Secret sandwich

Let us praise the balance and perfection of the sandwich: its symmetrical halves, its versatility, its ubiquity. The sandwich is so often taken for granted, but truly, it is our constant companion. Its variations take place at breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a midnight snack, wedge the contents of your fridge between a couple of slices of bread, et voila. The sandwich does it again.

The sandwich knows no boundaries. It's equally at home in workaday canteens and upscale eating houses. Anyone can make one; anyone can enjoy one. Wherever there is commerce, there is likely a sandwich.

Here are six sandwiches to seek out. They're made in markets, strip malls and parking lots, so maybe you haven't noticed them before. At about $7 or less, there’s no reason not to try them.

The Mean Bean, $7

West Village Market, 771 Haywood Road

Wind your way through West Village Market to the deli in the back of the shop. The two-table setup is small,  but the menu offers 13 specialty sandwiches with a wide range of artisan breads, Boar's Head meats and cheeses, tofu, tempeh, hummus and local jam.

The Mean Bean features black-bean tempeh from Smiling Hara, avocado, roasted red peppers and chipotle hummus on toasted Sami's gluten-free bread.

BBQ Sammie, $7

The Lowdown food truck, The Lot and other locations, check

With its brightly colored toppings, indicating pickled delights, The Lowdown's barbecue sandwich is eyecatching. The thick, buttery Texas toast and red slaw beg to be eaten. The pickled okra nestles beneath a heap of pulled pork. Each bite is smoky and sour with a tinge of sweetness. It's a meat-and-two in handheld form.

Fried bologna, $4.95

The Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk, 25 Haywood St.

Yes, we went with the fried bologna sandwich at the Woolworth soda fountain. The pimento cheese, BLT and club sandwiches were strong contenders, but in the end, we chowed down on the controversial Appalachian classic. Maybe you love it. Maybe you hate it. Either way, you should try it.

Woolworth's fried bologna is actually grilled, and it's a major step up from the one you probably ate as a kid. Both bologna and bread come thick-cut, so each meaty mouthful conjures up a wave of nostalgia for bologna sandwiches past along with hope for the bologna sandwiches of the future: If they could all be like this one!

Fill It Up, $6.99

Rev It Up! Sandwich Shop, 5 Regent Park Blvd.

From the outside, Rev It Up! looks like a typical sub shop, but don't make assumptions based on its humble storefront and the motorcycle-themed decorations. Rev It Up! adds its own creative twist to the sandwiches and burgers it serves. Among standard tuna, turkey and ham saelections, you'll find portobello and brie, chicken salad with grapes and pecans and sautéed eggplant arrangements.

The Fill It Up is all about gooey decadence. Roast beef, sautéed eggplant and onions come smothered in roasted red pepper marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. It's comfort food on a hoagie.

Braised pork shoulder sandwich, $7.25

Asheville Sandwich Company, 202 State St.

Asheville Sandwich makes a stick-to-your ribs lunch. The sandwiches come loaded with toppings, so even the healthier varieties burst at their seams with a handful of arugula.

The pork shoulder sandwich is an entire meal in a bun. The tender meat is roasted and chopped in-house and topped with rich slaw and shoestring french fries.

Roasted chicken salad sandwich, $5

Hi-Fi Cafe, 45 S. French Broad Ave.

Hi-Fi Cafe is both small and savvy. The menu includes just four sandwiches and a customizable, personal pizza. Because the offerings are streamlined, the proprietors have time to make everything from scratch, including breads, tortilla chips and vegan cheese.

The hand-pulled chicken salad comes on thick focaccia bread that's perfectly browned and bubbly, clearly the product of a well-honed recipe. It's topped with citrus zest, roasted pumpkin seeds and thin-sliced, grilled pineapple, so it's sure to be a hit with fans of savory-sweet flavor combinations.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

9 thoughts on “Secret sandwich

  1. Adrienne

    Thanks for featuring Hi-Fi Cafe – they’re one of my favorite spots for affordable and delicious sandwiches. They deserve the coverage!

  2. Mary

    LOVE Hi-Fi Cafe! They are truly the best…especially when you realize that EVERYTHING is homemade, delicious, healthy, and of course, topped with a hearty helping of love! <3

  3. Sandwich king

    Wasn’t there already a coffee shop in town named Hi-Fi? Why does the fomer Percolator get the free pass when it comes to stealing a brand identity? Besides, their sandwich looks embarrassing under the pic of the Asheville Sandwich Co….

    • Hi-Fi Cafe

      We are the original Hi-Fi, and have been in business over 3 years. We’ve built up a faithful following of locals who love our amazing coffee and incredible food (all of which is made in-house, from scratch). We invite you to come check us out, and see for yourself why 70% of our daily business is repeat/regular customers. :)

  4. Helena

    Love the hi-fi cafe. It is awesome! Looking forward to trying out the rest of the sandwiches.

  5. bernice penn

    The Hi-Fi Cafe is one of my favorite eateries. Everything is made from scratch and is healthy and delicious. Keep up the good work!

  6. Walt Venable

    Thanks for the great article, the Hi-Fi Cafe is one of Asheville’s hidden treasures and my favorite lunch spot! That chicken sandwich on fresh-baked focaccia is awesome, and so are the other sandwiches, pizzas, and bagels, nom nom nom. Everything is homemade and delicious!

  7. lilmountainlady

    Thank you Emily for writing this article and especially for mentioning “My FAVORITE Secret Sandwich” place *Hi-Fi Cafe*!! Of course, I have to mention I love ALL the sandwiches and the many ways you can have a great pizza. But the best is the Wednesday Special… oh yeah!! Yummy is not even the best word to describe what my tummy gets to feast on for it’s weekly SURPRISE treat.
    “Wonderful!” “I love it!” and “Thank you,” for brightening up my day.

  8. Shawna

    Hi-Fi Cafe has the BEST food and coffee drinks ever! Thanks so much for recognizing a wonderful business that makes EVERYTHING from scratch, uses the best products available, and still manages to keep the prices low! Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.