Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stacked Sandwich

Almost a year ago, I read about Stacked Sandwich on one of my favorite blogs and decided I needed to visit the place. But I never did. It wasn't just my laziness: until last month they closed at 5 PM, and they aren't open on Sundays (the day I am most likely to go out for lunch) or Mondays. (They are now open until 7 PM Tuesdays-Fridays, which I'm sure is better for some people but is still too early for me to get dinner.)

Located on 1st Ave in Arcadia, in a location that was a pizza joint for most of my life, Stacked Sandwich has perhaps the most interesting sandwich menu I have ever seen in the San Gabriel Valley. Many of the sandwiches are stuffed with fries, several have a garlic-mayo sauce, and one is even advertised as being "simmered in a habanero Jacuzzi."

And the names are nothing short of fantastic: Whacked Stacked, Black Dog Saloon, Agent Orange, Rev. Pablo Pastor, and Chicken Little's Big Brother.

I selected the top two sandwiches in the above photo: the Portly Pastrami and Beef Barchetta. Take a look at the menu description of the latter and you see if that doesn't appeal to you.
The pastrami was shaved nice and thin. It was fattier than I normally like, but high quality: the fat was not noticeable, it disappeared in each bite with the grilled onions and gooey cheese. And every bite was delicious. Encapsulating the sandwich was the perfect roll: a touch firm on the outside, firm enough to hold together the messy, juicy guts of the sandwich, but also perfectly soft inside, soft enough to know that the bread is there to be a component of the sandwich, not a distraction.

The Beef Barchetta was outstanding. The meat wasn't anything spectacular, but it was good enough, and combined with all the other ingredients - especially the onions and horseradish sauce - it blended into one of the best flavor combinations I have experienced in quite some time, a mouthful of flavors both strange and instantly recognizable. The fries, I have to say, did not add much to the sandwich in terms of taste. I think it was one of those cases of the chef thinking about what he could do, instead of what he should do.

The pastrami sandwich was very good, but I can name you at least a half-dozen places within ten miles of me who do very good pastrami sandwiches. I am not sure I can think of another sandwich like the Barchetta.

I dipped a bite of the sandwich in the provided broth but I didn't get the point: it wasn't bad, but it added nothing to the sandwich, it actually distracted from the delicious flavors.

Writing about the order of fries that came with each sandwich is bound to be out of place, like analyzing the last five minutes of No Country For Old Men or Christian Laettner's performance on the Dream Team.  But these fries were actually really good... fresh out of the oil, crispy, with just the right amount of seasoning.

In lieu of fries, however, you can get a salad or a soda with your sandwich. Next time I will definitely go that route, particularly if I get a sandwich that includes fries in it.

I think everyone should try out Stacked Sandwich at least once. I have heard it described by quite a few people as the best sandwich they have ever had. I certainly wouldn't go that far, but it was really good and it beats any of the chain restaurants that Arcadia and Monrovia are full of.


Stephen said...

Justin, where do you think the best local place is to get a sandwich? My wife and I go to the Munch Company a lot, which is "okay". We sometimes go to Pappa Don's, which is "okay" as well, although the owner, who is very well intended, is a little intense for us. I would love your feedback on what your favorite is. Thank you.

JustinM said...

Yikes, that's a difficult question; sandwiches are about as personal as a favorite barbecue joint or kind of beer. But since you asked me I will do my best.

When you say "local place," how local are we talking? Because the pastrami at Langer's and turkey dip at Philippe's are probably my two favorite sandwiches in L.A.

Or are you talking about Pasadena only? (Although downtown L.A. is a lot closer to me time-wise at the moment than most areas in Pasadena, with all the street construction going on in town.)

The Italian cold cut sandwich at the Roma Italian Deli on Lake is outstanding. Pasadena Sandwich Co. is good, though I suspect a large part of their popularity is the size of their sandwiches rather than their quality. I've had meatball sandwiches at Porta Via that made me smack the table, they were so delicious - but I've had just as many that left me underwhelmed. I'm in love with the Sycamore Melt at Tops at the moment, but that may just be because I only discovered it a couple months ago.

Can we count the chicken tarna wrap at Zankou? If so, that's probably #1 in Pasadena for me.

Michelle said...

I want that right now!

Stephen said...

Wow, thank you for such a considerate answer. I was at Phillipe's Tuesday, and we go often, but I have never had their Turkey. I will be sure to do so next time. I do love Langers as well, and we are WAY overdue for that, great reminder. We have yet to go to Porto Via, but will check it out as we hear good things. In all of the times I have been to Zankou, I have never had the chicken tarna wrap, just the plate, which was good, but a little too much on it's own. I bet the wrap would better balance the flavors. I will try that first based on your comments, and Michelle chiming in!

Thanks again.

Banana Wonder said...

I could see how this place has your name written all over it.

JustinM said...

Anna that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

Stephen said...

You were right, the Zankou tarna chicken wrap is FANTASTIC! I will be going back very soon for another. Thanks so much for such a great tip! I am looking forward to the turkey dip at Phillipe's sometime this week.

Stephen said...

I finally had my first turkey dip at Phillipe's today. For the first half, I did what I always do with the beef and pork dips and went long on the mustard. It was good, but the mustard did not seem to meld with the turkey the way that it had with pork or beef. For the second half, I added pepper, but that was it. The second half was fantastic. You are right about the turkey dip, it exceeded my expectations. Thanks for the tip.

JustinM said...

I like it with a generous slather of the mustard to heat it up and a spoonful of cole slaw to cool it down. I'm almost embarrassed to say how long it's been since I've eaten there. But Elizabeth's sister is in town and we were talking about going to Olvera Street on Friday. Maybe a stop at Philippe's is in order.

Stephen said...

The cole slaw, along with the mustard, makes a lot of sense. There used to be a truly fantastic deli across the street from Vroman's called Stottlemeyers (sp?). It was there that my mother taught me the art of adding cole slaw to sandwiches. I usually do this, but did not with the turkey dip. I will be sure to do so next time. Have fun at Olvera Street!

The Thirsty Pig said...

I'm glad you liked the sandwich. I haven't had the pastrami, but I will definitely try it, as well. And you are right on - about the bread "... not a distraction"

I never had the turkey at Philippe's, but I will make it point the next time I get around to it.