Sandwiches are basically the perfect food. They're versatile, portable, and you can get all the food groups in a single bite. What more could you want? Leaving out the much-contested barbecue sandwich (read about those here), here are the 12 places to get a great sandwich in Memphis.
What you're getting: The Fino
Fino's is where the established locals go for an authentic Italian deli experience because it's filling, tasty, and cheap. The daily plate specials are incomparable, but it's the sandwiches that keep Midtowners coming back. The Fino is perfect in its simplicity: salami, Provel, and homemade black olive dressing on crusty, crisp baguette.
What you're getting: The Stanley
This funky coffee and gourmet sandwich shop is a hotspot for downtowners looking for a bite (or three) to eat while getting some work done. The Stanley is one of several satisfying sammies on the menu, but it stands out due to the soft, grilled brioche, turkey, candied bacon, artichoke aioli, tang from pickled red onion, and spice from the arugula.
What you're getting: The Turk
Kwik Chek Korean deli and market can meet all your bibimbap and kimchi needs, but it's also known for gyros, falafel, and most of all, big, delicious sandwiches. The Turk gets you provolone and turkey piled high with veggies on a hoagie, with Parmesan cheese and lemon herb dressing.
What you're getting: Turkey croissant
What do you get when you cross an Italian-inspired craft butcher shop with a place that bakes insanely good breads and pastries? An amazing sandwich shop, of course. What makes Porcellino's turkey croissant so good is the precisely flaky, buttery croissant, a thick pile of high-quality turkey, arugula, and homemade mayo. Great news: you can also enjoy Porcellino's sandwiches at Broad Avenue coffee shop City & State.
What you're getting: Roast beef po-boy
You'll have to pick it up with two hands. The bread is toasted, but soggy in places, the meat is juicy (read: dripping), the lettuce is shredded, and the mayo is tangy. Sounds like an absolutely perfect New Orleans-style roast beef po-boy, available at the appropriately named Second Line in Midtown. There are plenty of fried seafood po-boy options, but something about that tender beef and perfectly baked bread makes the roast beef particularly irresistible.
What you're getting: Holiday Break chicken salad sandwich
The first time you try Lunchbox Eats' Holiday Break chicken salad sandwich, you're going to ask yourself: why don't we put more sandwiches on cornbread?! Really, it's such a fantastic idea and the buttery cornbread goes so perfectly with the tangy, lightly sweet chicken salad and slice of house-made pickle that it's hard to comprehend why cornbread sandwiches aren't more of a thing. For another creative bread replacement, go for the fried chicken and cheddar waffle sandwich.
What you're getting: Super Sub
It's a debate that Memphis will have for eternity: hard bread or soft bread? Whichever you decide, the sandwiches at the cash-only Chinese Sub Shop (no one calls it by its real name) are phenomenal. With the Super Sub, you're getting the lightly sweet homemade bread with ham, turkey, salami, bologna -- and yes, something called "lunchmeat" -- dressed with everything including that tasty Italian-style dressing. Just don't forget your free bag of chips.
What you're getting: The Ami
Yes, you'll need to go a little ways out of Memphis proper to enjoy the Italian deli stylings of Vanelli's sandwiches, but it's worth it for the Ami and uber-friendly, familiar atmosphere. On the Ami, you'll get pastrami, two kinds of salami, provolone, peppers and onions, plus lettuce, tomato, and Vanelli's special recipe Italian dressing.
What you're getting: Heat Miser
Turn it up at "the Deli" in Cooper-Young with the Heat Miser, a hoagie-based sandwich filled with hot sauce-soaked smoked turkey, plus jalapeños, peppers, pepper Jack cheese, and just in case you like pain: hot mustard. Don't make the mistake of not ordering a side of fries -- regular or sweet potato, they're some of the best in town. Then cool down with a beer from the humongous draft selection or a sit on the popular patio.
What you're getting: Cubano
Aldo's is known as a pizza powerhouse, but the new Midtown location has a couple of paninis that easily earn a spot on this list. The Cubano comes with slices of ham, pulled pork from Central BBQ, provolone, dill pickles, something with a little kick called "mojo" aioli, all pressed and heated inside a ciabatta bun. If you're feeling a little adventurous, get even more flavors with a side of the apple celery slaw.
What you’re getting: Slammin Veggie Hoagie
Trolley Stop’s Slammin Veggie Hoagie proves that you don’t need bacon or piles of “lunchmeat” (of any kind) to have a successful sandwich. First, they take their fresh homemade hoagie and toast it; then, they grill farm-fresh tomatoes, onions, zucchini, spinach, and mushrooms and put it on the bun. Next, the farm-to-table experts at Trolley Stop load the sandwich with provolone, top it with avocado, and deliver it to your table (or your door) so you can taste for yourself that veggies don’t have to be boring.
What you're getting: Turkey Deluxe
When it comes to Memphis sandwich stalwarts, Bogie’s is top of the list. Its Turkey Deluxe is the most popular sandwich, with fresh, premium smoked turkey, provolone, mayo, lettuce, and chopped tomatoes on a French roll with secret recipe dressing. It's almost like a salad on a roll, if the salad was hearty, filling, and extra tasty.
