When we set out to pull together a list of sandwich shops in LA, things quickly got philosophical. What is a sandwich shop? What are its essential qualities? Is a deli a sandwich shop? What about a restaurant known for its sandwiches? Do bagels count?
It’s enough to make even Plato’s head spin. So, while we have guides to LA’s Best New Sandwiches, Sandwich Takeout & Delivery, and Where To Eat When You Just Want A Sandwich, it felt important to add a new category: sandwich shops. These places don’t just serve fantastic subs, hoagies, and heroes, but specialize in the sacred art of the sandwich. There are Cambodian cafes, family-run landmarks in the Valley, Armenian delis, and 100-year-old institutions on this list. Don’t think too hard about it.
Yes, the sandwiches at Angry Egret Dinette are technically tortas, but they’re also so much more than that. Much like Baby in Dirty Dancing, you can’t box Wes Avila’s (the former chef at Guerilla Tacos) creations into a specific corner. This Chinatown shop packs sandwiches with pretty much anything your brain can think up. Deep-fried Baja shrimp? Yes. Short ribs marinated in a beef au jus? That’s right. What about gyro beef smothered in American cheese or shiitake mushrooms and home fries? Yes and yes! Grab a seat on their colorful patio and consider trying one of each.
If you’re headed to this classic daytime-only shop on Westwood Blvd., chances are the beef tongue is on your agenda. And rightfully so, this iconic sandwich is a meaty, tangy masterpiece and one of the most well-known dishes in the neighborhood. That said, it shouldn’t be the only thing you order. We absolutely love their kuku sabzi, an aromatic, herb-based frittata, that you can get either as a sandwich or as an entree. The excellent beef koobideh is juicy without being over-saturated and comes with thin, chewy sangak bread that soaks up the marinade and becomes an ideal after-meal… meal. Get both the tongue and the kuku sabzi and fight about which one is better with your friends or yourself. Also come any day of the week and experience a front patio that’s the social heart of the neighborhood every afternoon.
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Tell anyone in the LA area that you’re eating in Santa Monica and they’ll be like, “Please bring me a Godmother.” And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that they’re not asking you for a new family member - they’re asking you for Bay Cities’ most famous sandwich, a stack of meats (prosciutto, ham, salami, mortadella, and capocollo), cheeses, and peppers on delightfully crackly bread. This family-run Italian deli makes plenty of good sandwiches besides The Godmother, too - like their chicken parm sub and a standard turkey option - but you should also know that their meatballs are excellent.
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We once went to Brent’s Deli and for some reason, decided to fire nearly the entire menu. A bold move, considering this Northridge institution serves over 650 items, but that’s just to say - there’s a lot to love here. An iconic deli in the Valley, Brent’s has come to define not just Jewish food for a generation, but an entire section of the city itself. Their signature dish is a black pastrami Rueben, a towering behemoth piled high with peppery, brined beef brisket and bitter sauerkraut. Get this with curly fries and you probably won’t need to order anything else. Trust us.
Walking into Cahuenga General Store is like walking into another world, or at the very least, walking into WestWorld. This former prop shop turned sandwich cafe looks like a real 19th-century general store with creaky wooden floors, chairs hanging from the ceiling, and homemade soap on the shelves. There’s also a fantastic side patio now with tons of shade and more potted plants than you’d find at most local nurseries. But the real reason you’re here is for the sandwiches. With over 30 different kinds, the menu is a little overwhelming, but our strategy is to stick with anything that has pesto on it. They make it in-house, and it’s incredible.
Open since 1959, Cavaretta’s is a classic, family-run Italian deli in Canoga Park and one of our favorite quick lunch spots in the west Valley. You can’t go wrong with their Famous Italian Combo, which comes topped with mortadella, salami, capicola, provolone, and all the fixings or the house-made meatball sub, but what really sets Cavaretta’s apart are their desserts. Eclairs, New York-style cheesecake, and some of the best cannolis you’ll find in LA - if you aren’t walking out at Cavaretta’s with at least two boxes full of sweets under your arm, you’ve done it wrong.
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Cemitas Don Adrian in Van Nuys has been around for nearly a quarter-century and their Puebla-style tortas only continue to get better. Their menu of 20-something tortas can definitely lead to some sandwich-induced stress, so we’ll make things easier on you: order the milanesa de lomo de puerco. It comes with breaded pork loin, bright queso fresco, avocado, your choice of jalapeños or chipotle salsa, and stringy Oaxacan cheese (for an additional $1.99) - all sandwiched between a toasted, slightly nutty sesame bun. The only thing that could possibly go wrong with your Don Adrian order is that you like your torta too much and forget to try the other two dozen options on the menu.
If you’ve been watching old New York movies lately (well, does Moonstruck count as old?), you’ll understand why Eastside Market Italian Deli in Echo Park is such a big deal to us. There’s almost no other place in the city to find messy, red sauce-doused hoagies, plus everything on the menu hovers around the $9-$12 mark. Our favorite here is the #7 which comes with roast beef, big ol’ slices of pastrami, and cheese, making for a very, very hefty sandwich.
