Signature sandwiches sport layers of flavor at Utah restaurants
Turkey Apple Panini at Plates & Palates in Bountiful
Valerie Phillips

Northern Utah's most-craved signature sandwiches

Sandwiches are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Many historians credit the creation of the sandwich to John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, in 1762. The story goes that Montagu, an avid gambler, wanted to eat with one hand and hold his cards with the other.

People have been using sandwiches as a convenient meal ever since.

Creative chefs in northern Utah have developed sandwiches with personality and layers of flavor and texture. Plain presliced white bread has given way to whole-grain or artisan breads, rolls and buns that stand up to a wide variety of ingredients, sauces and dressings.

Here are some of the signature sandwiches that customers crave in northern Utah.

The Turkey Apple Panini

A favorite at Plates & Palates in Bountiful, this sandwich was the brainchild of chef Nina Christensen.

“We get our cheese from Logan, and one day the guy brought us a five-pound log of Gouda,” said co-owner Justin Christensen. “We wondered what we would do with all this Gouda. My wife said she would think of something, and came up with this sandwich. We served it that day, and everyone just loved it.”

When Justin complimented her on it, her response was, “I knew it would be good. I’ll have to try it.”

“She hadn’t even tasted it yet,” said Justin Christensen. “It’s like Mozart, who wrote symphonies without ever playing a single note. She created it in her head without ever tasting it.”

The sandwich uses cracked wheat bread, with thick-sliced roasted turkey, thin Granny Smith apple and Gouda slices, and peppery arugula. It’s dressed with maple-Dijon mayo and then grilled so the Gouda is mellow and melty.

“The arugula stands up to the heat of a panini grill a little better than spinach would,” said Justin Christensen. “I don’t like mayo or mustard, but I love this dressing.”

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Eats of Eden’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich has garnered praise from online restaurant reviews and regulars.

“People really like wings, so anything that’s Buffalo chicken is pretty hot right now,” said Tanya McFarland, owner of Eats of Eden, in Ogden Valley. “We do a version of this in a pizza, and it’s pretty popular, too.”

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich at Eats of Eden
Courtesy Eats of Eden

The bread is baked daily from a recipe developed by former owner Jayne Christiansen, McFarland’s mom. The Buffalo sauce is also made in-house.

“The crispy chicken is smothered in the Buffalo sauce before we melt marbled blue cheese over it,” said McFarland. “It’s definitely my favorite.”

It’s served with lettuce, tomato and mayo.

Turkey Bacon Avocado

This is the most popular sandwich in the Utah-based Kneaders chain.

Turkey Bacon Avocado at Kneaders
Courtesy Kneaders

“We slow-roast close to 200 pounds of turkey breast in each of our restaurants every night, which is hand-pulled each morning,” said Emma Conger, spokesperson for Kneaders. “We then add bacon, Kneaders sauce, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and avocado.”

It comes on house-made focaccia.

A sandwich that’s lesser-known, but equally tasty, is the Chicken, Cheese & Ham, said Conger.

“We use our scratch-made ciabatta bread and add grilled chicken breast, ham, mayonnaise, honey mustard, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and top it off with salt and pepper.”

Inside Out Grilled Cheese

This innovative sandwich is on the menu at Herm’s Inn in Logan. The cheddar, grilled on the outside of the bread, is crunchy and crispy. The inside filling is house-made guacamole and black beans, and the result is uniquely delicious. It’s a creative vegetarian option; you can add chicken or steak for an additional charge. It comes with fresh-cut french fries, chips or skillet potatoes.

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Hot Turkey Sandwich

The fan favorite at Idle Isle in Brigham City is more traditional than trendy. The Hot Turkey Sandwich attracts “regulars” from as far away as Idaho, Salt Lake City and Cache Valley, said co-owner Travis Porter. A second favorite is the Reuben Sandwich, served as a special on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

The open-faced, gravy-smothered Hot Turkey Sandwich is an old-fashioned classic, fitting for a restaurant that opened in 1921. When you walk in the door on a Monday, it smells like Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house.

