Sandwich nirvana is the never-ending pursuit of owner Jeff Mason -- there will always be something new to try and something potentially better around the corner tomorrow, just tempting enough to pry you away from the already life-changing shrimp roll (with nori and Thai basil) or a particularly special vegetarian sandwich with sprouting broccoli, roasted red peppers, eggs, and avocado. Pick a sandwich, any sandwich. Can’t go wrong.
Philly experts know that cheesesteaks aren’t at all the Greatest Sandwich of Brotherly Love. It’s the roast pork with rapini and provolone. By a long shot. New Jersey native Liza Shaw, formerly of pasta stalwart A16, knows her Philly subs, so obviously this would be the centerpiece (closely followed by the Summer Veg and the meatball). Grab one of these en route to a Giants game since you’re just a couple steps away.
Oh man, here we go -- the premiere banh mi in not just the TL, but all of the city. Wait, premier-er than Saigon Sandwich? Yep, premier-er than Saigon Sandwich. Because of the shady guys in the back playing… poker. Because of the lovely cigarette smoke everywhere. Because it always closes before the already-early 2pm closing time. Because the ratio of baguette to garnishes, to various cold cuts and pork belly is just right. Because this, my friends, is the perfect banh mi.
Yes, I’m THAT GUY who doesn’t think Bakesale Betty’s fried chicken sandwich in the East Bay is all that jazz. This guy from Rove -- which is good enough to thrive without doing the whole phone number/Twitter/Facebook/functioning website thing -- is the fried chicken between bread to be aware of thanks to a house-made bun, slaw, and a twice-brined poultry centerpiece.
The gold (!) standard of grilled cheese sandwiches in what is probably the most grilled cheese-crazy area outside of Wisconsin (see: Outerlands, American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, Cowgirl in the Ferry Building), the California Gold blends San Joaquin Gold cheddar with chevre, prosciutto, and fig preserves, and sandwiches them between Josey Baker levain.
We considered not including wraps as sandwiches because they're sort of somewhere in between a sandwich and a burrito. Then we thought about Souvla. And the tasty “Granch" dressing with Zuni-moist roast chicken. And how the wrap features that pillowy pita, pea shoots, fennel, oranges... And then we decided to include wraps as sandwiches.
Of all the sandwiches on this list, here is the most important one (and the second-most expensive one behind the lobster roll). Crab that actually tastes like crab. Between slices of griddled garlic bread with as much butter as the popcorn, and garlic as the Gilroy garlic fries. This is San Francisco at its best. An Anchor Steam in hand with your Crazy Crab'z, watching MadBum K Puig, and a slight breeze blowing off McCovey Cove on a cloudless summer day.
This is San Francisco’s best Cuban sandwich by a significant margin. Everything is in harmony with ham, roast pork, mayo, and mustard tangling with gooey Swiss cheese and pickles. Even though we can now go to Havana, we don’t need to for sandwich purposes. Of course it’s best enjoyed with a side of fried sweet plantains and sangria. Like most things in life.
Egg salad sandwich. Yawwwwwwn... until you go for Lauren Kiino’s version, which has changed the game in the egg salad world. Lots of hard-boiled egg, bagna cauda butter (basically salty anchovy butter), garlic aioli, and various herbs. This is the rare egg salad sandwich that you don’t want to share with the sea gulls.
San Francisco’s best falafel comes as a snazzy appetizer-light entrée at Alta CA. Really, though, falafel feels most at home in a lavash wrap with hummus, tahini, cucumber, tomato, and maybe some eggplant and potato if you’re feeling “super.” Nobody does falafel or falafel wraps like Sunrise. Nooooobody. Yeah, it’s technically a wrap but what, are you going to eat falafel on sourdough? This counts.
At TL classic Brenda’s new Divis ode to the Southern concept of meat & three (where most vegetable dishes are 50% meat), the spotlight always shines brightest on the crispy bologna with pimento cheese and “secret sauce.” Not good for your health in any way, but it does bring out the inner kid in you. Just remember: it’s available schoolday/weekday lunch only!
