The how-to guide for assembling delicious sandwiches inspired by favorite Michigan eateries 

Sandwiches can be much more than ham and cheese or turkey and mayo. Though these classics are delicious and perfect for a break on the trail, if you have more time and are staying at the campsite, you can opt for more gourmet selections. Here are some of our favorite creations, inspired by some well-loved Michigan eateries. If you don’t want to make it yourself, stop by one of these locations for a taste.

Reuben, inspired by Zingerman’s Deli, Ann Arbor

There’s nothing like a warm, salty corned beef to make your taste buds happy. Pick up pre-seasoned brisket from the local supermarket – unseasoned if you’re feeling adventurous and want to corn it yourself – and place it in the slow cooker, fat side up, on top of a bed of sauerkraut. Sauerkraut comes with and without caraway seeds, so it’s up to you, but the seeds add a nice little flavor. Cover and cook on low heat for 9-11 hours. Remove from the slow cooker and thinly slice the meat.

Have your thousand island and Swiss cheese at the ready because now you’re going to start piling the ingredients. Choose a hearty bread that can handle the weight, traditionally it’s rye, and you can either leave it cold or butter and grill the bread – even over a campfire. Spread Thousand Island dressing onto the bread, add the sliced meat, sauerkraut from the slow cooker, and top with Swiss cheese.


Italian, inspired by Switches Deli, Traverse City

If you like spicy and heavy flavors, an Italian sandwich is just the ticket. You’ll need ham, pepperoni, and salami as far as meats go. Meat markets also tend to have cheeses as well, so pick up some pepperjack and cheddar. Make sure to use fresh tomatoes and don’t forget the banana peppers.

For dressing, go with a traditional Italian dressing, but there are many variations on the market, each with a unique flavor. Try a different brand or combination than what you typically get. Assemble the sandwich as thickly as you want on top of fresh focaccia bread. You can go with plain focaccia or with a seasoned version, such as garlic or rosemary.


Turkey, inspired by Food Dance, Kalamazoo

The crown jewel of this mouthwatering sandwich is the caramelized onions. Begin with fresh sourdough, toasted for added flavor, and top it with roasted turkey. You can quickly sear the turkey breast slices for additional flavor as well. A sandwich isn’t complete without bacon – go for the thickly sliced and have it cooked beforehand.

While you’re working on getting sandwiches together, caramelize the onions. To keep them firm yet soft (not crunchy), heat up a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then add the onions to the pan. Let them cook on high for a minute or two, then reduce the heat to low. Keep an eye on them until you can see them begin to caramelize. Add the onions to the sandwich on top of the meats and then add fresh tomato and lettuce.

Food Dance uses blue cheese dressing for their sandwich, which you can pick up from the grocery store or make on your own with a few simple ingredients. If blue cheese isn’t your thing, a tangy mustard will do the trick.


Ham, inspired by the Black Sheep, Alpena

Who would have thought of putting tartar sauce on a ham sandwich? True to its name, this eatery in northeast Michigan set itself apart from the rest of the ham sandwiches. You can either slow cook a ham for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, by which you’ll be able to hand select the flavors for the meat, or you can purchase high quality shaved ham from a super market. The only other ingredients you’ll need are fresh lettuce and tomato, Swiss cheese, and a sub role, which you can choose to grill or not.

And of course, tartar sauce. Don’t go with the store-bought bottles of the customary white. Opt for a Remoulade Tartar Sauce, which adds a Cajun kick and pleasantly surprises your senses.


These recipes are relatively simple and will help you take advantage of some of Michigan’s wide selection of produce (depending on the season). There are also many bakeries that bake fresh bread every day, and fresh bread is essential to the sandwich experience. Check online or ask around for local suggestions about where to buy bread, though some grocery stores will carry these products as well.

Now all you have to do is choose a side.