LDNGuide

The Best Sandwiches In London

Doorstop sandwiches to aubergine sabichs, and everything in between. In between bread, that is.
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photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

The greatest thing since sliced bread is still stuff between sliced bread. Pastrami on rye, pork belly bánh mì, carb-on-carb vada pav—we could go on. There’s a sandwich for every day of the week, every mood, and every tooth sensitivity. A classic sandwich. A hot sandwich. A sandwich bigger than your head. Here are the places to go to when all you want is a sandwich.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Franco's

Pasta

Shoreditch

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsTakeaway
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Franco’s is an old-school Italian caff making whopper escalope sandwiches. The Shoreditch spot also does steaming piles of spaghetti and mounds of creamy carbonara—but it’s the piping-hot escalope between two slices of ciabatta slathered with mayo that draws the hungover midweek crowd. Expect hefty servings, reasonable prices, and plenty of return visits.

At Beit El Zaytoun On The Go, an offshoot of Beit El Zaytoun, one of our favourite Lebanese restaurants, serves up tasty subs like the Philly cheesesteak-inspired “Philadelphia,” or the cheese-drenched chicken fajita sub. It’s a takeaway spot in Kensington, right by Hyde Park, so if the weather is looking good, it’s the ideal grab-and-go picnic. The cupboard-sized space gets busy on weekends, so you’ll often have to fight your way through people waiting for their takeaway sandwiches to the self-ordering kiosk, but it’s worth the short wait. 

The sandwiches at Chatsworth Bakehouse are only available to pre-order and sell out in under 60 seconds. It’s a faff, but if you can get on board with the ruthless ordering system, this is an excellent sandwich. Thick, dimpled wedges of focaccia have golden, crispy crusts and hold weekly changing fillings. Previous sandwiches have included tuna with a creamy basil and garlic aioli, chilli artichokes, and tangy balsamic shallots. Just know that this Crystal Palace bakery doesn't have any seats inside.  

photo credit: Jake Missing

$$$$Perfect For:LunchTakeaway

In the pantheon of great sandwiches, a golden-fried schnitzel stands high on the podium. And, if you’re after a handful, then a trip to Johnny Schnitzel is very much worth your while. The idyllic deli sits on a quiet corner between Islington and Clerkenwell, but nothing about these brutish focaccia sandwiches is particularly subtle. The bread is doughy and flecked with olives, the pounded meat crispy and tender, and a handful of mayo-slathered crunchy slaw the perfect foil for this KO of a sandwich.

In a world full of towering, TikTok-ready sandwiches and frankly weird cheese-injected fillings, there is something heartwarmingly straightforward about the sliced white or wholemeal triangle sandwiches from Paul Rothe. The Marylebone deli has been around since 1900 and one can only assume that workers have relied on it for buttery bacon baps and coronation chicken-smeared lunches ever since. Your wish is their command at Paul Rothe, so eye up the fillings behind the counter and see what takes your fancy—the egg mayo with anchovy is a classic.

There must be science behind why canapé and slider-sized bites are often so satisfying. Maybe it’s because they’re two, maybe three mouthfuls, and they’re gone. But it also relies on them being as delicious and as flavourful as the menu from Shree Krishna Vada Pav. The Maharashtrian mini-chain, with locations in Hounslow, Ilford, and Harrow, specialises in deep-fried bits in doughy white bread baps, alongside whacks of chilli and coconut chutneys. Onion bhajiya, potato bhajiya, a Sichuan samosa—you name it, they’ll put it between bread.

An ale-focused pub serving baps with half a pig in them sounds extremely ye olde England, but The Southampton Arms exists very much in the now. Aside from this little pub being both excellent and just five minutes from Hampstead Heath, it also serves one of the best sandwiches around. Its roast pork bap, complete with crackling and apple sauce, is a thing of tear-inducing, pint-soaking beauty.

