Food & Drink

11 San Diego Chefs Name Their Favorite Sandwiches

Published On 10/28/2015 Published On 10/28/2015
Courtesy of Hanna's Gourmet

Leyla Javadov of Café 21 and Zymology 21

Her pick: Turkey, pear & brie with cranberry aioli from Hanna’s Gourmet (address and info)

University Heights
“I just love Brie cheese. Anything with Brie sounds attractive to me,” says Leyla. “Also the ingredients in this sandwich remind me of Thanksgiving, which brings to mind memories of family gatherings and happiness.”

D.Z. Akins

Brad Hightow of Florent

His pick: Reuben from DZ Akins (address and info)

College Area
This enormous sandwich (see it up top?!) earns a special place in Brad’s heart/stomach for two main reasons: “juicy and tender” corned beef and “toasted to perfection” rye bread that he says is “the perfect vessel to keep all the components together.” While Brad goes for the classic construction (corned beef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut), you can always swap in pastrami or turkey instead.

Courtesy of Matt Gordon
His pick: Tacchino panini at Caffe Calabria (address and info

North Park
Matt is a “huge fan” of this “very simple but really delicious” panini with smoked turkey, pesto, Grana Padano cheese, tomato, artichoke hearts, onion, and crushed pistachios on focaccia. Since it would be wrong to not order a coffee here, you’ll also need a Cafe Viennese (espresso, milk, honey, and cinnamon).

Courtesy of Giovanni Novella

Giovanni Novella of Stella Public House and Halcyon

His pick: Torta de Oscar from Oscar's Mexican Seafood (address and info)

Pacific Beach
Giovanni says the “amazing combination of meat” in this surf and turf sandwich packed with smoked fish, spicy shrimp, and skirt steak is the “perfect lunch” when paired with a cold beer.

Courtesy of Tiger! Tiger!

Kristianna Zabala of Nomad Donuts

Her pick: Pork belly bahn mi from Tiger!Tiger! (address and info)

North Park
Kristianna loves this pork belly sandwich because it has “so many different flavors that are perfectly balanced.” Tasty elements like Chinese BBQ seasoning, chili aioli, and pickled vegetables bring a lot to the table, but it’s the crispy bits of char (achieved by cooking the fatty meat in a wood-fired oven) that make it totally addictive.

Courtesy of Meredith Manee

Meredith Manee of 1500 OCEAN at Hotel del Coronado

Her pick: Dapper Dipper from Rubicon Deli (address and info)

Mission Beach and Mission Hills
Meredith says Rubicon’s Dapper Dipper (an “updated take on a French dip") takes her back to childhood, when she’d order a French dip sandwich whenever possible. “The Dapper Dipper is perfection, with the bread as important as the inside ingredients: garlicky cheese bread incases thinly sliced tri tip beef, melty swiss cheese, crispy onions, and creamy horseradish with a good kick,” she says. She’s especially fond of the au jus served on the side, because it “adds extra beefiness and salt to each bite.”

Mary Desjean

Mario Cassineri of BiCE

His pick: Almost Grilled Cheese from Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe (address and info)

Point Loma
“To make a nice sandwich, the most important thing is the bread,” says Mario Cassineri of BiCE, so it’s no big surprise that his favorite sandwich comes from a bakery that specializes in producing over 20 artisanal varieties. His go-to sandwich is the Almost Grilled Cheese, a triple cream French Brie and crumbled gorgonzola creation that also happens to be one of the must-try grilled cheese sandwiches in San Diego.

Courtesy of Kyle Kovar

Kyle Kovar of Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

His pick: Wild Turkey from from Hungry Hank’s Deli (address and info)

Chula Vista
"My family and I love this spot,” says Kyle. “It's been family owned and operated for over 20 years, it feels great to support the small business scene in our neighborhood. The passion put into this shop is a direct reflection of their success so far, and the sandwiches are killer, too." Kyle’s top pick, the Wild Turkey, combines sliced turkey with melted Swiss cheese, avocado, and two strips of bacon.

BFD San Diego

Joe Magnanelli of Urban Kitchen Group (CUCINA urbana + enoteca)

His pick: Baby back ribs from Big Front Door (address and info)

North Park
“Big Front Door keeps getting better and better. This hearty sandwich is full of flavor with tender meat and the house BBQ sauce,” says Joe Magnanelli. Other accoutrements on the super-savory sandwich, served on a torpedo roll, include oven-roasted onion, shredded cabbage, and a dash of oil & vinegar.

Courtesy of Sara Polczynski

Executive Chef Sara Polczynski of The Blind Burro

Her pick: Thịt nướng grilled pork bánh mì (#2) from Paris Bakery (address and info)

Sara is all about food with bold flavors and textures, and says this budget-friendly bánh mì sandwich “has it all.” Bonus: the small, family-run Vietnamese bakery also bakes their baguettes on site, so you can count on good quality bread.