“We slow-roast all our meats, so the turkey is tender, juicy and flavorful,” said Porter. “Then we have two choices, either a homemade stuffing bread, or a homemade white bread, since it’s an open-face sandwich. We make the turkey gravy from scratch.”

The Hot Turkey Sandwich at Idle Isle in Brigham City
Photo by Valerie Phillips

The turkey is piled high on the bread, and served with mashed potatoes, more gravy and a vegetable.

“People like that homemade touch, and the great flavor,” Porter said.

The sandwich is offered only as the Monday special, and occasionally on Saturdays.

“We like to have certain specials to bring people in,” explained Porter. “A lot of our regulars know to come on certain days. And we only have so much capacity in our kitchen. We have so many wonderful things on our menu that we don’t have the space to serve them all on a daily basis.”

Po’ Boy Sandwich

Sea Bears in downtown Ogden is known for fish and chips. Its Po’ Boy Sandwich incorporates crispy battered seafood — a choice of cod, tilapia, shrimp or oysters. It’s topped with a creamy slaw and served on a thick roll instead of bread.

Po’ Boy sandwiches are well-known in Louisiana. Supposedly, the name was coined by New Orleans restaurant owners Benny and Clovis Martin. In 1929, the Martin brothers served free sandwiches to the streetcar drivers on strike against the streetcar company. The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys,” and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name.

“I don’t know a lot of their history, but they’re made on a thicker roll and come with a slaw,” said Monika Siebers, co-owner of Sea Bears. “But we’re kind of out of the box, our food is our own recipes … what we think tastes good.”

Prime Dip Melt

Since Rickenbacker’s is known for its steaks, it follows that the favorite sandwich there is its Prime Dip Melt.

“It’s made from our signature prime rib,” said Dawn Mallory, of Rickenbacker’s.

Sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions and melted provolone team up with the shaved prime rib. The sandwich is served with a savory au jus for dipping.

Hummus Pita Sandwich

Vegans have an option with the Hummus Pita Sandwich served at The Elements in Logan. Greek flatbread is wrapped around layers of white bean hummus and roasted carrots, asparagus, eggplant and zucchini. Balsamic-drizzled tomato slices and butter lettuce spill out the sides of this hearty sandwich, held together with decorative toothpicks and sheer willpower.

Cuban-Grilled Pork Sandwich

The Utah-headquartered Café Zupas chain has found that in its Utah stores, the top-selling sandwiches are the Honey Bacon Club and Turkey Bacon Avocado.

Cuban-Grilled Pork Sandwich at Cafe Zupas
Photo by Valerie Phillips

But out of state, the barbecue pork sandwich is favored. About two years ago, the chain added a Cuban-Grilled Pork Sandwich to its sandwich repertoire. Inspired by the famous sandwich of Florida and the Keys, it features slow-roasted pork, ham and pickles, with citrus Dijon spread, roasted sweet red peppers and Muenster cheese. It’s toasted panini-style on ciabatta bread.

A Good Life Café in downtown Ogden runs a variety of sandwiches as daily specials.

“Our best-selling sandwich is always our special sandwich combo of the day, which comes with a cup of house-made soup,” said co-owner Gloria Bartlett.

Some that they have served include the Italian Stallion with all-natural apple-wood-smoked ham, salami and provolone cheese with sun-dried tomato mayo; the BLTA, bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado with pesto mayo; Chicken Bacon Ranch; and the Salsalito Flatbread, a salsa-rubbed all-natural turkey breast, avocado, tomato and lettuce with black-bean salsa.

“The one we’d love to see take off is the Build Your Own Sandwich, which can be created with any combination of menu ingredients, so the sky’s is the limit,” said Bartlett. “We have several regular customers who have done this, and we’ve actually named the sandwich after them.”