Food & Drink

Our Favorite Sandwiches in San Diego Right Now

Published On 07/18/2016 Published On 07/18/2016
Tendurek sandwich
Tendurek | Chad Deal/Thrillist



Address and Info

Golden Hill

Depending on who you ask, the Reuben sandwich either originated in Omaha, Nebraska or New York City some time between 1914 and 1935. The Tendurek, a secret menu item named after a Turkish volcano, is a shining example of how far the art has come since. Starting with grill-pressed multigrain bread, the Tendurek takes a nod from the Rachel sandwich by trading out corned beef for pastrami. Melt on some Oaxaca and provolone cheese, top with steaming habanero sauerkraut, and bless it all with a hearty spread of Sriracha mayo. Grab this spicy saucy sandwich solo for $8.75 or toss in a beer for $11.50.

Courtesy of Fatboy's Deli

Hot Poppa

Fatboy’s Deli & Spirits

Address and Info

North Park

Speaking of spicy sandwiches, Fatboy’s holds claim to one of the best in town among its 25 gargantuan offerings. A pile of sliced Ovengold turkey, pepper jack, and cream cheeses, jalapeños, and -- get this -- a layer of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, this monument to indulgence looks like something your stoner dorm-mate dreamt up at 3 in the morning, and it tastes even better. For $8.99, you get sprouts, cukes, pepperoncini, tomato, red onion, olives, and bells upon request (do it).

Chad Deal/Thrillist

Anchor Man

Ike’s Place

Address and Info


Ike’s has had sandwich lovers losing their minds ever since the San Francisco-based chain set up shop in San Diego last summer. At the center of this mania sits Ike’s signature Dirty Secret Sauce, which, as the name implies, is partial to its veil of mystery. What we can deduce is that it’s based on a garlic aioli, it’s baked into all of Ike’s bread, and it comes smeared over every sandwich. See what it’s all about on the Anchor Man ($9.99) -- fried chicken, coleslaw, and American cheese on Dutch crunch. Be sure to add jalapeños (add everything, really) and a side of creamy buffalo Seau sauce, because -- and we think Ike himself would agree -- there's no such thing as too much sauce. Ever.

Chad Deal/Thrillist

Rare Form

East Village

Messing with perfection is a risky venture, but Rare Form has taken this Floridian favorite to a whole new level, and it's done so with moxie. Sure, El Cubano ($11) has all the markings of the classic Cuban: smoked ham, tangy bread & butter pickles, and Swiss cheese. But then it churches everything up with succulent pulled pork, whole grain mustard, aioli, and a locally baked bolillo roll -- a Mexican take on French bread similar to Cuban bread but stubbier. Pop in for happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4pm to 7pm; 10pm to midnight weekends) and add a local beer for half-off. Basil G&Ts and the house Whiskey Cocktail go for a daring 5 bucks each.

Chad Deal/Thrillist

Maye’s Melt

The Marketplace

Address and Info

Bankers Hill

Just a block from Balboa Park, this takeout deli and liquor store is absolutely killing it in the sandwich game. With around 50 hot and cold specialties to choose from, The Market Place can accommodate just about any appetite or diet that walks through the door. But we’re here to talk about Maye’s Melt ($6.59). The grilled artisan multigrain is crunchy to the bite, yet buttery and delicate on the inside. Sliced turkey, melty provolone, roasted red pepper, fresh spinach, and a generous smear of pesto are nestled between it’s glistening exterior. Should you add some complimentary onion and tomato to the mix? Oh, believe it.  

Chad Deal/Thrillist

Golden Hill

26th Kitchen & Carry

Address and Info

Golden Hill

A few meat smokers appeared in front of the corner store on 26th and Broadway this past spring. The culprits were veteran chefs Christopher Kempka and Adam Sweetow (formerly of Magnolia Tap + Kitchen), who have converted the back of the house into a boutique flatbread and sandwich takeout joint. While the spot is quickly making a name for itself with homemade meatball grinders, smoked tri-tip and pork belly, and roasted chicken, it's also making one of the best locally sourced veggie sandwiches in the neighborhood. The Golden Hill ($7.75) starts with lightly toasted Bread & Cie multigrain. Add roasted pepper, avocado, spinach, tomato, tapenade, and fresh sprouts. Cover that bread with goat cheese. Now take it to the park and reflect on the finer things.

Bacado (plus turkey)

The Olive Tree Marketplace

Address and Info

Ocean Beach

It only makes sense that a gourmet grocery store should know how to make a mean sandwich; the Olive Tree proves that this is a reasonable assumption. Sourcing its carbs from Bread & Cie and using all high-quality Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, this market is a requisite destination for any aspiring Earl of Sandwich. The Bacado ($6.99, +$2 for turkey) is built on a solid stack of crispy bacon, plenty of avocado, melted cheddar, and topped with sprouts and fresh tomato. Make it the envy of basic BLTs everywhere by asking for "the works," which will add mustard, mayo, lettuce, onion, oil & vinegar, Italian dressing, and spinach to the stack. The beach is just three blocks away.

