Focaccia Verdure at Pulino's
The focaccia is substantial and just olive-oily enough with a teeny golden crust, thick-cut but not so much that it overwhelms everything else: in this case, sweet eggplant, soft peppers, broccoli rabe and just enough goat cheese. Nothing too novel, but it hits just the right balance of sweet and bitter, vegetable-heavy and goat cheese-creamy.
Sabich at Chick-P
Falafel at Taïm
Simply the best falafel sandwich in the city. The green falafel, fresh from the fryer, is surprisingly light on the inside, with a beautiful brown, crispy shell. The pita is fluffy and the hummus is especially creamy. Bite for bite, we're happier eating Taïm's falafel than any other out there.
Fried Eggplant at Bereket Turkish Kebab House
The Fried Eggplant sandwich is as oily as it sounds, a stew of fried sliced eggplant and peppers with tomato sauce that's rich-tasting and a little greasy but balanced by the tomatoes' sweetness and acid. It's sloppy and indulgent eating, vegetarian-style.
Bereket Turkish Kebab House: 187 East Houston Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-741-7971;
Vegetable Panini at Fiat Café
The crusty ciabatta loaf is absolutely stuffed with roasted eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, creamy goat cheese, and hearty roast mushrooms, making this a substantial and filling sandwich. But what flavors the whole thing are the fresh-tasting, olive-oily pesto and crazy-sweet strands of caramelized onion winding their way through. What every lesser vegetarian sandwich aspires to be.
Shakshuka and Sabich at Taboonette
Anything on the menu at Taboonette is fantastic, and we're especially big fans of their vegetarian sandwiches. The egg and tomato Shakshuka is well-calculated to be satisfying and sloppy, but not too wet to soak through the pita. The Sabich features substantial strips of eggplant are cooked to a satisfying squish that clearly have help from oil, but they aren't absolutely saturated in it; the sliced egg and rich tahini fill it out.
Rosemary White Bean Spread at The Smile
The tender beans meet rosemary and a good bit of lemon and salt for a taste that's vibrant and sandwich-worthy, helped further by marinated Swiss chard and tomato jam. On multigrain bread, it's substantial and hearty without resorting to meat or cheese—a nice option for vegetarians or for anyone else.
The Goat Cheese Panino at Balaboosta
A really good split ciabatta with a nice crisp crust and tender crumb with just enough chew gets stuffed with goat cheese, sweet roasted red peppers, grilled planks of zucchini, and kalamata olives with a tasteful smear of pesto.
Eggplant Parmesan at Tuscany
Roasted Eggplant on Focaccia from Tazza
Tazza roasts the eggplant and tomatoes in plenty of oil until all of those veggie sugars are released, giving it an almost jammy texture and sweetness. Between that and the creamy, slightly tart goat cheese, it's a fine vegetarian sandwich option from a laid back neighborhood coffee shop, wine bar, sandwicherie-in-one.
Tazza: 311 Henry Street, Brooklyn NY 11201 (map); 718-243-0487
Doubles at Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop
Ali's Trinidad & Tobago Roti Deli Grocery in Bed-Stuy serves what are probably the best doubles this side of Trinidad. For a quarter of the cost of a Di Fara slice, 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."
Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop: 1267 Fulton Street, Brooklyn NY 11216 (map); 718-783-0316
The Lebneh from Kalustyan's
The white cheese, made by straining yogurt through a cheesecloth for 12 to 24 hours, was creamy and tart, and made more interesting with za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that contains herbs mixed with salt and sesame seeds. The lebneh is tangy and coats the mouth a bit; the za'atar breaks up the creaminess so the palate doesn't become smothered in cheese.
Fried Broccoli at No. 7 Sub
Tempura-battered broccoli is the second crunch you'll encounter after you crack through the toasty exterior of the bread. Sliced black olives seem to have snuck into the crevices of each floret. Marinara sauce binds everything without making anything soggy.
