Asking who makes the best sandwich in town is the kind of loaded question that inevitably ends pretty much like the debate over whose grandma makes the best pie—there are entirely too many variations and personal biases to come to a consensus. So we’ll just say that the sandwiches that follow are ones we really, really like. Our rule for this particular roundup: no fancy farmers’-market-produce-laden numbers, though we love those as well. These sandwiches are pure old-school comfort food, and portable enough for a summer bike ride or picnic at the Hollywood Bowl.
Bay Cities Italian Deli
It’s hard to turn down the Godmother, a heaping pile of Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto and provolone on chewy rolls that are baked-fresh daily on site—especially when you’re headed to the beach.
1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.395.8279, baycitiesitaliandeli.com
Cemitas Poblanas Don Adrian
The cemita, a sandwich hailing from Puebla, Mexico, is a hot item around L.A. lately, and one of our favorites is found at this Valley shop next to a laundromat. They come layered with avocado, creamy fresh panela cheese, the meaty filling of your choice, red onion, fresh herbs and either roasted red jalapeño or a scorching chipotle purée; for the meat, consider the house special, cecina, marinated and cured beef.
14902 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, 818.785.0328
Yeah, Philippe the Original is great. But the gussied-up menu at Cole’s now includes things like a goat cheese add-on to that hand-sliced lamb French dip if you want it (you do). If you’re taking your sandwich to go, be sure to order one of the fantastic classic cocktails, like a Pimm’s Cup, while you wait.
118 E. 6th St., Downtown, 213.622.4090, colesfrenchdip.com
We’re not about to jump in the middle of the “best pastrami sandwich” debate, other than to say the mess of meat piled high on Langer’s house-made rye bread is hands-down the best in L.A. Ask your waiter to add a loaf of bread to your bill (they will) so you can make killer toast and sandwiches the rest of the week. And consider taking the Metro: There’s a station right outside.
704 S. Alvarado St., Westlake, 213.483.8050, langersdeli.com
Mario’s Italian Deli & Market
Every day around 11:30, the crowds start to gather at the long glass deli case in this no-frills Glendale market, waiting to place their order for one of the famous subs. (It looks like total chaos, but there is a system, so take a number.) Best bets are the prosciutto, the lemon turkey, the meatball and the chicken parmigiana. They’re as good as the best in Brooklyn. Really.
740 E. Broadway, Glendale, 818.242.4114, mariosdeli.com.
Tip Top Sandwiches
Great freshly baked baguettes with a crunchier exterior than most are the secret to these banh mi (French-style Vietnamese sandwiches). Go with friends so you can try several of the dozen or so sandwich fillings and fill up on pâté chaud (meat-filled pies) and French pastries (chocolate croissants) for later.
14094 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, 714.530.9239