Apparently they put bananas in their sandwiches in Portugal. Bananas in their sandwiches! And that’s with ham, cheese, and tomato -- not like Nutella and jam. (Side note: how is Portugal not still a global empire with this invention????)
The Ferry Building, at its core, is all about virtuous NorCal organic produce, fresh baked pastries, artisan pastas -- you know, the whole Alice Waters anthology. Yet, the longest line anywhere, on any day, on the premises, is for the crispy-skinned beauties of porcine royalty: the porchetta sandwiches at the Roli Roti truck. Yes, we love our in-season figs and tomatoes, but nothing's better than pork-stuffed pork. This sandwich alone causes a mass FiDi exodus on Thursdays at 11:47am.
We explicitly decided not to include ice cream sandwiches or burgers (because we've already done the whole best burgers thing)… so hold up Mr. Felch, what’s this doing here? Well, the massive 12oz (!!) hamburger sandwich is NOT A HAMBURGER. OK? And it is NOT A MEATLOAF SANDWICH either. This is a legit sandwich and the protein happens to be ground chuck mixed with onions INSIDE. It’s served inside a baguette and cut in half. Just… like… a… sandwich. With hamburger/ground chuck as the meat. It’s a classic and one you need to order a Manhattan with at this North Beach institution. And again, not a burger.
This Inner Sunset institution specializes in toasted Boston-style subs (we’ve never seen this in Boston, but believe it) and superb ones at that, best when coated with lots of homemade hot sauce and filled with the primo meat for toasting: pastrami. You've got to get these subs more into your life.
Let’s be honest, a sandwich is only as good as the two slices of bread holding everything together. Apparently, Tartine makes pretty good bread. Like, world domination, mega VC-funding good bread. You could put Vegemite on Chad’s Country Loaf and it would be fantastic. But we prefer Niman Ranch-cured ham, Gruyere, and mustard (or any of the offerings it's got; ya can’t go wrong my friend).
Sandwiching the soy-marinated chopped ribeye with cheddar, onions, chili sauce, and garlic aioli in an Acme sweet roll is what Korean BBQ sandwich dreams are made of. The katsu is equally notable at Rhea’s but this composition is our overall Korean BBQ standard.
Skip the poutine. That’s right. We know it’s ferociously freezing come pre-game time for night games outside AT&T Park at The Yard’s shipping containers, but don't (we repeat: DON'T) warm up on poutine. That is what blankets and the Anchor beer garden are for. Instead opt for the smoked lamb neck à la shawarma style, with harissa, tzatziki, and cucumber/red pepper/onion salad.
If you're talking bacon in SF, you of course have to start with Bacon Bacon, our beloved truck and brick-and-mortar café that lives and dies with crispy cured pork. Their version of a BLT goes overboard on the "B" and also has a name that proudly represents this great city. San Francisco is about bacon. And diversity.
There's not much I can say other than it makes the super burritos around the Mission seem like diminutive açai bowls. Eggs, cheese, turkey, breaded chicken, ham, chorizo, sausage, refried beans, avocado… basically everything except some form of seafood. The poblano pepper and Oaxacan cheese torta is also fantastic, as is the lavish, gorgeous carnitas torta.
This one is a no-brainer. It's San Francisco’s Italian salami and cured meats landmark. In North Beach. Obviously you’re getting the Special. This is automatic for this list. Just please, pretty please, get it on Dutch crunch.
This is the kind of sandwich your friend will ask for a bite of, and you'll look at the olive juice-drenched provolone, mortadella, prosciutto cotto and 'nduja made by SF’s pig whisperer (<3 you, Chris Cosentino) and politely say "Hahahaha, no way, dude."
