Chilean from Pop’s Deli (my favorite sandwich in the bracket) was history when it went up against Fino’s, despite Herrington and I both casting 55/45 votes in favor of it.
Folks love their Fino’s, and I’m resigned to the cold shoulder from family members. Hey, I love Fino’s too. (It took 57 percent of the popular vote and 45 percent from Herrington and from me; the final tally: Elwood’s, 51 percent; Fino’s, 49 percent.)
“I call it my $225,000 sandwich because it’s why I bought the place,” Wilson said. He purchased Fino’s on the Hill, at Madison Avenue and Mclean Boulevard, in 2009 and opened Fino’s East late last year.
“I never tried a soup or a salad at Fino’s until I bought the place,” he said. “For about 8½ years, I ate the New York Club every week.”
It’s a riff on a Reuben: Corned beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, house-made Russian dressing, marinated tomatoes and onions (also done in house), and lettuce. It’s served on a baguette from La Baguette or, upon request, a soft hoagie bun.
“I have no idea how many of them we sell,” Wilson said. “I know it’s not our most popular sandwich, which is turkey.”
Fino’s takes the People’s Choice award and gets a public apology and hearty congratulations from me.
Now to the Debris Po’boy. Bednarski cooks a 30-pound chuck roast every couple of days to keep up with demand for his sandwich, which wasn’t popular at the beginning. He had it on the menu shortly after opening Elwood’s 3½ years Shredded
chicken thigh and other fixin’s are packed
into The Verno sandwich at The Second Line. It’s named
for radio host Chris
Vernon. ago but took it off after just a few months. He put it back about eight or nine months ago, and it’s been a success this time around.
“I take the meat, cut it in big pieces and rub each piece in garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, oregano, basil and thyme,” he said. The meat goes into a large roasting pan with tomatoes, tomato paste, applewood bacon, cabernet, Worcestershire sauce, onion and celery, and it’s cooked at 250 degrees for 15 hours, until it’s fallapart tender.
Bednarski worked in the corporate restaurant world before he opened Elwood’s, and he spent a short time “baby-sitting” a restaurant for Landry’s in New Orleans.
“It was about 20 years ago, and I was there for about three weeks,” he said. “It was right across the street from Johnny’s Po’boys, and I ate the debris every day.”
That’s where he got the idea to serve his Debris dressed with a mix of two mustards and mayonnaise, and he puts in all on a po’boy bun from Gambino’s in New Orleans. He got the idea for the cabbage on the sandwich from another New Orleans institution, Mother’s. The Shrimp Torta at Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana has a dedicated following.
It’s an excellent sandwich, and congratulations to Bednarski, too, the winner of the first Great Memphis Sandwich Showdown.
Now, just for fun, let’s look back at some of the other sandwiches. The voters love their subs from the Highland Super Submarine Sandwich Shop; me, not so much. I gave it my lowest percentage — 35 percent to it and 65 to Ciao Baby’s excellent meatball sandwich. Herrington split it 55/45 in favor of the meatball, and the 61/39 landslide of the people was null.
I couldn’t save one of my top five sandwiches, the Spice Seared Tuna BLC at Babalu, not when the people and Herrington went with Kwik Chek’s The Turk.
And speaking of: My top picks were the Chilean, The Verno, the Spice Seared Tuna BLC, the Fat Panda at Sidestreet Burgers in Olive Branch, and the Debris. All of these sandwiches are beyond meat and bread, each with house-made ingredients. I also love the Muffuletta at High Point Pizza (just cold cuts but with housemade olive salad), and despite the vote that makes it look otherwise, the New York Club at Fino’s. I like Russian dressing and those great marinated tomatoes and onions on any sandwich I order there.
Herrington’s favorites were the Shrimp Torta at Las Tortugas (I love the place, but the tamales are my greater weakness), the Chilean (really, you have to try this sandwich, and the chicken is better than the beef), and the Banh Mi at Pho Saigon. Honorable mentions went to The Fat Panda, the Catfish Po’boy at Soul Fish, the Cuban at Mcewen’s, the Muffaletta and The Verno.
Of course, as it always happens, even more sandwiches have come to our attention since the bracket was made. All in good time. For now, we have a crowned winner with Elwood’s Debris Po’boy, and the people have spoken loud and clear for the New York Club at Fino’s. The Shrimp Torta and The Verno were well represented.
Of course, English wanted to win, and he and Magallanes really wanted a showdown.
“But Fino’s and Elwood’s are great,” English said. “I don’t hang my head low coming in behind either of those.”