- Alexia Wulff
The sandwich, a classic American phenomenon, has made its way back into the spotlight, popping up on menus in every corner of LA. Once a simple construction of bread on the outside and austere filling on the inside, the sandwich has now become a foodie’s dream – piled high with layers of meats and cheeses, elegantly wedged between two pieces of artisan bread. With creative combinations making the menu of nearly every restaurant in LA, this list reveals those that rise above the rest.
Gjelina Take Away, Venice
Head on down to a Venice favorite, Gjelina Take Away, or ‘GTA,’ a small space dishing out wood-fired pizzas, creative sandwiches and salads inspired by its sister restaurant, Gjelina, located next door. Try the blackened fish sandwich – Russian dressing and crunchy coleslaw on top of a warm brioche bun, or get your heat on with the brisket bahn mi – a gourmet take on a Vietnamese classic, topped with pickled vegetables, jalapeño vinegar, aioli and served on a crispy baguette. Take it to go and head around the corner to find the Venice locals crowding around milk crates and chowing down on the delicious fare.
Gjelina Take Away, 1427 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA, USA, + 1 310 392 7575
Plan Check, Downtown
Plan Check Bar + Kitchen brings the feel of an old school diner to an upscale setting with industrial décor, southern-style comfort food, and dishes based on a ‘small-plate format.’ Typically the go to spot for a burger, Plan Check comes out of left field with the unsurpassable southern fry – Jidori chicken battered and fried to perfection, melted Swiss, pickles and a slice of duck ham, all stacked and slathered with spicy pimento cheese. Pair it with the S&L old fashioned on tap or a craft beer for an epic combination.
Plan Check, 1111 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 403 1616
Bäco Mercat, Downtown
In the heart of the historic Bank District, Bäco Mercat brings Mediterranean flavors to downtown LA with innovative plates served ‘family-style,’ like chorizo and octopus and buttermilk-fried quail. The signature dish, the Bäco, was created by chef Josef Centeno using warm, pillowy flatbread as the vehicle for flavor-packed fillings – think beef tongue schnitzel and lamb meatballs. Try the Original – crispy pork belly, tender beef carnitas and fresh greens tossed in salbitxada, a tangy sauce originating in Spain. This isn’t your typical sandwich – fork and knife may be required – but it will undoubtedly spice up your life.
Bäco Mercat, 408 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 687 8808
Philippe’s, China Town
Whether you’ve heard the buzz or seen the neon sign glowing out front, Philippe’s is known for their ‘French dipped sandwiches.’ The interior stays true to its original 1950s décor, keeping it casual with communal tables and a deli counter with hungry patrons lined out the door. The menu is short but sweet; choose from one of the five roasted meats and watch in awe as a freshly baked French roll is dipped in au jus, a gravy made from the roast drippings. Don’t forget to add a slice of cheese and a side of their famous coleslaw.
Philippe The Original, 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA, + 1 213 628 3781
Bay Cities Italian Deli, Santa Monica
At Bay Cities Italian Deli, a Santa Monica staple since 1925, you will find an array of imported and domestic goods from various regions in the Mediterranean. This gourmet market specializes in pre-made pastas, but the deli counter – packed with cured meats and aged cheeses – is where it’s at. Their most popular sandwich, the Godmother, is a meat lover’s dream – genoa salami, mortadella, ham, prosciutto, provolone, all piled high on a freshly baked Italian roll. Or opt for a vegetarian, melt-in-your-mouth combo, with layers of creamy Burrata cheese, juicy tomatoes and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
The Little Jewel of New Orleans, Chinatown
Step into The Little Jewel of New Orleans and you feel as if you’ve been transported to a small ma-n-pop shop hidden deep in the South. This gem is bound to capture your heart, with 18 different po’boy sandwiches, house made cajun sausages, and an array of grocery items difficult to find outside of Louisiana. From the signature fried shrimp po’boy to the cochon de lait, cajun pulled pork, each sandwich brings that Creole heat, dressed in mayo and laid on a fresh baked French roll. Finish with the whiskey bread pudding and revel in the tunes of Bourbon Street as they blare through the speakers.
Trencher, Echo Park
Trencher, a small but mighty sandwich shop started by three LA friends, dishes out A-list sandwiches, specializing in Southern classics like fried chicken and slow braised brisket. The interior is simple, with a few wooden tables and a counter where you order. Trencher, based on the medieval concept of an open-faced sandwich, dishes out a mean pulled pork made from rubbed and roasted pork shoulder, crunchy habañero slaw and a sweet Coca-Cola sauce layered inside a buttery brioche bun. This mouth watering, finger-licking, southern-spiced treasure brings just enough heat, leaving you wanting seconds.
Trencher, 1305 Portia Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA, + 1 323 604 9621
Bread Lounge, Arts District
As you approach the door of Bread Lounge, relish in the sweet smell of freshly baked bread as it wafts down the street. This café is simple, lined with small tables and a large window that lets you see what goes on behind-the-scenes of their baked goods. It’s all about the bread here: from the Kalamata olive loaf to soft brioche, you will never be disappointed. Go for the signature sandwich, On the Bird, or be adventurous with the Have a Ball, which includes beef and pork meatballs, melted Emmentaler cheese, cherry tomatoes, arugula and a smokey aioli.
Bread Lounge, 700 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA, + 1 213 327 0782
Langer’s Pastrami, Westlake
Langer’s Delicatessen, founded in 1947, has kept its legacy alive as the best pastrami in Los Angeles. The inside appears as though it hasn’t changed much in the last half-decade or so, with overstuffed leather booths and swivel bar stools that line the counter. The vibe is casual, and feels almost like home, as any family owned spot should. Start with the house made cream soda and make sure to get the infamous #19: cured and smoked pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing served warm on toasted rye bread. Simple but perfectly mastered, this one is bound to send any sandwich lover straight to pastrami heaven.