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Introducing Minneapolis's 18 Most Iconic Sandwiches

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If there's one thing Minnesota knows, it's a good sandwich. After all, we invented one of the very best there is, the Juicy Lucy, not to mention that other Minnesotan standby, the fried walleye sandwich. These two sandwich greats make it onto the list, along with a whole lot more sandwich goodness, from banh mi to prime rib to lobster rolls to po' boys. These are not the newest sandwiches on the block, they're the most iconic. In some cases, Minneapolitans have been eating these sandwiches for fifty years (or more); other sandwiches on the list are newer icons, but have already become bona fide classics.

Did we miss one of your favorites? Include one that deeply offends you? Make your case for or against in the comments.


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Dusty's Bar

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This beloved Northeast bar (established in 1952) is otherwise known as the Home of the Dago, which - ethnic slurs aside - is one heck of a sandwich, basically a hamburger but with the patty made of Italian sausage instead of beef. It comes in five varieties: plain, cheese (mozzarella or American), fried egg & cheese, "California" (cheese, tomato, and onions), or "Works" (cheese, fried onions, and sweet peppers).

Mayslack's

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Mayslack's has been serving its classic roast beef sandwich since 1955, when Stan Myslajek (the original Polish spelling of Mayslack) started making these monoliths of meat. The beef is slow-roasted for eight hours in garlic and meat juices and served piled high and covered with onions and banana peppers, with coleslaw and au jus on the side.

Kramarczuk's East European Deli

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Does a sausage in a bun count as a sandwich? Well, it's called a sausage sandwich at Kramarczuk's, and that's good enough for us. Get your choice of the famed Polish deli's Polish, Bratwurst, Hungarian, Italian, or Andouille sausages, served on a made-from-scratch bun with what is certain to be housemade sauerkaut. Also available: the Cossack, a smoked Ukranian sausage with melted swiss and sauerkraut.
A tray with a Polish on a bun with sauerkraut

Nye's Polonaise

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Nye's is known for its prime rib, but if you can't quite stomach the full 16 - 32 ounce options, the sandwich is a perfectly respectable way to go. The Prime Rib Dip au Jus is the classic, but the Nye's Style Prime Dip - topped with melted Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and onions - is our pick. It usually still comes au jus, but you might want to (very politely) ask your server, just to make sure.

Monte Carlo Restaurant

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This North Loop institution has got lots of classic sandwiches on the menu, but the Charlie's Kitchen Steak Sandwich is the true icon. The recipe - broiled filet mignon on pumpernickel bread with horseradish sauce - replicates the way the sandwich was served at Charlie's Café Exceptionale, a true Minneapolis institution for almost fifty years before its closing in 1982.

Smack Shack

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Another recent classic, Smack Shack has become synonymous with lobster rolls in the Twin Cities. Get the iconic sandwich at the recently-opened Smack Shack brick n' mortar or at the 1029 Bar, where Smack Shack still runs the kitchen.

Be'Wiched Deli

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This favorite North Loop sandwich spot is best known for its housemade pastrami sandwich, served on rye bread with pickled cabbage and coarse mustard. Go "New York style" for $4 more and get twice the pastrami goodness.

Hola Arepa

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The newest icon on our list, this food truck's arepas have already reached classic status as far as we're concerned, especially the slow-roasted pork, sandwiched/stuffed in a grilled cornmeal cake along with black beans and cotija cheese.

Jasmine Deli

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It's hard to pick just one banh mi place from all the excellent options in the Twin Cities, but Jasmine Deli is the iconic banh mi against which all others must be judged. All of the banh mi options are super-fresh and super-affordable, with the original probably the most iconic and the curry mock duck a particular standout.
Fika has been open for less than a year, but with the Twin Cities as the epicenter for the national renaissance of Nordic cuisine, we had to get some open-faced sandwiches on this list (otherwise known as smörgås for the Swedish and smørrebrød for the Danish). The perfectly precise options at Fika in the American Swedish Institute include a seared salmon with watercress, beet, tarragon, and sweet mustard sauce, served open-face on a piece of housemade rye bread.

