10 Great Sandwiches in Orange County
7. Crab Roll at Lobsta Truck
It's called the Lobsta Truck because of its lobster rolls, but I much prefer the crab roll, not because it's that much cheaper at $11, but because I've always liked crab more than I've liked lobster. In those strands is a uniform sweetness egged onwards by a subtle seawater brine. The lobster, by comparison, has a bitterness hiding behind its firmer flesh. And then I think about all the labor and effort involved in extracting crab meat. By comparison, disrobing a lobster is child's play. Also, since the crab has a finer grain meat, it's able to fill every available nook-and-cranny with a suffusion of flavor. And of course, it's soaked in butter, shoved into the same griddle toasted torpedo-shaped roll---a vessel that does its due diligence as a transport device to get the meat into your mouth and nothing more.
6. Carnitas Sandwich at The Rider's Club
After the burgers, the second-best sandwich at Riders Club is grand and epic on its own scale, with fistfuls of roasted pork fallen into shreds both crispy and moist; it's so good it's worthy of a lonchera. And because of the fresh jalapeños, cilantro and shredded carrots, it also proves the Mexican torta and the Vietnamese bánh mì can sire an offspring with all of its flavors living harmoniously under a bun.
5. Sashimi Sandwich at North Shore Poke Company
Aside from the poke, the poke-ritto and the chocolate haupia pie, you also need to get the sashimi sandwich at North Shore Poke Company. It's not a Hawaiian dish; it's just good, refreshing, and something you've probably never encountered before or since. The silken slices of salmon sashimi is stuffed within the soft pliancy of a La Brea Bakery ciabatta with sprouts, avocado, and a sugary papaya-seed dressing that enriches every bite the same time its tang invites you to take the next one.
4. Grilled Cheese at The Crosby
The appropriately named Starving Artist Grilled Cheese aims to please its target market of hipsters and penniless bohemians. Even if it weren't priced affordably low at $5, I don't think I could find a finer, more satisfying wedge of pan-toasted bread oozing Gruyère and sautéed mushrooms. Chef Aron Habiger pairs it with an espresso cup filled with what he calls a "tomato shooter" because what's grilled cheese without cream of tomato? This is a grilled cheese so wonderful it deserves its own house. And it is! The Crosby, as we announced, will open a restaurant based on it.
1945 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA