It’s fairly obvious when a restaurant’s trying too hard to be cool. There’s a bright-colored wall with something about living in LA painted on it, suggested hashtags in the corner of the menu, and people eating beets and matcha even though it’s a poké bar. But then there’s Wax Paper, the fantastic sandwich shop inside a shipping container a block from the LA river. They don’t need to prove anything - they know they’re cool, and now they’re just waiting for everyone else to figure it out.
It goes without saying that Wax Paper is unlike any place in LA. Its residential location in Frogtown along the river takes some serious effort to find, and until you’re standing in front of the place, you aren’t even sure if you’re there. Also, it’s in a shipping container. As ridiculous and inefficient as that sounds, it works. Sure, it’s small and cramped, but that’s part of the fun. You order at the counter, strike up a quick conversation with the (very cool) couple who run the place, and head to the patio to wait for your glorious sandwiches.
In case this place needed another interesting thing going for it, all the sandwiches are named after NPR hosts. If you’re a first-timer, the Larry Mantle (bologna, capicola, and pecorino) is their piece de resistance, and just a massive conglomeration of meat and peppers and everything else that’s good in the world. The Ira Glass is a massive stack of vegetables and cheese and an absolute must-order whether you eat meat or not. The menu is small, but each sandwich is so different from the rest that it takes exactly two bites into one before you realize you’re coming back until you’ve tried them all.
It might seem aggressive to drive all the way to the LA river for some deli sandwiches, but when it comes to Wax Paper, you should. Maybe because you want some excellent sandwiches on your lunch hour, or maybe because you just want a completely different experience today. Wax Paper gives you both. And that’s cool.
Every sandwich at Wax Paper is good, but if this is your first time, the Larry Mantle is your move. Herb bologna, capicola, pecorino pepato, pickled peppers, and oregano vinaigrette. This behemoth is essentially their version of an Italian and it is tremendous.
Nothing about this avocado, cheddar, sprouts, and cucumber-topped sandwich sounds particularly groundbreaking, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better vegetarian deli sandwich than this.
This is supposed to be a banh mi of sorts, and while it’s not the best version you’ll have in town, it’s still damn delicious and worth ordering. Also, that baguette it comes on is certifiable carb cocaine.
Raw Root Vegetables
Everybody needs a side to their sandwich and while Wax Paper offers both potato chips and coleslaw, our move is definitely the root vegetables. Covered in a pickled mustard sauce, these babies probably aren’t as healthy as you think they are, but at least they taste like it.