The sandwich is a kitchen staple. From struggling college cooks assembling grilled cheese, to the mom packing PB&J in a lunchbox, sandwiches are simply best. But just because you can make them at home, doesn’t mean you should. Restaurants often do these homemade basics better…MUCH BETTER!

We took some of our favorite basic homemade sandwiches and examined how professional chefs have applied their expertise to turn them into something completely different than what you could whip up at home. These four super sandwiches will have you rethinking your brown bag lunch in no time.

1. The BLT. If you haven’t been to the grocery store in a while, this is your go-to culinary masterpiece in five ingredients or less! But creative cooks at restaurants around the country have managed to take that bread, bacon, tomato, and mayo and lettuce recipe and turn it into something truly incredible.

BLT

Some of our favorite variations involve substituting crispy pork belly for the “B” in a BLT. Like bacon, pork belly comes from the fatty underbelly of the pig, giving it a similar full flavor but with a texture that’s closer to a pork chop. A coat of sundried tomato spread or fresh heirloom tomatoes and a generous portion of arugula turn your quick kitchen-favorite into nearly unrecognizable gourmet treat. Bonus: Don’t like pork? Try a CLT: fried chicken skin, lettuce, and tomato.

2. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Given that many of us have been eating this sandwich for as long as we can remember, it might seem tough to improve on a classic. But believe us; restaurants can turn this lunchbox staple into a food-thing of your dreams.

Like the well-loved grilled cheese, whole restaurants have sprung up specifically devoted to serving inventive varieties of the PB&J. Creative spreaders serve up sandwiches that use unique jellies like jalapeno jam, fresh fruits or elderflower-infused grape jelly and add decadent accents like a chocolate fondue drizzle, marshmallow cream (“the Fluffernutter”) and bacon.

PP&J

One “don’t try this at home” PB&J we found especially impressive is the fried PB&J, in which the whole sandwich is battered and fried. We’ve also seen a version served on waffles instead of bread with a scoop of ice cream that’s more dessert than lunch (but we won’t tell mom!)

3. Fried Egg Sandwich. A staple for bachelors and college kids, the fried egg sandwich gives us the sense that we’ve “cooked” something, while still doing very little work. Leave it to a restaurant to make this dummy-proof snack trendy.

Fried Egg Sandwich

One of our favorites starts with two freshly baked pieces of marble rye toast and thick slices of bacon. The chef adds a fried egg, slices of fresh tomato and red onion, a mayo glaze and a generous garnish of sharp cheddar cheese. Another unforgettable take on this morning bite involves a country biscuit, crispy pork belly, greens and charred jalapeno aioli.

4. Ham and Cheese. The ham and cheese is another ubiquitous sandwich and a favorite creation for anyone faced with a deli tray, but here too restaurants have one-upped the homemade version with their expert take.

Ham and Cheese

French chefs are the original masters with ham and cheese. The croque-monsieur originated in Parisian cafes and bars in the early 1900s, which features ham and gruyere or Emmental cheese melted between bread and doused in a butter-based sauce called a béchamel. The croque-madame includes all the aforementioned ingredients and is topped with a fried egg.

The American cousin of these French sandwiches is the Monte Cristo, which is a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich that is battered, fried, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Unless you’re lucky enough to own a deep fryer or have perfected the roux required to make a béchamel, these sandwiches are best ordered from your favorite local restaurant.

 

If reading about these souped-up sandwiches has you glaring at your deli meat and white bread, don’t worry! Restaurant.com can help you save money on lunch while you enjoy a sandwich assembled by the experts. Start your search for a lunchtime sandwich spot near you.