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BRIEF: The PNW Sandwich voted best sandwich in Whatcom and Skagit Counties

Skagit County’s Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery houses the champion sandwich

A graphic for the winning sandwich of the 2023 Bellingham Sandwich Showdown. The PNW Sandwich can be found at Skagit County’s Calico Cupboard Cafe. // Graphic by Tallie Johnson 

The month of April was spent celebrating the sandwiches of the Pacific Northwest in a lighthearted competition organized by the nonprofit Sustainable Connections. More than 1,000 locals voted all month as to which sandwich reigned supreme. 

Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery was the winner of this friendly competition, receiving 20 percent of the votes. The sandwich they entered was their PNW Sandwich, a breakfast sandwich with an egg, sharp white cheddar, bacon, avocado, tomato and garlic aioli all on their roasted red pepper focaccia bread made in-house.

This is an inaugural year for the Sandwich Showdown. This year’s theme was inspired by wanting people to try restaurants that they haven’t tried before.

Sandwich Showdown was an event within the Think Local First program, one of many programs Sustainable Connections offers. Think Local First has annual events every spring to promote local businesses. 

The community response to Sandwich Showdown was extremely well received – more than Sampson and her team predicted.

Annika Sampson, who coordinates communication and events for Sustainable Connections, said the community voiced their support for the event to organizers. 

“People emailed to say they had used [the competition] to try a lot of new businesses,” she said. 

Calico Cupboard owner and general manager Brenda Schmidt said the PNW Sandwich is one of their best-selling sandwiches and most of the ingredients are sourced locally.

The winning sandwich was created after Schmidt and her sister-in-law contemplated new breakfast sandwich ideas while considering what they enjoyed in a breakfast sandwich themselves. Part of the ideation, Schmidt said, was wanting to make a sandwich that doesn’t have the traditional English muffin or croissant bread.

“Originally, we were going to do it on our other traditional choices,” Schmidt said. “Then it dawned on me that it might be really good on the focaccia bread. We gave it a try and we were pleasantly surprised.” 

The PNW Sandwich is available at all three Calico Cupboard locations – Anacortes, La Conner and Mount Vernon – and there is a gluten-free bread option. 

Aislinn Jones

Aislinn Jones (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is a junior majoring in visual journalism with a concentration in art history, so her work often reflects her interest in art and/or music events. Outside of the newsroom, you can find her taking photos on her film camera or hammocking in the sun. You can reach her at

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