Going to a pizza place and not ordering pizza is very wrong, unless you’re going to Theo’s and getting a panuozzo, in which case it’s very right. Both the Camberwell and Elephant and Castle locations offer a choice of delicious panuozzi—sandwiches that are, yes, made out of pizza dough—which is basically the smartest thing we’ve ever heard. The take on a tuna melt is a go-to, or the sausage with provolone is also great. As is that chilli sauce on the table.

We’re not sure what exactly the secret is about this Japanese-influenced Notting Hill spot, but we don’t care when the sandwiches taste this good. They’re served on aesthetically pleasing, perfectly formed blocks of Tokyo milk bread, with the perfect ratio of filling—whether that’s tuna, mayo, and lettuce, or the T.L.T (turkey, lettuce, tomato)—that Paul Hollywood would dish out a handshake for. There are fun toppings like bacon crumb or crispy shallots that you can add as well. Our favourite combination is the tuna mayo with salt and vinegar McCoys crisps.

The chip butty from Norman’s is one of London’s lesser talked-about great side dishes. Beans on toast? Chippy butty on the side. Battered sausage with brown sauce? Throw in a butty while you’re at it. The bap is soft and crusty, the chips crunchy and fluffy—you can’t go wrong. The chicken escalope sarnie with melted red Leicester is also a must and, as with everything at this brilliant new-school British caff in Kentish Town, the simple things aren’t just done right, but perfectly.

Catalyst’s menu switches up regularly, but its magnificent sandwiches always remain at the Holborn cafe. A classic bacon number wedged between doorstop slices of pain de mie bread is a ketchup-sodden breakfast of the traditionally British variety, with a little onion and dill relish thrown in as well. But there are other things too: a homemade take on a familiar fish filet sandwich, only this one features chunky goujons big enough to make Captain Birdseye blush, a tangy homemade coleslaw, and a creamy slice of american cheese.

You won’t know that you’ve needed a corned beef hash sando all your life until the moment you take your first bite of Panadera’s corned beef hash sando. The Filipino bakery in Kentish Town has created something wondrous between two slices of grilled Filipino milk bread. It’s soft and crunchy, thanks to the deep-fried corned beef patty, with lovely little chunks of potato flecked throughout. The sweet bread combined with a tart sauce, a wipe of mayo, and a bit of lettuce that’s there in spirit, combines to make a truly warming, generous double doorstop sandwich. Oh, and there’s an egg one, too.

Much of what comes out of Bermondsey’s 40 Maltby Street is talked about in hushed, excited whispers. Word of cauliflower croquettes being on the menu will spread across London’s burgeoning beige-obsessed community like a molten cheese wildfire. Its weekly changing sandwiches have the same effect. Whether it be pork schnitzel and artichoke, or pumpkin fritter, braised kale, and ricotta—there’s always one meat and one veg, and you’re always guaranteed to have an excellent sandwich.

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

$$$$Perfect For:LunchTakeaway

The sub is an unappreciated sandwich type on this side of the pond. Yes there’s the chain-that-shall-not-be-named, but that’s not the best way to get your sub fix. You’ll realise this once you eat from Dom’s on Hackney Road. There’s The Cold Cuts loaded with bresaola, salami, provolone, tangy peppers, and more. There’s The Grapow, a Thai-inspired sub that caused us to almost unintentionally amputate our right (sandwich-gripping) thumb. And most importantly after you finish, there’s the feeling that you and the menu have lots of unfinished business.

Balady is very good at putting or wrapping things in bread. Whether it’s aubergine and egg (the sabich), cauliflower shawarma, or the incredible falafel, everything at the original Temple Fortune location and its Leather Lane sibling is offered with a huge choice of salads, pickles, hummus, red pepper, and jalapeño schug, as well as tahini and amba. The result is a full-on assault of flavour. We go for the falafel in pita (baked at local spot Taboon), but you should know that getting merguez wrapped in a huge, pillowy laffa from next-door sister restaurant Alaesh is always a good idea.

