With an abundance of world-class tacos, sushi, and Korean food in nearly every neighborhood in the city, people tend to forget that Los Angeles is also a fantastic sandwich town. Hot chicken sandwiches with sweet pickled slaw, subs filled with crispy pork lechon, a ridgeback prawn bánh mì that will permanently occupy the front room of your psyche, and Bub & Grandmas loaves for as far as the eye can see - here are 14 of the best new sandwiches LA has to offer.
It doesn’t matter if you’re brushing your teeth, browsing your own browser history, or eating any other sandwich, the ridgeback prawn bánh mì from Yess Aquatic in DTLA will permanently occupy the front room of your psyche. You’ll think back to the short time you spent together, wishing you had slowed it down and made it last. You could have given the brioche a more meaningful, full-grip squish. You could have made stronger eye contact with those blanched, technicolor prawns who rest cozily on the sambal-pate spread. Will you ever find a single bite as satisfying as the combination of pillowy bun, bursting prawn, crunching pickled vegetables, and spicy sambal ever again? One can only hope. We are in awe of this seafood truck, and we worship this sandwich.
Half-torta, half-something-completely-new, the sandwiches at Angry Egret are unique creations from Wes Avila, the former chef and brain behind Guerilla Tacos, they’re like traditional Mexican tortas. Everything is served on a white, fluffy bun, but with a twist. Baja shrimp po boys arrive with pico de gallo, cabbage, and salsa negra, with the option to add fatty duck egg or luxurious shaved black truffles. Pork shoulders are rolled in a deboned pig’s foot, then slathered with habañero mustard, making for a sandwich filled with salty and tender ground pork patty, hit with just a bit of gaminess. Available for takeout, click here to place an order.
There’s a lot to like at LASA’s new Chinatown rotisserie pivot, Lasita - brined pork belly lechon, citrus-y inasal chicken stuffed with lemongrass and garlic, that banana confit turon pie - but one of our favorite things comes in sandwich form. Called the “Lechonista,” this dense, pork belly behemoth is exactly what you want to be eating on days when you need something heavy, to keep you toasty through LA’s cold, early Spring days. Served on a thick, appropriately crusty Bub and Grandma’s ciabatta loaf, thick cubes of crispy pork lechon are topped with charred scallions, cilantro salsa verde, red onions, and a tangy calamansi vin stew. Sure, it’s not as effective at solving your cold-related woes as a heated blanket or actually wearing a thick enough jacket, but it sure does taste better than those options. Available for takeout, pre-orders can be made here.
Even in a city with more fried chicken sandwiches shops than badly named improv teams (ours was “Can’t Tuna Fish”), the spicy ones being made at Mei Lin’s new restaurant, Daybird, stand out from the pack. The recipe here is simple – just a big, ol’, juicy slab of chicken, deep-fried to perfection with a signature mix of Szechuan peppers and other dried spices, then served on a bed of pickled chilis. Is it the spiciest hot chicken sandwich in town? No. But that’s not the point. The point here is balance. The sweet, crunchy slaw complements the hot Sichuan pepper rub, the fluffy bun balances the chicken’s crispy textures, and we’re trying to eat it all in one hand as we speed away from their Silver Lake outpost, on the way home. Available for takeout-only, click here to place an order.
Bridgetown Roti is an excellent weekend-only pop-up in the Arts District that specializes in Caribbean street food such as flaky patties, fish cakes, and a curry chicken roti wrap you’ll be texting your friends about for days. Filled with tender chicken thighs, crispy potatoes, turmeric spiced cabbage, and scallions, don’t be fooled by its placement in the appetizer section - this can absolutely be its own meal. We say that not only because it’s big, but because once you take a bite of it, you’ll realize you’re not sharing it with anyone. Follow them on Instagram for the most up-to-date ordering information.
For all the terrible things 2020’s given us, at least we can now get breakfast sandwiches dropped to us in buckets from apartment balconies. Seriously. Calabama is a weekend-only pop-up that operates out of an apartment in East Hollywood, where the pick-up system literally involves a bucket drop from a top-floor fire escape. It’s an experience, but make no mistake, the reason you’re really here is the tremendous breakfast sandwich. Stuffed with fluffy eggs, bacon, and avocado, it’s basically the world’s greatest breakfast grilled cheese - and that’s a superlative that should get absolutely everyone out of bed on a Sunday morning. Also, the chef makes her own excellent hot sauce that’s available by the bottle as well. Tip: Get some, that and then follow their Instagram for all the latest details.
