Have there ever been three ingredients that exist in such perfect sandwich harmony as chewy, smoky bacon, bright, juicy tomatoes, and fresh, crisp lettuce? Add a slather of mayo to the proceedings, maybe toast the bread, don't junk it up with creative flourishes (some exceptions apply), and a sublime lunchtime experience is yours for the taking. Especially right now, and for a few more weeks, when tomatoes are hitting their peak season. Honestly, the BLT is so flawlessly conceived that it's a difficult sandwich to screw up (though some places manage to do exactly that), and good renditions abound in delis around town. But when the craving really hits, all of the following are guaranteed to satisfy.
'wichcraft (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
'wichcraft: The headline here is that the 'wichcraft BLT is available during tomato season ONLY, about five weeks every year, usually all of August and a bit into September. Which means you need to go now to any of the sandwich chain's nine locations to get this beautiful monster before it's too late. And unlike some no-love efforts out there trying to cash in on something called #BLTMonth, 'wichcraft's co-founder Tom Colicchio has been offering this seasonal sandwich since at least 2008, way before hashtags. In addition to the impeccably-sourced and -balanced main ingredients, the aioli gives this BLT some extra zing, and the bread is an excellent soft sourdough.
The are nine 'wichcraft locations in Manhattan (wichcraft.com)
Eisenberg's (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop: No surprise, one of the city's great treasures—since 1929 these guys have making New Yorkers a good, reasonably-priced lunch!—consistently nails the BLT. Rye toast is my usual, and I let the kitchen apply the mayo as opposed to getting it on the side (for some reason the default with dine-in orders), but personal preferences aside, Eisenberg's remains the baseline for how the classic should be. As always, you should eat here as often as possible to help ensure that they are never, ever forced to close.
Eisenberg's is located at 174 Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 22nd Streets (212-675-5096; eisenbergsnyc.com)
M&O Market and Deli (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
M&O Market and Deli: For more than 30 years, M & O's been holding it down on the corner of Thompson and Prince (FYI: the neighborhood's changed a LOT over that time), but these days the place is best known for its wide array of sandwiches, including what they justifiably call the "Famous BLT." The Portuguese rolls are usually the way to go at M&O, but for this assignment I asked for the chef's choice, and the man was not wrong when he made my lunch with lightly toasted whole wheat. This is a simple, beautiful creation, and refreshingly cheap for Soho.
M&O is located at 124 Thompson Street at the corner of Prince (212-477-8222)
Crabby Shack (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
The Crabby Shack: Ok, so this BLT's a bit fancier than most, with the addition of sweet and tender crab meat and chunks of soft avocado, but rest assured there's nothing overly precious about The Crabby Shack itself, the appealing, locally-owned shellfish joint in Crown Heights. Like its first-rate Lobster Roll, the Crabby Shack's BLT is made with quality ingredients, a deft touch in the kitchen, and, especially when eaten at the sidewalk tables on Franklin Avenue, hits that summertime sweet spot in an elemental way.
The Crabby Shack is located at 613 Franklin Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets (718-484-1507; thecrabbyshack.com)
Sunny and Annie's (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Sunny and Annie's: This Alphabet City mainstay is your dream-come-true neighborhood sandwich shop, with dozens of well-conceived combinations on the menu, everything made to order with plenty of skill and a whole lot of love. And if it's a BLT you're craving, you are in excellent hands. I mean, just look how wonderfully stuffed and balanced this beauty is! The chef suggested toasted white bread and I rolled with it, and for a measly five bucks you sure do get a ton of bacon here. Sunny and Annie's is a gem.
Sunny and Annie's is located at 94 Avenue B at the corner of East 6th Street (212-677-3131; sunnyandannies.com)
Westville (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Westville: There are now a half-dozen locations in this beloved farm-to-table mini-chain, any one of which would be happy to make you this superbly constructed Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato. The B is sliced thick and cooked to perfection; the L is a nice crisp romaine; the T a fat, juicy Jersey. And there's a twist: instead of mayo, Westville spreads on the Russian dressing, adding an enjoyable "special sauce" sweetness to the background. Excellent pickles, too—an underrated bonus to any sandwich plate.
There are six Westvilles in NYC (westvillenyc.com)
Friedman's (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Friedman's Lunch: Even with its tourist hordes, Chelsea Market remains an actually very good place to eat. Take Friedman's Lunch, which started serving its quality comfort food here in 2009, and has since opened three other locations in Manhattan. They add an A for avocado to the BLT here, which works out well—the fruit gives the sandwich a pleasant gloppiness and a slightly nutty flavor—and use herbed aioli instead of mayo, also an acceptable deviation from the standard recipe. Sidenote: The Chelsea Market Friedman's has its own bathroom, so you don't have wait on the often-ridiculous lines for the public facilities outside in the corridor.
There are four Friedman's located in Manhattan (friedmansrestaurant.com)
Tiny's Giant (Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
Tiny's Giant: Since 1999 this hippie-ish spot has been feeding LES locals (and carousers... though it's not open TOO late) hearty sandwiches with enough vegetables involved to make them seem healthy. There are two BLTs on offer at Tiny's Giant, both of which are great. Pictured is the Our Way, which adds avocado and sprouts to the mix and puts the whole delicious mess between toasted 7-grain bread. Careful though: you have request mayo for this version (it comes standard in the more basic Highway BLT), and you definitely want it.
Tiny's Giant is located at 129 Rivington Street at the corner of Norfolk (212-228-4919)