One of my favorite things in this whole wide world is a BLT during tomato season.
In my opinion, the sandwich is best when a ripe, juicy heirloom tomato is plucked from the garden, sliced (thickly) moments later and placed on good sandwich bread, toasted, but not too much, layered with crisp lettuce and crisp-chewy bacon and slathered with good mayo, maybe spiked with some basil or garlic, or maybe not if I’m feeling lazy.
I realize, though, that not everyone grows their own tomatoes, or has the desire to make their own perfect sandwich.
So I set out to find a great one served in a restaurant. And it was much, much harder than it should be.
Either the bread was too toasted, or the tomato too unripe. Sometimes the tomato was fine, but too scarce. Then, toward the end of my BLT journey, I found what I was looking for, in an unexpected package.
Rose Street Patisserie’s new cafe on West 7th Street is where I found BLT nirvana. Along the way I found a few others worth mentioning, too.
Here’s the best of the best, and the rest:
Rose Street Patisserie
Full disclosure: If I have one diet downfall, it’s John Kraus’ airy, chewy baguette. I love it no matter what’s between it, I love it plain or with butter. I just love it. But I didn’t necessarily think of it as a BLT vehicle until I tried it. Loaded with perfectly cooked, thick-cut bacon, thick slices of colorful heirloom tomatoes, greens, a swipe of mayo and an optional scoop of mashed avocado, this beauty is a sandwich I will crave and return for.
$11, add avocado for $2.50; 882 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 171 N. Snelling Ave., St Paul; 2811 43rd St. W., Minneapolis; RoseStreet.co
Tongue in Cheek
This nearly perfect sandwich, with plenty of ripe, tasty tomatoes, crisp bacon, lettuce, fresh avocado and spicy mayo was a close second to Rose Street’s. I did wish the squishy white bread was toasted a little less, but that’s a small gripe. Brunch only.
$12; 989 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-888-6148; tongueincheek.biz
This BLT checks off every requirement on my list: Good sourdough bread, properly toasted, not too toasty or too limp; properly crisp, tasty bacon and a decent tomato. My only wish was that the tomato was cut thicker. But the deep-golden, hand-cut fries served with it really seals the deal. Lunch only.
$11.75; 644 Bayfield St., St. Paul; 612-800-5298; holmanstable.com
OK, so the tomato on this sandwich takes a back seat to the absolutely killer crab cake with its giant chunks of crab, but the bacon is cooked just right, and the squishy bun holds the whole thing together perfectly. It’s an excellent sandwich and a perfect excuse to try out this lovely newcomer to Lowertown, if you haven’t yet. Lunch only.
$14; 213 E. Fourth St., St. Paul; 651-300-5476; elephant.bar
This is the perfect example of how not to screw up good ingredients. Starting with house-made sourdough, lightly toasted, and slabs of gigantic ripe tomatoes, the Colossal adds thick-cut chewy bacon, plenty of spring greens and a tangy slab of melted sharp cheddar.
$12.15; 2315 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-797-4027; colossalcafe.com
This BLT is anything but traditional, but you won’t catch me complaining. Piled high with smoky pulled bacon, good, ripe tomatoes, greens and a fried egg to gild the lily, it’s a solidly delicious, decidedly messy sandwich that deserves its place on this list.
$12; 956 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-447-2483; brunsonspub.com
Gray Duck Tavern
The tender focaccia that encases this sandwich was unexpectedly delicious, and the tomatoes thick-cut and ripe. The crisp bacon was spot-on, too, and there was plenty of crisp leaf lettuce, not spring greens, which in my opinion is usually preferable on a BLT. Lunch only.
$12; 345 Wabasha St., St. Paul; 651-340-9022; grayduckstpaul.com
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