11 of the Best Sandwiches in Kansas City

A popular lunch time staple, the humble sandwich may have gotten its name from England’s 4th Earl of Sandwich, but he was certainly not the first person to have enjoyed one. The truth is that ever since man had fire to bake bread, there have been sandwiches being made and enjoyed.

The first record of a sandwich was in a text describing a rabbi in Jerusalem during the first century B.C. taking a bit of unleavened matzah bread and putting Paschal lamb and bitter herbs on it before eating it.

From Middle Eastern flatbreads stuffed with spreads and bits of cold meat eaten during the late 17th century in the Ottoman Empire to the highly processed peanut butter and jelly smeared between two slices of white bread and stuffed into children’s lunchboxes across America, it’s hard to ignore the simplicity and portability of the humble sandwich.

But there’s another side to the sandwich we must take a moment to celebrate, and that is the innate creativity and customization that happens when one gathers the ingredients for a sandwich and ends up inventing a sandwich of your own creation. Maybe you are limited by what you have on hand, but the combinations are endless. Even if you started the sandwich-making process intending to make a simple BLT, the minute you add avocado slices to that sandwich it becomes something different—a BLAT, if you will.

Like most cuisines tied to specific places, many of the sandwiches we enjoy here in Kansas City came from the people who settled here, in addition to the ingredients that are raised or grown in the Midwest. We are spoiled with the rich, delicious tapestry of flavors, each with its unique taste.

What’s better than a Southern-style tomato sandwich in the summer, made with thick slices of homegrown tomatoes, right from the garden, and a swipe of Duke’s mayo with plenty of salt and black pepper between two slices of white bread and eaten over the sink? But going out for sandwiches, we’re looking for something more. Like a sandwich so bombastic, wild, and out there we must try it. Or on the flipside, something so classic and pure that it’s the standard bearer, which is why this list floats between new sandwiches and iconic ones.   

It should be noted that, for purposes of this article, I didn’t count burgers or barbecue as sandwiches, although one could certainly argue the case for both. They are both so plentiful here that I thought I’d save them for another day. Bottom line, they each deserve their own list. I would also have absolutely added Italian Sausage Co. in Gladstone to this list, but since they’re already featured in this month’s issue on page 98, I gave the spot I would have given to any of their sandwiches to another sandwich to share the love.

This list is not definitive or the final say. We have far too many good sandwiches here for that. But you know what your favorite sandwich in Kansas City is, and I look forward to hearing about those, if only to add more to my own list.

Red Kitchen KC: Cien Por Ciento Mexicana — Torta de Chorizo con Huevo

Known for her delicious authentic Mexican dishes, the chef and owner of Red Kitchen: Cien Por Ciento Mexicana, Alejandra de la Fuente, makes a mean Mexican breakfast sandwich that’s worth getting out of bed. Her Torta de Chorizo con Huevo starts with a soft bolillo roll that’s split in half, buttered, and tossed on the plancha to warm. It’s then filled with a combination of fiery Mexican chorizo sausage, scrambled eggs, freshly chopped tomatoes, onions, and avocado. Catch her at her new location, directly across the street from the Overland Park Farmers Market. Hit the market, then grab this sandwich to reward yourself.

Providence Pizza in Grandview — Panuozzo

The Panuozzo, or pizza sandwich, is a new addition to the Providence Pizza menu in Grandview. It was created by the chef and freshly minted partner in the business, Benjamin Wood. This sandwich is a pizza crust folded over like a calzone and baked in the oven, creating the perfect pocket to stuff with a rotating mix of weekly fillings. When it made its debut, it was filled with fresh spring-mix greens, soppressata salami, charred onions, roasted red peppers, fresh burrata mozzarella, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a swipe of nut-free pesto.

Tree Hugger Kitchen — Reuben Sandwich

Married couple Phil Newman and Mandy Morris-Newman have turned Tree Hugger Kitchen, their popular vegan food-truck business, into their first brick-and-mortar space in Kansas City’s Northland, serving a truly delicious selection of vegan appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, and tacos. Try their clever and crave-worthy version of a Reuben sandwich made with corned jackfruit, sauerkraut, Follow Your Heart-brand gouda cheez, and house-made Thousand Island dressing on toasted marbled rye bread, a wonderful take on this deli classic.

XO — Nori Egg Salad Sandwich

The newest hi-fi listening lounge has just opened on the Westside. XO was created by Noah Manos, a designer and builder from Denver, Colorado, who wanted to build here in Kansas City. He managed, with the help of Westside neighbors and local architects William and Ellen Trakas, owners of Trakas + Trakas, to turn an old garage into an intimate spot for listening to deep cuts while enjoying a cool cocktail, glass of natural wine, or Japanese sando. The day-to-day operation is a partnership between the Denver duo Mitch Foster and Will Minter, who launched a similar concept there called ESP HiFi, and local James Beard-nominated chef Johnny Leach, who developed the menu. A chill spot to sit and enjoy the vibes and enjoy a drink with Leach’s delicious Japanese egg salad sandwich on milk bread or deep-fried pork loin.

