I believe a sandwich can be the great unifier. Almost everyone eats sandwiches, and almost everyone loves them.

Whether it’s a bahn mi, a chicken sandwich, or a Reuben, there is a sandwich out there for everyone. My goal was simple; try an array of different sandwiches in Champaign-Urbana and find out which ones I think are five that you can’t miss.


A photo of the Hot Sicilian Sausage Sandwich form Baldoratta's on white parchment paper. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Hot Sicilian Sausage Sandwich | Baldarotta's

If you haven’t already been to Baldarotta’s in Lincoln Square Mall, drop everything you’re doing, and get over there. This is the place that Champaign-Urbana has been desperately needing for a long time. I’ve had a variety of their sandwiches, and while I haven’t found one I disliked, the hot Sicilian sausage ($11) stands out as one of my favorites.

The items on this sandwich were: hot or mild sausage, marinara, provolone, Mozzarella, basil, and your choice of topping (olive relish, Sicilian salsa, Calabrian salad, mild or hot Giardiniera) on homemade focaccia. Everything worked perfectly together. The sandwich was somewhat spicy with a great savoriness and a little bit of sweetness from the tomato sauce the sausages are cooked in. Make sure you have some time after eating this sandwich to sit or lay down because this sandwich was big and greasy.

Baldarotta’s
300 S. Broadway Ave
Urbana, IL
Tu-Sa 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Su noon to 3 p.m.

A photo of the vegetarian reuben from Sunsinger in a white styrofoam container. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Vegetarian Reuben | Sunsinger

I know what you might be thinking: why even bother with a Reuben if you’re not gonna get a heaping pile of corned beef on it? Trust me. I get it; I used to feel the same way. Then I had this vegetarian Reuben sandwich ($14.50) from Sunsinger, and let me tell you, it changed everything.

Made with seitan, which is pretty much tofu but made with wheat instead of soy, this sandwich had almost the exact same meaty texture as a normal Reuben. Other than the seitan, this sandwich was a pretty straightforward Reuben. It had all the works: sauerkraut, provolone, roasted red pepper, and thousand island dressing, all on toasted marble rye. You have to get the truffle fries on the side: those things were downright addictive.

Sunsinger
1115 W Windsor Rd
Champaign
M-Th 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
F 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sa 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Su 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A photo of the sausage breakfast sandwich from the Bread Company sits in a metal circular takeout container on top of dark brown roasted potatoes. Photo by Anthony Erlinger.Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Sausage Breakfast Sandwich | The Bread Company

I almost always go to The Bread Company for lunch. I think their sandwich menu is sensational, and I’m here to tell you about The Bread Company's sausage breakfast sandwich ($7.85). This sandwich had sausage with egg, dijionnaise, and cheese served on toasted bread with potatoes on the side. You can also get the sandwich without the roasted potatoes which I recommend because the potatoes weren't all that great.

The sandwich, however, was delightful. It had a classic sausage, egg, and cheese flavor with a slight twist as the dijonnaise brings everything together perfectly. If you are vegetarian, fear not, because they also offer a mushroom sandwich that is just as delicious.

Editor's Note: At time of publishing, The Bread Company is temporarily closed for breakfast hours due to staffing. The restaurant plans to resume breakfast service soon.

The Bread Company
706 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana
M 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tu-F 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A photo of the Du Velo from Watson's in a white styrofoam container. Photo by Anthony ErlingerPhoto by Anthony Erlinger.

Du Velo | Watson's Shack & Rail

There have been some foods that I have eaten that have been transcendent experiences. Foods so good that they belong in the Smithsonian. The Du Velo ($16) from Watson’s was that good. In my opinion, it is without question my favorite sandwich in Champaign-Urbana. This thing is a major work of art.

Whoever thought to put crispy pork belly on top of Nashville hot fried chicken deserves an award. When you add Watson's herbed mayo, American cheese, and a fried egg on top between brioche buns, it was something truly remarkable. Once again, this sandwich is not for the faint of heart: it was heavy, greasy, and spicy. With that being said, I think everyone who eats pork and chicken should give this sandwich a go. It’s just that good.

Watson’s Shack & Rail
211 N. Neil St
Champaign
Tu-Sa 11 a.m. 9 p.m.
Su 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A photo of the Bahn Mi from Xinh Xinh Cafe sits in a white styrofoam container.  Photo by Anthony Erlinger.Photo by Anthony Erlinger.

Banh Mi | Xinh Xinh Cafe

I know what you’re probably thinking: the cholesterol on this kid must be through the roof right now. Well, you’re not wrong, but I’m going to try and dial it back a bit on this last sandwich. Xinh Xinh Café happens to have a pretty excellent banh mi, so I was in luck. I ordered the special combo sandwich ($8.10) which included jambon, headcheese, pork roll, and pate served on a baguette with homestyle mayonnaise sauce, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, onions, cilantro, and jalapeños.

If you’re reading this with a turned nose, you may never have experienced the delight of pork pate and headcheese, two of my favorite meat products. But seriously, don’t be afraid of this sandwich. It s smoky and meaty while also being cool and almost refreshing because of the cucumber and cilantro. It is the perfect balance of a sandwich. Go try something new, and if you’re really not feeling this one, Xinh Xinh has a whole list of other sandwiches that may look more appealing to you.

Xinh Xinh Café
114 N. Vine St
Urbana
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Top image by Anthony Erlinger.