I’ve been on a sandwich kick at lunchtime lately. Make that a turkey sandwich kick. And what I’ve found to satisfy these cravings has been far more than the basic sliced turkey and mayo on white bread. These are house-roasted turkey with homemade bread and supporting ingredients and condiments that add new flavor to a deli staple.
And better yet, they’re all stacked high. You know the height I mean—where you try to bite down perfectly, using two hands to keep the sandwich together as best you can, but somehow the fillings almost always slide out. These are my favorite kinds of sandwiches. Just a little sloppy, and a lot of fun because eating them is like a game.
Here are a four recent favorites.
Molly’s Favorite Sandwich at Brown Bag Deli
Making a decision at this small German Village deli is always a slight dilemma for me. They’ve got a chalkboard full of great options, each one sounding better than the next. But the last time I stopped in, it had to be Molly’s Favorite with thinly sliced oven roasted turkey, a meaty chunk of mozzarella and chunky, tangy sundried tomato pesto that adds a little sweetness. But the bread it was makes this sandwich work—grilled ciabatta with a crunch you don’t just feel in every bite, you hear it. Served toasted (so all the fixings inside are warm), this is one great filling deli sandwich. (Brown Bag has another I love, too. The Mohawk Stroller with smoked turkey, roasted red peppers, sprouts, basil-pesto on a toasted cheddar herb roll.)
Turkey Breast al Jugo at Si Senor
A favorite go-to lunch spot of mine, this Peruvian order-at-the-counter spot on Lynn Alley is always packed around noon and for good reason. Their lineup features Latin takes on club and grilled cheese sandwiches (including a hearty favorite of mine, the Chicharrón Peruano—tender chucks Peruvian fried pork shoulder with pickled red onions and sweet potato mayo). But when it comes to turkey, the Turkey Breast al Jugo is where I turn. More than the tender house-roasted turkey, picked red onions and crunchy bread, the sauce is where this sandwich shines. The rocoto mayo at Si Senor is quickly becoming one of my favorite condiments. It’s made from rocoto chile peppers, a staple in Peruvian cuisine, which add just enough spice.
So-Cal Turkey at Milestone 229
OK, a confession: It wasn’t the turkey that sold me on this sandwich as much as it was the accompaniments. Double-smoked bacon, chipotle jack cheese, avocado mayo, and the thing that pushed me over the edge, pickled radish. Packed in grilled multigrain bread, the sandwich was as good to look at as it was to eat. The So-Cal offered a good mix of salt, crunch and spice. I recommend pairing it with slightly greasy salt-and-vinegar fries and a seat on the Downtown restaurant’s stellar patio with a great view of the Scioto Mile and Bicentennial Park.
Turkey Sandwich at Bodega
This Short North bar’s sandwich is the one that started my turkey sandwich kick. It’s everything a great sandwich should be—stacked high and a little messy, but somehow still possible to get every flavor wrapped into one bite. Let’s start with the buttered brioche bun toasted on the inside until it’s just slightly charred. Then there are layers of turkey breast, candied strips of bacon for extra crunch, diced tomatoes, avocado cream (with plenty of chunks left in it) and mixed greens that spilled out all over the plate. I washed it all down with a Manhattan Mule—a mashup of a refreshing ginger-beer-centric Moscow Mule with the bourbon-and-bitters bite of a Manhattan.