1. Canteen Loose-Meat Sandwich (Canteen Lunch in the Alley)
The Canteen is a tiny restaurant tucked away in an alley, and it serves the most delectable loose-meat sandwich that you have to try. The regular Canteen comes with Ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion. Get the Cheese Canteen for even extra flavor. 112 2nd St. E, Ottumwa, IA.
2. Cuban Sandwich (The Lost Cuban)
A true Cuban sandwich in Iowa? Yep, you heard that right. This pressed sandwich served on authentic Cuban bread with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard is the real deal, and you’ve got to try it. 209 3rd St. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA.
3. The Chuckwagon Burger (Chuckwagon Restaurant)
The Chuckwagon Burger was named the winner of Iowa’s Best Burger contest for 2016 by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. The Chuckwagon is an epic burger with onions, mushrooms, bacon, tomato and Thousand Island dressing. Address: 113 South 5th Street, Adair, IA
4. Breaded Pork Tenderloin (Nick’s)
Nick’s tenderloin was named best tenderloin for 2016 by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. This thick, juicy breaded sandwich will take you to heaven. 1106 Army Post Rd., Des Moines, IA.
5. Turkey, Brie and Cranberry Panini (Her Soup Kitchen)
This little sandwich shop might not look like much from the outside, but they serve some of the best sandwiches you can get in the state, featuring fresh baked bread and fresh, seasonal ingredients. While all of the sandwiches are great, the turkey, brie and cranberry sandwich is really something special. 625 S Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA.
6. Swamp Donkey (The Buck Snort, Neola)
This sandwich deserves a prize just for its name, and it’s as intense as it sounds. This sandwich is a giant concoction, with ⅓ pound burger patty, brisket, cheddar cheese, all topped off with onion rings and BBQ sauce. 113 4th St., Neola, IA.
7. Pulled Pork Sandwich (Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack)
This amazing BBQ joint was voted the best in Iowa by Thrillist, and their food lives up to its rep. Their pulled pork sandwich is to die for, made with tender, hand-pulled pork that’s been smoked for 12 hours. 1940 Lower Muscatine Rd., Iowa City, IA.
8. The Big Heavy (Starboard Market)
Starboard Market serves incredible, piled high sandwiches. The Big Heavy totally lives up to its name, with thinly sliced corned beef, pastrami, bacon, Swiss, and red onion on a panini grilled pretzel roll with garlic cream cheese. 310 Main Ave., Clear Lake, IA.
9. La Quercia Grilled Cheese (The Cheese Shop)
This cafe has more than 100 specialty cheeses on hand, and they’re all available to be melted into mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches, which they refer to as “toasties.” Try a concoction with La Quercia prosciutto and Maytag blue cheese for extra deliciousness. Shops At Roosevelt, 833 42nd St. B, Des Moines, IA.