Best Sandwiches: Birchwood Kitchen, Num Pang + More!

Top chefs moonlight with high-end sandwich shops

The recent spate of spin-off sandwich shops from great chefs proves that everyone can be charmed by the joys of a well-made, handheld meal. Here are three leading the trend:

Birchwood Kitchen At his Wicker Park café, Daniel Sirko–a former fromager–shoves fine cheeses into his sandwiches. There's Comté in the grilled cheese, and Zingerman Creamery goat cheese tangoing with pickled beets and walnut pesto in a toasted baguette. Sirko also sources as many local ingredients as possible; his French dip's beer-braised lamb is reared only a few hours away. 2211 W. North Ave., Chicago; 773-276-2100

Num Pang The unsung Cambodian cousins of Vietnamese banh mi finally have a worthy missionary at Kampuchea chef Ratha Chau's just-opened New York deli (pictured). His modern interpretations of the genre pair crusty rolls with a rotating selection of nearby Greenmarket-influenced fillings like pulled Duroc pork, peppercorn-spiced catfish and grilled ramps with chicken livers. 21 E. 12th St., New York; 212-255-3271 or

The Sentinel At this downtown San Francisco restaurant, Dennis Leary (chef at local favorite Canteen) has created a brilliant sandwich menu, which is available weekdays during lunch. For spring, there's roasted asparagus with mushrooms and Parmesan mayo, roast beef with pickled vegetables, and the blessedly all-season corned beef with melted Gruyère. 37 New Montgomery St., San Francisco; 415-284-9960 or