Over the past few months, we’ve done a number of posts, individual posts on Detroit’s five best sandwiches. We set out to find the best of the best, the sandwiches that could stand up to any competitor, or any appetite. Here are the results of that search, collected into a single column, for ease of reading. Links are included to the original article, in case you’d like to read more about a specific sandwich, or location.
Perhaps most importantly, these are not presented in any particular order or ranking. There was no “best”. The sandwiches are far too different to judge fairly against one another. Each of them is the best of its kind in Detroit, and you won’t be sorry for eating any of them.
And whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not (a debate for another time and forum), coneys WERE excluded from consideration. I consider a Detroit coney to be its own thing, and specifically excluded them from this quest.
The Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich – Chef Greg’s Soul in the Wall Cafe
A cross between a Philly cheesesteak, and a Sloppy Joe, by way of Jamaica.
A favorite of, and a tribute to, the late, great Allee Wills, one of Motown’s most colorful songwriters (“Boogie Wonderland,” “September,” “I’ll be There for You”).
It’s a fantastic taste, made by the Boogaloo sauce, a recreation of a lost recipe from the now-defunct Brother’s Barbecue. I’ve been able to eat both sandwiches, and can attest this is a faithful reproduction.
It’s a blast from the past.
You can read more about the sandwich, and its creator, Chef Greg, here: https://iwriteforfood.com/you-too-can-do-the-boogaloo/
The Ham Sandwich – Mike’s Famous Ham Place
Famous for a reason, Mike’s ham sandwich is the simplest sandwich on this list. Which might mean it’s the one most demanding of perfection.
The sandwich is on a plain white bun. You can add dill pickle chips, or a single slice of processed cheese. You can add mustard, but not mayo.
So the sandwich lives and dies by the quality of the ham. There’s nothing for it to hide behind, no sauce to bury an inferior product, or add moisture to an overcooked filling. The ham has to be perfect.
And it is. Juicy, salty, sweet, with a wonderful char on the crust, this is ham as it was intended to taste. Each sandwich is stuffed with ham, sliced right off the bone when it’s ordered.
It’s big enough to split with a friend, especially if you try a bowl of their equally substantial and wonderful bean soup.
But you won’t want to. Read the full story here, and learn more about Mike, and his wife, Yrvet: https://iwriteforfood.com/338-2/
The Double Cheeseburger – Motz’s Burgers
I’m reminded of the scene in the movie “Burnt,” where the chef, played by Bradley Cooper, interviews a sous chef at Burger King. She dismisses the food as having too much fat, too much salt, and using cheap cuts of meat. He reminds her that she has just described many classic French dishes: goulash, bourguignon, cassoulet. He then explains the problem with BK is it’s too consistent, that it’s always exactly the same.
That’s not a problem at Motz’s. Tony, Tammy, and the team have literally served millions of these, and every one was a little different. The burgers are measured and rolled by hand, the onions are strewn across the top with abandon, and the cook time is clocked by Tammy’s trained eye.
The resulting produce is an unbelievably tasty amalgamation of beef, onion, cheese, and bread. The occasional accents of condiment and pickles simply add bright notes to the winning composition.
You need to try these: https://iwriteforfood.com/detroits-best-sandwiches-the-double-cheeseburger/
The Reuben – Hydrade Deli
Stuart Litt makes the best corned beef in Detroit. Because of that, his Reuben is the best in Detroit, and probably the state.
For nearly 50 years, Stuart has been turning out these amazing sandwiches at his shop on Michigan Avenue. It’s located across the street from another winner, Mike’s Famous Ham Place, so you can sample two of Detroit’s best in a single trip (Only to be attempted by at least two, who agree to split sandwiches. Gastronauts who opt in to this challenge are on their own, and I’m not liable for the resulting food coma.).
The only traditional deli sandwich on this list, this Reuben has a winning balance of the critical ingredients – the Swiss cheese, the kraut, the Russian dressing, the grilled Rye, and the delicious, salty, spicy, corned beef.
Warning – HIGHLY addictive. You have been warned: https://iwriteforfood.com/detroits-best-sandwiches-the-reuben/
The Döner Kebab – The Balkan House
Detroit is a city of immigrants, and nowhere is that more clear than in the city of Hamtramck. It’s the world in two square miles.
So it’s no wonder that a Balkan restaurant is serving a sandwich of Turkish origin, made famous in Germany, served in a loaf of Bosnian bread. That’s the type of ethnic fusion that Hamtramck, and Detroit, excel in.
The Döner is a substantial sandwich, and messy enough that once you bite in, you really can’t put it down. You need to keep going, to keep all the sandwich together.
Trust me, you won’t mind.
Click here to read more about his sandwich, and the fantastic owner, Juma Ekic: https://iwriteforfood.com/detroits-best-sandwiches-the-doner-kebab/
Honorable Mention: The Monster – Ernie’s Market
Ernie’s Market is located in Oak Park, as city adjacent to Detroit. Not in Detroit, so I couldn’t put it in the official five.
But so good a sandwich, I had to include it on the list.
The Monster is a sandwich stuffed with seven meats, two cheeses, eight vegetables, and three condiments. It’s a bargain at $9, as it’s HUGE.
But even The Monster is dwarfed by Ernie’s personality (“Hey, Baby!”). He’s the happiest, most ebullient person I’ve met. He’s a force of nature, and his sole concern is that you leave his market happy, and well-fed.
Which you will: https://iwriteforfood.com/the-man-the-myth-the-monster/
I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through Detroit’s best sandwiches. Please leave a comment below if you’ve tried any of these, and agree (or disagree) with their inclusion on this list. Also, if there’s a great sandwich we’ve missed, please feel free to add that in the comments as well.