When these guys opened shop on 24th St a few years ago, we didn’t know just how big our deli gap was from deli-rich cities like LA and NY. Turns out it was Carnegie Deli corned beef stack big. Wise Sons has bravely filled a bunch of it though. It smokes its own pastrami. It bakes its own rye bread. Don’t get us wrong, the Reuben is a stud, but with such superb raw materials in this pastrami and rye, simplicity beckons. As does a dab of mustard, of course, every other bite. Pro tip: get the half sandwich with matzo ball soup because variety is good, and moist, massive matzo balls are even better.
Saying that 4505 is our best BBQ spot in the city doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. Everybody knows it is. So why do you always get the damn, best damn cheeseburger, damn it? Yeah, it’s damn good, but getting it means you're sleeping on the ‘cue, including the pulled pork BBQ sandwich. Stop doing that.
Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh gave the world the all-in-one sandwich with fries and cole slaw stuffed inside the bread with the meat. Giordano Bros. (only in the Mission now, North Beach closed) blessed our city with this novel invention. And you have to admit, it is really fun seeing the rowdy Steelers fans eating these on a fall Sunday morning when they’re destroying the Browns.
Make sure you get the Roxie Special (ham, mortadella, salami, artichokes) with EVERYTHING, as in, lots of jalapeños. And nobody will judge if you’re getting a fifth of bourbon and some Fritos with a sandwich. By the way, if it weren’t for Roxie’s, would anyone even know where Mission Terrace is? If any neighborhood of SF was put on the map because of sandwiches, this is it.
If we were a FiDi cubicle bee, we'd just rotate between Dennis Leary’s trio of sandwich-salad spots -- Golden West, Sentinel, and Terminus. He's a top-flight chef who backtracked to focus on breakfast and lunch instead of more elaborate dinners (at Canteen, Rubicon…), and the ever-changing roster of sandwiches at all three of his spots features excellent, homemade bread, tasty accoutrements, and beyond-excellent proteins.
We’re a brunch town, but not a breakfast sandwich town, à la bacon, egg, and cheese-centric New York. That was the case until everyone discovered Devil’s Teeth out in the foggy wilderness of Outer Sunset. Cozy up for two scrambled eggs, cheddar, pepper jack, avocado, lemon-garlic aioli (soooo addictive), and applewood-smoked bacon on the real key component of the event: a fluffy homemade buttermilk biscuit.
Spain knows everything is better in small sample sizes, from sherry to tapas to lunch sandwiches (known as bocadillos over there). Why have one sandwich when you can have a trio of smaller ones for the same stomach space? Olé olé to that concept and how it’s orchestrated daily at lunch by the appropriately named (and totally underrated) Bocadillos. There is REAL tuna and totally REAL cheddar from Oregon’s finest cheese-maker in this adorable little tuna melt. Best of all, you can sample other little bocas… or just go all tuna out.
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Trevor Felch is a restaurants writer for SF Weekly and contributing editor for Vino24/7. Look, sandwiches are great, but his favorite sandwich remains peanut butter, jelly, and banana. No Nutella. Just like in second grade. Follow him @TrevorFelch.
Stacked sandwiches like the "Super" (brisket, turkey, kosher salami, pepperoncini, cole slaw, and American & Muenster cheese) and other inventive sandwich-du-jour creations have made this East Coast-inspired SoMa deli a San Francisco hotspot for years.
Offering New York style sandwiches, traditional East Coast Italian flavors meet the Bay in the form of spring vegetable Parmesan heroes, polenta and arancini sides, and hot breakfast sandwiches. Born out of chef/owner Liza Shaw's quest for "the perfect sub," the result is simple food done well that makes a solid lunch choice in SoMa.
Hiding in the shadow of Saigon Sandwiches, the "no we're not referencing a prison" Sing Sing's a straight-outta-Nam "cafe" run by a gregarious, next-to-no English-speaking dude named Harry Lam who fails to provide a menu because the only thing Harry makes is the best damn pork banh mi you've ever tasted (sorry, Safeway).
