A Sandwich a Day: Merguez Aiolissa at Harissa Cafe in Astoria

A Sandwich a Day

A new sandwich every day.

In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

It's cafés like Harissa Cafe that make me never want to leave Astoria. The small, narrow spot offers some breakfast classics, a few Mediterranean salads, sandwiches, and a couple tagine-style plates—the kind of casual and casually-presented dishes that you'd expect to find at a small café in a European village.

Except there's nothing casual about the Merguez Aiolissa ($7.95), a foot-long lamb sausage with spicy mayo on a lean baguette. The tender merguez comes in a snappy casing that gives way to a well-spiced interior, with strong notes of cumin, coriander, and wily harissa. Caramelized onions and harissa mayo add sweetness, texture, and more spice, but this really is all about the sausage, one of the finer merguez renditions you'll find in this city. Okay, it's also about the baguette, which comes from Balthazar Bakery. It's the perfect contrast of sturdy crust and tender crumb.

The sandwich comes with a huge—and I mean covers-a-dinner-plate huge—serving of fries. Pro tip: slide some into the baguette for some more textural contrast and a little starch on starch action. It's a traditional sandwich move, and a good one.

Harissa Cafe

30-05 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103 (map) 718-545-9595