The Definitive Ranking of Primanti Sandwiches

Grab a bottle of Red Devil Hot Sauce, it’s time for another edition of Uncle Jerry’s Points of Interest.

Few restaurants around the country are synonymous with a city quite like Pittsburgh and Primanti Bros. Cincinnati has Skyline Chili (and also a football team that is allergic to playoff wins) and Philadelphia has Geno’s or Pat's cheesesteaks (and also a football team allergic to Super Bowls).

If someone finds out you’re from da Burgh, they’re quick to say “Yeah, somebody told me I have to try one of them… Per-MAHN-tee Brothers sandwiches.” If you’re a real yinzer, you’re quick to correct them. It’s pronounced “sammiches.”

It started as a blue collar meal for blue collar men. No fuss, no frills. Just bread, meat, fries and slaw… now get back to work!  Just like you can find a Pittsburgh bar in every town in America, you can find a Primanti’s in every neighborhood and stadium in Pittsburgh.

True story:  It was 2:30am at the South Side location and this lady is frying up Pitts-burgers and sweating her butt off over a hot stove. She’s serving up grub to a guy like me and other 20-somethings coming from various South Side establishments that close around that time. This ditsy blonde, who clearly just came from Diesel, had already ordered and leaned over the counter and asked the fry lady if she could get her sandwich without tomatoes. The woman, without missing a beat, turns quick and says “No” and goes right back to what she was doing. Never have I heard so much in just one word. In just one syllable, she said “Shut up and take them off yourself.”

So in the spirit of late-night South Side fourth meals, deep-fryer ladies and blue collar mentalities everywhere, I decided to do the Anti-21 Day Fix and go to Primanti’s every day for 21 straight days so I could officially rank the sammiches from worst to best. Of course, I went to the original in The Strip.

I’m only listing the meat… we all know cheese and slaw and fries come standard and the egg is an extra 50 cents.

  1.  Southwest Black Bean Burger

            This is Pittsburgh. We eat salted meats. How about we build a wall around Pittsburgh and make the vegetarians pay for it? 

  1.  Tuna Fish

            Go ahead and order that. Then, I’ll trade you for my PB&J, and we can hurry back to Mrs. Cunningham’s 3rd grade class. 

  1.  Cheese Combo

            I guess your only other option is buying some “artisan” grilled cheese from a food truck hipster in Lawrenceville, so at least you found the place that loves you NOT ironically. 

  1.  Turkey Breast

            Did your UPMC provider say you need to start eating more white meat? Okay, I’ll make sure your tombstone says “He Tried.” 

  1.  Fish

            You’re telling the world that you’re hungry for fish, but not starving for the Colossal. You’re better than this, and you know it. 

  1.  Deluxe Double Egg

            Breakfast of Champyinz. It’s the age old question: Which came first? The Chicken or the Egg? The answer is the egg, you idiot. 

  1.  Ragin Cajun Chicken Breast

            Look, this is a good sammich but the Cajun seasoning wouldn't be allowed across the Louisiana state line.

  1. Ham

            My ears perked up when I heard Ham. Only because I thought of Jack Ham. Personally, I think ham is the worst meat to come from a pig, and Ham is the best thing to come out of Johnstown. 

  1.  Bacon

            In the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, bacon is dynamite. No one ever turns their nose up to bacon. If they do, it’s not that big of a deal because they’re on the other side of the vegetarian wall. 

  1.  Colossal Fish

            If you order this and it’s outside of Lent and not a Friday, what are you doing with your life? I mean, if you think you can rationalize this to your pastor on Sunday, have at it. You should probably check out my Fish Fry post from a couple weeks ago. 

  1.  Angus Sirloin Steak

            This was kept out of the top 10 only because I need to stand by my salted meats comment from earlier. If you’re feeling some Angus steak, who am I to judge? 

  1.  Imported Sardine

            To be honest, I was too scared to put the Sardine sammich further down the list. It’s all because I don’t know who you are, but I’m pretty darn sure I don’t want to tick you off. 

  1.  Roast Beef

            This stack of loveliness is a combination of the meat tray at a family reunion, mixed with the drunk uncle at the same family reunion who was caught stealing the last of the fried chicken skin. *Points to himself with both thumbs* 

  1.  Genoa Salami

            What happens when you show up to your Italian grandmother’s house unannounced to mow her lawn and fix her retaining wall? You get a genoa salami sammich. So go to Primanti’s and get the sammich without lifting a single block. 

  1.  Corned Beef

            Please call your cardiologist and make sure your heart is healthy enough for Corned Beef Activity. If he gives you the green light, make a Pittsburgh left on that jagoff and scarf it dahn! 

  1.  Pastrami

            It’s not Katz's Deli, and gosh darn it, we’re happy about it. Cut this sammich open, and it’s like ROY G. BIV. No need to chase leprechauns, just go dahntahn to taste the rainbow. 

  1.  Hot or Sweet Sausage

            What’s the matter? The Warshington County fair isn’t around for a couple months, and you’re having a hankerin’ for hot sausage. Careful on the hot sauce with this one! You know what they say: “What goes arahnd, comes arahnd.” 

  1.  Capicola

            WDVE once did a skit about CSI Pittsburgh, and the victim recently had eaten a Cap’Egg’n’Cheese. The blood wasn’t actually blood at all. It was Red Devil. The lesson here is: Eat at your own risk.   

  1.  Jumbo

            Ask some jagoff that’s not from Pittsburgh if he wants a jumbo sammich, and they’re bound to look at you like you got elephant tusks growin’ aht your nose. “My bologna has a first name… It’s J-U-M-B-O.” 

  1.  Kielbasa

            This sammich is like eating the Miranda Lambert song “The House That Built Me.” It’s like a friendly conversation with an old college buddy, like seeing your first car driving down the road or finding your first Kordell Stewart jersey. It just feels like everything is right with the world. 

  1.  Pitts-Burger

            It’s the #2 best seller and #2 on our list. As Mike Tomlin would say: “The standard is the standard.” 

  1.  Iron City Beer

            You only bought one for yourself? Stop being a jagoff, pass me one. I’m parched as hell after explaining the whole menu to you!  Wait...what’s that? Yeah, I’ll take some cheese fries. 

Remember: No matter what sammich you order, smash it down as flat as you can before trying to smash it in your face.


Alright, that’s it. Tell your old man I still got his paher warsher aht in the shed.


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