It's true that one can pretty much wedge anything in between two chunks of bread and call it a sandwich, though history points to some meat usually being involved.

It all dates to John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, hence the Earl of Sandwich franchise that's run today by the 11th Earl of Sandwich. What was once English aristocrats' late-night, card-table snack is now America's ubiquitous lunchbox stuffer or anytime meal.

Locally, there's a bevy of beauties to be had. You can count the following sandwiches among them; whether or not they're the best around, still worth a good gumming.

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Oliver's Delicatessen

6602-A Delmonico Drive, 599-9411

Elizabeth and Mike Oliver have been serving traditional deli sandwiches in Rockrimmon for 28 years. With an emphasis on fresh-made sweet breads and savory sandwich breads, they've carved out a niche not even the Subway across the parking lot can fill.

I opt for the signature Oliver hot corned beef sandwich ($6.35) on toasted, perfectly chewy light rye. A bit of a shortstack, it makes me long for a heaping mountain of meat, like something out of Katz Deli in New York. Size aside, I can't argue with the succulent, briny corned beef slices, ribbons of carrots and cabbage coleslaw and Swiss cheese brought together with a deliciously tangy Russian dressing. Though a tad overdressed, it's worth the mess. — Monika Mitchell Randall

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The Corner Café

7 E. Vermijo Ave., 520-1843, cornercafecs.com

Known for co-owner Bob Smoot's green chili, this courthouse neighbor (now open Saturdays) also does a killer lunch, as a sampling of its new Ragin' Cajun Burger ($8.95, with beef or chicken) and Get Outa Town ($8.50) sandwich attest. Flavorful like only a combination of "secret Cajun spices," pepperjack cheese, chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato can be, the Ragin' comes packed with spicy goodness, and the grilled chicken from RedBird Farms in Englewood has a great char. The only downside is a plethora of chipotle mayo that can turn the bottom bun soggy (though still delicious).

Meanwhile, the GOT — roast beef from Boar's Head, horseradish cheddar cheese, tomato and horseradish sauce on grilled sourdough — burns hot and mellow until the spikes of bright tomato pop through. — Bryce Crawford

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PJ's Bistro

819 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1195

Beyond PJ's European items, you'll find an interesting sandwich list (all $8.95, with fries or pasta salad) that includes mahi mahi on a lovely brioche roll from Denver's Harvest Moon Baking Co. The fish is perfectly cooked, not dry, in olive oil and butter and lightly seasoned with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Above lettuce and bright sun-dried tomatoes, it meets a house variation of a French gribiche sauce made with egg, capers, red onion, dill pickle and thyme mixed in yogurt and mayonnaise; the sauce is good, but I want more of it on account of the fluffy bread's dominance.

Owner Paul Jakubczyk (son of the European Café's owner) remodeled last year, adding beer and wine to the excellent patio view. — Matthew Schniper

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