California Club with Chipotle Mayo

Today’s sandwich is the “California Club with Chipotle Mayo.” It combines turkey, Swiss cheese, bacon, spinach, tomato, avocado, a fried egg, and chipotle mayonnaise on three slices of toasted white bread.

Notes: About ten years ago, one of my closest friends and I started parting ways professionally. Though we had started working for the same Internet company in similar roles, after the post-bubble collapse of that company, he began to focus much more on overall strategy and operations, while I chose to focus more on doing as little as possible. A decade later, while we remain very close, the relative wisdom of our life decisions is clear. He is vice president of a consulting company, an International Businessman whose day-to-day life and job responsibilities I’ll never fully understand. In contrast, I own one pair of jeans and take pictures of sandwiches.

Though we live hundreds of miles apart, we still get together to talk shop as often as we can. Though we have grown from fairly similar 20-year-olds into fairly different 35-year-olds, the intensity of the work we did together and the hundreds of hours we have spent drinking beer and puzzling over our futures has bonded us together, I hope forever. In each of us, there exists a mutual admiration and respect for the way the other person is shaping their lives, and getting together to update each other every few months is one of my favorite things.

The last time we got together, this friend of mine made a remark that’s stuck with me ever since. Travel is a huge component of his work, and he logs tens of thousands of frequent flyer miles per year. Sometimes, the travel is glamorous and fun: three nights, for example, in the bright lights of Bejing. Other times, less so: An overnight in Sheboygan Falls in the quiet shadow of the sausage factory. He explained that the one thing that has been consistent, the one constant in a blur of hotel check-ins and calls to room service, has been the classic club sandwich. It’s available in China. It’s available in Wisconsin. It’s perhaps the most consistent item available from room service, an $18 triple-decker under a tin dome that I suspect makes him feel loved and cared for, even when he is by himself in a strange city. I imagine that on his best days, he appreciates the familiar taste of home after a long day in a new place. And I imagine that when he is sad or lonely, missing his wife and new baby, that he views his whole life in terms of how many more club sandwiches he’ll have to eat before he gets to go home again, the way a prison inmate counts the remaining time on his sentence by how many more weekly trips to the commissary he’ll have to make.

The club sandwich occupies both of these mental spaces simultaneously. It’s comforting and communicates security, even while it depresses you, just a little bit. It makes you feel better when you need it, and then, it makes you feel that much worse. The absurd height of the sandwich and the precision engineering makes building it for someone you love feel like a kind, giving act, even while the sheer number of ingredients can make the sandwich feel a little unfocused. It makes you smile, and then it makes you sigh.

For our version, we rounded out the sandwich with a few new textures; creamy avocado and an over-medium fried egg balance the crunch of the toast and the bacon, while the chipotle mayonnaise adds just a touch of spice and color. And while I’ll bet the last thing my old friend wants to do when he gets home from jetting all over the globe is make himself another club sandwich, I’ll bet he’d approve of this one.

California Club Sandwich with Chipotle Aioli

California Club with Chipotle Mayo
One sandwich is often plenty for two people.


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 3 slices white sandwich bread, toasted
  • 1/4 cup of raw baby spinach leaves
  • 4 slices of deli turkey
  • 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 1 fried egg, over-medium


In a food processor, combine mayo and chipotle chiles. Whiz until smooth and set aside.

California Club Sandwich with Chipotle Aioli

To make the sandwich, spread one side of each piece of toast with the mayonnaise. Assemble in this order: On the bottom slice of toast, add half the spinach, then one slice of turkey, then half the tomato, then half the bacon, then one slice of the Swiss cheese. Top with the second slice of toast, mayonnaise side down. Spread the top of the middle slice of bread with more of the chipotle mayonnaise. Top with remaining spinach, then the sliced avocado, then three slices of turkey, then more tomato, the other slice of cheese, the remaining bacon, and the fried egg. Top with the third slice of bread. Slice diagonally into quarters, holding each quarter together with a toothpick.

California Club Sandwich with Chipotle Aioli


Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road." He currently owns and operates the Ancho Honey restaurant in Maine.


  1. My husband has traveled a lot. Though I can not say he has eaten club sandwiches I can say that he will venture into Mickey D’s even though he won’t go near one when he is home. He says whether he is in China or South Africa it always tastes the same. And sometimes you just want something to taste like home. I think though that I best get him hooked on club sandwiches. This looks incredible.

  2. Beautifully written, as always. I believe I shall make such a creation tonight. I was wondering how deli turkey and egg would combine, and if you did it, it must be right. I made chipolte mayo for my husband’s sandwiches. He was really impressed that I made something so wonderful tasting. I didn’t tell him how ridiculously easy it was to make.

    Are you familiar with Steakums? they have been around forever – they were a staple in my childhood and I am nearing the half century mark. Just curious as to what u thought of them. I have heard Anthony Bourdain make fun of them on his show. But my mom was not a cook and she relied on them quite a bit.

    1. Thanks Trish, that means a lot. Jillian actually found some really great deli turkey with lots of nice texture, not that weird rubbery stuff. I think this sandwich would also be amazing with leftover roasted chicken in place of the deli turkey, but then you’ve got the problem of eating both adult and baby chicken in the same bite, which has been known to give some people a case of the heebiejeebies.

      I absolutely ADORE Steakumms, and quite frankly, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t talked about them on this site before. They were always a lunchtime favorite of my dad’s, who would fry me up two of the grey slabs to go on Wonder bread (which my mom referred to as “squishywhitebread,” pronounced as one word) with a healthy layer of Hellmann’s. Thirty years later, it’s still a favorite, though rare treat. I’ll only allow myself a Steakumm ‘n’ mayo about once a year, though they are also amazing in breakfast sandwiches. Hmmm, I wonder if it’s been a year since my last one, yet.

      All in all, I think there’s a post in here, somewhere. 🙂

  3. You may “only take pictures of sandwiches”, but oh my gosh, the pictures of sandwiches that tou take, make me want to DEVOUR those sandwiches! AWESOME food photography!

    1. Thanks Heather! I still have a LOT to learn…but I think I’m getting there! It’s rewarding because it’s so hard. 🙂

  4. This sandwich is amazing!! I featured it on my blog tonight as part of a creative challenge. I’m cooking 52 recipes in 52 weeks and your sandwich is #31 in my challenge. I really enjoyed poking around your blog and love your philosophy of making food approachable and delicious. Best wishes- Liz

  5. Beautifully written! I spent a good 7+ years traveling in the corporate world and I will admit to ordering a club sandwich in Hong Kong and a grilled cheese in Tokyo. They arrived under silver domes – so true! – but weren’t a patch on your sandwich!

  6. Making as i/we speak.Looks as though others have somewhat moved on to different fare and or palate,but have kept this combo” as something more than desirable for quite some time in “my favorites” list.Butterball 10-12 lb. Thanksgiving,and now 8 lb. breast in the oven for exclusive sandwich,one more regular plate with fixins,and crockpot Turkey-tortillo soup.Half grilled cheese is all you can eat with that.Totally enjoyed the process and menu, and followed your directions to the letter.Once upon another life,I had a job using “Haselblad 2 1/4 x 2 1/14 with Carl Zeiss lens.Understanding it went to the moon ’69.Sure your sandwich will do me the same.Happy Holidays,Captain. Bobby Va.Beach,Va.

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