Enjoy Every Sandwich

Grammy award-winning rock singer, songwriter, and musician Warren Zevon had pointed advice for Hoosier native and television host David Letterman: “Enjoy every sandwich.” The date was Oct. 30, 2002. Zevon, sadly, would live only a few weeks after the episode of “Late Night” aired, but the succinct advice he offered Letterman became an anthem for savoring each of life’s moments and united sandwich lovers across the globe.

We agree wholeheartedly! And lucky for us, Evansville has many opportunities to feast. From a breaded tenderloin at the Hilltop Inn to a Catalina chicken sandwich at Sportsman’s, Evansvillians are never far from a good sandwich. Here are 19 sandwiches we love in the Tri-State.

Hometown Favorites

Think of Evansville and its signature sandwiches, and we’re guessing these are three you’d get to quickly, if not immediately. The breaded tenderloin, of course, is closely identified with Indiana, and Evansville diners love a great big one that’s way out of proportion with its bun. Catfish sandwiches are a hit on Lenten Fridays and all year long. And then there’s the stromboli — toasty, messy, and oh-so-delicious.

Photo by John Martin

Breaded Tenderloin

Place of Origin: Nick’s Kitchen, Huntington, Indiana

Trademark: Oversized length

Must-Have Ingredients: Lettuce, onion, pickles, mayonnaise, and/or horseradish

We Recommend Trying This At: Hilltop Inn

Why It Stands Out: Call it the Midwest’s version of the Wienerschnitzel — fitting since so many German immigrants made the Heartland their home. Unlike the traditional veal cutlet, thickness varies for a breaded pork tenderloin, but it’s still bathed in a generous egg wash, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried to perfection. Plenty of local restaurants offer their take, but take note: Evansville Living readers in 2022 voted Hilltop Inn as having the best breaded tenderloin in town.

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: United States

Trademark: Thick, crusty patty

Must-Have Ingredients: Tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato

Pairs Well With: Fries, onion rings

We Recommend Trying This At: Major Munch

Why It Stands Out: In Catholic-heavy Southwest Indiana, fish is a popular choice on Fridays during Lent. But for many area diners, any day is a good day for a deep-fried fish sandwich. Major Munch, a small Downtown Evansville spot that does brisk lunch business, serves up not only a standard catfish sandwich, but a catfish and shrimp po’ boy with provolone cheese, slaw, lettuce, tomatoes, and the diner’s special sauce.

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: Arguably Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Trademark: You’ll need plenty of napkins and perhaps a fork

Must-Have Ingredients: Italian sausage, marinara, and mozzarella

Pairs Well With: Grippo’s barbecue potato chips

We Recommend Trying This At: Pizza King network of franchises

Why It Stands Out: Stroms are found throughout Evansville — in fact, across Indiana. A mix between a cheesy calzone and a sloppy joe, diners can customize their baked-to-goodness sandwich with traditional mozzarella and Italian sausage or spring for buffalo sauce, chicken and bacon, or salami. Pack it between white sub bread, and you have a fan-favorite meal.


Meat and Greet

Restaurants in and near Evansville offer a multitude of varieties of these popular, meaty favorites to sink your teeth into. Reuben lovers can find one that compares favorably to those on the East Coast. It’s hard to top a great French dip sandwich with a hot cup of au jus. West Siders swear by their fried bologna sandwich. And while Kentucky communities take understandable pride in their barbecue, there are great spots north of the Ohio River, too.

Photo by Zach Straw

French Dip

Place of Origin: Not France! Two Los Angeles restaurants claim it

Trademark: Au jus

Must-Have Ingredients: Sliced beef and cheese, often Swiss or provolone

We Recommend Trying This At: Knob Hill Tavern or Prime Time Pub & Grill

Why It Stands Out: Always a savory and satisfying choice, the French dip has a few varieties, but the beefy dipping sauce is a constant. Knob Hill Tavern serves up its French dip on a hoagie bun with pepperoncini peppers. At Prime Time – which calls its sandwich the Prime dip – it comes with smoked gouda and onion straws on garlic-toasted sourdough bread. Prime Time also brings you a creamy horseradish, in addition to the au jus.

