By Polly Keary, Editor
Tired of toting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work? Restaurants throughout the Sky Valley make creative and inexpensive sandwiches that will inspire you to leave your lunch at home.
A Facebook query of Monroe residents resulted in four sandwiches receiving multiple mentions, and we set out to try them.
Here are some of the Sky Valley’s favorite sandwiches.
Turkey, Cranberry and Cream Cheese at the Sultan Bakery
Sometimes an hour lunch is barely long enough to get through the line at the Sultan Bakery, so popular are the lunches there. And most of the meals consist of sandwiches served on enormous, soft slices of homemade bread.
There are rotating selections handwritten on small dry-erase boards behind the counter, but a larger whiteboard lists the sandwiches that are always available, including roast beef, meatloaf, and the popular turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwich.
Taken to go, the sandwich fills the entire bottom of a standard white carry-out container. The cranberries provide a tangy-sweet contrast to the salty turkey slices, and the cream cheese is rich. With a slice of lettuce added for a little crispness, the sandwich is enough to make a light lunch for two. With tax, the sandwich comes out to $8.63.
The Sultan Bakery is located at 711 W. Stevens Ave. (U.S. 2) in Sultan.
Bella Balducci in Monroe is located in the strip mall that also contains Ben Franklin and Sweet Indulgence. Inside the small counter service restaurant, quotes from philosophers adorn a large mural behind the counter, and the muted wall colors and decor create a Mediterranean atmosphere.
For $6.95, there is a daily lunch special consisting of a gyro (a pita sandwich), fries and a drink. The gyro comes on a soft, thick pita round, into which seasoned meat, lettuce, red onion, tomato and feta cheese are tucked like a taco. It comes with a side of fries seasoned with herbs and crumbled feta cheese, and a dressing rather different from the more traditional cucumber-and-yogurt based tzatziki sauce offered in many other restaurants.
The sandwich is flavorful and the seasoning on the fries renders a rather bland side dish piquant, making for a departure from standard American lunchtime fare at an affordable price.
Bella Balducci is located at 19565 U.S. Highway 2 in Monroe.
Walking into Jeno’s is like stepping half a century back in time. There’s lots of dark wood, a lounge in back and waitresses greeting regulars by name.
They also don’t take plastic, rounding out the blast-from-the-past vibe.
Among the selections on the Italian menu is a pepperoni grinder, a hot submarine sandwich that comes wrapped in white paper and is about a foot long.
The crust on the roll is crisp enough to crumble a bit as it’s unwrapped, and the lettuce inside is shredded, a touch some definitely appreciate. The bottom of the sandwich is liberally covered with hot pepperoni, and slices of tomato cool the sandwich down.
The sandwich is more than enough for all but the hungriest lunchtime diner, and at $8.95 after tax, it’s easy on the budget, as well.
Jeno’s is located at 124 E. Main St. in Monroe.
“Eat Big Food,” says the slogan on the wall outside Bubba’s Roadhouse, an unassuming tavern on U.S. 2 in Sultan. And they mean it.
There are a number of burgers and sandwiches on the menu in the bar, which has live music on weekends and which sports a number of pull tab tanks behind the bar, but one sandwich stands out as unique.
It’s a turkey and cheese, yes, but the cheese, in this case parmesan, is actually grilled onto the outside of the bread, forming a chewy crust. The sandwich is thick, stacked high with turkey, bacon, tomato and Swiss cheese, a truly hearty sandwich for a drizzly winter day.
It also comes with a good-sized helping of hand-cut, peel-on fries, softer than their mass-produced, fast-food counterparts.
With tax, the sandwich comes to $11.36, and can easily feed two.
Bubba’s Roadhouse is located at 924 Stevens Ave. (U.S. 2) in Sultan.