In case you didn’t know, August is National Sandwich Month. The popularity of sandwiches has flourished in the Central Valley — beyond international chains like Subway — thanks to local gems like The Cosmopolitan Tavern & Italian Grill, Geno’s Sandwiches & Salads and Sunnyside Delicatessen.
We, the staff of The Clovis Independent, decided to celebrate by eating our local favorite sandwiches. But there’s a twist: We’re picky.
Farin Montañez is a vegetarian, Janessa Tyler is simplistic, Monica Stevens doesn’t like fat or mayonnaise, Dani Villalobos is just a fan of good subs (who also doesn’t like mayonnaise) and Katie Fries has celiac disease and must steer clear of gluten.
But we agree that sandwiches are awesome — kind of like us.
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THE SIMPLE SANDWICH
I was ecstatic when Beach Hut Deli planted roots in The Square at Campus Pointe — across the street from Fresno State — because I love sandwiches.
In 2005, I started working at TOGO’S Sandwiches on Clovis and Shaw avenues. I remember having to memorize the expansive menu of more than 20 sandwiches. I also remember slicing and peeling avocados for hours. (Case in point: The No. 24 — Turkey & Avocado — was a favorite).
And so, my love for sandwiches started to grow.
OK, back to Beach Hut Deli. The Beach Comber is the crème de la crème of sandwiches. The made-to-order ’wich is customizable: Choose two meats and two cheeses to top with mayonnaise, mustard, dill pickles, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce and Greek peppers. (Italian dressing and alfalfa sprouts are also available.)
I select turkey breast and bacon with cheddar cheese and cream cheese on wheat bread. I forgo toppings except mayonnaise and mustard. Simple, yet delicious.
GRAB A BITE: Beach Hut Deli, 3071 E. Campus Pointe Drive, Fresno.
Details: (559) 697-4099, www.beachhutdeli.com.
— Janessa Tyler
THE GLUTEN-INTOLERANT WEIRDO
Searching for a gluten-free sandwich in Fresno-Clovis is like trying to find that elusive needle in a haystack. The struggle is real. Usually, if I’m craving a sandwich, I have to make it at home or settle for ordering it on a “lettuce wrap,” which is just a fancy way of saying salad.
Fortunately, when I want a gluten-free sandwich that doesn’t involve replacing bread with two pieces of lettuce (or making it myself, like some sort of peasant), there’s Berlin Street Grill.
The German-influenced eatery’s gluten-free döner wrap is virtually identical to the original — it comes stuffed with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, pickled red cabbage; your choice of steak or chicken; and optional feta cheese, jalapeños, pickles and pepperoncini. But the wrap surrounding everything is gluten-free, which makes all the difference for those of us who have celiac disease or avoid gluten for other dietary reasons.
The vegetables are crisp and refreshing, the meat (roasted on a vertical grill and thinly sliced) is marinated and seasoned with German spices and the wrap is the mechanism that holds it all together so it feels like you’re eating an actual wrap sandwich rather than a salad. Choose either optional house-made dill and garlic or spicy tzatziki sauces for an extra punch of flavor.
For a special treat, order a side of German fries, which may actually be the best fries in town.
GRAB A BITE: Berlin Street Grill, 7059 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno.
Details: (559) 554-9910, www.berlinstreetgrill.com.
— Katie Fries
The lunchtime rush is no joke — especially at Fresno’s Sunnyside Delicatessen. But amidst the flurry of hungry customers, a sign reminds its patrons of the yummy goodness awaiting us at the end of the shop’s customarily long line: “Smile, you are at Sunnyside Deli.”
Established in 1983, the family-run business has developed a system for creating some of the area’s most tasty sandwiches. Don’t believe me? Just refer to its Facebook page or 4.5 stars on Yelp, each boasting comments from the deli’s pleased and frequent fans.
My pick: the Turkey, Bacon and Avocado. Sure, the combination is far from original, but Sunnyside Delicatessen seems to highlight the sub’s three stars in a way that’s far from typical. All sandwiches come on your choice of a French roll, sliced wheat, sourdough or marble rye bread with its signature fixings: mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, lettuce, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, onions and Sunnyside’s famous Italian dressing.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what specifically makes the sandwich click — the house-made dressing, fresh veggies, soft, fluffy bread or the healthy helping of turkey and perfectly prepared bacon — but the food artists at this place have struck the perfect balance of flavors to appease any true sandwich lover.
Sunnyside Delicatessen is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
GRAB A BITE: Sunnyside Delicatessen, 5691 E. Kings Canyon Road, Fresno.
Details: (559) 252-3338.
— Dani Villalobos
PICKY ABOUT PASTRAMI
I’ll have a medium hot pastrami with cheddar (instead of Swiss), everything except mayo and extra wax peppers.
That’s my usual order at Geno’s Sandwiches & Salads in Fresno, which serves the best pastrami in the world.
I admit it. I’m picky about pastrami. I asked at one restaurant if its pastrami was lean. The server said yes. But when my sandwich came, I wouldn’t eat it because of all the fat marbled in. That restaurant has since closed (I’m not saying there’s a connection).
I’ve tried a lot of pastrami in Fresno and, to me, there’s just no comparison to Geno’s. Its website even boasts about having the best pastrami for 36 years.
Geno’s pastrami is super lean (no visible fat at all!) and piled high on the softest white roll. Add in a little mustard, lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar, and those wax peppers, and yum … my mouth is watering. Sandwiches come in small, medium and large. Prices start at $5.35.
Geno’s Sandwiches & Salads is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
GRAB A BITE: Geno’s Sandwiches & Salads, 1615 E. Ashlan Ave., Fresno.
Details: (559) 227-1812, www.genossandwichesandsalads.com.
— Monica Stevens
THE MEAT-FREE FOODIE
After working as a supervisor at Quizno’s about a decade ago (the now-closed one near Blackstone and Nees), I believe that a sandwich just isn’t a sandwich unless the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
That’s why I was excited to see the extensive list of hot sandwiches on the menu at Sequoia Sandwich Co. in the Clovis Commons shopping center at Herndon and Willow avenues.
The Chicken Fajita, Grilled Cajun Turkey and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches make my foodie mouth water. Before Meatless May — which turned me into a perpetual vegetarian — one of those delectable protein-packed sammiches would’ve made its way into my belly.
Thankfully, the meatless options are also plentiful at Sequoia Sandwich. My favorite is the Hot Vegetarian (thanks for naming a sandwich after me, guys! Ha!) featuring roasted eggplant, peppers and mushrooms, fresh sliced tomatoes and melted Parmesan cheese.
A great sandwich is loaded with tasty fillings, but what good is it if the bread is just, well, meh? Sequoia Sandwich Co. doesn’t have that problem. The buttered, toasted thick-cut sourdough encompassing the fresh veggies is perfection. It’s a delightful way to spend $6.99.
Sequoia Sandwich Co. is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
GRAB A BITE: Sequoia Sandwich Co., 765 W. Herndon Ave., Clovis.
Details: (559) 323-0330, www.sequoiaclovis.com.
— Farin Montañez