The “sandwich parliament” has passed a few resolutions.

I have a group of pals who, like me, like to think of ourselves as sandwich people. Our text chain is called “sandwich parliament” and we meet on the regular to eat at Anchorage restaurants. This town has so many good options, oh man. There’s the grilled cheese at Fromagios dunked in tomato soup, or the mortadella and mozzarella of “the godfather” at Originale, or the melty heat and perfect bread of the “Iditarod” at MVP Sports Deli. I love them all really, but here’s a list of seven of my current favorites, including a few sort of secret stand-outs you might miss at your first pass over a menu.   

Originale in Anchorage    Originale_The Godfather    Originale in Anchorage (Interior)

The lox bagel sandwich at Birch & Alder  – Anchorage is in the middle of a small-batch bagel boom and the Birch & Alder bagels – available via a drive-thru window on the way to Girdwood – are some of the best of the bunch. They should be. The restaurant operation is overseen by Reuben Gerber, who used to be chef de cuisine at the Crow’s Nest and before that worked at Jack Sprat. The bagel sandwich with lox, called “the bagel experience,” is a triumph – fresh bagel, generous schmear, cold smoked lox, local sprouts, crunchy oven-dried tomato chips and preserved lemon rind. It sings. Honestly, I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it so I don’t have to wait too long next time I go there.  

The bahn mi at Pho Vietnam –  So many of my favorite restaurants don’t work the way they used to, but I take great comfort in phoning an order to Pho Vietnam in the middle of a work day and finding myself holding a warm, paper-wrapped bahn mi 15 minutes later. This stand-out “ Vietnamese sandwich” is sort of a footnote on the menu among the many pho variations, curries and noodles. You could easily miss it. There are also certainly flashier bahn mi in this town, but there’s a balance to this traditional sandwich that makes it perfect –  crisp pickled vegetables, mild pate, slices of jalapeno, fresh cilantro and deli meat all settled into a lightly toasted hoagie roll. It hits all the notes – heat, salt, crunch. The less traditional vegetarian version with fried tofu is also pretty great. 

The French dip at South – Here’s another great sandwich tucked into a menu full of much flashier fare. French dips take me back to another era of Anchorage dining – the booths of Harry’s (deep cut!) in Midtown or the Eastside O’Brady’s, where I first learned the pleasure of dipping crispy bread into warm au jus. This dip packs all that nostalgia with tender sliced beef, caramelized onions, optional mushrooms (get them!), a glorious horseradish sauce and house-made jus.  

South Restaurant    French Dip from South Restaurant    South Restaurant_Indoors

The pastrami Reuben from Mo's Deli – Once, stuck in isolation with COVID, I DoorDashed this sandwich from Anchorage’s lone Jewish deli on the recommendation of my friend Judith, who is both a serious food person and from the East Coast. “You’ll have dreams about it,” she said. Seriously: maybe it healed me? The pastrami, like nothing I’ve had outside of New York City, was stacked high on soft rye bread, topped with tangy kraut, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese. I thought I was going to eat only half, but I couldn’t stop. Then I took a long nap and tested negative. Say what you want, but a good sandwich is a little bit magic. 

Mo's Deli    Mo's Reuben Sandwich    Mo's Deli_Owner Jason

The turkey sandwich at Urban Greens – Urban Greens co-owner Noam Schulgasser is an exacting sandwich scientist who has an uncompromising eye for fresh ingredients and the softest bread. There are lots of really great unique sandwiches on his menu – “the Sicilian” with the fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers, juicy with balsamic vinaigrette, the ever popular “Salamanof,” with salami, provolone and pickles, or the spicy tuna with harissa, but my allegiance will always be to the classic turkey sandwich, which I discovered a decade ago while pregnant. It takes talent to elevate a ho-hum American classic so much a person thinks about it later and wants another. What sets it apart is the care that’s taken with every layer – the bun is fresh, the turkey is great, the tomato is ripe (this, in Alaska’s tomato environment, is varsity level work), the lettuce is perfectly crisp and there’s just the right amount of mayo. When I eat it, I feel like I’m sitting at his table and he made it just for me.  

Urban Greens Image 1    Urban Greens_Turkey Sandwich    Urban Greens Image #3

The pork chashu sandwich at Kami Ramen – Inside the former home of a mid-Century burger spot in Spenard, the warmth of the always-crowded, intimate dining room at Kami makes everything you put in your mouth taste better. This “sandwich” might also be described as a pork bun. It features tender, sticky pork belly inside a soft, disc-shaped steamed bun with a tangle of aromatic greens. One of the beautiful things about it is how it brings lots of flavor in a small package, a stand-out feature in a world of jaw-stretching sandwiches. This sandwich is the perfect move when you’re just a little bit hungry mid-afternoon or if you want to save room for green tea ice cream with red beans. 

The halibut sandwich at the White Spot Cafe – I forbid you from eating this sandwich for the first time when you are not sitting at the bar in this historic Downtown hole-in-the-wall on Fourth Avenue. The halibut sandwich tastes best when you can watch it being made – fresh fish battered and fried golden, a squishy white bread bun pulled from the bag, iceberg, American cheese, and tartar stacked in a tower. That first bite is all crunch, salt and tang. Maybe you’re weird about drinking Coke for health reasons, but you might want to order one on the occasion of eating one of these, because those sweet bubbles hit just right.  

The White Spot Image #1    The White Spot Image #2   The White Spot Image #3