The Best Sandwiches in Los Angeles
Compact, portable, and infinitely customizable—a sandwich is essentially the perfect food. As it happens, Los Angeles is a pretty great place to get your hands on some of the tastiest sammies, hoagies, and subs in the country. Here, our thoroughly vetted list.
A Cut Above Butcher Shop2453 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica | 310.998.8500
Being that it’s a butcher shop first and foremost, ACA is very serious about their meat-centric menu. The hot sandwiches—BBQ pulled pork, roasted turkey club, lemongrass flank steak banh mi with fried egg, and house-smoked pastrami—can be eaten at one of the few tables on-site or taken to-go. The Italian salumi travels particularly well.
All About the Bread7111 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood | 323.930.8989
As the name suggests, the sandwiches here revolve around the kind of loaf that’s ideal for an Italian sub, with that hard, almost waxy exterior and soft, light interior. They have all of the classics, but there’s also a build-your-own option. It’s the perfect place to pick up lunch for a group on the a weekend, on the way to the beach or a playground session at Griffith Park.
Banh Mi My Tho304 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra | 626.289.4160
You can find respectable banh mi joints locally, but hardcore foodies will tell you this hole-in-the-wall deep in the San Gabriel Valley is the real deal. For a little over $3 you can get a warm baguette packed tight with anything from chicken to grilled beef to BBQ pork, all the fixings, and the option to add an egg on top. (Tip: Always add the egg on top.) They also make excellent Vietnamese iced coffee.
Banh Mi Venice307 Lincoln Blvd., Venice | 310.429.1959
A good banh mi was always kind of hard to find on the West Side, that is until Banh Mi Venice Beach set up shop in a nondescript strip mall on Lincoln Boulevard. It’s a teeny but well-appointed family-owned spot, with a concise menu to match, though every single item—especially the turmeric chicken cluck mi—is solid, due in large part to the not-too-crunchy baguette (baked fresh daily). And it all comes with shrimp chips on the side and a hearty pile of house-pickled daikon—always a good thing.
Bay Cities1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica | 310.395.8279
This is one of the main lunch go-tos in Santa Monica, which means there's almost always a line. The Godmother sub is the order of choice for everyone, us included, though we like to swap the pepper salad for pepperoncini for a little extra heat. Also on point: their tuna salad, and the turkey pesto and eggplant parm. While you wait for the deli to call your number, browse the market—it's stocked with authentic, imported Italian goods; the pasta and sauce selections are particularly impressive.
Clementine9346 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills | 310.461.0600
Clementine is a go-to for light, fresh breakfasts, salads, and a solid heat-at-home selection—but their build-your-own grilled cheese is actually one of their best offerings. For the last 15 years, grilled cheese month (April), has been marked by a grilled cheese-specific menu centered on a specific theme, like “Curds Against Humanity” and “Melt the Vote.” Execution? Buttery, goo-ey, salty, and browned to perfection. The first outpost is located in Century City.
Eggslut317 S. Broadway, Downtown
The enormous line that's inevitably snaking out from the register is your first clue that eggslut doesn’t serve ordinary egg sandwiches. Every element of their take on the hangover breakfast staple is carefully considered: the brioche bun is perfectly browned, the bacon is just the right thickness, and the eggs, of course, are exactly the right fluffy consistency (they offer them over-medium, but scrambled is definitely the order of choice). The famous Fairfax sandwich comes with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and Sriracha mayo. A second location just opened in Venice.
Free RangeMelrose Place Farmer's Market Sunday's, Century City Farmer's Market Thursday's, Wilshire Center Farmer's Market Friday's | 646.256.7570
Free Range is indisputably one of LA's best food trucks, and while everything on their menu is great, it's their Original Free Range LA Chicken Sandwich that made them famous. Their tempura-fried chicken is unbelievably juicy and flavorful, and their Portuguese buns are the perfect width and density. Unlike so many other food trucks in LA, Free Range has a consistent daily schedule, so you always know where to find them—we like to hunt them down at the adorable Melrose Place farmer’s market on Sundays (just make sure to arrive early, before the line gets too crazy).
Garden Cafe4351 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks | 818.788.3700
At this Sherman Oaks café, there are classic sandwiches (BLT, club, Philly cheese, etc), and there are artisanal grilled cheeses, of which the spicy short-rib option is the standout. Tender pulled short ribs serve as the base for grilled onions and peppers, and melted jack cheese—all made even better with a substantial kick of spicy aioli. All in all, a favorite in the Valley.
Gjusta320 Sunset Ave., Venice | 310.314.0320
Sister bakery/deli/café to the much-adored restaurant Gjelina, Gjusta literally does a little bit of everything. They also smoke their own fish, which means the cured and smoked mackerel, salmon, and trout—served open-face on fresh-baked bread or bialy—taste amazing. At the other end of the spectrum is the chicken parm: light, cheesy, and addictive. Seating is limited to scattered outdoor furniture (there are rumors of an expansion), so it’s best to take your order to go.
Ike’s Place1151 Westwood Blvd., Westwood | 310.208.0770
This Bay Area export definitely knows its customer—hungry and/or hungover college kids and serious sandwich junkies. They’re famous for their sauces and outrageous sandwich mash-ups: we like the Tony Soprano (an extra saucy Italian sub) and Menage A Trois (crazy cheesy BBQ chicken). Make sure to get yours on crispy Dutch bread—you're going to need it since they tend to overstuff.
