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We asked food critics, restaurateurs and listeners what makes a sandwich great, and everyone agreed: It all starts with the bread. What do you think takes the bread-plus-whatever staple from standard to sublime? Check out suggestions from food writers Al Mancini and Max Jacobson, as well as our callers, and add your thoughts to the comments below. Bonus: Lunch counter red flags, and what can make a good sandwich go bad.

Critics' Picks:

Al Mancini:

Philly cheese steaks, Those Guys Pies

Arepa, Viva Arepa

Grilled cheese, The View, Tivoli Village

Max Jacobson:

Pastrami sandwich, Carnegie Deli

Support comes from

Italian Beef with Giardiniera, Bono’s

Fusion Burgers, Bachi Burger

Callers' Picks:

Greg, Las Vegas, self-described “pastrami and Reuben and corned beef kind of guy:”

Pastrami and Reuben, Hash House A-Go-Go

Glenn, Las Vegas:

Shrimp sandwich and pastrami sandwich, Bagel Café

Paul, Las Vegas:

Croissant sandwich, Bonjour Bakery

Lunch Place Red Flags

Max: When I see packaged meats in a big case with a brand that I don’t particularly care for, that’s a red flag to me. I mean I’m not going to name names, but there are certain meat producers, I just don’t like the taste of their meats, so if I see those meats wrapped up in a package with a logo on it, I’m history.

Al: When you see meats have already been premeasured and preweighed.

Sandwich Pitfalls

Al: When you can barely taste the ingredients. When all you’ve got is this huge piece of bread and this tiny slice of whatever meat it’s supposed to be. And you bite it and you’re like, “I don’t know whether I ordered turkey or roast beef." There’s a lot of lettuce and they may put a lot of mustard on it. But a lot of places really do skimp on those ingredients.

Max: What I don’t like is commercial products. For example, I despise French’s Mustard. I will name names. A good deli has to have good mustard. I have a personal quirk – I don’t like iceberg lettuce in a sandwich. I don’t mind it in a salad, but I don’t like it in a sandwich, it disrupts the flavor. And I don’t like it when the meats are too cold, like they stored it in the freezer and it hasn’t quite thawed.