Grilled cheese doughnut? 7 best sandwiches of 2012 (so far)

March 19, 2012 at 2:30 PM ET

Brendan Spiegel /
The grilled cheese doughnut from Tom + Chee in Cincinnati.

Americans love sandwiches, probably more than any other food. There's just something so perfectly delectable about a meal that can be stuffed in between two slices of bread. And while there are plenty of classic American sandwiches — Katz's corned beef in New York, Philippe's French dip in Los Angeles — with no offense intended to those standard-bearers, there are few things more exciting to food lovers than discovering a fantastic new sandwich. That being said, here are the best sandwiches we discovered this year.

Brendan Spiegel /

Irish breakfast sandwich — Beachside, San Francisco

When it comes to outrageously meaty meals, it’s hard to beat a full Irish breakfast, which must always include thick slabs of salty bacon, savory Irish sausages and circular slices of black (blood) pudding and white (oatmeal-pork fat) pudding. But what if you put all of those ingredients on a sandwich? Clearly, it would be unbeatable. Beachside's sandwich has all of those porky products, plus a fried egg and slice of grilled tomato, only slightly fancied up with a thin layer of garlic aioli spread on the crispy bread, and a house-made, tamarind-spiked "brown sauce" on the side for dipping.

Roasted cauliflower — No. 7 Sub, Brooklyn, N.Y.

No. 7 Sub chef Tyler Kord can do amazing things with meat, but we’ve been most impressed with his uncanny ability to turn regular old vegetables into exciting sandwich creations (his Brussels sprouts sub made our original best new sandwiches list). When No. 7 expanded to Brooklyn this year, he added this cauliflower creation that yes, sounds like something a stoned 9-year-old might have created, but is most definitely adult-approved. Sautéed cauliflower florets are topped with golden raisins, scallions, potato chips, and smoked French dressing, for one seriously fulfilling veggie meal.

Brendan Spiegel /

DUC — Xe May, New York City

This may not be the only banh mi on the list, but this one at new East Village sandwich spot Xe May takes the cake by going half Vietnamese, half Italian, for perhaps the craziest meatball sub ever created. Grilled meatballs are covered in house-made tomato sauce and provolone, but finished with the full banh mi treatment: fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers and chile mayo, all served on a crispy baguette.

Grilled cheese doughnut — Tom + Chee, Cincinnati

There have been lots of crazy grilled cheeses popping up across America this year, but none gets our saliva flowing quite like the simple-but-genius version at Cincinnati’s Tom + Chee. Can you really argue that a grilled cheese wouldn’t be better if put between two slices of grilled doughnut instead of bread? No, you can’t.

Brendan Spiegel /

Garlic bomb — Jake’s Sandwich Board, Philadelphia

Jake’s Sandwich Board has stepped up to the table with perhaps the ultimate garlic-lovers’ cheesesteak creation. A crusty roll is covered in homemade garlic spread, and then topped with rib-eye steak and melted provolone, plus more sautéed garlic on top, and the garlicky pièce de résistance: deep-fried, crunchy, battered whole garlic cloves.

Brendan Spiegel /

Ebbett’s Cuban — Ebbett’s Good to Go, San Francisco Bay Area

Another classic that is hard to mess with, there are plenty of modern Cubans out there that don’t live up to the real deal. Not so with the version hawked by roving Bay Area food truck Ebbett’s Good to Go. Slow-roasted Niman Ranch pulled pork and artisan ham make the perfect pig-on-pig combination, while Gruyére brings the goo, a crusty Acme roll provides the crunch, and the whole thing is finished off with jalapeño relish and chipotle mayo.

Brendan Spiegel /

Rabbit cheesesteak — La Fromagerie, Alexandria, Va.

There appears to be a cheesesteaks gone wild trend sweeping the nation, and while traditional Philadelphians probably won’t approve of this version, we are all on board. D.C.-area shop La Fromagerie replaces the typical beefsteak with slices of Parisian braised rabbit; subs smoked mozzarella for the whiz; and tops the whole ciabatta off with carrot purée and caramelized onion.

Click here to see more of the best new sandwiches.

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