Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Fast Food Item, as voted by readers: For the second straight week, Kevin Pang!
This week, our draft deals with a classic dish with interpretations the world over: Sandwiches! (Note: For purposes of this draft, we are excluding hamburgers and hot dogs—not because we’re taking a stance on whether it can be designated a sandwich, but that in this instance for this specific draft, we’re placing those two dishes on a seperate pedestal.)
Returning this week is Takeout contributor Allison Shoemaker. And us luck would have it for Allison, the randomizer spat out our participants in this order:
- Allison Shoemaker
- Kevin Pang
- Kate Bernot
- Gwen Ihnat
Kevin Pang: Allison, you’re on the board with the No. 1 selection!
Allison Shoemaker: My god, the pressure.
Okay, this is a really tough call, but I just have to go with my favorite sandwich, the Reuben.
KP: Oooh, not what I expected!
AS: I love a good Reuben. Frankly, I love a mediocre Reuben. Just the perfect blend of flavors, the right amount of messy, not overwhelming but not wimpy, an amazing lunch.
I’ve had many great reubens and no truly bad ones.
Kate Bernot: Hard to argue with a great Reuben.
KP: I never expected this to fall to the No. 2 position, but I’ll take the gift: the BLT. Is it a perfect sandwich. Good bacon + in-season tomatoes + crisp lettuce + mayo + buttered toast cannot be beat by any other sandwich.
KB: When you have good tomatoes, nothing better.
Though a wide gulf exists between good and bad BLTs, much as it does for other sandwiches.
AS: Well I can explain your surprise: I don’t care for BLTs, really.
KP: Which part do you not like?
AS: Hard to pin down, just something texturally about the combination of bacon and tomatoes specifically. It makes me wish there was something more substantial anchoring it all together.
Gwen Ihnat: Ugh, chewy bacon.
AS: But maybe butter is what I’m missing?
KB: Alright, harkening to my NJ roots, I choose Italian Sub.
Oil, vinegar, all the meats and cheeses, hoo baby.
No other sandwich craving hits me as hard as Italian sub pangs.
KP: Do you have a particular spot?
KB: Massimo’s in Kenilworth, N.J., probably.
KP: Gwen, you now have picks 4 and 5. Let’s hear your first rounder:
GI: Mine are directly traced to my mom status, I’m afraid.
First: Grilled Cheese
It’s so versatile. My personal favorite right now is tomato and avocado and cheddar, but you can put anything I there (and I have). A delicious staple.
KB: Grilled cheese is unimpeachable.
Good pick, Gwen
You’re about to take my second pick right from under me, I can feel it
GI: Doubt it Allison, unless your second pick is:
Peanut Butter & Jelly
AS: Nope, that was it.
AS: I congratulate you on selecting the perfect sandwich.
GI: Like s’mores, PB&J is one of those things that actually tastes better as an adult. The kids are on to something. Skippy, strawberry jam, white bread? Perfection.
KB: Oh, see I like a whole-wheat PB&J.
Nutty bread somehow factorially multiplies the PB. (I was not a math major.)
For my next pick:
I choose a Tuna Salad.
I know it’s divisive, but I can’t deny it.
To deny my love of tuna salad would be to deny a deep, true part of me.
AS: I am very partial to them myself, especially if celery is involved.
KB: It’s creamy but with a little crunch, some good seasonings in there.
On toasty bread? Perfection.
KP: A lot of y’all are going the kid-friendly sandwich route, so I’m happy to stay in my adult lane: I’m choosing a Po’boy.
KB: Kids don’t like po’boys?
KP: It’s not something they typically pack for a school lunch
Specifically I have to cite the one at Domilise’s in New Orleans, where their fried shrimp po’boys are drenched with roast beef gravy. It may be the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted.
GI: My kids love po’boys if our recent trip is any indication.
AS: Okay. Well, in keeping with a mini theme here, I’m going to go with the mighty Lobster Roll.
KB: A king among sandwiches.
AS: Really a triumph. Not an everyday sandwich but a super special one, especially on a warm, crusty roll
KB: A destination sandwich, much like a po’boy.
KP: The key for me when it comes to lobster roll is how delicate it is. The only thing that should have “texture” is the buttered exterior of that split-top bun. Everything else—the soft white crumb, the lobster meat, the mayo—should be fluffy as a cloud.
KB: We should not have scheduled this draft for lunch time. I have nary a lobster roll in sight.
AS: And for my next pick I’m going with another roll-based sandwich, which I’m sort of shocked is still available: the Philly Cheesesteak.
AS: Sorry man, gotta follow my heart, and my heart wants onions and whiz
KP: WIT WIZ
KB: It is a sandwich whose cheese is its own state of matter.
AS: Here’s a thing about me, I generally prefer warm sandwiches (though not always and I sincerely hope no one takes my cold sandwich pick before I get there)
Because they are often gooey, and I love gooey
And the cheesesteak is the gooiest
KP: It’s the only beef-based sandwich where you can taste the beef at its beefiest
With my beloved Philly Cheesesteak gone, I’m going for another beloved regional sandwich: the Cubano.