Located in Lincoln Heights, Gamboge is a Cambodian deli/cafe/marketplace with excellent food that’s perfect for a quick lunch on one of our favorite patios in town. While we certainly recommend the chicken salad and the grilled coconut corn, the stars of the show at Gamboge are the num pang. A close cousin to the banh mi, they’re served on crunchy bolillo bread (a variation of a baguette) and filled with everything from poached chicken to grilled oyster mushrooms. Our favorite right now, however, is the spicy pork shoulder, which comes marinated in a lemongrass paste and topped with pate, chili jam, mayo, pickled papaya and carrot slaw, and other garnishes. It’s a fragrant and savory masterpiece, with just a little kick of heat at the end.
Don’t let the sandwich named after Jon Hamm fool you - Ggiata is a classic Italian deli in East Hollywood. And as such, you can probably guess the best sandwich here. The Classic is their version of an Italian sub, and they definitely do it justice. Loaded with meats and cheeses - ham, salami, capicola, and smoked provolone - and piled with fixings like Calabrian chili for a little pop, it’s also served on a wonderfully charred seeded baguette, which adds a slightly bitter punch. We also really like their chicken parm sub, and the understated (and oft-overlooked) caprese sandwich, too.
Owned and operated by Nashville hot chicken royalty, Kim Prince, Hotville Chicken opened its doors in late 2019 and immediately became one of the best places to eat hot chicken in LA. And don’t get us wrong - the chicken is fantastic, and absolutely what you should come here for, but if you leave without getting one of the hot fish sandwiches, you need to turn around and go back. Crispy on the outside, the white fish itself basically melts in your mouth, but also acts as an ideal agent (along with the excellent slaw) to cut through whatever heat level you put on it.
The neon sign affixed to the building shouts PASTRAMI in big, glowing letters, so, yeah, that’s what you’re going to order at Johnny’s, the longstanding late-night spot reimagined (and reopened) earlier this year. That house-smoked pastrami is slightly peppery, sliced super-thick, and served simply on marble rye from Tartine Bakery with a dab of deli mustard. This is a big, bold showcase for the deeply smoked brisket, the bite of the bark, and the semi-rendered fat cap (we always prefer our pastrami a little fatty), with an emphasis on big - this is also a meal unto itself, so if you’re looking to try a couple different things here, we’d recommend ordering a half sandwich.
Open since late July, Katsu Sando is a tiny sandwich shop in Chinatown that pays homage to Japanese convenience stores. The menu is filled with grab-and-go onigiri (Japanese rice balls), katsu curry plates, and a variety of excellent milk bread sandos. While the pork katsu, egg salad, and honey walnut shrimp are all worth ordering, our current favorite is the menchi katsu. A deep-fried wagyu beef patty topped with frisee, mustard miso ginger slaw, and katsu sauce - it’s a perfectly balanced sandwich and the kind of quick lunch that’ll also keep you full until dinner. Tip: Don’t miss the wagyu curry cheese fries, either.
Little Coyote is a neighborhood pizza shop in Long Beach with New York-style pies that are worth getting on the 405 to eat. That said, if you come here and only order the pizza, you’ve done yourself a grave disservice. And that’s because Little Coyote is also home to two incredible sandwiches - The Classic Italian and the Meatball. Topped with mortadella, capicola, soppressata, provolone, and the works, The Italian is your traditional deli-style cold cut sub and easily a meal on its own. The Meatball, on the other hand, is made with slightly sweet beef/pork meatballs and will send you into a deep existential state as you try to figure out why more restaurants in this town don’t serve meatball subs.
Located about 15 minutes south of Downtown in Green Meadows, Tortas Hula Hula is a tiny stand that sets up shop every weekend in a parking lot along Avalon Blvd. and specializes in one of El Salvador’s most popular sandwiches - tortas estilo Hula Hula. Named after the San Salvador city park they originated from, the sandwich is made with two beef patties, ham, mayo, smashed avocado, curtido (Salvadoran cabbage slaw), and salsa dulce all packed onto a long, flaky pan flauta that’s been toasted on the grill. It’s a remarkably flavorful, well-balanced sandwich and one of the most unique you’ll find in all of LA. Call (323) 627-3232 for daily hours of operation.
The Bad Jew is “A Very Unkosher Jewish Deli Pop-up” that’s currently operating at Smorgasburg in the Arts District. The chef cures her own pork pastrami and corned pork using a secret spice mix - and the results are tremendous. They’ve got two sandwiches: The Reubecca, a corned pork Reuben with havarti, pickle-heavy Russian dressing, and sauerkraut, or the Danny Boy, with pork pastrami, slaw, and that same dressing. Both are excellent, and choosing between them is like choosing a favorite child - so just order both and you won’t have any regrets. Follow them on Instagram for all the latest locations and info.