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1. Tamp & Tap122 Gayoso Ave, Memphis
2. Kwik Chek2013 Madison Ave, Memphis
3. Porcellino's711 W. Brookhaven Cr., Memphis
4. The Second Line2144 Monroe Ave, Memphis
5. Lunchbox Eats288 S 4th St, Memphis
6. Highland Super Submarine Sandwich Shop3316 Summer Ave, Memphis
7. Vanelli's Deli7873 Farmington Blvd, Germantown
8. Young Avenue Deli2119 Young Ave, Memphis
9. Aldo's Pizza Pies752 S Cooper St, Memphis
10. Trolley Stop Market704 Madison Ave, Memphis
11. Fino's from the Hill1853 Madison Ave, Memphis
Whether you're looking to get your coffee or beer buzz on, Tamp & Tap is your spot (check out their second location in East Memphis, too). They offer both caffeinated beverages and local craft beers -- plus a lunch menu for downtowners looking to grab a bite while getting some work done. Their Nutella brioche toast is guaranteed to help you through any project.
You may not think twice about dining at a convenience store, but in the case of Midtown’s Kwik Chek, you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Tucked away in the back of the store, beyond the shelves of potato chips, lottery tickets, and energy drinks, is a deli counter serving up some of Memphis’ favorite lunches. On offer are Mediterranean- and Korean-style deli specialty items like sandwiches, gyros, falafel, and the famous bi bim bap rice. The signature rice dish is served with your choice of chicken, beef, or tofu, piled high with chopped cucumbers, carrots, and bean sprouts, topped with a fried egg, and drizzled with spicy Korean hot sauce. Try it in burger form -- same rice for the patty, same accoutrements, with the addition of cheese, and served on a bun.
From Andy Ticer & Michael Hudman, Porcellino's manages to impress at every meal. Breakfast is marked by nitro coffee, meaty breakfast sandwiches, fresh pastries, and delights like the Dutch baby pancakes. Lunch has great sandwiches and salads, plus the entire breakfast menu. The real standout, however, is dinner. In addition to a menu full of one of a kind dishes, there are dim sum style carts that come around with mini daily specials. Not in the mood to sit and stay? Grab a cocktail and pick up a dinner to go from the butcher.
As the casual cousin of Chef Kelly English's Restaurant Iris, The Second Line offers up simple, authentic New Orleans fare: think juicy roast beef po' boys with bread delivered fresh from NOLA as well as heaping trays of fried seafood, crawfish pimento cheese fries, "fancy ass cole slaw," and Natchitoches meat pies, and herb-infused cocktails.
Lunchbox Eats puts a modern twist on Southern American classics you're sure to appreciate, like its chicken n' waffle sandwich.
It's a debate that Memphis will have for eternity: hard bread or soft bread? Whichever you decide, the sandwiches at the cash-only Chinese Sub Shop (no one calls it by its real name) are phenomenal. And don't forget your free bag of chips!
Not exactly in Memphis, but it's worth the trip to Germantown for Vanelli's proper Italian deli style sandwiches. Try the Ami with pastrami, two kinds of salami, provolone, peppers and onions, plus lettuce, tomato, and Vanelli's special recipe Italian dressing.
Young Avenue Deli is one of the most popular live music venues in Memphis, not only for its expansive stage and large seating area, but also for its equally extensive food and drink selection. The menu of greasy goodness is divided into “Munchies,” “Specialties,” “’Dillas+Pizza,” and “Dessert,” and its highlights include award-winning French fries, beer battered artichoke hearts, and the Super Veggie sandwich, which comes bursting with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, romaine lettuce, sprouts, feta cheese, and black olives. And with over 100 beer options (30 of which are on tap), you won’t tire of Young Avenue anytime soon.
Aldo’s is a gourmet pizza joint with two locations (one Downtown and one in Midtown). It's famous for its Trippy Truffle and vodka sauce, plus there are delicious sandwiches that can hold their own. Unlike its sister, this Copper Young location has a rooftop patio, the premiere spot to enjoy a slice and pint in Memphis.
Trolley Stop Market -- which sits adjacent to the Orleans trolley stop on Madison Ave., hence the name -- is part market, part restaurant, and part bar with a penchant for pies. Farmers-turned-restaurant owners Keith and Jill Forrester make pizza crusts from scratch, and source ingredients for toppings from nearby Whitton Farms, among other farms, where they grow their own produce and herbs. Go for the Margherita pie, topped with just-plucked tomatoes, chunks of Mozzarella, and freshly picked basil, and stay for the various artisanal goods on offer: crafts, sauces, breads, jams, eggs, and the like.
This Midtown mainstay has the feel of a classic New York or Chicago deli, offering hard-to-find pantry goods and Italian-style sandwiches that are as gratuitous in portion as they are easy on the wallet. The menu includes old favorites like Philly cheesesteaks and turkey clubs, but it's the Italian options -- the mortadella- and salami-obsessed "Acquisto" and warm, provolone-laden "Agosti" -- that prove flavorsome standouts. Combined with the solid pizza slices and antipasta sides, Fino's is a no-brainer if you're looking for lunch on a budget. Just be sure to save room for dessert, because the homemade cannolis are not to miss.