We here at RVA Mag have never made a secret of the fact that we love sandwiches. But there’s one thing we’ve never been able to decide: which Richmond sandwiches are our favorite? Ash Griffith delves deliciously into the legion of worthy candidates, and surfaces with five of the best the city has to offer.
Grab your plates, grab your napkins, and fill up your beverage of choice. We have searched high and low and polled around town to get an idea of some of the best sammiches in the capital city.
Are you a chicken sandwich savant? Are you a seasoned bread connoisseur? Are you a firm believer that every sandwich must have a pickle within a ten-inch radius? There is a little something for everyone on this list, and we’ve even included a little bonus insight from the folks who make the sandwiches that keep the river city going.
Saison’s Asparagus Hero
Featured this past spring, Saison’s Asparagus Hero is a sandwich Marc Rhodes is particularly proud of. Made of barely cooked asparagus, homemade pistachio butter, housemade chinese chili crisp, and housemade kimchi, the asparagus hero ultimately came together addictively, according to Rhodes.
“It showed off all the best parts of early season asparagus and somehow made eating healthy feel kind of indulgent,” said Rhodes. “It’s made me look forward to the next asparagus season more than I have in the past… which is kind of impressive.”
Bombolini’s Caprese Sandwich
John Kreckman of Bombolini has always loved a good caprese, but it is traditionally not the most portable of meals. A caprese is traditionally made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, and often seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil, and occasionally a good balsamic glaze if you like a little tang in your meal. It’s a great refresher for a summer day, but it’s definitely the sort of thing you want to sit as still as possible while you eat.
For Kreckman, though, his desire to eat a caprese even when he needed to keep moving provided the inspiration for Bombolini’s caprese sandwich.
“I have always liked a good caprese salad but have a very ‘on the go’ lifestyle, so I decided to make the salad I love into a more portable option,” said Kreckman. “I love eating the caprese sandwich with buttered and toasted bread while watch the busy world pass the shop.”
Garnett’s The Chaplain
Garnett’s Cafe, which was named after co-owner Kendra Feather’s grandmother, focuses on classic Americana for their sandwiches. This includes beloved Boston Brown Bread. While traditionally, Boston Brown Bread is made in a can, the folks at Garnett’s will casually let you know that they skip that part. Pulling further inspiration from Feather’s family, her brother Maury is the inspiration for the name of the Chaplain sandwich, thanks to his service as a chaplain in the military.
Feather’s husband and business partner, John Murden, has a pretty classic way to enjoy this beloved sandwich. “My favorite way to eat a Chaplain is on a bike picnic at Scuffletown Park,” said Murden. “With a slice of pie.” Made with the aforementioned brown bread, The Chaplain features turkey, gouda, and dijon mustard, making it a perfect park time lunch.
Secret Sandwich Society’s The Ladybird
A play on an older sandwich on the menu a decade ago, The Polk, The Ladybird brings new life into a previous classic. Replacing the Polk’s bacon jam with a chipotle mayo, and introducing roasted organic chicken with some heat to it, this sandwich remains a popular request.
Served with society chips and a homemade pickle, The Ladybird features roasted chicken breast, crispy bacon and society pickles made in-house, chipotle mayo, all garnished with lettuce, tomato, and delicious red onions on a toasted potato roll. The result is a very good comfort sandwich. And best of all, the chipotle mayo is vegan.
“We use Hellman’s vegan mayo,” said Secret Sandwich Society co-founder David Bailey. “The rest of the sandwich, of course, isn’t vegan, but it’s a really delicious sandwich with a good kick to it.”
Hot Chick’s Hot Chick Sandwich
For all of our sandwich fans who prefer not just a little punch, if you will, in a sandwich, but a good ol’ roundhouse kick — we have the OG Hot Chick Sandwich from Hot Chick, which offers one of the many beautiful ways to eat fried chicken. Served Nashville-style with dill pickles, ranch, and ranch slaw, the original Hot Chick sandwich is the king of the menu, and certainly the one you need to try first if you have never been to Hot Chick before. This writer personally recommends ordering it with a side of their brussels sprouts, which are served with sticky asian sesame seeds and spicy ranch. And when I say recommends, I mean aggressively insists.
Because we have most certainly left some other winners in the city off of this list (and we want to know about all of them as soon as possible), tell us, River City – where do YOU think is the best place in town to get your sandwich on?