Torta Ahogada

El Gallito Tortas Ahogadas

Address and Info

Chula Vista

What showdown of San Diego sandwiches would be complete without a Mexican torta? Time is of the essence with the Torta Ahogada ($7), literally "drowned sandwich," which is a staple of Guadalajara. From the moment you place your order at this food truck’s window, the clock begins ticking. First, refried beans are applied to the chewy insides of a bolillo roll. Seasoned and shredded pork loin is then piled high as a hot tomato sauce containing a stern kick of chile de árbol is poured over the whole mess. The juice gets to work, softening the roll’s crusty shell, while the meat and beans warm the inside. Dig in immediately with a fork and spoon; your torta will be soggy before you finish it, guaranteed. But say it with me again: there is no such thing as too much sauce.

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1. Krakatoa 1128 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102 (Golden Hill)

This coffee shop, bar, and restaurant combination serves up cafe classics in a tiki-themed shack. If you're fighting to stay awake, rely on the Krakhead, the Krakatoa house brew with espresso shots, or, when you're moving at a more leisure pace, an Orange Blossom Latte (pair them with a sweet muffin or avocado toast for breakfast). If you're dropping by later in the day, the Pompeii (mozzarella and basil) and El Chicon (ham and oaxaca cheese) sandwiches are musts, as is the rotating menu of local craft beers.

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2. Fatboy’s Cornerstore & Deli 3050 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Since 2009, this family-owned shop has been filling bellies with huge sandwiches and hot dogs with towers of toppings made from Boar’s Head meat and cheeses. The must-try here is the ever-famous Hot Poppa, a goliath of a sandwich with turkey, Pepper Jack, cream cheese, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and jalapeños, but there are plenty of less... scorching options too, like the ABC or Classic Egg. If those still don't float your boat, you can always make your own -- just make sure you pile it high, this place is called Fatboy's for a reason, after all.

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3. Ike's Place 1010 University Ave, Ste C101, San Diego, CA 92103

This popular chain, known for its "Dirty Sauce" (garlic aioli and different spices), specializes in stacked, Italian-style sandwiches. The seemingly endless menu of both standard deli offerings and fusion-style sandwiches have quirky names chock full of pop culture reference like Steph #Curryone, Sally Ride, and Tony Stark (there are two sandwiches named after Pee Wee Herman alone). In addition to offering standard deli meats, Ike's also supplies vegetarian options like vegan meatball sub, dubbed the Meatless Mike and The Murph, which has a wheat-based meat substitute and artichoke hearts.

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4. Rare Form 793 J St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

From the geniuses at Consortium Holdings comes Rare Form, an upscale deli meets neighborhood bar where sandwiches are stuffed to the brim with pork belly, grilled swordfish, chicken schnitzel, and more gourmet fillings. The Gaslamp Quarter spot operates on the principle that there's a cocktail for every sandwich -- or that the Rare Form Whiskey Cocktail, a spin on the Old Fashioned, pairs with every sandwich. West Coast craft beers round out the menu, as do a few boilermakers.

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5. The Market Place 2601 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

Although The Market Place in Park West is mostly known as a small grocer and liquor store, it;s actually home to some of the best sandwiches and lunch deals in San Diego. The sandwiches here are stacked high, and with choices like the Christopher Columbus turkey club, Tex's Special roast beef 'wich, and the Seafood Delight crab and avocado on pita creation, you could literally just close your eyes and point when you order because there's no chance for failure here. Go the whole nine yards and add the daily soup for a few spare dollars.

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6. 26th Kitchen & Carry 2601 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92102 (Golden Hill)

Inside an unassuming corner store on Broadway lies an unexpected heavy-hitter in the San Diego deli scene: 26th Kitchen & Carry. The short menu changes slightly every day based on the ingredients they have delivered to them and what meats they're smoking out back, so you know anything you get here is the freshest around. Your choice between a sandwich (like the sweet, Nutella-filled Delaney) and a flatbread (like the garlic-heavy Vampire) will be pretty simple -- our recommendation? Let the chef pick for you with the daily special.

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7. Olive Tree Marketplace 4805 Narragansett Ave, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

Charcuterie, fresh produce, sandwiches, wine -- what's not to love about The Olive Tree Marketplace's offerings? In the middle of Ocean Beach, this little corner store is the best place to hit up on your way home from a long day; You can grab a meat or cheese plate with a bottle of wine from their 1,200-label selection, produce from local farmers and the rest of your groceries, and if you really want to treat yourself, a massive Manhattan sandwich with piles of pastrami and provolone form the deli, which is one of the best in San Diego.

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8. El Gallito Tortas Ahogadas 1008 Industrial Blvd, Chula Vista, CA 91911 (Chula Vista)

You can always find this Mexican food truck parked outside the Toys R Us in Chula Vista, and although they only have a few menu options, there's always a healthy line forming from it. It might be because it was once featured on Food Network's Bizarre Foods, but it's more likely the Guadalajara-style, spicy and juicy tortas Ahogadas, piled high with beef and paired with bottled coke, that are at fault here. Either way, you'll get your food in no time, every time.



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