Tampa's top 10 sandwiches of 2011

A sandwich connoisseur picks his favorites of the year.

click to enlarge The Bahn Mi at BT - Todd Sturtz
Todd Sturtz
The Bahn Mi at BT

Tampa has a lot of unique offerings if you’re a sandwich lover. Rich in global cuisines — from Asian to Cuban to Vietnamese to Italian — I could come up with a different tasty meat and bread combo to recommend for every day of the month. That being said, this is a top ten list (not top 31) so here we go:

Oyster Po’ Boy at Pane Rustica — Preferably on the house-baked olive bread, the perfectly seasoned and crispy fried outer casings give way to a plump and juicy oysters, while the bitter greens help cut the richness of the house-made paprika-lemon aioli. It’s simultaneously a shame and a blessing that this beautiful mixture of flavorful and texturally contrasting ingredients is only available in months that end in "R". 3225 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-902-8828, panerusticabkery.com

Havana Hottie at Datz — A creative take on the Cuban sandwich, the Havana Hottie has a generous amount of smoked pulled pork, Jarlsberg cheese, crunchy dill pickles, and delightfully spicy and sweet Honeycup mustard. 2616 S Macdill Ave., Tampa, 813-831-7000, datztampa.com

The Cuban at Wright’s Gourmet House — More of a legitimate Cuban sandwich, Wright’s uses top quality ingredients and has a more traditional (although still not a purist’s traditional) approach: no lettuce or tomato, a good amount of mustard, and pressed just enough that the cheese inside melts and adds an almost creamy layer to the finished product. 1200 S Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, 813-253-3838, wrightsgourmet.com

Tomozza at Doormet — Sidebern’s and Pane Rustica veterans Jake and Hans Koch created something I consider to be the artful transformation of a basil-pesto, prosciutto, and balsamic caprese salad into an easily devoured hand-held 9th Symphony on bread. Take a bow, maestros. 1155 S Dale Mabry Hwy #12, Tampa, 813-287-3667, doormet.com

(Cheap) Bahn Mi at Saigon Deli — $3 for a French-Asian BBQ Pork sandwich that's not only awesome, but also contains a plethora of different ingredients on the table that allow you to tailor it to your desired level of spicy/sweet/rich/salty? Saigon Deli’s Banh Mi is difficult to criticize, and even more difficult for me to give up. I’m proud to say I’m an addict. 3962 W Waters Ave., Tampa, 813-932-0300.

(Pricier) Bahn Mi at Restaurant BT — When I really want to treat myself to some gourmet street food, BT is where I go. I enjoy the reinvented BT even more than the original, as the menu, presentation, and service are all top notch. Stop by to treat yourself to a very elegant version of what I can only assume is pretty much the “hot dog” of Vietnam. 2507 S Macdill Ave., Tampa, 813-258-1916, restaurantbt.com

Pumpkin-Spiced, Maduro-Battered Monte Cristo from Wicked ‘Wiches Food Truck — Literally and actually a mouthful, this pumpkin-battered sandwich with turkey comes with cranberry sauce for dipping. Methinks the Indians would’ve wanted more than just beads if they’d known we were going to concoct unreasonably delicious coma-inducing treats such as this. 813-369-9120, wickedwiches.com

Tortas at Taqueria Monterrey — Another great value, Taco Bus’ sister restaurant offers a unique sammie on fluffy bread with a golden shell filled with umami-rich exotic ingredients, like pork al pastor, tripa (tripe), pulpo (octopus), and more. If you’re hungry and in the USF area, this is a must-have. 2320 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa, 813-977-6808, taqueriamonterrey.net

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Holy Hog Barbecue — These guys can rock out some 'cue! Balanced, reasonably priced, and fun, Holy Hog is a great pick for a barbecue pulled pork sandwich with a number of excellent sides and sauces. 3501 N Armenia Ave., Tampa, 813-879-4647, holyhogbbq.com

Jibarito at Mi Pueblo Cafeteria — If you’ve never had a Jibarito (and if you aren’t of Puerto Rican descent, I’m assuming you haven’t), then this should be a fun exploration for you, my foodie brethren. It's a steak sandwich with pureed garlic “aji” sauce and smashed fried plantains in place of bread. The Jibarito is as fun to ponder over as it is to eat. 1910 N Lincoln Ave., Tampa, 813-351-0011.

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