Our readers chose these four restaurants as their favorite sandwich joints
BY MORGAN CARTIER WESTON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CORNELL WATSON
Nothing says classic deli sandwich quite like a Reuben, and at Virlie’s Grill, that’s exactly what makes it so popular. “It’s dependable,” says manager Kain Whitaker. The cozy downtown Pittsboro spot has been serving it the same way for 12 years. “We start with marbled rye from The Bread Shop, then add lean corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut, and top with a healthy drizzle of Thousand Island dressing.” Here, waitress Aquilina Jacobo serves up a Reuben ($7.50), which comes with a choice of side, including a fresh green salad, onion rings, fries or, Kain’s personal favorite, fresh chips served with house-made ranch. Round out your visit with a slice of homemade strawberry cake.
This fried chicken sandwich ($10.95) couldn’t be more Southern. The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering Chef Sera Cuni soaks the chicken in a sweet tea brine, adds a perfectly crisp layer of batter and balances it all out with a soft brioche roll from The Bread Shop in Pittsboro. But the seasonal, house-made toppings – think pimento cheese, garlic mayo or spicy pepper jelly (pictured) – are what really make this one worth going back to year-round. “We use real food, and make everything fresh, so that means nothing is processed, and there’s always something new on the menu,” Sera says. “The best compliments we get are when folks say eating here feels like home.”
“We hear our Philly is the best one folks have tried outside Pennsylvania,” says Claudia Perry, who co-owns The Modern Life Deli & Drinks with her son, Dylan Perry. Their version of the cheesesteak ($12) features sliced roast beef, melted provolone cheese, roasted peppers, mushrooms, onions and mayo on a roll from The Bread Shop. All sandwiches include a side of pasta salad, chips, potato salad or broccoli salad. As The Mod’s name suggests, it offers much more than sandwiches. The menu also features date night-worthy dishes, like the mandarin and pear salad, served with crunchy chow mein noodles and house-made Sriracha dressing, a wide array of pizzas with vegetarian and gluten-friendly options, and a robust cocktail program.
It’s so important to us that we know where our food comes from,” says Breakaway co-owner Andy Pignatora. He and his wife, Amy Coughlin, and their team take pride in sourcing all of their proteins ethically, with vigorous certifications from independent humane groups that prioritize animal health. The restaurant’s most popular sandwich, the turkey avocado BLT ($12.75), features antibiotic-and hormone-free turkey and bacon, locally grown lettuce and tomatoes, and housemade Dijonnaise, all served on toasted sourdough from Ninth Street Bakery in Durham. “People can feel good about what they eat here, and that’s why we love what we do.”