Amer's Deli 312 S. State St., Ann Arbor, 734-761-6000: For 20 years, Amer's Deli has attracted hungry Ann Arborites with its quality sandwiches and salads. In a coffeehouse atmosphere, you can enjoy their Reuben sandwiches, for which all-kosher corned beef is cooked, sliced and trimmed in-house; the rye bread is direct from an Oak Park-based Jewish bakery. The Georgia Reuben offers a turkey alternative to Amer's signature sammy, while the "Falafel" (served on white pita stuffed with hummus and taboulleh made in-house) and the "Pesto Luck" (fresh mozzarella, tomato and an impressive in-house pesto) should please vegetarians.
Bread Basket Deli 26052 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park, 248-968-0022: A favorite among Metro Times readers, this old-fashioned Jewish deli serves mammoth sandwiches with quality ingredients piled high. How high? Their Dagwoods frequently achieve triple- or even quadruple-decker status. If you're looking for a tasty bite, the club sandwich and the cheeseburger aren't exactly kosher, but they are divine. The latkes, gefilte fish and cheese blintzes are also exquisite. Ask for a cold beet borscht to help wash that meal down.
Byblos Cafe and Grill 87 W. Palmer St., Detroit; 313-831-4420: This Halal-certified restaurant near Wayne State's campus attracts university students and staff, serving Coney Island fare and Mediterranean specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A co-worker raves over the grape leaves, stuffed with lamb or meatless, including a mix of rice, tomatoes and parsley. Other favorites include the chicken shawarma — a pita wrap with a mix of toasted chicken, garlic sauce and pickles — and the warm falafel and tabbouli pita wrap: falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, pickles and tomatoes tucked inside pita bread.
Eph's Downtown 608 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-964-4511: Eph's serves up monster-truck-sized portions labeled with creative names. A top-quality deli offering a fun atmosphere and fresh ingredients, Eph's customers gladly struggle to fit the variety of sandwiches piled high with toppings, meat and veggies into their stretched-to-the-limit eager mouths. Take the "Dublin Garden," for example, which includes spinach salad, lettuce, tomato, red onion, havarti, avocado and alfalfa sprouts sandwiched between whole-grain bread with a side of Dijon buttermilk.
Foran's Irish Pub 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-3043: Dine and down a pint amid history! Located near Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, Foran's Irish Pub serves up delectable goodness in what was once the Grand Trunk Railway ticket office. Brass chandeliers, 25-foot-vaulted ceilings, brick walls and hardwood floors bring patrons back to the early 1900s. Officially touting their fare as "gourmet pub grub," this local watering hole supports top-notch local businesses, serving Avalon Organic breads, Better Made chips, and meats and produce from Eastern Market. And it sure makes for a good sandwich. We know a loyal follower of their sandwich called the "Finnigan" — chicken breast topped with fresh mozzarella, spinach and their homemade tomato-basil aioli on grilled Greektown Olive bread.
Fly Trap 22950 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-399-5150: From the quirky name of this restaurant to the colorful inside decor, it's apparent that someone is having fun here. With a mix of industrial chic and vibrant colors, patrons will find that the food is just as pleasing as the ambience. One sandwich with particularly combustible flavor is the charmoula chicken. Sink your teeth into this: chicken breast rubbed down in North African spices; add in the jack cheese, generous support of caramelized onion and garlic-lemon aioli, plus a side of swat sauce to dip in, and you have an undeniably one-of-a-kind sandwich. And the sourdough's sturdy enough to hold it all together.
Joey's Famous Philly Cheesesteaks 14625 Northline Rd., Southgate, 734- 281-4444; 16125 West Rd., Woodhaven, 734-692-1111: Thinly sliced rib-eye is fried on the griddle, while sweet Vidalias are grilled. The cheese (American or provolone) is placed on top of the frying steak, so it melts into the meat and strengthens the flavor. This is the way transplanted Philadelphian Sherii Abbulone and her husband Joey make an authentic cheesesteak, all on bread from a Philadelphia bakery. If the bovine selection is too much for you (and some hold as much as two pounds of beef), there's always the Italian Hoagie, with its generous helping of hot peppers.
