“Enjoy every sandwich,” Warren Zevon told David Letterman in one of the musician’s final appearances before succumbing to cancer. You do not need to be sick or dying to appreciate the wisdom of those words. Every day is a good day to savor a comforting, handheld meal, but Nov. 3 — National Sandwich Day — is one of the best.
National sub chains and some local restaurants will be marking the occasion with giveaways and specials, but I say this is one of those food holidays where there is no point in skimping. Splurging on the finest will only set you back about 10 bucks or so.
In honor of the 10 fingers that eaters use to wrap their mitts around bread, meat, cheese and veggies, here are 10 of my favorite sandwiches around South Florida, in the order they popped into my head. (And before you yell at me, I do love LaSpada’s, Doris and even Publix, but I’m limiting this to nonchains.)
La Mia Focaccia, Fort Lauderdale. The backbone of any great sandwich is the bread, and you can’t do any better than the round, pillowy, fresh-baked focaccia at this marvelous lunch spot run by Chiara Troccia. Its quality stayed high after moving to bigger digs across the street from its original location, and you can’t go wrong with any sandwich (including nonmeat choices such as mozzarella with eggplant or tomato) or any focaccia (plain, tomato, rosemary). I’m partial to the No. 11, a superb mix of prosciutto, salami, fresh mozzarella and arugula. 6330 N. Powerline Road. Call 954-772-9499 or go to LaMiaFocaccia.com.
Smoke BBQ, Fort Lauderdale. Some people come here for ribs, chicken and brisket. I come here for the smoked pastrami sandwich. It rivals anything found at New York’s best delis, Katz’s included, a powerful and wonderful pile of brined, spiced and smoked meat that melts in the mouth like meat butter that takes chef Mike Porcari nearly a week to prepare. Get it on rye with spicy house mustard. You’ll thank me later. 3351 NE 32nd St. Call 954-530-5334 or go to EatBBQNow.com.
V & S Italian Deli, Boca Raton. Brothers Vinny and Sal Falcone opened this cramped store after moving from Queens and they make Italian-style subs the old-fashioned way — with care, respect and love. Regulars get fist bumps and newcomers get good advice. The bread, crusty loaves delivered fresh daily from a nearby bakery, is great. I loved the imported prosciutto with fresh mozzarella, and the chicken fontina sub. 2621 N. Federal Highway. Call 561-395-5206 or go to VAndSDeli.com.
A Cubano B, Pompano Beach. Versailles on Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana draws the tourists, politicians and national recognition (the Daily Meal website recently put Versailles’ Cuban sandwich on its top 15 sandwich list), but when I want a Cubano I head to A Cubano B, a small shop nestled in a warehouse district that has a mighty fine rendition. The bread is pressed until golden and crispy, and it melds with the ham, pork, cheese, pickle and mustard beautifully. 3350 NW 22nd Terrace. Call 754-222-8711 or go to CubanoB.com.
Ocean View Inn and Sports Pub, Islamorada. Everyone has their own Keys traditions and mine involves stopping at this laid-back sports bar for a great dolphin sandwich. It is a wonderful hunk of fresh fish, grilled and blackened upon request, served on a kaiser roll. The place is owned by former Pittsburgh Steeler Gary Dunn, and it has reopened after taking minor damage in Hurricane Irma. 84500 Overseas Highway. Call 305-664-8052 or go to TheOcean-View.com.
Revenant Coffee House, Fort Lauderdale. After sustaining flood damage from Irma, the Revenant is back — and so is its hearty breakfast chapa sandwich. Owner Matias Jurgeit bakes crusty chapa rolls in the outdoor clay oven he built with his own hands, then fills it with an egg, ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado and arugula. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. 2301 NE 26th St. Call 954-639-1836 or go to RevenantCoffee.com.
J28 Sandwich Bar, Hollywood. This Peruvian spot has a sandwich that is worth traveling for, the chicharron, featuring crispy and moist strips of pork belly piled on a house-baked white roll with pickled onion, herbs, sweet potato and creamy garlicky aioli. 1854 N. Young Circle. Call 754-208-2902 or go to J28SandwichBar.com.
Spatch Peri-Peri Chicken, Fort Lauderdale. A restaurant specializing in chicken marinated with the South African peri-peri pepper has one of my favorite chicken sandwiches, the Spatch. It features plump, juicy and slightly fatty chicken thigh on a potato roll with housemade pickles, coleslaw and banana peppers. Throw on some extra of the peri-peri sauce found in bottles around the store, subtle but addictive, and you’ll never think chicken is boring again. 3848 N. Federal Highway. Call 954-607-1703 or go to SpatchPeriPeri.com.
Georgia Pig, Fort Lauderdale. In an ever-changing world, it’s nice to know some things remain the same, and the classic pulled pork sandwich at this institution on State Road 7 is among them. A recent ownership change hasn’t diminished the quality of this product, a fine stew of pulled pig simmered in vinegary, mustardy sauce. Top it with some finely chopped coleslaw, and you’ll be in hog heaven. 1285 S. State Road 7. Call 954-587-4420 or go to GeorgiaPig.com.
Lunchroom, Fort Lauderdale. The Be Nice restaurant group opened this homey little sandwich shop earlier this year, and many of the offerings are warm and comforting. My favorite: a meatball sub with orbs of ground beef, veal and pork surrounded by cheese above (melted provolone and pecorino) and below (a layer of stracciatella). Nice, indeed. 4520 N. Federal Highway. Call 954-870-7197 or go to LunchroomSandwiches.com.