Photo by John Martin

Pulled Pork

Place of Origin: United States

Trademark: A great sauce

Must-Have Ingredients: An ample helping of tender, hot meat, plus a sauce of your liking

Pairs Well With: Just about anything! Mac and cheese, cole slaw, green beans, or baked beans

We Recommend Trying This At: Hickory Pit Stop BBQ

Why It Stands Out: One splendid Hoosier choice for barbecue is Hickory Pit Stop on Evansville’s North Main Street, across from Bosse Field and Deaconess Aquatic Center. In addition to the standard barbecue sandwich with pickle and onion, you can try the Big Bama, a half-pounder, with a side of Alabama football posters. While there, check out the Evansville and “A League of Their Own” movie memorabilia.

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: North America

Trademark: It’s often identified with New York City delicatessens

Must-Have Ingredients: A heap of corned beef, rye bread, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese

Pairs Well With: Spaetzle, sauerkraut, German potato salad, and white beans

We Recommend Trying This At: Gerst Bavarian Haus

Why It Stands Out: A sandwich for sandwich lovers, the Reuben is a classic. Evansville’s Gerst Bavarian Haus lists the Reuben as its most popular sandwich, and it’s served the traditional way. Gerst also has a second variety: a turkey Reuben, subbing a generous portion of turkey for the corned beef. The restaurant on West Franklin Street uses a “special sauce” on its Reuben; two popular sauces for the sandwich are Russian or Thousand Island dressing.

Photo by Laura Mathis

Fried Bologna

Place of Origin: Bologna, Italy, then brought to the U.S. by German immigrants and eventually fried in the South

Trademark: Thick, hot slices and toasty bread

Must-Have Ingredients: A favorite cheese

Pairs Well With: Potato salad, a baked potato, fries, or chips

We Recommend Trying This At: Stockwell Inn or Peephole Bar & Grill

Why It Stands Out: The fried bologna sandwich is a nostalgic treat for many Evansville area residents. At Peephole Bar & Grill (which is closed for the time being following damage from a Main Street traffic accident — see Chew on This, page 121), check out Dewig’s German Bologna Sandwich. We also discovered a good one at Stockwell Inn, where the thick-cut slices accompany buttery, grilled bread.

Photo by Zach Straw

Southern Fry

Place of Origin: Enslaved West Africans and Scottish immigrants to the U.S. both brought with them a tradition of battering and frying chicken.

Trademark: Crispy finish

Must-Have Ingredients: Enough breadcrumbs for a thick coating

Pairs Well With: Mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, corn, grits, and biscuit

We Recommend Trying This At: Walton’s Smokehouse and Southern Kitchen

Why It Stands Out: Fried chicken is a Southern American staple, and as it made its way across the country, the variety of ways it is enjoyed has grown. Walton’s Smokehouse and Southern Kitchen’s take on fried chicken involves buttermilk, capicola, Cajun aioli, and jalapeño pimiento cheese placed between two buns.


What the Cluck

There are about as many ways to craft a good chicken sandwich as there are people to make them. The origin of the chicken sandwich isn’t known — it was developed in the U.S., and Chick-fil-A lays claim to popularizing the piece of poultry on a bun. At the crossroads of America, Evansville has plenty of variations on this lunch crowd staple.

Photo by Zach Straw

Chicken Salad

Place of Origin: Town Meats in Wakefield, Rhode Island, in 1863

Trademark: Chopped chicken, often bound with mayonnaise, but sometimes with cream cheese

Must-Have Ingredients: Take your pick: nuts, hard-boiled egg, celery, onion, pickles, or mustard

We Recommend Trying This At: Kite & Key Cafe

Why It Stands Out: Of course, there are countless varieties of chicken salad, but we love the way Kite & Key Cafe on Evansville’s West Side prepares it — a creamy mix that includes pecans and grapes and is served on a buttery croissant with tomato and lettuce. Pair it with crispy chips, German potatoes, or fruit, and you’ve got a light, satisfying lunch on a summer day, or any day.

Photo by Zach Straw

Chicken and Waffle

Place of Origin: Some give credit to a 1930s Harlem restaurant named Wells Supper Club, whereas other food scholars credit enslaved Africans or Dutch and German settlers.

