Thanks to the BBQ wave that hit the city in recent years, pulled pork sandwiches—about the next best thing to an actual McRib, though actually quite better than them—are suddenly plentiful. Yet one of the best has been around awhile, the pulled pork sandwich ($7.50) at Dinosaur Barbecue.
The new breed of pulled pork sandwiches is exemplified by this baby at The Smoke Joint in Fort Greene. You can get it as a sandwich ($7.50) or, better yet, atop one of their black angus hot dogs ($5.00). Overkill is the name of the game.
Who but Danny Meyer could be counted on to bring authentic quality and top-notch ingredients to the McRib arena? The pulled pork sandwich ($11.50) at Blue Smoke is almost as good as the music they play downstairs every night at Jazz Standard.
Meyer again! While the pulled pork sandwich ($18.00) at Grammercy Tavern may a bit much, both in terms of price and preparation, there is no finer answer to the McRib.
This spring, for a fleeting moment, there was an honest to god McRib-style sandwich on a menu in New York—where else but at Momofuku Ssam. Dear David Chang, please use the current McRib madness as an excuse to bring this beauty back.
It may not be saucy like the McRib, but the porchetta ($10.00) at Porchetta is so ooey-gooey good, it qualifies as one of the best sandwiches in the city, period.
The stewed pork "burger" ($2.50) at Xi'an Famous Foods is actually probably the closest thing in New York to the McRib on price point. But taste-wise, this bun-style concoction by the masters of Western Chinese cuisine tops its fast-food competitor by a mile. And now that they've opened two Manhattan locations, no more trips to Flushing to get your fix.
While the McRib is vaguely Tex-Mex, it pails in comparison to a good Al Pastor taco. For the real deal, it's gotta be spit-roasted, and that probably means a trip to Queens. The Observer is partial to the al pastor at El Globo in Corona, where the tacos are $2.00.
For something more substantial, try a banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwiches which have held the city in their thrall of late. The duroc pork with spiced honey ($7.50) at Num Pang in the Village may be on the chi-chi-er side, but it is well worth the pretense.
If you want a more traditional banh mi, try the sloppy bao ($8.00) at Baogette. Sure, it's beef and not pork, but the sandwich gets the McRib flavors just about right.
For something off the beaten path—do not waste your time at Golden Crust—try the incomparable beef patty ($2.50) from D Ital Shack in Crown Heights. For that true Caribbean experience, get it wrapped in warm, pillowy coco bread ($4.00).
The dry-aged ribeye sandwich ($19) at Primehouse is a thing of glory. It may be expensive, but if it's as good as a real steak for half the price, it is well worth it.
While it's no McRib knockoff, what list of New York City sandwiches would be complete without a Reuben on it? The Observer is not about to wade into the debate of who serves the best, but here, for illustrative purposes, is the Carnegie Deli's Reuben ($23.95—yes, the most expensive thing on our menu).