This Modern American Nob Hill fave was saved after temporarily shutting down six months into their business. Thank the heavens, because the Rove Burger and their fried chicken sandwich are insta-classics. The Rove Burger uses a unique short rib blend, rendering it extra juicy. Meanwhile said chicken is paired with a divine lemon anchovy aioli on a house-made sea salt bun.
Combine San Joaquin Gold & chevre cheeses, Dalmatia fig jam, and La Quercia prosciutto. Press that sucker on olive-oil slathered Josey Baker bread. Eat, while drinking a Pac Brew Labs Squid Ink. Give everyone in Mission Cheese high fives. Or "daps", if they're into that.
Lucca Deli is a dangerous place in that it's impossible to leave here without wanting to empty your wallet and fill your stomach with Italian treats. The Italian Combo sandwich with mortadella, ham and salami on ciabatta bread is killer, but then you’re gonna want to buy a piece of cheese from their gorgeous marble slab selection. And then there’s fresh focaccia for takeaway. And then there’s wide selection of Italian sodas and other groceries. Decisions!
8. Souvla 517 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)
This is not your parents' gyro stand. Souvla turns the concept of Greek meat cooked on a spit on its head, with juicy rotisserie chickens marinated in feta, olive oil, lemon and oregano, served in pita wrapped souvlaki-style sandwiches. The pork and lamb options are equally impressive and high quality. Get the Greek-style wraps with French fries inside and finish off the meal with frozen Greek yogurt with olive oil and sea salt.
This Giants fan favorite conveniently satisfies SF’s infatuation with Dungeness crab, right as the baseball (and crab season) begin in early April. The menu is limited, but Crazy Crab’z does everything well: calamari, clam chowder in a bread bowl, an overstuffed shrimp roll and the signature crab sandwich, loaded with crab and a tomato slice in between toasty and buttery SF sourdough bread slices. Everything pairs well with a Giants win.
A traditional home-style Cuban restaurant. Be sure to try the Cubano served with a lemon-butter mojo sauce. A great spot to stop in for lunch. No frills, just good Cuban food. The plantains are also a favorite of frequent diners.
You can't beat the views at this waterfront resto. Oysters and sourdough bread are the move at Bistro Boudin. They also offer killer happy hour deals: $1 oysters (usually $3), $5 sourdough pepperoni pizza, a selection of $6 craft cocktails, $5 house wine, $5 well drinks, and beers that are $3 to $4. Note: no happy hour during tourist season.
These guys dub themselves to be “The Best Falafel In Town” and it’s certainly worth assessing for yourself as they're in the conversation for sure. Sunrise Deli has been making legit Mediterranean fare in the Bay for over 30 years, and along with their falafel (get the super with eggplant and potatoes), they do a mean lamb shwarma wrap.
While Roli Roti’s rotisseries trucks can be found all over the city, the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market location is the only place where you can always get their famous Porchetta sandwich, along with the flagship rotisserie chicken. The Porchetta is pork shoulder wrapped inside of a pork belly, all rubbed down with Roli Roti’s signature spice blend and served with onion jam and greens on a soft roll. Get the potatoes with all the juicy drippings from the chickens too!
Original Joe’s has been a North Beach staple for Italian delicacies since 1937 and is still the place to over-stuff yourself on classic Italian fare. Gleaming wood surfaces and classic furniture add to the restaurant’s atmosphere, making this a great spot for a date, but just warm enough to bring your parents to for a night out. Along with popularity come long lines and waits, so be sure to make a reservation.
Country Bread from this well-known bakery and cafe is the original Cronut-like craze. Each day, 240 loaves are made, and within an hour, they are GONE. The bread pudding is also a mainstay at this justifiably-packed carbohydrate haven, and if you're planning on grabbing some sweets to-go, try the chocolate-rye tart with snowy meringue and a chocolately lattice.