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This Lincoln Heights cafe serves Cambodian numpang, a Khmer sandwich made with a soft, fluffy bolillo roll. Whether they’re filled with spicy pork shoulder, grilled trumpet mushrooms, or fried eggs and pork floss, each sandwich packs a punch of flavor. There’s salt from the meat, creaminess from the pâté, and a satisfying crunch from the layers of toasted shallots, julienned cucumbers, and pickled carrot and papaya slaw. Pair this with a sunny day outside on their patio and let your daydreams of never logging back into your email take you away.
Ggiata is one of the newest sandwich shops in town, and yet, the reason we love it for its old-school menu. You’ll spot sandwiches filled with things like crispy chicken cutlets drenched in savory vodka sauce, meatball parmesan, and tangy grilled balsamic chicken with roasted red peppers. Though there are a few traditional cold cuts to be had, most of Ggiata’s sandwiches feel more like Italian suppers on bread. The bright space at Melrose and Western is mostly a to-go operation - as there’s little in the way of seating - but before you head out with your sandwiches, be sure to spend a moment at the daily dessert case. Whether it’s a perfectly moist olive oil cake or a box of rainbow cookies, don’t leave Ggiata without at least one dessert.
Whenever we touch down at LAX, there are two things on our minds. The first is that we have to go to the bathroom, and the second is the tuna conserva sandwich from Gjusta. Is Gjusta in Venice a traditional sandwich shop? Maybe not, considering they’re open for every meal of the day, offer whole roast chickens, pizza, smoked fish plates, and...we could go on. But Gjusta excels in the sandwich department. All bread is baked in-house, and the fillings hit that cliche California sweet spot of farmers market-fresh ingredients and ethically sourced meats. The tuna conserva is our old faithful because we like how the roasted peppers, sprouts, salty tapenade, and cucumbers ooze into the sourdough and top-shelf tuna. But we also work the banh mi, tomato confit, and meatball sandwiches into the rotation.
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Jeff’s Table isn’t the first deli hidden behind a liquor store in Highland Park - they’re not even the first one to occupy the space they’re in. But hidden or not, this is one of our favorite places to get a sandwich in the neighborhood. If you’re really hungry, get the “Jeff’s Special” - hot pastrami, sauerkraut, and what’s basically a big parmesan crisp on rye - or the “Dirty Baby,” which is a turkey salad sandwich that involves housemade chili crisp, two kinds of smoked cheese, and pickled onions. Order a side of the spicy, creamy Thai peanut mac salad to balance everything all out.
Is Konbi a sandwich shop? We struggled with this existential question while debating whether to put them on this guide, but at the end of the day, as anyone with an Instagram account in 2018 can attest, you come here for stuff between bread. Inspired by Japanese convenience store food, this Echo Park to-go window serves perfectly symmetrical sandwiches cut into thirds, filled with everything from luxurious crab omelettes to pork katsu drizzled in bulldog sauce. Skip the egg salad - although it looks pretty enough to tack onto a gallery, it’s not the most flavorful.
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LA is no stranger to good pastrami (hello Canters, hey there Wexler’s), but let’s make one thing clear: Langer’s is the best. This Westlake institution has been serving classic deli staples since 1947 - matzo ball soup, homemade coleslaw, and a macaroni salad that’s both creamy and entirely simple. However, you’re here for the #19. It’s Langer’s signature, where pastrami and rye bread fuse together to the point you don’t even know which is which, sandwiched between two slices of their famous twice-baked rye and smothered in swiss cheese and coleslaw. It is perfect, it is euphoric, and if we could vote this sandwich into public office, we would.
Larchmont Wine & Cheese is a classic sandwich counter where things feel simple. It’s like being transported back to the ’60s or finally realizing you only need one streaming service and canceling all the others. Sandwiches here are uncomplicated and straightforward, with high-quality ingredients as king. Our go-to order is the #5, a baguette topped with imported prosciutto, mozzarella, and arugula, but the off-menu El Conquistador is also a great option. It’s filled with chorizo, prosciutto, Manchego, and a few pickled peppers - the perfect addition to any picnic, or meal to celebrate your breakup with Netflix.
It’s surprisingly hard to find a good bánh mì in LA proper, which is why a trip to My Dung feels like hitting the jackpot. Half-market stall, half-Vietnamese restaurant, we head to this small Chinatown shop whenever the need for a baguette smeared thick with pâté strikes. Which, to be honest, is quite often. There are eight versions of the sandwich here, ranging from crispy pork belly to ones filled with soy sauce-soaked tofu. They’re usually a little misshapen but obviously made with care, and for $4.50 a pop, one of the best deals in town.
With a tiny non-descript storefront on Melrose, Oui is a place you could pass a hundred times without noticing. And inside are our favorite sandwiches in Hollywood. With everything from a classic tuna sub to double smashburgers to spiced chicken laffa wraps, the menu certainly covers a lot of ground, but just know that whatever you’re in the mood for that day, it’s going to be good. And that includes their donuts. Plus, with such a wide variety, it’s an ideal spot for a to-go team lunch when everyone wants something different.