Caffrey's Deli & Subs

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Anyone who has spent a late night in Uptown would recognize the welcome sight of a 2 a.m. meatball sub from Caffrey's. The sandwich shop is also known for that incredibly rare Minneapolis niche: late-night delivery.

Manny's Tortas

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Opinions diverge about where to find the best Mexican tortas in the Twin Cities, but Manny's is certainly the most iconic, and the Manny's Special (steak and ham) is the most iconic of the iconic tortas, but the Cubana (pork and ham) is a close second. Get all the fixings: cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, jalapeño peppers, refried beans, and chipotle pepper mayo.

Holy Land - Midtown

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Both Holy Land locations - in Midtown Global Market and on Central Ave. in Northeast - are known for their crispy housemade falafel. Nestled in a housemade pita and covered with housemade sauce, it's one of the most iconic vegetarian sandwiches in the Twin Cities.

Matt's Bar

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Along with the 5-8, Matt's is in permanent contention for the title of the inventor of the Juicy Lucy - the classic burger with an oozing cheese center. At Matt's, it's a Jucy Lucy, no "I", and there are no frills - just onions, raw or fried, french fries, and ketchup as accompaniments.

Clancey's Meats & Fish

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Known primarily as a first-class butcher shop, Clancey's also makes one memorable sandwich. The roast beef is the icon, but the menu's recent corned beef addition really gives it a run for its money. And yes, you want it with everything.

5-8 Club

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Along with Matt's Bar, the 5-8 is in permanent contention as the inventor of the classic Juicy Lucy. Established in 1928, the 5-8's got a much bigger menu than Matt's, but the Juicy Lucy remains by far its most popular item.

Sea Salt Eatery

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Sea Salt's Fried Catfish sandwich is an icon, but really, all the po' boys on their menu deserve icon status (other options include fish, shrimp, oysters, and crawfish). This seasonal spot next to Minnehaha Falls is only open during the warm(er) months, so get those po'boys while the getting's good. They open on April 5th this year.
A large hoagie is stuffed with fried crawfish

Tavern on Grand

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Last but not least, that most Minnesotan of sandwiches, the fried walleye sandwich. You can find a fried walleye sandwich on lots and lots of Twin Cities menus, but the most iconic comes from St. Paul's Tavern on Grand.

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Dusty's Bar

This beloved Northeast bar (established in 1952) is otherwise known as the Home of the Dago, which - ethnic slurs aside - is one heck of a sandwich, basically a hamburger but with the patty made of Italian sausage instead of beef. It comes in five varieties: plain, cheese (mozzarella or American), fried egg & cheese, "California" (cheese, tomato, and onions), or "Works" (cheese, fried onions, and sweet peppers).

Mayslack's

Mayslack's has been serving its classic roast beef sandwich since 1955, when Stan Myslajek (the original Polish spelling of Mayslack) started making these monoliths of meat. The beef is slow-roasted for eight hours in garlic and meat juices and served piled high and covered with onions and banana peppers, with coleslaw and au jus on the side.

Kramarczuk's East European Deli

Does a sausage in a bun count as a sandwich? Well, it's called a sausage sandwich at Kramarczuk's, and that's good enough for us. Get your choice of the famed Polish deli's Polish, Bratwurst, Hungarian, Italian, or Andouille sausages, served on a made-from-scratch bun with what is certain to be housemade sauerkaut. Also available: the Cossack, a smoked Ukranian sausage with melted swiss and sauerkraut.
A tray with a Polish on a bun with sauerkraut

Nye's Polonaise

Nye's is known for its prime rib, but if you can't quite stomach the full 16 - 32 ounce options, the sandwich is a perfectly respectable way to go. The Prime Rib Dip au Jus is the classic, but the Nye's Style Prime Dip - topped with melted Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and onions - is our pick. It usually still comes au jus, but you might want to (very politely) ask your server, just to make sure.

