If you squint your eyes real tight and try to remember things not posted on your Facebook wall, there's a chance you can bring back your first veggie sandwich experience.
Most of our tuna fish memories blend together, but correct me if I'm wrong when I say that you didn't grow up eating veggie sandwiches; They came to you one day, perhaps randomly, when you took a bite of that meatless melody of pesto-laced peppers and thought, "Hey this isn't bad!"
Then maybe you had a veggie sandwich moment, in which you tried new and different veggie sandwiches, testing your limits and getting used to the idea that a sandwich must not contain meat for it to be delicious. This is exactly what happened to me, except that this journey led me to Jimmy John's, which is unfortunate but nostalgic nevertheless.
When I discuss "veggie sandwiches" in this context, I do not mean the entire spectrum of meatless meals between bread. Although they are technically veggie sandwiches, I am not counting falafel wraps or vegetarian bánh mìs or even tomato and mozzarella capreses. (And definitely not grilled cheese!) To open this category up to these possibilities would be pure chaos and unsuitable for this simple article.
During my weeklong search for Tucson's best veggie sandwich, I mostly stuck to variants of the standard California-style veggie. These multifaceted sandwiches are all about creating a symphony of fresh vegetables, with a little buttery goodness like cheese or hummus or avocado to bring them all together.
Unlike the other sandwich deep-dives I've done (follow these links for the best fried chicken and bánh mì), the veggie list is incredibly diverse. Each sandwich on here manages to have totally different ingredients as well as different styles of bread. Some of them are even vegan. This made it much harder to determine a clear winner of the bunch, but I'll say this. My two favorites here both showcased the freshness of the vegetables, letting them play against each other in perfect harmony. So without further ado, they are ...
My favorite veggie sandwiches:
When I told that whole story about the transformative veggie sandwich in the beginning of this article, my mind was channeling this very beast. The Baggin's veggie was my gateway drug, and it remains to this day one of my very favorite sandwiches in the world. Does this threaten my objectivity? I dare say no, simply because the Baggin's veggie is a certifiable powerhouse of deliciousness.
With the soft bread, buttery avocados and thick layer of cream cheese, the texture is supple and rewarding. This sandwich exemplifies everything I love about Baggin's: The chain is 100 percent casual, yet the ingredients are higher-quality than competing operations like Hoagie House and (gasp!) eegee's. Also, you get a cookie.
Café a la C'Art
I didn't know this sandwich existed until last week. It was not on my shortlist, nor a recommendation of literally anyone besides Samantha Munsey, my coworker. But since she was the one going with me to eat the sandwich and film me eating the sandwich, I let her choose. Thanks Sam! I can see why you were gushing so hard about going to the art museum for lunch. This sandwich is so freaking good!
I know technically it's a portobello mushroom sandwich, which might put it in a different category. But the other ingredients — goat cheese, pesto, roasted red peppers and spinach — gave it a fresh California feel. I'm not usually a fan of focaccia bread, but this was springy and lovely without that cardboard taste you often get. The tucked-away location makes it easy to forget that Café a la C'Art exists, but never again ... hidden gem!
Other tasty veggie sandwiches I tried:
The B Line
I almost put this one in my top-two, because the vegetables inside were gorgeous and cooked perfectly. How they managed to make yellow and green squash taste that good is a mystery to me. Overall, the sandwich has a vibe almost like a grilled cheese, with melted havarti that flows into the chunky pesto and wilted arugula for a perfect flow.
The only downside here was that there was a big hole on the top of my bread, which ruined a couple of bites. And also, the fact that I will probably never order this again because I am obsessed with both the steak salad and the pasta alla vodka. I love you B Line!
Food Conspiracy Co-op
I despise refrigerated sandwiches more than most of my ex-boyfriends. But I have to say, I would eat this again! The tempeh "BLT" came highly recommended by my friend Alexis Favis who's never steered me wrong when it comes to food. I brought it back to the office from the Food Conspiracy Co-op and let it sit for a bit so it could come to room temp.
The tempeh had a nice smokiness to it that resembled bacon, but not in an offputting way. With its basic white bread and simple ingredients, the sandwich felt like something you might make at home ... Overall, pretty decent for being fake meat and grab-and-go!
Annie's Addiction, more like Andi's addiction! (Get it? 🤪) Beyond Bread gets the award for best-tasting hummus sandwich. My favorite part about it is the delicious rustic bread that is both soft and spongy. That garlicky hummus gets all up in its nooks and crannies so that the two become one. The sprouts here are also very good. (You know how sometimes sprouts taste like, I dunno, garbage? Well they don't this time.)
I'm still partial to the brie cheese wonder that is the Bart's Bag, but nobody can change this late in the game! Beyond Bread is religion, and my denomination is turkey.
Other recommendations from readers:
— Veggie philly at Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks
— Eggplant sandwich at August Rhodes Market
— Vegetarian cream cheese at Eclectic Cafe
— Cher's Veggie at Village Bakehouse
— Grilled eggplant sandwich at Blue Willow
— Barrio hipster veggie torta at Rollies Mexican Patio
— Smoked beet sandwich at Five Points Market & Restaurant
— Le Buzz Veggie at Le Buzz Cafe
— Ultimate Vegan at Bentley's