Friday, March 31, 2023

Reubens to Po'Boys — What's Your Favorite Oxford Sandwich?

Embers' smokin' Reuben
Embers’ smokin’ Reuben

By Laurie Triplette
To commemorate August as National Sandwich Month (see my recent piece on off-the-wall sandwich combos), I have conducted a VERY unofficial poll among staff, my offspring, and friends of said offspring, in order to identify some of our favorite sandwiches sold in Oxford. The poll is completely random and reflects nothing scientific in the way of consumer testing.
Oxford’s demographics include a large student population living on tight food budgets. As explained to me, those budget-conscious students always think twice about spending $15 on a sandwich if they can make it at home by pooling group resources and dining together to lower per-unit costs.
On the other hand, Oxford includes some of the most sophisticated taste buds in America. Our hot food scene reflects that culinary sophistication, attracting visitors from around the globe.
Therefore, when considering priorities for determining sandwich favorites, our poll participants weighed in on the following criteria:

COST: Three grades of cost for consideration — (a) cheap but filling; (b) amazing and worth the extra expense for its exotic ingredients; or (c) love the sides that come with it, and willing to pay extra for them.

INGREDIENTS: Sandwich contains special ingredients I can’t get at the grocery store, such as special farm-raised pork and beef, or a secret sauce.

CAPABILITY: Too much trouble for me to make it at home; or the establishment makes it better than I can make it at home because of special equipment or access to resources not available to the public.

Food for thought, eh? It’s no wonder Newk’s and McAlister’s Deli, two of the South’s favorite chains, originated here.

Oby's roast beef
Oby’s roast beef

Here’s what I concluded, in our unscientific sandwich-lovers poll. The results are classified loosely into generic categories. NOTE: We have omitted all references to chicken salad, pimento cheese, BBQ, burgers and South-of-the-Border fare. Each of those categories could be a stand-alone competition!

REUBENS: Blind Pig Reuben; Embers Smokin’ Reuben

PO’BOYS and SUBS: Oby’s Oyster Po’Boy’; Bouré Po’Boy; Jimmy John’s Gargantuan; Fire House Hero

ITALIAN: Proud Larry Meatball Sub (note the category overlap); Pizza Den Stromboli

BEEF: Bouré Steak Sandwich; McAlister’s French Dip; Oby’s Roast Beef with Gravy

FOWL: Newk’s Pesto Chicken Sandwich; Snack Bar Shredded Duck Croque Monsieur, Abner’s Cool Ranch Wrap

CLUBS: Lamar Lounge Pit-Smoked Turkey Club; Newk’s Club

NON-BBQ PORK: Blind Pig Cuban; Big Bad Breakfast BLT; Snack Bar Monte Cristo

New bistros are opening monthly, so stay tuned, and send us your favorites.
Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).