Monte Carlo Restaurant

This North Loop institution has got lots of classic sandwiches on the menu, but the Charlie's Kitchen Steak Sandwich is the true icon. The recipe - broiled filet mignon on pumpernickel bread with horseradish sauce - replicates the way the sandwich was served at Charlie's Café Exceptionale, a true Minneapolis institution for almost fifty years before its closing in 1982.

Smack Shack

Another recent classic, Smack Shack has become synonymous with lobster rolls in the Twin Cities. Get the iconic sandwich at the recently-opened Smack Shack brick n' mortar or at the 1029 Bar, where Smack Shack still runs the kitchen.

Be'Wiched Deli

This favorite North Loop sandwich spot is best known for its housemade pastrami sandwich, served on rye bread with pickled cabbage and coarse mustard. Go "New York style" for $4 more and get twice the pastrami goodness.

Hola Arepa

The newest icon on our list, this food truck's arepas have already reached classic status as far as we're concerned, especially the slow-roasted pork, sandwiched/stuffed in a grilled cornmeal cake along with black beans and cotija cheese.

Jasmine Deli

It's hard to pick just one banh mi place from all the excellent options in the Twin Cities, but Jasmine Deli is the iconic banh mi against which all others must be judged. All of the banh mi options are super-fresh and super-affordable, with the original probably the most iconic and the curry mock duck a particular standout.

FIKA

Fika has been open for less than a year, but with the Twin Cities as the epicenter for the national renaissance of Nordic cuisine, we had to get some open-faced sandwiches on this list (otherwise known as smörgås for the Swedish and smørrebrød for the Danish). The perfectly precise options at Fika in the American Swedish Institute include a seared salmon with watercress, beet, tarragon, and sweet mustard sauce, served open-face on a piece of housemade rye bread.

Caffrey's Deli & Subs

Anyone who has spent a late night in Uptown would recognize the welcome sight of a 2 a.m. meatball sub from Caffrey's. The sandwich shop is also known for that incredibly rare Minneapolis niche: late-night delivery.

Manny's Tortas

Opinions diverge about where to find the best Mexican tortas in the Twin Cities, but Manny's is certainly the most iconic, and the Manny's Special (steak and ham) is the most iconic of the iconic tortas, but the Cubana (pork and ham) is a close second. Get all the fixings: cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, jalapeño peppers, refried beans, and chipotle pepper mayo.

Holy Land - Midtown

Both Holy Land locations - in Midtown Global Market and on Central Ave. in Northeast - are known for their crispy housemade falafel. Nestled in a housemade pita and covered with housemade sauce, it's one of the most iconic vegetarian sandwiches in the Twin Cities.

Matt's Bar

Along with the 5-8, Matt's is in permanent contention for the title of the inventor of the Juicy Lucy - the classic burger with an oozing cheese center. At Matt's, it's a Jucy Lucy, no "I", and there are no frills - just onions, raw or fried, french fries, and ketchup as accompaniments.

Clancey's Meats & Fish

Known primarily as a first-class butcher shop, Clancey's also makes one memorable sandwich. The roast beef is the icon, but the menu's recent corned beef addition really gives it a run for its money. And yes, you want it with everything.

Related Maps

5-8 Club

Along with Matt's Bar, the 5-8 is in permanent contention as the inventor of the classic Juicy Lucy. Established in 1928, the 5-8's got a much bigger menu than Matt's, but the Juicy Lucy remains by far its most popular item.

Sea Salt Eatery

Sea Salt's Fried Catfish sandwich is an icon, but really, all the po' boys on their menu deserve icon status (other options include fish, shrimp, oysters, and crawfish). This seasonal spot next to Minnehaha Falls is only open during the warm(er) months, so get those po'boys while the getting's good. They open on April 5th this year.
A large hoagie is stuffed with fried crawfish

Tavern on Grand

Last but not least, that most Minnesotan of sandwiches, the fried walleye sandwich. You can find a fried walleye sandwich on lots and lots of Twin Cities menus, but the most iconic comes from St. Paul's Tavern on Grand.

Related Maps