Trademark: Sweet and savory collision of flavor

Must-Have Ingredients: Fried chicken and a fluffy waffle

Pairs Well With: Maple syrup

We Recommend Trying This At: Copper House

Why It Stands Out: Considered a Southern staple, this combination of breakfast and dinner somehow makes sense when put together. Butter and maple syrup already have an important role in fusing the two parts’ savory and sweet attributes. Copper House elevates this idea by using waffles instead of buns. Their chicken and waffle sandwich is served with lettuce, pickled red onion, and spicy maple mayo, providing a little kick to the homestyle creation.

Photo by Zach Straw

Catalina Chicken

Place of Origin: Catalonia region of Spain, and popularized as a salad dressing by Kraft Foods

Trademark: Sweet, smoked flavor

Must-Have Ingredients: Catalina dressing blended from ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and oil. Add Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, or cayenne pepper for a kick.

Pairs Well With: Grilled corn on the cob

We Recommend Trying This At: Sportsman’s Grille and Billiards

Why It Stands Out: This is not your mother’s Catalina-topped meal. Marinating a chicken breast in the sweet, tomato- based dressing soaks in its tangy flavor, but cooking it on a grill unleashes a deep, smoky quality and thickens the sauce to a creamy finish. Sportsman’s Grille and Billiards makes sure you know it was cooked on the rack; its Catalina Chicken has the grill marks to prove it.


Savor the Flavor

Admit it: Sometimes, you want a sandwich that hits the spot but is not time-consuming to assemble, a big gain for minimal investment. We get it. There are days when all we want is to dive into a thickly piled stack of our favorite fillings between two slices of bread right now. That’s where these gloriously simple yet flavorful sandwiches come into play. Many require ingredients that already are in your refrigerator, and they’re easy to modify on the fly if you’re craving a twist.

Photo provided by G.D. Ritzy’s

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Place of Origin: Boston, Massachusetts

Biggest Controversy: Crust or no crust?

Switch Things Up With: Crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly

We Recommend Trying This At: G.D. Ritzy’s

Why It Stands Out: Perhaps it’s a surprise to see the old, reliable PB&J in a sandwich section devoted to savory flavors but hear us out. This sandwich is a childhood staple — a Prepared Foods study found the average American child eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before they graduate from high school — and so it takes little imagination to change it up. Like grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly is the perfect canvas for adventurous modifications. We like G.D. Ritzy’s version pairing sweet strawberry jam with a crunchy peanut butter spread.

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: England

Trademark: Crispy bacon

Must-Have Ingredients: Bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and halved, toasted bread

Pairs Well With: Tomato soup

We Recommend Trying This At: COMFORT by the Cross-Eyed Cricket

Why It Stands Out: When it comes to sandwiches without fuss, nothing tops a BLT. A sensible, simple sandwich, its appeal is its ease to assemble and consume. Savory rippled bacon, juicy tomato, crisp lettuce leaves, tangy mayo, and sliced bread are within reach at nearly any grocery store, making the BLT a perfect midnight snack or midday meal. COMFORT on Main Street puts a twist on the traditional BLT by adding creamy avocado slices.

Photo by Laura Mathis


Place of Origin: New York state

Trademark: Quartered sandwiches skewered together

Must-Have Ingredients: Toasted bread, turkey or chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise

Pairs Well With: Coleslaw or chips

We Recommend Trying This At: Friendship Diner

Why It Stands Out: This American staple originated at — where else? — a club, and it has the subtle air of class to prove its enduring pedigree. The club relies on fresh produce layered with slices of turkey or chicken, making it the perfect tiny luncheon addition or handheld appetizer. (The fact that it routinely clocks in as a counting calories-friendly meal also is a perk.) Our favorite trait, though, is how the often-quartered sandwiches are presented stacked high, like a tastier version of the game Jenga. So, while it’s still classic, it’s also a little fun to eat.


