RICHMOND, Va. — Hi, my name is Patrick and I’m a sandwich-holic.
Too much of my time is spent both reading about and digesting sandwiches with a passion that has, in the past, cost me jobs and friendships.
Despite this, I pursue my passion in the form of discovering Richmond’s offerings in the form of anything sandwich related.
Be it hero, grinder, sub, gyro, or similarly sandwichy item; I am constantly looking for more.
After a long time of exploring Richmond’s sandwiches I have compiled what I believe to be the five best sandwiches in the Richmond area.
Though there are many great contenders, they can’t all be the best.
In my sandwich worship textbook, The Spirit on the Submarine, I dedicated a whole section to the modern problems facing the po’boy.
Perhaps the most difficult obstacle to overcome is the heaviness inherent in the po’boy’s construction.
Putting anything fried on bread, which in the po’boy’s case is usually a baguette, can create a sandwich too dense with breading that forgoes flavor for thickness.
I wasn’t sure Richmond had anything that would break my personal stereotype.
When I asked a few fellow sandwich addicts where the best po’boy in town was, Croaker’s Spot came up time and time again.
With my natural distrust of other people’s taste buds, I chewed lightly and didn’t know what to expect.
Thankfully, it surpassed my ludicrously high standards.
Croaker’s Spot put its own spin on the oyster po’boy and corrected the aforementioned error.
Their secret lies in savory coleslaw, which acts as the perfect foil and glue to the dense, golden brown fried oysters.
Complementary to the duo is the toasted bread which doesn’t mimic but encases the oyster’s compact chewiness and creates a surprisingly light but filling po ’boy.
I also have to mention that all the tables have four types of hot sauce, the mark of a fine eatery.
Extra points go to the staff for stocking Cholula instead of Texas Pete.
Banh mi is the perfect way for a deli addict to detox, but still retain characteristics of their vice.
I too could put every meal in a sandwich, despite the constant urgings not to by my doctor.
In times when my sweat smells like salami, I get a banh mi.
Instead of the usual meat and cheese onslaught I’m used to eating, the banh mi combines savory vegetables with either pork or chicken to create a near salad in a sandwich.
For those that think this might be a bad thing, please know I am referring to a good salad. A really good salad.
My personal favorite place to have banh mi in Richmond is Le’s Vietnamese.
Their banh mi contains an aromatic mix of carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro, the sandwich adds a piquancy buffeted by the thickness of the bread. The bread, which retains the baguette like quality on which it is based, is a meal unto itself.
At an extremely generous $3.50, this sandwich is ideal for the healthy but wallet-sensitive eater.
Chiocca’s is armed with a powerful weapon in its c. 1930’s sandwich press. It looks as if this was also the last time it was cleaned, and I’m not complaining.
A press that can conjure up creations such as their version of the Reuben has my vote to stay seasoned.
My favorite dish is the Reuben which stands up against the countless incarnations of the sandwiches I have devoured with a vigor that many loved ones and former acquaintances have called an addiction.
Over a near lifetime of inhaling Reubens, I found that the main weakness is their ability to wilt quickly due to frequent over-allocation of ingredients.
For those initiated, OAI is a technical term we use in the sandwich science department when eateries load up too much on a particular item. For instance a deli might stack a Reuben full with corned beef and neglect to add proper attention to the sauerkraut or swiss cheese.
However, Chiocca’s commits no such sin and maintains a crisp equality to its dish. Armed with lean corned beef, melted swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and dijon on rye, this sandwich is what other Reuben architects should strive for.
I don’t really like ketchup. I don’t like chutney.
This sandwich has both and I love it. For some reason this sandwich has some strange power to manipulate my taste buds into accepting both.
Honestly this sandwich does not make the most sense when reading it on the menu, which is perhaps why I wanted to try it.
The sandwich comprises of jerk chicken, cabbage, banana ketchup, and peach chutney on a gigantic baguette-ish loaf.
Containing a bit of spice, the Brooklyn conjures up and masters the delicate art of mixing sweet and heat. In no sub, hero, or gyro have I tasted a better mastery of this.
To be honest the sandwich is scary.
Most of it contains ingredients that I previously found objectionable, or in the case of banana ketchup, didn’t know existed at all.
The originator of this sandwich clearly is magic. So be careful. Actually, don’t, because then you won’t be able to try this sandwich.
As a native Texan, I expect a lot from my barbecue – in particular brisket. If it doesn’t make me laugh, cry, or call mama, it hits the trash faster than a dirty diaper.
I’ve been eating good brisket before I could read, and continue to pursue both passions. Though I err towards eating brisket more.
In Richmond, my favorite brisket sandwich is from Alamo BBQ. Granted, I’m looking for a sandwich that I grew up with, and Alamo doesn’t fail to deliver.
The meat is lean and textured with the rough bark optimal for a brisket sandwich.
Bad bark makes bad brisket.
However, Alamo achieves the perfect level of such bark that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the sandwich. It is seasoned perfectly to sink into the bread, and masters the often precarious but seldom discussed beef to onion ratio.
Like bad bark, faulty b/o calculations can cause a potentially good sandwich to lose potential. Maybe that’s just me talking, but I think I’m right. Or too obsessed.
Alamo achieves this with perfection and adds the ever-important jalapeños for an extra kick.
Despite this, I bring my own Cholula.
This is only a microscopic summary of the sandwiches I’ve tried and doesn’t begin to detail my massive consumption of sandwiches.
If you have any suggestions on something I should try, drop me an email here. If I’m less than kind, you’ve been warned.