Egg Sandwiches

It seems like the kind of food you could find anywhere in the United States, and you would be wrong. There is no place other than Long Island to get the traditional, old-school delicacy known to the locals simply as an Egg Sandwich.

Almost every deli worth its salt on Long Island has its own version of the egg sandwich, with countless variations. As the years have passed, new fancier ingredients have been added, and other alterations to accommodate a more healthy lifestyle. But we aren’t about health here; we are about memories. If you live away from the island, prepare to drool a little.

A traditional Long Island Egg Sandwich starts with a fresh-sliced Kaiser roll, that is commonly buttered. Two eggs, fried or scrambled are placed within. Some like them runny, others less so. A pile of crispy bacon or sausage, cooked alongside the eggs, is piled high atop. American, Cheddar or Swiss are all acceptable cheeses to melt over the mountain of meaty protein. Ketchup is a common condiment; mayo, less so, but found in some places. Salt and Pepper to finish it off.

When I was a kid, one of these and a bottle of Tropicana orange juice was just about my favorite breakfast. And, while I don’t know the prices now, I don’t recall every paying more than a buck or two back in the day for this filling meal of a sandwich.

So, why can’t you just whip one of these up in other parts of the country? I believe it is all about the kaiser roll. You just can’t find the same fresh and chewy rolls in other parts of the country. Still, if you are willing to compromise on the kaiser, this might help you satiate your craving.

I suspect it might also have something to do with the sandwich being cooked on a grill where thousands, if not millions have cooked before, imparting a special flavor impossible to duplicate in a non-stick skillet. There must be some explanation for that magical flavor beyond the bread.

It may seem a simple sandwich, but it is such a beloved staple on Long Island, an ingrained part of the culture passed from generation to generation. Outsiders simply don’t get it, and it’s their loss.

If you grew up eating traditional egg sandwiches on Long Island, I’d love to hear your recollections, and descriptions, in our comments section below. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to send me one in San Diego … 🙂

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12 Responses

  1. ameri says:

    I grew up in Nassau & an egg sandwich was also a fried egg. Yolk was done well enough that it wouldn’t be runny, but never dry. Assuming most are eating on the run, in the car, train, etc.

    Outside of Long Island, you have to explain it. You have to tell them fried, etc. Too many words & it’ll slow the process down when 20 people are behind you. Was simply understood on LI.

    • John L says:

      Ah Scott thanks for reminding me about the roast beef on a garlic roll! I used to get that all the time. I grew up around Hauppauge. Btw Branchinelli’s still makes great Sicilian pizzas.

  2. John says:

    Lol, I love this. I grew up in Lindenhurst and worked in a place called “Family Deli” and made my share of egg sandwiches. I also remember people ordering a “regular coffee, and a buttered roll.” There truly was no other place like Long Island in the 70’s. Thank you so much for this website.

  3. Craig says:

    I grew up in Deer Park (upstate Rochester now). I LOVED those egg sandwiches and you are right, it’s all about the Kaiser roll. I lived in Florida also, and the bread, any bread, rolls, Italian bread, whatever, are not the same. Someone told me it has something to do with the water. I tried to make them and they are close, but not quite the same.

  4. Scott B. says:

    For my money, the finest egg sandwiches were to be had at the Division Avenue Deli in Levittown, which was right next to my high school. Mainly I was going there in the early 1980s (1982 was when I hit Division) through the later 80s, and they had the best and most addictive egg sandwiches ever in history, the main one was called the Double Mess, with ham, bacon and cheese on it, or just double eggs, ham and cheese on a basic roll. Served just a tad runny but not too much so. They were phenomenal. Everything there was great, including the famed Roast Beef Supreme on a garlic hero. We used to have such great delis on LI, but there are very few left that are that good, sadly. The Division Ave. Deli has changed hands probably five times since the 80s, and now it’s either godawful (I tried going there for a sandwich in 2009 or so and it was pretty bad) or it’s shut down anyway, I believe.

  5. John says:

    You nailed it. I have had this discussion often with friends and siblings that are now in different parts of the country. Somehow it’s difficult to find. Not only were they everywhere on LI and delicious but they were cheap! Love the site in general, btw. Thanks for creating it. I got here by trying to remember the name Pathmark recently.

  6. Doreen says:

    I made a mistake on my first comment. I just posted about this topic on my blog and linked your post. https://www.teachinganoldcooknewtricks.com/post/oh-the-confusion

  7. John Vogel says:

    When I moved to Florida the egg sandwiches left my diet. That was in 1996. I couldn’t wait to get back to the island to have one. That and deli potato and macaroni salads, and good bagels. 22 years later I moved to Fort Myers and found a bagel shop called Stuff-A-Bagel. He has fresh Kaiser rolls sent in from Brooklyn, and Macaroni Salad from New Jersey. The owner had a bagel shop in Central Islip. He has 4 or 5 shops here. The one I go to is inside a 76 Gas Station. How’s that for NY ingenuity?

  8. John Vogel says:

    I do remember a place off Jericho take and 110 in Huntington. Egg Sandwich and Coffee was a buck an extra egg was 25 cents. It was a Greek husband and wife, back in the early eighties. The problem was they used Savrin coffee..and boy was it strong. It always felt like it was eating away at my stomach lining. But, for a dollar twenty five,it was worth it.

  9. CJW says:

    John – OMG, I went to St Anthony’s and we used to go to that place all the time. We called it the Cheesy Egg Place. This place literally was a hut right off Jericho. I recently went onto Google maps to see if it was still there. Gone. I loved that place when I was in high school.

  10. cjw says:

    John Vogel – I went to St Anthony’s HS and we used to hit that place all the time – We nicknamed it “The Cheesy Egg Place”. I recently looked on Google maps to see if it was still there. But the little hut is gone. I would scarf a couple of those sandwiches before school and can still see the cheese oozing off the eggs til this day.

  11. Jim Madison says:

    The question is… what the heck is wrong with the rest of the country??? Come on! It’s a KAISER ROLL. Not rocket science. Why is this such a local rarity??? Get with the program!

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