It’s that very specific assemblage of ingredients: ham, roast pork, Swiss, mustard, pickles, and that incomparably crisp/crunchy bread.
AS: It’s a gem
KP: It’s one of the most perfectly engineered sandwiches there is.
KB: Alright, curve ball: Sausage-Egg-Cheese Biscuit
I will eat a breakfast sandwich any hour of day.
AS: Such a good choice
Maybe enough for a victory
KB: And a really good biscuit is something I can’t bake for myself, so it is extra special.
Buttery biscuit, gooey cheese, runny egg, savory sausage... there’s a lot packed in there without being too scattershot.
Ambitious but focused, I say.
GI: Okay! Going with the Joey special: the Meatball Sub.
Need excellent red sauce, perfect meatballs, some melty cheese, and crusty bread.
KB: God I love a meatball parm.
AS: A solid choice (hot sandwiches forever)
GI: For my next pick, going with another classic: the Club Sandwich.
KB: Diner special
KP: And clubs
GI: Kinda retro, but I like the toothpicks, the triangles, the crunchy lettuce and delicate tomato, and me imagining I know how to play golf.
KP: If it’s not cut into triangles and served pointing outward (with potato chips in the square pocket) then it’s not a club.
Kate, back to you.
KB: Can’t believe this one’s still on the table: Nashville Hot Chicken.
There’s no hot chicken place in Missoula (shocking to one, perhaps) and I crave these on the regular.
KB: What’s the bread of choice?
Biscuits, standard bun, white bread?
KB: I actually like a bun rather than just the single bread slice, but maybe I’ll offend purists with that.
As I’ve stated, I love pickles, so this sandwich’s pickles + heat—when the heat stops just as my eyes start to water—that’s a dreamy combo.
KP: I’m gonna rep the Asians with my next pick: Banh Mi.
KP: Yet another sandwich that requires a specific set of ingredients. The pate. The ham. The pickled daikon. The mayo and the cilantro. It’s amazingly complex for an everyday sandwich.
Shoutout to Nhu Lan #5 pork belly Chicago peeps
KB: Doesn’t this just make you realize how many good sandwiches there are?
Like even these latter-round picks are all bangers.
KP: Okay Allison, your last two picks of the day!
AS: My god, being first is terrible, this is so stressful
KP: But you’ve never been first — and you got your wish!
AS: Lesson learned
All right, this is breaking my heart a little, but let’s go with the French Dip
KP: This is my favorite song
AS: There are few sandwiches I won’t dip in something—whatever condiment is on the plate, gravy, sauce, soup, all kinds of things—and the FD comes with its own dip!
I love it.
KB: I do respect a sandwich that comes with a separate vessel of sauce/dip.
AS: I love it when you order a fancy grilled cheese and it comes with a little tomato soup on the side.
AS: Okay, I am assuming one of you will take one of the terrific sandwiches I have remaining on my list and assuage my guilt for abandoning them, but I’m going with the most satisfying of all sandwiches:
AS: Hot or cold
Frankly, turkey or no turkey
KB: Stuffing. On. A. Sandwich.
KP: I’m not the biggest Thanksgiving turkey fan, but I love frying the leftover pieces in a pan with gravy, then piling it high on a toasted roll. It’s drippy and delicious.
I’m a fan of frying meats in gravy, in general.
AS: I recognize that, like the Cadbury egg, this is a seasonal pick, but I don’t care if that dings me
It is not always the best sandwich I have of the year, but I look forward to no sandwich more.
No sandwich is more satisfying.
KP: I think my last pick is just as satisfying, and it’s not limited to the end of November:
Pastrami sandwich. From Katz’s. I’ll have what I’m having.
I can never justify a sandwich that costs more than $20—except from Katz’s Delicatessen.
That’s the only exception to my rule.
KB: Does your affection apply to pastrami sandwiches generally?
KP: I love all manners of pastrami sandwiches, but the one from Katz’s ruined everything else.
Fumare from here in Chicago is excellent
Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal calls their “Smoked Meat” but it’s essentially pastrami
Kate, your last pick!
KB: Alright, I’m gonna go Gyro.
Again, it’s flavor and texture synergy: Squishy at times, crunchy at times, creamy. Savory but with some refreshing crunch.
KP: The gyro is incredibly delicious when done right—and also the sandwich that gives you the longest-lasting bad breath when done right
KB: And I could eat tzatziki by the gallon, which esteems this sandwich in my rankings.
GI: I hereby close out this draft round with: Sloppy Joe.
A delicious throwback from my ‘70s childhood. Preferably homemade on a toasted bun, but will also take the Manwich can, I’m not picky when it comes to the deliciousness of Sloppy Joes
AS: Well played, everyone.
KB: There are so many good sandwiches, is what this proves.
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