There are few things more cathartic than sitting in silence with a good sandwich and listening to jazz music, which is why it’s hard to skip Perry’s anytime we’re in Pasadena. The nearly 20-year-old sandwich shop isn’t jazz-themed per se, but as you walk in and spot portraits of famous musicians adorning the walls and hear Duke Ellington emanating from the loudspeaker, it’s clear that music is a priority here. That and delicious sandwiches, of course. The menu is pretty wide-ranging with everything from straight-forward turkey clubs to tuna melts to hot pastrami with pepperoncini, but if it’s your first time, the Hey Joe! is a must. Filled with hot roast beef, pastrami, a hotlink, cheese, onion, diced peppers, mayo, and mustard, this is by no means a light sandwich, but it’s very well-balanced. It’s spicy, savory, and salty with a perfect crunch in each bite courtesy of that hotlink.
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There’s a bit of contention surrounding who invented the French dip sandwich, but Philippe’s is where the true roast beef magic happens. This Chinatown deli has been around for over 100 years and hasn’t changed a bit. Lines move fast, there’s probably sawdust on the floor, and every person working here seems like they’ve been fixtures since Eisenhower was president. In other words, it’s absolutely charming. Obviously, the order here is the Beef Double Dip (with spicy mustard on top): the double dip ensures maximum au jus soakage and the bread has a thin layer of butter we wish we could take a nap in.
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This guide is full of well-known sandwich spots, and Potato Chips is not one of them. But it’s about time this tiny shop in Beverly Grove gets its moment in the limelight, because the sandwiches are excellent. Favorites of ours include the roast turkey with havarti and herb aioli and the crunchy chicken Milanese. Service is fast, most sandwiches are under $13, and the place is nice and quiet if you need 40 minutes away from your daily hell.
Roma Market is more of a grocery store than a sandwich shop, but considering how incredible their one sandwich is, this guide would be remiss without its presence. The sandwich itself is nameless, and can be found each day pre-wrapped and stacked on the deli counter in the back. It’s also remarkably simple - just a couple slices of provolone and some cured meat (specifically capicola, mortadella, and salami) on a freshly baked roll. But with ingredients this excellent, it’s all a sandwich really needs. You, along with 37 other people on their lunch break, will grab it, pay $5.50 for it, and revel in the fact that you’re eating something this fantastic on the hood of your car in a Pasadena parking lot.
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This Armenian deli is the kind of place we wish every neighborhood had. It’s located in a quiet strip mall in East Hollywood (home to one of our other favorite landmarks, Sunny Foot Massage) and sells a ton of hard-to-find Armenian goodies, like mint yogurt sodas and apricot paste that looks like a giant fruit-roll-up. Their namesake sandwich, the basturma, is made on the spot, and it’s likely the shop owner will come out and hand-slice the cured beef herself. Silky sheets of basturma are pressed together with pickles and a tomato slice, and each bite feels like a spice shop exploded in your mouth.
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Walking into Tarzana Armenian Deli is like walking out of LA and into that local sandwich shop you might’ve eaten at three times a week in the summer as a kid. Checkered-tile flooring, bored teenagers working their part-time jobs, and gigantic pita wraps that’ll keep you full all day. Get the spicy soujouk with double cheese, the savory meat pie wrap, and a few orders of their perfectly-acidic stuffed grape leaves. It’s also a great place to stop and fill up your picnic basket before heading over the mountains for a day at the beach.
Wax Paper isn’t your standard sandwich spot. There is no deli case filled with cured meats or mile-long menu of subs. Instead, you’ll find a quirky counter in a deserted warehouse in Frogtown (or Chinatown) that combines just-baked bread, farm-fresh produce, and listener-supported public radio. Sandwiches come on loaves of Bub & Grandma’s and are named after NPR hosts like the Terry Gross, which is filled with roast turkey, green chili aioli, a jalapeño/radish slaw, and pepper jack cheese. We’re also big fans of the Steve Julian, which is Wax Paper’s version of a bánh mì. With its shredded pork, crunchy cucumbers, and miso aioli, this sandwich is a little spicy and completely fun, just like Francis Ford Coppola’s 2016 interview on Fresh Air.
Wexler’s has always had stiff competition, sitting at the intersection of bagels, pastrami sandwiches, and Jewish delis in LA. But with two locations in Santa Monica and the Grand Central Market, they’ve been able to make a name for themselves, serving some of the best lox and cured meat around. We go for the MacArthur Park, a delicious ode to Langer’s (and the seven-minute song sung by Richard Harris a.k.a. the original Dumbledore) that’s piled sky-high with coleslaw, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing.
Bread Head makes their own focaccia, and the way the garlic mayo on the BLT here oozes into that focaccia has captured our attention. We swoon, not just for that BLT, but for the Waygu roast beef with stracchino and horseradish aioli. Two guys who used to cook at Trois Mec are behind the counter, and we recommend stopping by as soon as you can. Just know, they’re only open from 11-5 on weekdays, and unless you’re especially famished, you won’t need to order more than a half-sandwich.