Grilled & Pressed: Panini Sandwiches of Metro Detroit

By: Amber Ogden | January 30, 2015
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When it comes to sandwiches, eating the same thing at your desk day after day can get pretty monotonous. The thing is, sandwiches themselves are not boring: I’m no mathematician, but there are countless sandwich combinations out there that will keep you from lunch- or dinner-time boredom. One of the best ways to switch up your sandwich? Try a panini!

Turn any sandwich into a panini and it is instantly improved. That’s not a scientific fact, but personally, I believe that grilled bread and melted cheese is 100 times better than a chilled sandwich any day. If you’re now craving a panini, here is where you can find some of the best the city and its surrounding area has to offer:

Great Harvest Bread Co., 2220 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, is a great place to grab a sandwich simply because of the fresh, homemade bread. Add a grilled, pressed sandwich into the mix and now you’re really talking. There are plenty of panini to choose from, including Harvest Ham (made with Bavarian ham, Cheddar cheese and mayo blended with roasted garlic and onion jam), Turkey Reuben (with oven roasted turkey, sauerkraut and Russian dressing) and the Hot Chick (chicken breast with Pepper Jack cheese and spicy mayo).

Don’t forget a Cherry Walnut Salad or cup of soup to complete your meal!

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Nico & Vali, 744 Wing St., Plymouth, is a hidden gem in downtown Plymouth with plenty of Italian classics to choose from. Whether you’re dining in or ordering out lunch or dinner, you’ll enjoy all of the classic and authentic flavors each panini has to offer.

There are over a dozen varieties, such as Alessia’s Mediterranean Chicken (grilled chicken with peperonata and Provolone cheese with pesto aioli), Meatball (with marinara sauce and melted Provolone cheese) and Giuliana’s Veggie & Feta (grilled eggplant and zucchini with feta cheese, red onion, peperonata and pesto aioli). If you’re feeling carnivorous, try the Massimo, with mortadella, Capicola, salami and Provolone cheese.

Java Hutt, 165 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, is a great place for a cup of coffee, and an even better place for a cup of coffee and a mid-day meal. Menu items from the panini grill include the Tomato Feta Spinach Press, La Caprese (with mozzarella cheese, tomato, organic spinach and pesto), Ham and Cheddar Press (Black Forest ham with Cheddar cheese and tomato) and the Italian Melt (with salami, turkey, ham and tomato with mozzarella cheese).

Pizzeria Dolce, 7743 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston, makes more than just pizza, and when you get past the pizza selections and onto the panini, you probably won’t go back. There are nearly a dozen different options, and each is made with homemade ciabatta bread.

Go for the Sante Fe (with marinated chicken, bacon, avocado spread, tomatoes, red onion, Provolone cheese and chipotle aioli), Steak N’ Cheese (white wine-braised steak with fresh mushrooms, red onions, roasted peppers and Swiss cheese), Pesto Bello (fresh pesto with tomatoes, baby spinach, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella) or Cuban (marinated chicken, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard).

Traffic Jam & Snug, 511 W. Canfield St., Detroit, has been around for 50 years and while the establishment only features one panini on its menu, it’s a good one. So good, in fact, it was featured on an episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives!”

The sandwich in question is the House Brewed Dopplebock Braised Beef Brisket Panini, a sandwich made, no, crafted, with beef slow simmered in barbecue sauce and onions. It is then grilled on freshly, homemade white Cheddar and sundried tomato focaccia bread. What more could you ask for in a panini sandwich? If you must (and you’re there after 5 p.m.), pair it with the featured house brew, Midnight Cherry Wheat.

While I would love to include one more local eatery in this article, The Panini Press, formerly of Berkley, closed its doors as of mid-November last year. The only good news to come out of this travesty is that, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page, it will be relocating to Detroit in April. Something for us to look forward to!

There’s nothing better than a grilled sandwich, and there are plenty of options when it comes to panini in southeast Michigan. Just don’t try to eat your way through them all too quickly—bikini season will be here before you know it.