It’s a bold move to open a lunch spot on the same block as Grand Central Market. But if you’re Downtown and looking for a break from the craziness of tourists and actively roosting pigeons at GCM, you’ll thank E Stretto for being that bold.

Located in front of Bar Clacson and Slipper Clutch, E Stretto is a small deli making sandwiches that are equally good for a quick lunch or a drunken second dinner. The Ill Papa - loaded with mortadella, chorizo, manchego, and giardiniera - is briny, cheesy, and somehow not too heavy. The Turkey Pesto is also great, especially when you make it spicy by adding Calabrian chilis, and the Prosciutto Di Parma has fantastic fresh mozzarella and orange balsamic vinegar on it. All of their sandwiches come on an excellent house-baked ciabatta that’s so good you’ll forget you just paid $12 for street parking.

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A deli counter in front of a bar sounds like it could be one of two things: a ploy to make an easy buck off drunk patrons, or a gimmicky entrance to a speakeasy. E Stretto is neither, and a place this good actually suffers from being so close to the touristy Grand Central Market. Drop it in Silver Lake, and you can practically visualize the line of barefoot Eastsiders snaking out the door.

But we’re glad they haven’t made the move. Downtown needs more spots like E Stretto, and when the sandwiches are this good, it’s almost enough to make us forget about all the tourists. Almost.

Food Rundown

Ill Papa

There are a lot of poor imitators of the ubiquitous Godmother from Bay Cities. This is less an imitator, and more of a remix (chorizo and manchego are not usually involved in an Italian sandwich). We’re extremely into it.

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Roast Beef

This pressed sandwich has excellent roast beef and comes with a melty cheese dip on the side. There’s nothing not to like.

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Calabrian Caesar

Our favorite non-sandwich thing here, this is a surprisingly spicy salad that we’ll order anytime we want something that doesn’t come between pieces of bread.

Spicy Turkey Pesto

House-smoked turkey on house-baked bread with very good pesto. We wish it was a little heavier on the spice, but this is still a good choice if you don’t want red meat.

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