Succotash — Monte Cristo Sandwich

If the French toast at Succotash is good enough for Travis Kelce’s pregame meal, then it should be good enough for fans of the Kansas City Chiefs. Get it in sandwich form with owner and chef Beth Barden’s take on a Monte Cristo sandwich, a beautiful brunch-time favorite. Barden’s version steps it up with sliced ham and dreamy sage Derby cheddar melted on rye French toast. Or try the Maggie Cristo, where you’ll get ham, goat cheese, and delicious lingonberry jam on sourdough French toast. No one can beat Succotash for their swift service, colorful décor, and decadent brunch offerings. It is the neighborhood spot we all wish we had in our hood.

The Peanut — BLT

Since 1981, Melinda Kenny has owned and operated the original location of The Peanut at 5000 Main Street, where she ran the kitchen, and her late husband, Rich, ran the bar. Her son, Aaron Whiteside, later joined her, and he helps run both the downtown location and the original bar, both of which are still owned and operated by family. In operation since 1933, it’s said to possess the oldest continual liquor license in Kansas City and is also rumored to have served as a speakeasy, complete with blacked-out windows, during Prohibition. Today, The Peanut is better known for serving up ice-cold beer and hot and spicy Buffalo chicken wings to local sports celebrities and laymen alike. But the bar’s true claim to fame is its BLT, a sandwich that Kenny made famous by making it just the way her dad did—with loads of crispy bacon, a bit of chopped red onion, shredded cheddar, and a generous sprinkle of black pepper.

The Brick — Fluffernutter

There are sandwiches that are such childhood cannon and so relished when eaten as an adult, that they may actually help you age in reverse when you eat them. Peanut butter and jelly is one of those sandwiches. And for many, so is the fluffernutter that owner of The Brick, Sheri Parr, and her team happily serve with a side of carrot sticks, because you have to get a vegetable in there somewhere. You’ll get two pieces of toasted wheat bread, carefully smeared with creamy peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, and for a little extra you can add bacon if you’d like. But really, why gild the lily? Feed your inner child a fluffernutter sandwich at The Brick.

Lucky Boy’s — Fillet-O-Fish

As someone who is a loud and proud lover of a certain burger chain’s filet-o-fish sandwich, I can assure you the one at Lucky Boy’s in the West Bottoms is a million times better. Besides, here you can get an adult beverage and a killer soundtrack with your fish sandwich. You’ll enjoy a battered and deep-fried cod fish filet, topped with a melted slice of American cheese and ice-cold shredded lettuce, served on a steamed and toasted Farm to Market Bread Co. egg bun with a schmear of remoulade sauce and fries on the side. That, and a gin and tonic, would probably be my “last meal” by choice.

Romeito Cuban Restaurant — Sandwich Cubano

For those who have been searching for a good, pressed Cuban sandwich, look no further than the family-owned and operated Romeito Cuban Restaurant in Olathe. A traditional Cuban roll is sliced open, brushed with mustard, and filled with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles before it is buttered and pressed flat on a hot griddle. They don’t stop pressing it until the roll is crunchy on the outside, the ingredients are warm on the inside, and the Swiss cheese is melted. There isn’t another sandwich that’s as satisfying to eat as a Cuban sandwich done right.

The Pizza Man — Authentic Italian Beef

If you have a soft spot for hole-in-the-wall joints or are looking for a taste of Chicago right here in Kansas City, then you need to make your way to The Pizza Man in Lenexa. Open since the late 1980s, The Pizza Man, located in a small strip shopping center next door to Grinder’s in Lenexa, is known for its delicious thin-crust Chicago tavern-style pizza, Chicago dogs drug through the garden, and authentic Italian beef sandwiches. Once a best-kept secret from the south side of Chicago, the Italian beef sandwich is the result of the influence and innovation of the Italian community that’s now the neighborhood’s culinary claim to fame. You’ll get a softly steamed French roll split and stuffed with thinly sliced roast beef dripping with seasoned au jus and topped with pickled giardiniera. Whether you get the sandwich dipped or not, it’s delicious all the same. If you know, you know.

Mother Clucker — Comeback Fried Chicken Sandwich

In the mood for something spicy? You choose the level of heat you can handle at Mother Clucker, a locally owned Nashville hot chicken spot. With locations in the Parlor food hall in the East Crossroads, downtown Shawnee, and soon Leawood, the move here is to get their comeback fried chicken sandwich at a “Cluck Yeah” level of heat or higher, and a Cap’n Crunch milkshake to tame the heat. It starts with a battered and fried chicken breast that’s juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside topped with slaw, pickles, and their signature cluck sauce on a soft brioche bun. Derrick and Kylie Foster, the owners and chefs, met in culinary school, married in Nashville, and have started their hot chicken empire right here in Kansas City. This is one sandwich that lives up to its name.

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