BLT Battle Royale
For as long as there have been pigs, there have been bacon lovers. I am one of those bacon connoisseurs, and prefer it delivered in a juicy, luscious BLT. When done right, a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich can be the perfect combination of meaty satisfaction and light freshness, a true piece of art to be proud of — which is why I embarked on a mission to find the best BLT in Tempe.
To begin this quest, I had to narrow down just what I was looking for, and the first rule that came to mind was this: no big chains. I’m looking for an authentic, sizzling-with-love BLT with a sense of Tempe style. Through word-of-mouth and the help of customer review web site Yelp, I found three Tempe restaurants ready to compete in this bacon smackdown.
Sacks Art of Sandwicherie The Jazz, about $6
Sacks is a small shop with two Tempe locations tucked away in strip malls. The restaurant is themed after art and culture, which is why its “Palette of Sandwicherie” includes sandwiches named after Dali, Picasso, Art Deco and more. During my visit I went for the “Jazz,” which is bacon, lettuce, tomato, cream cheese, and mayonnaise on twelve-grain bread. It usually comes with avocado, but thanks to food allergies I had to go without it. I don’t think it could have saved this sandwich anyway.
From the get-go, I was weary of this sandwich, which was prepared in probably one minute flat. Before I could figure out how someone cooked fresh bacon in such short time, I took my sandwich out of its sack and realized that nobody did. The bacon had been cooked long ago, which left it dark brown, crunchy to the point of breaking, and overly salty. No part of the sandwich was warm and the untoasted bread fell apart easily. At times, the sweetness of the twelve-grain bread was more reminiscent of a PB&J then a BLT. I will admit that the cream cheese was an interesting touch, but after a few bites, it became gratuitous overload. To sum it up, I gave the second half of the sandwich to my unfussy boyfriend.
If you go… Sacks Art of Sandwicherie 839 W. University Dr. and 35 E. Ninth St. (ASU location), Tempe 480-967-2980 and 480-966-9266 (ASU location), sacks.info
Chompie’s Restaurant & Bakery Mile-High BLT, $6.99 for half
After hearing Adam Richman rave about Chompie’s New York-style deli on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” I knew this place was something to be excited about. While he conquered the Jewish sliders, I came for a Mile-High BLT. I opted for a half order, and quickly found that a ‘half’ is actually a full-sized sandwich, and a full-size is essentially two sandwiches stacked on top of each other. The BLT is build-it-yourself, so I went off the waitress’ suggestions to get sourdough bread and add provolone.
The first thing I tasted when biting into this BLT was its tangy, crisp sourdough that was toasted to perfection. Each slice is swiped with a hint of mayonnaise, enough to bring out the flavor of the thick-cut bacon. It has substantial slices of provolone, which is sharp and flavorful with the soft texture of fresh mozzarella. It wasn’t until I was on the second half and couldn’t manage to fit the whole thing in my mouth that I realized the sandwich was actually composed of two layers of each ingredient. With tomato slices cut as thick as steak, probably to help this sandwich reach its mile-high height, some bites ended up tasting like a strange, unpleasant bruschetta. Overall, Chompie’s BLT is a gigantic, no-frills, classic sandwich, ideal for a couple of starving traditionalists.
If you go... Chompie’s 1160 E. University Dr., Tempe 480-557-0700, chompies.com
Four Peaks Brewery Salmon BLT, $11
The first time I went to Four Peaks in search of the Yelp-famed Salmon BLT, I was kicked out. Really. Everyone must be 21 years old after a startlingly early 3 p.m. However, I could tell by the restaurant’s busy, boisterous crowd and charming atmosphere that I needed to come back. So I did, and I am very happy I did.
Nontraditional yet authentic, Four Peaks’ BLT comes with grilled, blackened salmon, hickory smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese and pesto mayonnaise on twelve-grain bread. Never in my bacon history have I heard of a combination like this, and now that I have tasted it, I know it must be secret because it is sacred.
First, the bread was like two big, crispy croutons just out of the oven. The mayo, meats and cheeses melded together artfully. The salmon was perfectly blackened and crunchy on the outside but soft and coral on the inside, complementing the texture of the chewy, apple-icious bacon. Melted pepper jack added a hint of spice, which the pesto mayo in turn cooled down. Finally, the lettuce and tomato were both fresh and crisp. Eaten with the restaurant’s beer-battered fries, this BLT is both satisfying and crave-able, the kind of dish you’re ready to eat again right after you finish.
If you go... Four Peaks Brewing Company 1340 E. Eighth St., Ste. 104, Tempe 480-303-9967, fourpeaks.com
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