Rainbow Cookout’s jerk chicken sandwich is a carefully made labour of love. The meat from a freshly grilled leg methodically pulled off by Otis—the world’s most laconic and considered grill master—and its crisp blackened skin is carefully removed with peking duck-like precision. It’s put between two thick wholemeal slices and topped with careful ladles of fragrant and spiced gravy with carrots, onions, and cabbage. You can find it at the Hackney Central end of Mare Street from Wednesday to Sunday. Or, as Otis says, “Whenever I feel like getting out of bed.”

photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

$$$$Perfect For:LunchTakeaway

Bánh Mì Hội-An makes bánh mì that we enjoy so much we’d eat it for a week straight. The little Hackney Central spot is only open until 3pm and not at all on Sundays, but whichever option you go for, you’ll find that the char siu is sweet, the pork belly chunky, and the bread itself the perfect equilibrium between soft and chewy, and crisp and flaky. 

You know those day-off sandwiches you make? The ones that require a blueprint and planning permission? Those are the kind of sandwiches that Dusty Knuckle, off Kingsland Road, makes every day. Being a bakery, the bread (whether sourdough or focaccia) is seriously good and the fillings, be it saucy meatballs, roasted beetroot, or sticky tofu, are the same. Our go-to is the roasted beetroot and carrot number if it's on.

Crispy buttermilk fried shrimp, sweet brioche bread, top-quality honey mustard sauce. No, you haven’t fallen into an M&S ad, we’re just letting you know what to expect from the seriously tasty and seriously hefty sandwiches from Poor Boys. A New Orleans-style street food restaurant in Kingston, this casual spot is all about po’boys. In case you haven’t come across a po’boy before, it’s a huge sandwich situation that was handed out to strikers in New Orleans way back in the 1920s. Now that we’ve filled you in on some essential sarnie history, go eat it.

If you’ve ever looked at a main course and thought, “yeah, but it’d be better between two slices,” then you’re really going to like Max’s Sandwich Shop. This cult spot in Stroud Green serves many-ingredient and multi-condiment meals between two slices of homemade focaccia. The classic ham, egg ‘n’ chips remains the best, but the guinea fowl caesar with garlic croutons is a close second. And yes, that is bread in bread.

There are doorstop sandwiches, and then there are St. John’s white bread sandwiches. These guys are like the unplanned but happy result of a hook up between the Yellow Pages and the Oxford English Dictionary. The fillings—cheese and chutney, egg and watercress—are British classics, which is very St. John, and although eating one can get a little bit messy, they’re very tasty.

The salt beef bagels at Beigel Bake are a national institution and the wiping of English mustard-induced tears is a national pastime. If chunky salt beef, gherkins, and mustard aren’t your thing, then hopefully smoked salmon and cream cheese is. Otherwise, you can always buy plain bagels and make your own creation at home.

Is a sandwich even a sandwich if its contents don’t fall out and become finger food? We think no. And if you do too, then head to Farringdon to get The Eagle’s steak sandwich. This enormous crusty Portuguese sandwich is big enough to have its own gravitational pull, but gravity means slices of marinated steak will definitely end up on your plate. This thing has been on the menu since day one for good reason.

If you want a tongue-twister, try saying: smoked eel sandwich at this Soho stalwart, 10 times over. By the time you finish, it’s the only thing you’ll be able to think about, which is a good thing. This is one of London’s most famous things between two toasted bits of bread and once you try this smokey eel on a load of horseradish with some pickled onions on the side, you’ll know why.

Wraps are perhaps our favourite subcategory of sandwich. If you think about it (preferably under the influence), they’re like edible socks filled with food. Anyway, Mr. Falafel in Shepherd’s Bush makes one of the best wraps in London. There are about 12 different varieties, with guest appearances ranging from fried cauliflower, and pickled aubergines, to mashed broad beans. And they’re seriously good.

Our spidey senses tingle whenever we’re in a three-mile radius of this excellent sandwich spot inside Shepherd’s Bush Market. This kiosk serves Algerian street food in the form of sandwiches filled with your choice of lamb’s liver, merguez, marinated chicken, fish fillet, or minced meat. All the meats are cooked to order and each sandwich is also stuffed with chips, a fried egg, the perfect amount of salad, and harissa. The chicken is our favourite, but they’re all excellent, so order with confidence. 

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