La Grande Orange vs. AZ 88: The BLT Battle

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The BLT: bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is a classic American sandwich that is just as good plain as it is dressed up with sauces and extra toppings. According to the Big Apple, the BLT stemmed from the Bacon Mit Tomato sandwich, which was named for the New York City subway line circa 1936. The BLT as we know it is said to have come out of Chicago and supposedly was named after the columnist Bert Leston Taylor from the Chicago Tribune.

Either way, we're glad this sandwich came to be, and we love to scout new favorites around the Valley. La Grande Orange Grocery and AZ 88 add their own touches to the BLT and we set out to find out which sandwich tops the rest.

See also: Best 10 Cold Sandwiches in Metro Phoenix

In This Corner: La Grande Orange

The Setting: It's almost impossible to find an open parking space at La Grande Orange in Arcadia, especially on weekends. That's because no one can get enough of the fresh food, quirky gifts, or selection of wine, not to mention the pizzeria adjacent to the grocery store. LGO offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes like the Zuni Burrito, with tofu chorizo, mushrooms, corn, spinach, potato, egg whites and charred tomato salsa. Their prices aren't over the top, so it's easy to eat healthy without splurging. Indoor seating is limited on the grocery side, but the outdoor seating on benches and under the trees is half the fun. Place your order at the counter, wait for your name to be called, and dig in.

The Good: LGO's BLT is stacked with fresh lettuce, bright red tomatoes, crispy strips of bacon, and guacamole on toasted wheat bread for $7.25. It's exhilarating to hear all the elements crack and crunch when biting into the sandwich. The guacamole is a creamy substitute compared to the standard mayonnaise. The sandwich comes with a few slices of sweet pickles scattered on the plate and a chunk of fresh pineapple. We loved the height of the sandwich and worked out our jaw to get both ends of the BLT in at once.

The Bad: The bread kept falling apart during consumption because it got soggy from the guacamole. Avocado, lettuce, and bread kept making their way to the plate instead of our mouth.

In The Other Corner: AZ 88

The Setting: As you walk through the glass doors of AZ 88 and see the white walls with modern seats, full bar, and large pieces of artwork hanging above the full bar, it feels like you're about to eat in a contemporary art museum. With a relaxed mood during the afternoon, it's the perfect place to unwind and enjoy food and drink. The menu has a variety of food options from different cuisines, including gallettes, ceviche, burgers, sandwiches, and dessert. AZ 88's menu has a little bit of everything.

The Good: This BLT is made with Nueske's applewood-smoked bacon, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, Hellman's mayonnaise, and the option of a sliced hard-boiled egg inside. Bread choices include white, wheat or pumpernickel, and our sandwich came with fries, and small sides of fruit and veggies, including a pickle, for $9.25. The use of mayo reminded us of the simple ways of devouring a BLT, with the upgrades of applewood bacon and a sliced egg inside to soften the bite a little. The bacon slices were thick and crispy, and gave the BLT a smoky note.

The Bad: When comparing size and height in this battle, AZ 88 came in second. We were not impressed with the lack of lettuce on our BLT, and the sides felt a little flimsy.

The Winner: Finding a BLT winner was a hard decision in this battle. Both restaurants served up their own BLT in different ways, which our stomachs were thankful for, but in the end, all things considered, La Grande Orange inched ahead with the height of its sandwich, and the addition of guacamole instead of mayo.

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