As soon as you walk into The Hall — an upscale food court of sorts — look left for the butcher counter of The Whole Beast. They celebrate eating every part of the pig from head to tail. That means cracklins, pork butt, bone broth, bacon...you name it. Their pulled pork is unlike any other sandwich: Juicy and crispy smoked shoulder, carrot and apple slaw, thin-cut pickles, and just the right amount of a Carolina-style BBQ sauce inside of a buttery, firm brioche bun.
You'll be able to smell the wafts of perfectly-cooked bacon at this Cole Valley hub from miles away. From flavored bacon sandwiches to cookies dipped in chocolate & coated in bacon bits, there's no way you can go wrong.
This good old-fasioned butcher shop that makes massive ready to order sandwiches. The minute you walk in, you’re overcome by prime cut rib eyes and all-natural pork chops. Shift your gaze to the corner by the window where deli meats get sliced on the spot for sandwiches like the Toscano (ham, salami and coppa with all the Italian fixins) and the Roma (roast turkey, pesto, and mozzarella).
La Torta Gorda is a small Mexican deli/cafe in The Mission that serves up incredible sandwiches. When you go, be sure to try its Al Pastor torta -- known for its large servings, you'll be full after one but immediately ready to start planning your trip back.
Ike's serves up a myriad of delicious sandwiches (with quirky names) and features vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options to satisfy all. Out of all the sandwich shops in San Francisco, this is the best place for vegetarians and vegans in the area.
Molinari is an old-school Italian deli serving up artisanal meats, cheeses, and sandwiches that has been in the community for a long time. It has some of the best salami in the area, so be sure it's on whatever sandwich you order. You won't regret it.
If it's a little difficult to make it from your office to the deep Mission-located Wise Sons, you are in luck, because this pastrami paradise has started a delivery service using TCB Courier that -- provided you make a minimum order -- delivers to the less-deep Mission with no extra charge and Downtown for an extra fiver.
An offshoot of the original 4505 Meats, this burger and 'cue shack is one for the Divis books. This butcher-owned and operated spot takes meat and barbecue seriously, with loaded platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs, and hot sausage, and quarter-pound grass-fed burgers. No matter if your main is in the form of a sandwich or platter, don't overlook the fixin's -- the fried mac & cheese with a hot dog inside is an insanely delicious creation.
GB brings its Pittsburgh-style, French fry-stuffed "all-in-one" sandwiches to their Mission space along with a full booze license, 24 beers on tap, house-constructed pierogies, and seven flatscreens, which they promise won't (Mendenh)all be playing the Steelers.
It's like any neighborhood grocery store, except they make a really good turkey sandwich. You can choose whether you want dark or white meat, bread, and condiments—it's no frills, but is one of the most loved sandwiches by locals.
This small family grocer and deli is a favorite for create-your-own sandwich action (though getting the meats and cheeses of your choice on a Dutch crunch roll is the go-to move). Satisfy your post-sandwich sweets craving with a huge assortment of European candies from their grocer section.
Owned by the same people who run the popular artisan sandwich spot The Sentinel, The Golden West is a hole-in-the-wall located off of an alley by the Montgomery BART stop (it's lit by the neon 'Au' sign). Don’t sweat the long line -- it moves quickly and is there for a reason. Go for the delicious short rib, tri-tip, or pulled pork sandwich and enjoy a cold drink while you wait.
The breakfast sandwich at this Outer Sunset cafe and bakery is legendary -- a fluffy homemade buttermilk biscuit is topped with two fresh scrambled eggs, cheddar, pepper jack, avocado, lemon-garlic aioli, and applewood-smoked bacon, creating one of the finest handheld breakfast experiences you'll find anywhere. Of course, don't sleep on killer lunch options like a textbook BLT or a vibrant chicken curry, plus all manner of sweets and pastries to be washed down with Bicycle coffee.
The Basque joint's new happy hour deal consists of Spanish vino starting at $25 a bottle, flights for $12, and $2 tapas like kiwi/marinated beets on chevre, tortilla Espanola w/ Manchego cheese on toast, and pear chutney topped w/ lamb tongue -- a great w