The modern “St. Paul sandwich” is a Chinese restaurant specialty that has nothing to do with St. Paul, Minnesota.
Some food historians believe that the St. Paul is a descendant of a sandwich that was popular in its namesake city around the turn of the 20th century. But Chinese-American restaurant owners in the St. Louis area popularized the current iteration of the sandwich. Their version consisted of egg foo yung (a crispy-fried, savory egg patty with onion and bamboo shoots), white bread, and optional meat such as beef, pork, chicken, or shrimp. Cooks then finished the sandwich with an array of distinctly non-Chinese toppings: a slathering of mayonnaise, a lettuce leaf, thin-sliced tomatoes, and dill pickles. By the 1970s, the mashup had become an area staple.
If the identity of the Missourian St. Paul seems convoluted, don’t think too hard about it. Its brain-scrambling effect is entirely on-brand for St. Louis, seeing as how the city’s other distinctive sandwich is a pile of fried brains.
Need to Know
St. Paul sandwiches are sold primarily in Chinese takeout restaurants around St. Louis, where they're still a quick and inexpensive meal.
Where to Try It
Old St Louis Chop Suey4600 Chippewa St., Ste L, Saint Louis, Missouri, 63116, United States
A cash-only restaurant serving a variety of St. Paul sandwiches, such as chicken or shrimp.