Gone Fishing

Fresh seafood dishes take inspiration from around the world, and these sandwiches cast a similar line. The stuffed po’boy at Newburgh, Indiana’s Tin Fish is laden with Creole herbs, while BRU Burger Bar packs a fish patty full of Pacific Coast influence. Diversified with eclectic seasonings and mixed textures, the result is mouthwatering meals of savory seafood you can enjoy on the go.

Photo by Zach Straw

Shrimp Po’Boy

Place of Origin: New Orleans, Louisiana

Trademark: Stuffed with seafood of your choice

Must-Have Ingredients: French-style bread and an array of seafood

Pairs Well With: French fries and coleslaw

We Recommend Trying This At: Tin Fish

Why It Stands Out: Think of a po’boy sandwich as a sub with its own style. Popularized in New Orleans — home of a yearly po’boy sandwich festival in early November — this sandwich takes seafood and puts it between French-style bread, typically with tomato, pickles, and lettuce. At Tin Fish in Newburgh, Indiana, guests can enjoy a seafood po’boy sandwich, including clams, fish, crab cakes, shrimp, or oysters, served with coleslaw, tartar, or hot sauce.

Photo by Zach Straw

Baja Salmon

Place of Origin: Baja California, Mexico

Trademark: South-of-the-border seasoning

Must-Have Ingredients: Fresh salmon

We Recommend Trying This At: BRU Burger Bar

Pairs Well With: Home fries or onion rings

Why It Stands Out: The health benefits of salmon are impressive, especially considering the low-fat content and the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to provide benefits for the heart and brain. While Baja-style cooking typically is applied to fish tacos, BRU Burger Bar adds a twist with queso fresco, guacamole, black bean aioli, black bean edamame salsa, and pea shoots with an oat bun.


Around the World

International fare is served with a flourish in Evansville. Our long history of German links is most evident on menus, but we enjoy slices of Mediterranean and Latin heritage, too. With plenty of restaurants serving global flavors, we don’t have to travel the world to eat like it.

Photo by Morgan Dean


Place of Origin: Cuba, then Tampa, Miami, and Key West, Florida

Trademark: Layers of cheese and seasoned meat between buttered Cuban bread and sliced diagonally

Must-Have Ingredients: Mild smoked ham and marinated roast pork, gouda or Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and Cuban bread. Add salami for the Tampa version.

Pairs Well With: A fresh slice of dill

We Recommend Trying This At: Siciliano Subs

Why It Stands Out: In Evansville, head to Sicily for an authentic Cuban sandwich. Siciliano Subs on West Franklin Street features the Miami version of the famous savory sandwich, with ham and pork. But this sub shop with a full menu easily can add salami, too, sliced right in front of you at the counter. Siciliano’s bread gets rave reviews, the perfect envelope for the tangy and tart taste of pickles and mustard paired with melted cheese and meat.

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: A late-19th century grocer in Portland, Maine is credited with its creation.

Trademark: Cured meats and cheese topped with Italian dressing and salad-like ingredients in a toasted baguette

Must-Have Ingredients: Capicola, salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese, red onion, black olives, lettuce, tomato, and toasted baguettes

Pairs Well With: Fresh fruit

We Recommend Trying This At: The Daily Grind

Why It Stands Out: The Daily Grind’s Italian sandwich derives its name from Italian American gangster Al Capone, who may or may not have enjoyed similar sandwiches himself. “Mangia!” wrote the Evansville Living restaurant reviewer. “The Al Capone sandwich transports you to Little Italy and tastes like a slice of pizza stuffed between two pieces of bread.”

Photo by Zach Straw


Place of Origin: Mexico

Trademark: The need to eat it with two hands

Must-Have Ingredients: White sandwich rolls to clap around a smorgasbord of fillings

Pairs Well With: Chips and housemade guacamole

We Recommend Trying This At: La Campirana

Why It Stands Out: This popular Mexican dish isn’t messing around. Overflowing with protein and garnishes stuffed between two oversize pieces of soft bread, the torta requires two hands and a commitment. We love that its center can be made of ham, chicken, shaved beef, or even scrambled eggs, and that it can be served cool or warm, making it ideal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Downtown diners, rejoice: La Campirana’s torta also is on the menu at Botanas at Arcademie on Northwest Sixth Street.

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Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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