Broccoli Rabe and Mozzarella Hero at Buon Appetite
Not much a secret to this one; it's simply perfectly cooked broccoli rabe—tender florets, crisp stalk—washed well with olive oil and spiked nicely with chili and garlic. It hits an excellent balance of oily, spicy, garlicky, and gooey, with that awesome foundation of sweet, bitter rabe.
Galli Omelet Kati Roll at Desi Galli
The egg is seriously thin and wrapped in a chewy paratha not unlike a flour tortilla. That chewiness makes for a good time when combined with the soft, warm egg. It's basically a delicious Indian-spiced breakfast burrito with onions, tomatoes, green peppers and spicy green chilies. Make sure you dip at least a few bites in the spicy green cilantro-rich sauce that comes on the side.
Smoked Mozzarella at Birdbath
Not only is the panino a behemoth—almost the size of a small personal pizza—but it's also heavy on the olive oil. As you bite into the sandwich, the mix of basil-infused olive oil, bitter broccoli rabe and smoky (but not too smoky) mozzarella packs a punch that many vegetarian sandwiches aspire to, but few achieve. The Italian roll is pressed and toasted dark, lending a hefty crunch to every bite.
Ricotta and Greens at Bklyn Larder
Vegetable & Goat Cheese Panino at Rubirosa
Heirloom Tomato and Pine Nut Hummus at The Dutch
Avocado and Fresh Mozzarella at Ronnybrook Milk Bar
Greek Salad Sandwich with Garlicky Tzatziki at Prune
Taleggio Crostini at Il Bambino
Generous hunks of funky, buttery Murray's Taleggio sit on a bed of what may best be described as a thinned-out tomato conserva. The chunky purée is less raisin-like than typical sun-dried tomatoes, and plenty clean—like a ripe, thin spread of summer.
Avocado Sandwich at Iris Take Away
Buttery avocado and thick slices of chewy-nubbed 7-grain bread work so well together. Many avocado sandwiches go simple and plain, but this one sports slices of sharp cheddar that contrast it well. It's a combination we never get tired of.
Portobello Mushroom & Gorgonzola at Grounded
This sandwich features erfectly meaty grilled mushrooms on a crusty, powdery ciabatta. The creamy gorgonzola is sharp enough, but doesn't dominate the intense flavor of the mushrooms. There's some arugula thrown on for freshness, and it adds a nice spice to the whole enterprise.
The Avocado at Mudspot
Tomato, queso fresco, arugula, and garlic mayo are all tied together by ripe avocado and smushed between well-toasted slices of sourdough. It's creamy, but still light and refreshing. We really dig the crisp, tangy bread—little shards of crust tuck into the avocado just so.
Okra Roll at Thelewala
The okra retains its bright green color and firm texture, and the filling is plenty flavorful thanks to purple onions and a tangy spice mix that adds a little bit of heat. The tender, flaky paratha wrapped around the veggies makes the whole thing work—why would anyone eat sad lunch 'wraps' when there's another option this delicious?
P.W.C.D. Roll at Biryani Cart
Pancake with Egg at Henan Flavor
We find no fault with a fried egg set in a nearly greaseless, spongy griddled pancake, with a little soy to liven it up. Exciting? Nah, not particularly. But the pancake is well-made and we'd take the whole package (a mighty buck seventy five) over an egg-on-stale-roll any day.
Henan Flavor: 68b Forsyth Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 212-625-8299
Grass Sandwich at Cheeky Sandwiches
Roasted beets, mashed butternut squash, fried goat cheese, and arugula is served on delicate, light flauto. The bread has just the right amount of crust to not overwhelm the rest of the sandwich, important for one built on simple ingredients.
Cheeky Sandwiches: 35 Orchard Street, New York NY 10002 (map); 646-504-8132
Cheese Patacon at Patacon Pisao
Hefty fried plantains are smashed, then fried again to get extra crispy, then used as the sandwich "bread" for a variety of fillings. In this case, a cutlet of squeaky fried cheese with mayo and lettuce. It's humble stuff, and a little stone food-ish, but all the better for it.