In the 2018 Tampa Sandwich Hunt, we asked our readers to choose their favorite sandwich from 26 options out of the hundreds of different sandwiches in Tampa. It’s fitting that the town that birthed the Cuban sandwich should have no shortage of hand-friendly dining assemblages to choose from. And yet, with a bread-bound snack on every corner, a kind of choice-paralysis unique to the aspiring foodie is a very real threat. But Tampa Bay has your back. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite sandwich choices and tallied the thousands of votes we received.
Sobe Steak Sandwich, Shula Burger
“Shula Cut” New York strip steak, Boursin spread, pickled mushrooms, horseradish gremolata, rustic baguette
Like the football teams coached by Don Shula, the food at his namesake Shula Burger is a fierce amalgamation of brawn and finesse, combining the high-quality beef cuts that launched Shula’s Steak House with inspired toppings and flavors.
“We topped the steak with whipped roasted garlic and herb cheese along with fresh, roasted mushrooms,” says owner and manager Zydrunas Rackauskas. “The final touch was our horseradish gremolata, which adds nice texture and a level of acidity that ties the sandwich together.”
This year’s winning sandwich will hit your taste buds like a Larry Csonka stiff-arm. It doesn’t hurt that it’s Coach Shula’s favorite sandwich, either.
500 S. Howard Ave. | shulaburger.com
Ray Ray’s, Graze 1910
Maple-pepper bacon, tomato, mixed greens, sliced avocado, poblano-avocado aioli (option to add eggs, chicken salad or tuna)
Only six months after opening, Graze 1910 inside the Heights Public Market at Armature Works is piling up accolades for elegantly simple dishes with complex flavors. Ray Ray’s — named for owner Ray Menendez himself — updates the standard BLT with maple-pepper bacon, roasted tomato and all the fixins’.
“We are a modern diner, and the Ray Ray’s represents our refined are from traditional diner options,” says Menendez. “The details and quality of our ingredients are important. From the maple pepper bacon to the house-made poblano avocado aioli, we take pride in the menu being created from scratch, in house.”
1910 N. Ola Ave. | graze1910.com
Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich, Bar Louie
Spicy fried chicken, jalapeño honey, pickles on a buttered brioche bun
This summer Bar Louie turned up the heat with a revamped menu sizzling with sweetness, none more scintillating than their quite-literal Hot Honey Chicken. A revision of the classic Nashville hot chicken, this version toes a fiery line with rich jalapeño honey, brown sugar and smoked paprika.
“The jalapeño honey adds another layer, or different style, of heat,” says Steve Madonna, Bar Louie’s senior vice president of culinary. “We create this special spicy honey by sweating onion and jalapeño, adding honey and then cooking it down. The honey mellows everything out and tones down the spice level.”
2223 N. Westshore Blvd. International Plaza | barlouie.com
Grilled Chicken Sandwich, The Rez Grill
Bacon, pepper jam, iceberg lettuce, garlic aioli, brioche bun
You don’t have to be a high-roller at the Seminole Hard Rock & Casino Tampa, but at The Rez Grill, you sure can eat like one. Straight from a cherrywood-burning Jade grill, eclectic takes on ordinary American dishes means everything tastes like a million bucks (even if you have a lot less than that in your pocket).
“I always tend to gravitate towards preparing sandwiches with both sweet and savory flavorings — the smoky-salty bacon paired with pepper jam really creates the perfect balance,” says creative culinary director Frank Anderson. “I love complementing my sandwiches with shaved iceberg lettuce piled high, so it gives every bite a crunchy texture.”
5223 Orient Road | seminolehardrocktampa.com
Golden Gate, Wright’s Gourmet House
Roast pork, crisp bacon, Jarlsberg cheese, German dill pickle slices, lettuce, homemade mustard sauce, pumpernickel bread
Tradition, innovation and family are what has made Wright’s Gourmet House a Tampa institution, so it’s no surprise that one of their most beloved sandwiches combines all three.
“My grandmother returned from a trip to San Francisco with a loaf of sourdough bread,” says owner Jeff Mount. “Given the difficulty of sourcing sourdough bread in Tampa all those years ago, she kept the name and used our popular Bucket Bread instead.”
It may sport Tampa staples like roast pork and pickles, but this truly is one-of-a-kind. “Homemade chutney on a sandwich—where else does one find that?” Mount says.
1200 S. Dale Mabry Highway | wrightsgourmet.com