Italia Bakery & Deli11134 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills | 818.488.6446
Every town needs an old-school Italian deli, and Italia Bakery has all of the prerequisites in terms of ambience: strip mall location, hand-painted sign, Italian flag out front, and family members behind the counter. While the classic Italian sandwich is great, the best order here is actually the prosciutto sandwich—it comes on a soft roll, basically overflowing with delicate, thinly-sliced meat and an incredibly soft, creamy mozzarella. This is also an amazing source for cold-cuts if you’d prefer to make the sandwiches at home yourself.
Jackson Market4065 Jackson Ave., Culver City | 310.425.8426
Housed on a residential street in Culver City, Jackson Market has a grocery section (lots of gourmet candy, drinks, and snacks) in addition to a lengthy lunch menu. While the Jamaican Jerk sandwich had a nice kick to it and the Rueben has the perfect brisket-to-sauerkraut ratio (best enjoyed right away as the dressing makes the bread soggy), the classic Italian sub is a definite fan favorite, particularly when you take the build-your-own option and opt for a turkey-and-pesto sandwich.
John’s Garden3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu | 310.456.8377
John's Garden has occupied the same spot in the Malibu Country Mart since long before it was known as the Malibu Country Mart. It's changed a few hands in its 40 years of business, but the sandwich menu has kept to the same standards of freshness and goodness the whole time. Every regular has their favorite, and ours is the Surfer Princess—a perfect turkey-on-wheat piled high with sprouts, avocado salad, and Vegenaise. It pairs well with the coconut-macadamia-chocolate-chip cookie. You can grab a seat by the swings so the kids can play through lunch.
Knuckle and Claw3112 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake | 323.407.6142
Knuckle & Claw is known for insanely fresh and expertly seasoned lobster rolls (their recipes, here), though the Knuckle Sandwich is just as good. They start with dense sourdough, pile it high with fresh lobster, and smother the whole thing in melted cheddar cheese.
Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese223 N. Larchmont Blvd., Hancock Park | 323.856.8699
While it’s billed as a wine and cheese shop—and they do in fact put together an excellent cheese board—it’s the sandwich counter that’s the real draw. At only seven items long, and with the option to order by the half, you can easily sample the entire menu in a few visits—and if you need a good place to start, we always go for #1 (the freshest mozzarella, basil, and tomato situation) or the #3 (Italian salami and manchego cheese smothered in sundried tomato sauce) on fresh-baked baguette, though the ciabatta has a loyal following as well.
Philippes1001 N. Alameda St., Chinatown | 213.628.3781
Another stellar French Dip joint that swears theirs started it all, Philippe’s has been around since the ‘50s, and therefore, might just have the original “original” on the menu. There are actually five dips on offer, the beef being the obvious fan favorite. That said, we like the turkey as it’s lighter but just as flavorful.
Sack Sandwiches (Closed)8360 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood | 323.655.7225
Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio opened this tiny sandwich shop just steps from his famed molecular gastronomy restaurant, ink.well. It’s a sandwich shop in the truest sense—other than a few drink options and some exceptionally good crab chips (Voltaggio is originally from Maryland), sandwiches are the only menu items here. Each one is made to order and served on the same four-inch loaf, which is a thankfully manageable size that's filling but not overwhelming. It’s impossible to pick favorites at a place like this, but Voltaggio definitely excels at carnivorous options: Try the cold fried chicken, the Spanish godfather, the Cuban, or one of their egg sandwiches. If you’re a vegetarian or cutting back on meat, the veggie banh mi with bbq tofu is pretty unbeatable. Don’t leave without a chocolate chip oreo cookie, which is every bit as good as it sounds.
The Little Jewel of New Orleans207 Ord St., Chinatown | 213.620.0461
It’s pretty typical of L.A.'s fusion culture that the best po'boys in the city come from a tiny deli in the heart of Old Chinatown, complete with black-and-white linoleum floors and an old-school green striped awning. The deli is tucked into a specialty grocery store, where you can buy hard-to-find Southern ingredients like Andouille sausage, Zapp's potato chips, and Café du Monde coffee. Behind the counter, they make shrimp, oyster, and catfish po’boys served with creamy remoulade sauce that are about as close to New Orleans as you can get in Los Angeles.
The Oaks Gourmet1915 North Bronson Ave., Hollywood | 323.871.8894
The Oaks Gourmet is a classic small-town feeling gourmet shop—their Hollywood space is jam-packed with a huge selection of wine alongside sauces, jams, and other canned and bottled goods. Behind they deli counter, they have a little bit of everything—grilled cheese, an Italian breakfast sandwich, and even a short rib melt. It’s the perfect place to pick up dinner before a show at the Hollywood Bowl.
Wexler’s Deli317 S. Broadway, Downtown | 213.624.2378
Wexler's Deli in Grand Central Market occupies a remarkably small space considering the insane volume of good food it produces. Their focus is on Jewish comfort food, with a simple menu that’s focused on the classics: bagels with lox and shmear, pastrami and smoked fish that are cured and smoked on site, and insanely good pickles that they make themselves. Good to remember: They deliver.