I have a gastronomic desire that is virtually insatiable—sandwiches. I crave them at all hours of the day, 365 days out of the year. I seek them out the way a prospector seeks out nuggets of gold. I scan the sandwich section at every restaurant, looking for that sumptuous morsel, that rare specimen of sandwich perfection.
Recently I decided to devote a week of lunches towards seeking out that treasure on two pieces of bread, hunting for the best San Antonio sandwiches. I wanted casual dining spots (chains were excluded) that served something beyond the traditional fare.
My first stop led me to a place I had been meaning to visit for quite some time, Pam’s Patio Kitchen. Tucked away in the city’s Northeast side, Pam’s Patio Kitchen is a mishmash of soups, salads, sandwiches and Mexican food. I wanted something classic with a twist and Val’s Special caught my eye. This sandwich is a pumped up classic turkey sandwich with roasted turkey, cream cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato and marinated red onion on house-made focaccia bread.
I’m a sucker for the turkey and guacamole combo, but the sneaky good components were the cream cheese and red onions. This could easily have been an overly rich sandwich, but the bite of the onions gave a nice balance. The meal comes with an order of tortilla chips, mango salsa and a slice of watermelon. It was a win. See more SA Flavor coverage of Pam’s Patio Kitchen.
For my second outing, I decided on WD Deli, a downtown classic. Known for their over the top delicious baked goods, WD Deli also has a great rotating menu of specialty sandwiches. Keeping in step with a poultry theme, I decided to go with their Chicken Chipotle Parmesan sandwich. Oven-roasted chicken breast cut carving board style was served with a subtly spicy chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a stellar ciabatta roll.
I’m always a little leery when pairing chicken and cheese (unless either is fried, of course), but this worked well. The nuttiness of the shredded, melted Parmesan complimented the roasted chicken. But the real star of the sandwich was that great ciabatta roll. Crunchy and chewy, nothing beats a good ciabatta roll. A plain Jane bag of potato chips and a pickle spear came with it, but they could have been left off—the sandwich was the star. Check out another SA Flavor write up on WD Deli.
To get over the midweek blues, I got in touch with my roots. I heard about a place close to where I live off of Bandera Road called Que Tortas! This place was phenomenal. This was a typical San Antonio hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving tasty Tex-Mex dishes, but the house specialty is the torta—or as their advertising calls it, “the original Mexican sub.” I fondly recall visiting Mexico City as a kid and buying tortas off of street carts, but the milanesa torta totally blew all of those memories out of the water.
A tenderized, breaded and fried piece of beef was the out-and-out star. It was nicely complimented with a dollop of mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a spongy bolio roll. I ordered it with a side of fries and added the complimentary pickled jalapeños to give it an extra kick.
By Thursday, I felt the need for some comfort food. To me, nothing is better than a good gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Wanting to find something a little more unique, I headed the Alon Market to Green Vegetarian Cuisine and ordered the grilled cheese and tomato. A nice riff on the classic grilled cheese/tomato soup combo, this sandwich is comprised of two perfectly grilled pieces of multi-grain bread, cheese (your choice of an American and cheddar mix or vegan), basil and nuggets of sun dried tomatoes. Again, a simple bag of chips and a pickle spear came on the side but they weren’t needed.
The bread was stellar, the cheese felt like a warm blanket on a cold morning and the basil was a quirky but welcome addition. But those sun dried tomatoes made this sandwich something special. I was a bit unsure about eating at a vegetarian restaurant beforehand, but I’m sold and will be back for more. In the mood for a veggie burger? SA Flavor reviewed The Big Nasty at Green Vegetarian Cuisine.
To close out the week—and to balance out my life after spending lunch eating vegetarian the day before—I headed down to the bustling, revitalized Dignowity Hill neighborhood. Just a bit north of Downtown, the neighborhood has one of San Antonio’s newest smoked meat darlings, Dignowity Meats. Specializing in handcrafted smoked meat sandwiches, Dignowity Meats has a wide-range of tasty treats. However, I was after one particular offering: the smoked bologna sandwich.
Bologna is one of the most under appreciated meats in the world of sandwiches, but not at Dignowity Meats. Their bologna is smoked, dipped in house-made barbecue sauce, and then pan fried. This quarter-inch slab of goodness is then placed on two slices of humble white bread and topped with a mustard cabbage slaw. Being the last lunch of the week, it was go big or go home. I chose the former and had my sandwich served with sharp cheddar mac & cheese and bacon along with a side of bread and butter pickles. The bologna was amazing and the slaw was the perfect compliment. This was my favorite sandwich of the week and a great way to close out my hunt.