photo credit: Suzi Pratt

Mean Sandwich review image

Mean Sandwich


1510 NW Leary Way, Seattle
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Plot twists catch you off-guard for a reason - they’re engineered that way. They’re not meant to conjure a subtle “huh, how about that.” They’re also not meant for you to be that person in the movie theater who whispers too loudly to your friend, “CALLED IT.” They’re meant for you to audibly gasp in a cold sweat along with everyone else as your popcorn bucket flips over the back of your seat. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan.

That’s exactly how we felt when we walked into a seemingly traditional sandwich shop, ordered the corned beef sandwich, and discovered a fistful of fresh mint and maple syrup in between the buns. Except, instead of the anxiety and panic of needing to know the whereabouts of those car keys in Get Out, we were extremely excited. Welcome to Mean Sandwich, the plot twist of delis.

You pull up, and it mostly looks like you’ve made it to an old-school sandwich joint. Outside, there are red bricks and tiles of frosted glass that you’d find at your grandma’s house in 1992, and inside, the menu’s posted on black felt and the rest of the space is pretty plain. It would all be quite boring if this was the kind of place where you had a turkey on rye. But as long was we’re eating Mean’s sandwiches, we’ll happily squeze into a booth and hang for a while (or sit criss-cross applesauce on the floor of the playhouse that’s in the backyard patio).

Mean Sandwich review image

Mean’s creations are old-school deli classics, revamped in new-school ways for incredible sandwich success. Like the Italian chicken cutlet with provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickled pepper relish, but also some spicy buffalo mayo you never saw coming like the real killer in Scream. There’s a BLT, but stuffed with steak tartare. And as for the aforementioned corned beef: whoever thought to put mint and maple syrup on a hunk of cured meat is a genius. Everything at Mean is made from scratch, down to their bread pudding for dessert, and they run a serious to-go operation. Though we can’t vouch for the quality after sitting in your car for twenty minutes, we endorse strapping a seatbelt on the paper bag and hitting open road.

Make Mean your move for group hangs, casual weeknight dinners, and picnic lunches. They’ve already cemented themselves as best-in-city sandwich contenders, and we see things only getting better for this little deli with the big-mouthed logo. Let’s just hope a plot twist doesn’t come along to change that.

Sign up for our newsletter.

Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.

By signing up, I agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Food Rundown

Stan Lee

Mean Sandwich review image

Mean Sandwich

This is a swift roundhouse kick to a classic deli corned beef sandwich: extremely tender but very thick-sliced corned beef, a big squirt of yellow mustard, red pickled cabbage, maple syrup, and an entire farmstand’s worth of mint, all on their signature seeded bun. It’s messy and brilliant and what you should order your first time here.

Stan Lee

Mean Sandwich review image

Buon Appetito

This chicken cutlet sandwich is outrageous and by far the best sandwich they’ve got at Mean. The cutlet is perfectly breaded and fried, the provolone, lettuce, and tomato keeps it Italian, and the buffalo mayo keeps it interesting. The cutlet is so huge that it juts out of the bun like a tasty iceberg and you’ll get the mayo all over yourself. Just do it.

Stan Lee

Mean Sandwich review image

Skins & Ins

You’re a fool if you don’t get these with your sandwich. They take a baked potato, scoop out the inside, dice that along with the skins, and then slide it all in the fryer. They’re finished with salt and pepper and are like a beautiful cross between french fries, potato skins, home fries, and a heart attack. You only need one order for two people.

Yesterday’s Bun Bread Pudding

Save room for a square of this. It’s made with day-old buns and has the perfect cinnamon-to-bread ratio. Ask them to toast it in the oven - or even better, take it home, bake it yourself, and make a franken-dessert with the four almost-empty pints of ice cream in the back of your freezer.

Featured in

The Best Restaurants In Ballard guide image
The Best Restaurants In Ballard

There’s a lot going on in Ballard—we’ll help you navigate. Here are the best Ballard restaurants.

Seattle Restaurants & Bars With Outdoor Seating guide image
Seattle Restaurants & Bars With Outdoor Seating

A running list of reopened Seattle restaurants and bars where you can eat and drink outside.

Where To Get The Best Picnic Food In Seattle guide image
Where To Get The Best Picnic Food In Seattle

If you're game to eat on a patch of grass, here’s where to get all of your supplies.

Suggested Reading

Bitterroot BBQ review image
Bitterroot BBQ

When you want barbecue in Ballard, head to Bitterroot. Start with the jalapeño hushpuppies and then go for the brisket.

Paseo Caribbean Food review image
Paseo Caribbean Food

Paseo is a legendary Caribbean sandwich shop in Fremont. You’ll like it, but it’s not the best Carribbean sandwich in Seattle —that’s Un Bien.

Un Bien review image
Un Bien

You know Paseo, but Un Bien is better. It’s where the original family works now, and the Caribbean sandwiches in Ballard are the city’s best.

Salumi review image

Salumi is where you should be going for all your Italian deli needs.