La Feast 315 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-545-7100: Opening in April, this relatively new restaurant in downtown Royal Oak serves up Middle Eastern rare fare. Aside from the common falafel sandwiches, La Feast's customers are also drawn to rolled (not wrapped) pita sandwiches, including the shish tawook (white chicken kabob meat with garlic spread and pickles) and the shish kafta (ground lamb, tomato, onion lettuce and tahini sauce). But we think the chicken sajji tops them all, with thinly sliced grilled chicken with pickles and tomatoes rolled in pita bread. The elusive sajji sauce is what makes this sandwich. It's like a peppery Middle Eastern barbecue sauce with heavy notes of Worcestershire, vinegar, coriander, brown sugar and possibly a hint of cayenne.
Lily's Seafood 410 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-591-5459: In Royal Oak's vibrant downtown, find delicious micro-brews and a cozy, family friendly atmosphere all in one place at Lily's Seafood. Sandwich lovers approve of the popular smoked-salmon Rueben, which includes brown sugar-cured, hickory-smoked Atlantic salmon rubbed with pastrami spices and then lightly grilled. Stack this baby on grilled marbled rye with cole slaw, aged Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
Mati's Deli 1842 Monroe St., Dearborn, 313-277-3253: A strong, solid selection of food is available here, with a sublimely retro atmosphere. Imagine a 1930s lunch counter. A reproduction of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" hangs on the wall, and Mati's is fully worthy of it. The service is both knowledgeable and friendly. The chicken salad is sharp and tasty, and they make one mean corned beef sandwich. The food won't empty your wallet, which is a bonus. There isn't much in the way of seating, but a 20-minute wait is easily justified by cream cheese brownies and Detroit-made pickles.
Mudgie's 1300 Porter St., Detroit; 313-961-2000: This Corktown spot used to be the old Eph's, and they carry on the sandwich tradition with a slew of sandwich options including the award-winning "Madill." Composed of turkey, apple-wood-smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine lettuce and melted pepper jack cheese layered on an 8-inch-sub spread with Mudgie-made garlic mayo, you'll understand the award-winning part when you chomp on this open-faced sub.
Rowland Café 500 Griswold St., Detroit, 313-963-1440: Sandwiches and coffee at the Rowland Café are first-rate, but of necessity they take a back seat to the setting, amid the magnificent arched mezzanine of the 1929 Guardian Building, an Art Deco splendor reopened to the public in 2004. Hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Saturday.
Stella International Café the lobby of the Fisher Building, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-664-0400; and, for catering and carryout only, in the lobby of the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold St., Detroit; 313-964-3910: For obsessive, mid-morning sweets cravings, one of the breakfast paninis might do the trick. We recommend the café's house specialty, the "Stella Dolce Panini." Quite a dessertwich: nutella chocolate hazelnut spread with fresh banana slices on fresh-baked foccacia. In the Fisher Building, you can even bring a periodical or friend along, and enjoy a cup of steaming, premium roast Illy coffee (blended in Trieste, Italy, using 100 percent Arabica beans).
Sprout House 15233 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe, 313-331-3200: Doubling as a deli and organic grocery store with produce, vitamins, or health and beauty products, the Sprout House does a thriving carryout business in sandwiches, refrigerated prepared dishes, and hot and cold soups. Offerings include vegan, organic chicken, soy cheese and vegetarian options.
Whistle Stop 501 S. Eton, Birmingham, 248-647-5588: Cheese and meat omelets, pancakes with fruit, cinnamon rolls and French toast? Sounds like a breakfast winner. Equally traditional lunch items include tuna melts and Maurice salads. Weekend breakfast specials, served all day, are a tad more adventurous, and everything is made fresh on the premises, including the breads and bumpy cakes.
Thanks to editorial interns Nathan Michael Stemen and Julianne Mattera for their assistance with this article.