcroft are excellent. Still hope it's open don't make it to the Harwin hood as much these days..

nechlaw1
nechlaw1

Great list. On mine, I would find a place for these:

 

Salmon Sandwich, Conscience Café

Gulf crab and shrimp po boy, Local Café

Cevap sandwich, Cafe Pita

Combo Banh Mi at ORIGINAL Givral's (I think they are now by U of H) or Kim Tai on Fannin

Meatball Poboy, Brooklyn Meatballs.

Cemita de carnita y quesillo, La Guadalupana

Steak Sandwich, Champ Burger

MKnofler
MKnofler

I'll take the Surf n Turf po-boy from the artist previously known as Calliope's (on Jefferson)

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

While I'm somewhat OK with most of this list, leaving off the fried egg sandwich from Max's is the most egregious omission.  The egg sandwich at Nielson's is vastly overrated, and most of these I've never even heard of.  Max's sandwich is reaching damn near legendary status.

 

As to the muffaletta?  I've always unashamedly said the best one is at Jason's deli, and I've had both of the original ones from New Orleans.  If you haven't tried it, you need to.

Cristiana Davis
Cristiana Davis

So glad to have new lunch ideas! I would add the brasil club from cafe brasil

Chucky Bones
Chucky Bones

THANK YOU for doing this! More depth on Houston's awesome choices is always better.

mag1124
mag1124

The semita at Guadalupana is one of the best sandwiches I have sunk my teeth into.

I must say the California Connection from CM looks might tasty!

Mark Newman
Mark Newman

Well done! The Cali Connection at Central Market and the Fiddler at Kenny & Ziggy's are both fan-freakin'-tastic. Glad you included them both.

dumb
dumb

roast beef at local foods, thats not even their best sando, not even close

TRUFFLED EGG SALAD SANDO from local foods is killer

and Paulies has the Ahi sando with wasabi mayo and the pork tendrloin w/ cajun mustard

now thats what im talking bout

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

The BLT from revival should take the place of the muffaletta, and can't forget about the smoked turkey at an *original* antones.  This list seemed a little pork heavy..

salynch
salynch

@EatingOurWords Honorable mention for me - the Turkey/brie/pear on croissant at Sambuca... though maybe just because it's close to work.

Nathan
Nathan

Local Foods is so good, it probably deserves several spots on this list.

etee56
etee56

 @dumb I'll second the truffled egg salad at Local Foods.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

 @gossamersixteen gotta side with gossamersixteen, Antone's should be on here, as well as Mandola's deli, it does not have to be hipster trendy to be great!

EatingOurWords
EatingOurWords

@salynch Ooh, I haven't had that one. Sounds great!

flaggler
flaggler

 @texmex01  @gossamersixteen Antone's is at having a hard time deciding what it wants to be lately. Wait till they figure it out, to see if they keep or scrap the good stuff.

Mandola's has a good meatball sandwich, but so does Ponzo's.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @texmex01  @gossamersixteen I seriously considered putting the original Antone's on the list, but it just has a lot of improving to do these days -- yes, even the original one -- in order to compete with the glut of great sandwiches around town. And I do love Mandola's, although I'll admit I've never had a sandwich there. I can't get away from the lasagna... I'll be sure to get a po-boy the next time I visit.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

 @texmex01  @flaggler That's good news! The originals always have more in the way of selection, side items, and the beloved sweet pickles..

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

 @gossamersixteen  @flaggler actually there are 2 original locations left, Stella link @ Bellaire, and Kirby near Reliant, the franchised ones are expanding the menus and trying new items, but the po boys there suck....

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

 @kshilcutt  @gossamersixteen nothing, I repeat NOTHING can best an ORIGINAL Anton'e Super and a bag of Jalapeno chips...(and a stuffed pepper)

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