Lunch can be one of the more exciting meals of the day if you break out of your routine. The recipes here—some old-school lunch counter favorites mixed with more contemporary options—reflect the American mixing bowl of flavors and cultures.
Don't let lunch become a sad, boring afterthought. These sandwiches, soups, and salads from across the country will take your
midday meal for a tasty jaunt.
First stop: the classic Philly Cheesesteak.
It’s meaty, gooey, and delightfully messy—but eating it shouldn’t make you tip the scale in the wrong direction. Keep the Philly in check by using equal parts portobello mushrooms and steak.
View Recipe: Philly Cheesesteak
Learn the History of the Philly Cheesesteak
Widely served in Greek communities across America in the 1970s, gyros have since become a beloved grab-and-go lunch. This
homemade variation starts with a loaf of ground lamb and beef. The meat is broiled, thinly sliced, and then tucked into pitas
with a lightened-up yogurt sauce.
View Recipe: Gyros
There are, of course, many variations on this American classic. This recipe is dressed with a combination of fat-free Greek
yogurt and light mayonnaise. Some liberties are taken with the ingredients, adding matchstick-sized pieces of celery root
and a bed of mildly peppery arugula.
View Recipe: Waldorf Salad
Although the bánh mì may have originated in the markets of Saigon, in bigger cities in the U.S. it is now as much of an American
lunchtime staple as the burrito or panini. There are as many variations of the bánh mì as there are cooks who make it. This
version combines pork, cucumber, and a pickled slaw of radish, carrot, and onion.
View Recipe: Bánh Mì
Some people assume the Reuben was created by the owner of Reuben’s Restaurant, a celebrity hot spot in New York City where
the sandwich was popular. But the truth is that it was invented by Reuben Kulakofsky in Omaha, Nebraska, as a late-night snack
for poker-playing friends.
View Recipe: Reuben Sandwich
In Southern California, fish tacos often feature fillets that are grilled and then flaked into pieces, rather than breaded
and fried as in other regional preparations. We prefer grilling—it saves about half the calories and delivers a fresher fish
flavor. If wild-caught Alaskan halibut is not available, substitute striped bass or U.S. line-caught cod.
View Recipe: Chimichurri Fish Tacos
The original Caprese salad consists of mozzarella, tomato, and basil, but our take adds grilled vegetables and homemade pesto
for a hearty twist.
View Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Caprese with Pesto
This sandwich is about half the size of the original, because it uses a pork tenderloin rather than the larger cut of pork
loin. It is pan-fried instead of deep-fried, but offers the same whole-hearted flavor that has made this sandwich an Iowan
View Recipe: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Classic tomato and mayo win a delicious bronze. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato are a strong silver. But combine bacon, lettuce,
avocado, and sweet tomato, and the sandwich becomes a bona fide blue-ribbon winner.
View Recipe: B.L.A.S.T. Sandwich
Just like Mom used to make, only better. Because the soup doesn’t come out of a can, you can control the sodium. Keep the
sandwich old-school with American cheese.
View Recipe: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Seasonal gulf shrimp is a natural for this classic New Orleans sandwich. Oysters are another traditional ingredient and often
the locals’ choice.
View Recipe: Shrimp Po'Boy
Hailing from The Brown Hotel in Louisville, this dish was created during the roaring ’20s as a wee-hours-of-the-morning, post-dancing snack. In this lightened version,
We've kept the bacon, thick toast, and cheese sauce, which will surely put a smile on your face, any time of the day or night.
View Recipe: Kentucky Hot Brown
The fresh herbs in the Green Goddess dressing add another dimension of flavor to this classic lunch salad.
View Recipe: Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
View Recipe: Green Goddess Dressing
The key to a perfect lobster roll is to do as little as possible to the lobster meat itself. Have your grocer or fishmonger
steam the lobsters for you—most will do it free of charge.
View Recipe: Lobster Rolls
The grinder is a specialty served at the Iowa State Fair, home to some of the nation’s richest and most waist-expanding treats. Still a hefty meal-in-one, this rendition takes a
lighter approach. We cut the size in half (always a good place to start) and substituted fresh mushrooms for some of the fatty
View Recipe: Grinder
Dandelion greens are best during the spring, when the small pale green leaves are most tender. If you can’t find them, substitute
an equal amount of any other bitter green. Broccoli rabe is a favorite, but beet greens, arugula, watercress, or baby spinach
can also be substituted.
View Recipe: Creamy Dandelion Soup