The fried egg sandwich at Sweet Grass Next Door, below, is a top-10 sandwich for Midtowner Joe Hayden, above.
Most folks slap ham and cheese on bread for lunch and call it a day. Not so for Midtown foodie Joe Hayden, who thinks the sandwich, no matter how humble, deserves respect.
A journalism professor at the University of Memphis, Hayden grew up in a big family with an Italian mother who loved to cook. “She didn’t like a lot of kids in her kitchen,” Hayden says. “Sandwiches were something I could make and not get in her way.”
So what makes an ideal sandwich for a man who eats one every day? Construction is important, Hayden says. A good sandwich doesn’t fall apart: “If you have to eat a sandwich with a knife and fork, it’s a disappointing sandwich.”
Flavorful fillings matter too, something Hayden showcases with The Joe, a sandwich he hopes to one day see on a restaurant menu. “Spread goat cheese on bread and then add oven roasted chicken, roasted red peppers and baby spinach,” Hayden says. “It’s delicious and beautiful. When you bite into it, it looks like Christmas.”
While The Joe is a home-made favorite from Hayden’s own kitchen, he’s discovered plenty of other satisfying sandwiches at restaurants around town. He keeps an ongoing top-10 list, which for now includes these favorites:
Jive Turkey Hoagie: The grilled chicken wrap at Trolley Stop Market is a good and healthy alternative, but for pure flavor, there’s no substitute for the Jive Turkey Hoagie, a delectable combination of turkey, bacon and avocado on a hearty bun.
Grilled Chicken and Pineapple: Pineapple is a miracle food (much like sour cream), which is why the grilled chicken sandwich at Café Eclectic is so satisfying. The provolone, spinach and roasted tomatoes help too.
Cuban Po Boy: Soul Fish house-smokes its ham and pork tenderloin, the top-shelf ingredients in its Cuban Po Boy, along with pickles, mustard, Swiss, Cuban mayo and a soft muffuletta.
Lobster Roll: Nestled in a Texas toast-style hot dog bun, the lobster roll at Slider Inn with mayo and lemon juice is fresh and delicious. The lobster is shipped in fresh from Maine.
Sam I Am: The neighborhood bar Young Avenue Deli serves several standouts, but Sam I Am is on top: turkey, bacon and Gouda cheese get a twist of Memphis with barbecue sauce.
Caprutto: Fratelli’s Café delivers the holy grail of Italian ingredients - prosciutto, mozzarella and marinated tomatoes - served with basil and pesto mayonnaise, the perfect complement.
Fried Egg Sandwich: Let’s cut right to the chase: You will never eat a better fried egg sandwich than the bacon and avocado version served at Sweet Grass Next Door.
Hey Zeus: An unassuming convenience store, Kwik Chek serves gourmet sandwiches like “Hey Zeus,” a Greek-influenced wrap with turkey, roast beef, feta, Italian seasonings and lemon-herb dressing.
Special Gyro: The secret to the gyro at Brother Juniper’s is the shiitake vinaigrette, which lightens up the combination of meat, spinach, tomatoes and feta.
Tuscan Sun: No ingredient is boring when coupled with something else interesting. Case in point: the “Tuscan Sun” panini at Cordelia’s Table made with chicken breast, provolone, roasted tomatoes, Portobello and pesto mayo.