Pate Thit Nuong at Ba Xuyen
It's got pate, ham, sweet pressed sausage, pork roll, head cheese, xa xiu (white roast pork with red rind), and a great balance of flavors. Good ratio of meat-to-pickle. Sweet, smoky, salty, sour, spicy. $3.75.
Mumbai Xpress's 'Grilled Cheese'
In addition to crunchy raw onions and that psychedelically green-colored coriander chutney, there's a shmear of Amul butter and Amul cheese, and a layer of thinly sliced potatoes and green peppers. $3.99.
Doubles at Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop
Ali's Trinidad & Tobago Roti Deli Grocery in Bed-Stuy serves what are probably the best doubles ($1.25) this side of Trinidad. You get a sweet and spicy chickpea curry that's flavored with tamarind and sandwiched between two disks of turmeric-scented deep-fried, naan-like bread known as "bara."
The Super Hero from Joe's Italian Deli in the Bronx
Heaps of homemade mozzarella plus ham and sopressata spill out from the edges, with tender, sweet red bell pepper tucked inside; the lightly applied oil and vinegar make the interior of the bread juicy. Tasty and moist, the thickness of the mozzarella is a nice contrast to the very thin slices and restrained flavor of the pork. $6.
Egg and Potato at Salumeria Biellese
With soft-scrambled eggs, small, tender chunks of potato, and the faint salty tang of cheese in the background. $5.75 for an enormous sandwich.
The Mujadara from Kalustyan's
The pita pocket ($4.99), lined with tahini and hot sauce, is stuffed to the brim with delicious, still toothsome lentils. Tomato and lettuce were present as well, both slightly warm and wilted from the residual heat, taking on the flavors of the lentils.
Roaster Beef at Roll-n-Roaster
Served on a sesame seeded kaiser bun, the Roaster Beef ($4.45) can be ordered rare, medium, or well-done with the option of cheese and onions. Ordered rare, my roast beef was pleasingly pink and smothered with plenty of caramelized onions and lots of drippy Cheez Whiz; the beef was tender and flavorful, the bun pleasantly squishy and chewy.
Pork Burger at Xi'an Famous Foods
While the lamb burger may be more famous, we were surprised to find we preferred the pork burger ($2), whose intensely juicy stewed pork didn't show the same unpredictabilty in texture; it's a salty, fatty, meaty experience all the way through.
Tortas in the Flatiron
A small, nameless cart on 28th and 6th produces one of the most satisfying five dollar lunches in the Flatiron district. In addition to standard taco and other Mexican street food fare, you'll find tortas: griddled sandwiches hefty enough to make you consider skipping dinner. Soft, chewy rolls are toasted on the griddle before getting stuffed with your choice of beef or carnitas (pork shoulder stewed in lard).
Sesame Pancakes at Prosperity Dumpling
The sesame pancakes are light and spongy, with so many sesame seeds they practically form a second crust (this is a good thing). The Roast Beef Sesame Pancake ($1.75) has a few wizened cuts of beef, plentiful slivers of carrots, and cilantro, while the Roast Pork ($1.75) differs only in its disks of fennel-scented pork.
BZ Grill's Gyro
BZ Grill's pork gyros are made from actual cuts of marinated pork—not one of those rotating logs of mystery meat. The cuts are placed overnight in a mixture of Greek spices before being stacked on a spit in the morning and loaded into the gyro cooker for their slow-motion merry-go-round ride. If you come at the right time (between rushes), you'll get the best gyro you've ever had.
Fried Pimento Cheese at Hill Country Chicken
It's really just a glorified slab of deliciously fried cheese ($5). The skinny little creation is fried up to a golden brown—the white bread all but disappearing, the sharp, tangy pimento oozing thick and molten from each bite. Absurd? A little. Tasty? You betcha.
Chicken Shawarma from Karam Restaurant
The juicy shreds of spit-roasted chicken are as good as you could hope for, but it's the lemon-garlic sauce, pungent enough to stay on your breath for hours, that makes this sandwich a real knockout. $6.
Eggplant Egg Sandwich at Farm on Adderley
Over a hefty, well-salted and olive-oiled eggplant steak—healthy-indulgent, as opposed to straight-up indulgent—it's got a heaping mound of soft-scrambled eggs under a blanket of melty, super-drippy cheddar that oozes cheesy oils into the toasted ciabatta. $6, and enormous.
Pernil Sandwich at El Gran Castillo de Jagua
It's not much more than pork (some crisp, some tender, some fatty), pressed on a roll; the pork juices dissolve the inner soft layers of the bread, which, once pressed, gets a thin crunchy crust. $4.95.
'Panini Sandwiches' at Rose & Joe's Italian Bakery, Astoria
The best part about most of them is the bread, which is always fresh that day from the gigantic oven that you can catch a glimpse of in the back of the bakery. It's just a bit chewy and ever so slightly sour in a pleasant way. They're not going to fill you up, hence the "snackwich" ($3) designation we've given them. They will take the edge off hunger, though, without leaving you with a heavy belly.
Fresh Ham Sandwich at La Taza de Oro
The fresh ham at Chelsea Puerto Rican lunch counter La Taza de Oro is quite a feast for six bucks: a huge pile of pork haunch, roasted, chopped, and heaped onto a long, slightly crusty white roll. Crunchy bits, fatty bits, meaty bits, and all.
Fried Cauliflower at Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma
After one bite, it was pretty clear: this is how you make cauliflower haters love cauliflower. The cauliflower become tender but with a salty fried crisp, with the tahini sauce as a perfect complement. $4.75.
Sesame Pancakes at Vanessa's Dumpling House
The roast pork sandwich ($2) boasts a good build, as the spikey strips of julienned cucumbers, green onions, and sprigs of cilantro provide a nice crunch and a fresh foil for the sauced meat; even if the Peking duck ($2.25) was somewhat lost in its sweet barbecue-like sauce, I'm not complaining. The sandwich's main attraction, however, is the pancake itself. The dough is plopped into an oiled pan and fried, pancake-style, giving the spongy bread a crisp-bottomed crust not unlike that of a deep dish pizza.
Roast Duck Bun in Flushing
For one measly dollar, you get a soft steamed bun wrapped around sliced, tender roast duck and scallion shavings topped with a plop of hoisin sauce. It's one of the best things four quarters can buy you.
Ham and Avocado from 'wichcraft
What makes this ham, avocado, and butter sandwich from 'wichcraft ($4.95) a breakfast sandwich—besides the fact that it's served before eleven—we're really not sure. But we've got no problem with super-salty smoked ham and ripe avocado on a baguette that's grilled until crunchy. The best part? How the warm avocado softens into the bread.
Cuban Sandwich at Margon in Midtown
An under six-dollar sandwich stuffed with three meats, juicy roasted pork plus ham and salami, fusing with Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard, garlic, and thick slices of pickles in a beautiful rainbow of meaty, salty, creamy and sweet, hugged by classic barely-crusty Cuban bread. Delicious.
Hawallan Tortas at Puebla Mini Mart
The Hawallan torta ($5.99) at Puebla Mini Mart takes its tropical name from a thick slice of grilled pineapple that lies within the center of this massive sandwich. It's surrounded by slices of griddled ham, spicy carne enchilada, quesillo (think Mexican string cheese), refried beans, chipotles in adobo, tomatoes, onions, avocado, and pickled jalapeño—all stuffed into a soft bolillo roll and pressed until warm and crisp.