Lunch like a local: 10 Savory Sandwiches You Won't Want to Miss
Salads are great in the summer, but the autumn and winter days call for a little more...shall we say...nourishment? It’s time to make room for toasty or grilled goodness that just warms you up from the inside. Oooh and all the melty cheeses.
To be fair, you really can’t go wrong with any restaurant you choose in Abingdon, which was just named Best Small Town Food Scene in the country - TWICE! (2019 and 2020) If you need a little guidance in narrowing down your lunch options, we’ve compiled a list of favorite savory sandwiches to satisfy your cravings. Remember your fork, because these sandwiches are delectable. In other words, they are going to be dripping with deliciousness. For the record, we are defining “sandwich” a little loosely to better cover all the bases!
White Birch Food and Juice
White Birch Food and Juice is becoming well-known around the globe for their sustainable business practices, farm to table menu and their cold-pressed juices. From the moment you walk in, everything looks fresh. With a decor of golden tones, reclaimed wood and succulents abound, your dining experience is always leveled up with fresh-cut flowers on each table. Be sure to check the specials, but a popular go-to is the Breakfast Burrito, which is available for breakfast and lunch.
Choose between local bacon, sausage or chorizo, scrambled eggs, sauteed greens, mushrooms, onions, choice of cheese (always get the goat cheese), wrapped in a grilled spinach tortilla and served with a side of house taco sauce. It’s served with homefries (chunks of fried potatoes). This sandwich is super good and is choc-full of nutrients.
The great thing about White Birch is the eclectic crowd that never seems to dwindle. It’s usually a place of wide smiles, high energy, and an array of people from families with small children, to teenagers to boomers. It’s a happy place to be.
The Peppermill is an Abingdon restaurant classic. First started in an unassuming building near exit 14 in the early 2000s, the new owners moved the restaurant to a beautiful historic house on Main Street right in the heart of Abingdon. A favorite among locals is the roasted chicken quesadilla. Sink your teeth into grilled flour tortilla with roasted chicken, crisp bacon, grilled onions and smoked gouda. Can you ever go wrong with smoked gouda? Nope. The dish comes with a side of fresh-cut house or sweet potato fries. Hint: go with the sweet potato fries!
With the variety of restaurants in town, it’s easy to take your taste buds around the world. Looking for a Mediterranian flair? Greeko’s has you covered with their signature Giant Pitas! First off, you don’t have to choose between tzatziki and hummus! For the Giant Pitas, Greeko’s combines the two delectable dips for an enormous flavor. The dish is taken to the next level with addition of their crispy, golden fries...wrapped up in the sandwich! For meat lovers, try the lamb, Greek Chicken or both(!) with added feta, lettuce, tomato and onion. Or try the vegetarian friendly Falafel with added cucumbers olives.
Have you ever tried a torta?
These savory Mexican subs are loaded with meat and melted cheese. At Abingdon's popular Tex-Mex restaurant El Bigotes, you'll find a list of "Crazy Tortas," huge, filling sandwiches that locals love.
Our recommendation? The Torta al Pastor: a generous helping of al pastor beef, meat that is marinated, grilled and then thinly sliced. Comes with creamy Oaxaca cheese and pineapple for a tangy topping. The lunch includes a side of beans, onions, jalepenos, avocados and fries. Wow.
Milano’s Italian Cuisine
Abingdon is a long way from Italy, but thanks to Milano’s Italian Cuisine, your taste buds are within driving distance. Filled with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, mozzerella cheese and authentic marina sauce, the Stromboli, or an Italian turnover, is a local favorite. Brushed with mouthwatering garlic butter, the crust is also house made. Take note, the large is big enough to share with a friend. Go ahead and order extra marinara; it’s that good.
If you haven’t jumped on the mobile kitchen band wagon, i.e. food trucks, Abingdon is home to one of the most unique food truck concepts in the country, The Pakalachian. Katlin, originally from Appalachia, and Mohsin hailing from Pakistan, met at Virginia Tech and after graduating, decided to call Abingdon home. Not only did they marry each other, they decided to marry their culture’s cuisine and create food that compliments the origins of both Pakistani and Southern Appalachian Culture
‘Tikka My Senses’ is a savory sandwich that fulfills their mission perfectly. It is a flavorful take on Southern Fried Chicken and Pakistani Barbecued Chicken Tikka. The dish starts with chicken that is marinated for two days in 15 different bright herbs and spices. When it’s ready to serve, flour meets chicken on a hot date in their fryer. Once the chicken meets optimal juiciness, it is served simply—on a bun with pickles and accompanied with homemade dill ranch.
And oh, you’ll want to add the ‘Oh My Aloo’ on the side. Have we mentioned The Pakalachian is into fun names? Enjoy cripsy fries tossed in their own blend of bhaji, a traditional Pakistani dish made boiled potatoes.
Luke's Cafe is a funky fresh place that is perfect for date night or families! Self described as a Rockabilly Cracker Barrell, Luke’s is a quick and easy place to grab lunch. Even though Louisville may be the official home of the Hot Brown, Luke’s Café will have your officially drooling over their rendition. It’s the closest you’ll get to the authentic Hot Brown anywhere around! This open faced sandwich is made with grilled sourdough and topped with smoked turkey and bacon, smothered with cheesy mornay sauce, with tomato and parmesan on top. Mmmm. Now, do you need a mint julip and a derby hat? Oh wait...we’re still in Virginia.
You might not expect a good crabcake in landlocked Southwest Virginia, Rain has one of the best. Chef Ben Carroll has fresh seafood delivered twice a week from the coast, so the quality is superb. Chunks of blue crab, onion, celery, parsley, and lemon juice are mixed together and fried in panko bread crumbs until golden brown. Lay that baby on a Brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and Rain’s special jalapeño mayo, and you’ve definitely got something to write home about. You can choose soup, fries or pasta salad as for a side.
As an extra tip, Rain's butternut squash soup should not be missed. With sweet coconut milk, cilantro and garnished with chili oil, the big surprise is the spicy peanuts at the bottom. When it’s warm enough, enjoy lunch on nice the outdoor patio. The inside of the restaurant is upscale with local art adorning the walls.
JJ's Restaurant and Sports Bar
Don't be fooled by the words "sports bar" in the name: JJ's Restaurant and Sports Bar is one of Abingdon's favorite lunch spots, featuring delectable southern favorites. Owner Joel Jerkins is a Cordon Blue-trained chef, executing classic American fare with a Cajun twist thanks to his Louisiana roots. The fried catfish po' boy is one of the most popular on the menu for good reason: a hefty filet of melt-in-your-mouth catfish, encased in a crisp, fluffy batter and deep fried to perfection. Served with Spicy Mayo on a Toasted Hoagie Roll, it's heaven on a bun. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Can't get enough catfish? Order the platter, served with hushpuppies and house made bloody mary cocktail sauce (pictured above).
Dive headfirst into the most savory sandwich of all. Customers go head over heels when they taste the Fried Green Tomato Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich at Jack’s 128 Pecan. You’ve not lived or been to the south until you’ve had fried green tomatoes or pimento cheese. Chef Jack Barrow has combined the two and smooshed them between two grilled pieces of sourdough. It’s definitely among the best sandwiches in town. Pair it with Jack’s out-of-this-world creamy tomato bisque.
And now, you’re dining like a local!See a full list of Abingdon's Restaurants