Supernatural Sandwiches

Chef-Owner Kurt Metzger of Kitchen 4140

His pick: Chimera from SuperNatural Sandwiches (address and info)

Kurt deems this Korean steak and shrimp melt “the ultimate sandwich,” noting the bread is “a great blend of crunchy and chewy,” and the combination of steak, shrimp, molten cheese, and the perfect portion of kimchi amount to a “melt-in-your-mouth experience.”

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Erin Jackson is San Diego-based food writer and photographer who loves sharing her latest finds. Follow her on Twitter if you enjoy food content, random thoughts, and cat photos.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Caffe Calabria Coffee Roasting Company 3933 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

Caffe Calabria's roasting process is extremely hands-on so that they can be sure to reach the peak of flavor. If you want to get your hands on Caffe Calabria's beans you can stop by the café on 30th, order from the website, or pick up a bag at Whole Foods (Hillcrest and La Jolla), Specialty Produce, and at Ballast Point in Little Italy.

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2. Hanna’s Gourmet 2864 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

This multi-national kitchen in University Heights features dishes from France, Morocco, India, and beyond. Hanna's started as a catering company, but due to high demand a brick and mortar space was created to serve dinner and brunch five days a week. The menu is constantly changing to highlight different regions, and family-style dinners are offered periodically for a fixed price.

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3. DZ Akins 6930 Alvarado Rd, San Diego, CA 92120

This Jewish-style deli brings the stacked sandwiches and homemade pickles of the Big Apple to San Diego.

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4. Tiger!Tiger! 3025 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Tiger!Tiger! Tavern, Blind Lady Ale House’s sister venue, purveys draught beer and bar fare in North Park, dishing out clam chowder, curry fries, hamburgers, and other hearty soups, salads, sandwiches, and sides in a rustic yet industrial environment. Peel your eyes away from the gravity-defying, how-are-they-hanging-upside-down-I-don’t-get-it bicycles affixed to the ceiling, take a seat at a communal mahogany picnic table or barstool, and embark upon the journey of choosing a beer from Tiger!Tiger!’s varied beverage list. Take advantage of the Sunday brunch menu, which offers both sweet and savory dishes like house-made doughnuts and a fried chicken biscuit sandwich.

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5. Oscar's Mexican Seafood 746 Emerald St, San Diego, CA 92109

What began as just one small storefront on Turquoise St. is now a San Diego marisco fixture and mini chain known for its variety of Latin-flavored dishes. Expect an ample selection of market seafood served in salad, tacos, burritos, or tortas, plus non-surf fare like breakfast burritos, steak tacos, and chorizo tortas. Oscar's is a quick counter-serve, but don't judge the fish by how it's served: the ceviche may come in plastic cups, but it's flavorful and most importantly, fresh.

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6. Rubicon Deli 3715 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

When a place makes its own bread in-house, you can bet its sandwich game is on point. In Rubicon's case, you would be correct. They offer several must-have varieties, but the Belly Up rocks just as hard as its namesake and is full of slow-roasted pork belly, sweet & spicy coleslaw, lettuce, and miso-ginger mayo. If you prefer to forge your own path, they have an encyclopedic array of build-your-own ingredient options. No matter what route you go, a cookie is a must.

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7. Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe 2750 Dewey Rd #105, San Diego, CA 92106

This Point Loma bakery/cafe offers delicious baked goods and sandwiches. It's also one of the few places where you can order a half or whole sandwich. Go for the half and get a cookie (or get a whole sandwich and a cookie... the point is... get a cookie).

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8. Hungry Hank's Deli 866 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91911

Hank's is a family-owned and operated deli offering speciality sandwiches (think Mexican cheese melt and oriental beef) and rice bowls.

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9. BFD 4135 Park Blvd, University Heights, CA 92103

BFD stands for Big Front Door, which is the name of this local deli that serves up an array of freshly prepared dishes that can include soups, salads and sandwiches made-to-order. There's also an in-house specialty wine and craft beer shop that specializes in smaller-scale producers, so you can get your drink on while you wait for your grub.

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10. Paris Bakery 4616 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115-4313

This Vietnamese cafe and French bakery combo offers the best of both worlds: pastries, teas, and an assortment of báhn mì sandwiches.

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11. Supernatural Sea To Sandwich 7094 Miramar Rd #105, San Diego, CA 92121

Not to be confused with the most popular activity at Santana-themed swingers conventions, Supernatural Sandwiches are the tucked-away creation of four 'wich aficionados with hyper-local leanings and the humble dream of making “sea-to-sandwich”... sandwiches.