The Upper West Side’s Strangest Sandwich?


Wrap your lips around this meaty strangeness.

A fixture right on Broadway on the Upper West Side, Big Nick’s Burger Joint has been around since 1962 — just about the time West Side Story came out as a movie, immortalizing the neighborhood for the nation. Big Nick’s is a product of that merging of low and high culture, operatic and down-and-dirty at the same time. Always in danger of extinction, the place is like a Greek dinosaur on acid. Sure you can go easy on yourself and order one of several dozen burgers, but why not take the wild route and get one of their special — and especially strange — sandwiches?

Yes it’s on the expensive side, but it would take two to finish it.

A case in point is the “potato and pot roast melt on a hero.” As at Primanti’s in Pittsburgh, the potatoes are intended to go inside the sandwich, but at Big Nick’s they start out on the outside, and you have to shove them in yourself. That means there’s also plenty of these spiced waffle fries still on the outside to eat along with the hero, which is unaccountably termed a submarine, even though that’s not the nomenclature common in these latitudes.

Inside the sandwich? A good quantity of wonderfully grainy pot roast — a meat rarely found in restaurants these days, melted white cheese, caramelized onions and peppers (in a strange Italian twist), and a toasted coating of garlic on the inside of the demi-baguette, which is a relatively distinguished loaf, as sandwich bread goes.

So all you have to do is line the thing with waffle fries, pour on some meat drippings from the little plastic cup, and even put the sour pickles inside there if you so desire. Then eat.

Ablaze in neon, even during the daytime, Big Nick’s Burger Joint