The Best Sandwiches in Los Angeles: Part 1

Chicken Parm Sandwich at Cosa Buona | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Two slices of bread, balanced fillings and imagination is all it takes to create a satisfying sandwich, but great versions remain elusive. Luckily, Los Angeles has a legacy of classic sandwiches, including Langer's Deli #19, Philippe the Original and Cole's French dips, and the Bay Cities Godmother. Read on to learn about the best globally inspired sandwiches in L.A.

Pig in a Blanket at Alimento | Photo by Dylan + Jeni, courtesy of Alimento

Alimento



This glass-fronted Silver Lake restaurant near the reservoir is rooted in Northern Italian traditions, but knows when it’s cool to stray. Chef Zach Pollack brings new meaning to Pig in a Blanket with a unique sandwich based on mortadella and Stracchino sandwiches that he experienced during late nights in Modena. At Alimento, Pollack braises and sears mortadella. Juicy slabs join pickled mustard seeds, piquant summer tomato jam, a pickled turnip kraut called brovada, tangy red wine vinegar and soft, creamy cow’s milk on flaky spelt “rough puff” pastry. As our server said, “It’s kind of like if you take a Dodger Dog and break it down with very cool Italian ingredients.”

Toron Bäco at Bäco Mercat | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Bäco Mercat



Bäco Mercat was the first restaurant from enterprising Chef Josef Centeno in the Downtown L.A.'s Old Bank District. At this casual space, he serves seasonal Mediterranean small plates and his signature flatbread sandwich, the bäco. The original bäco, which Centeno first served at Koreatown’s bygone Opus, features pork, beef carnitas and salbitxada, a sauce that’s similar to Romesco and combines toasted almonds, Serrano chile, garlic, tomato, lemon zest, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Newer creations star fava bean fritters, soft-shell crab and beef tongue. If you can order just one, consider the Toron Bäco with juicy oxtail hash, cheddar tater tots and tart, punchy horseradish yogurt.

Bacalao at Cook's Tortas | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Cook’s Tortas



This Monterey Park sandwich shop that Elvira Zamora, Antonio Zamora and daughter Elyan Zamora co-founded with former partner Ricardo Diaz in 2008 features fashionable grey and white tile floors and a blackboard menu that rotates through a 500-sandwich repertoire. The name honors Captain Cook, who founded the Sandwich Islands with funding from the Earl of Sandwich, who supposedly created the sandwich. The backbone of Cook’s Tortas is their house-made ciabatta bread, which former Bouchon baker Patrick Aguirre imbued with tang from a sourdough starter. The torta roster includes strong contributions from the air, land and sea, perhaps none better than the Bacalao. Elvira Zamora contributed this recipe, which involves de-salting Nova Scotia cod for two days before the fish braises for up to eight hours. Potatoes, red onions, garlic, peppers, green Spanish olives and parsley all luxuriate in olive oil before bringing balance to the Bacalao.

Chicken Parm Sandwich at Cosa Buona | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Cosa Buona



Alimento chef-owner Zach Pollack replaced Pizza Buona with a Buona of his own on Echo Park’s busiest corner. Cosa Buona is a small but stylish 45-seat restaurant that serves the Italian-American comfort food of your dreams. Somehow, their Chicken Parm Sandwich falls under “antipasti” on the menu. We’ll take it. Expertly fried dark meat comes draped with molten mozzarella, zesty fire-red tomato sauce, Tamworth prosciutto, and fresh basil on a toasted bun that’s planted with a tiny Italian flag. Indulge solo or split this beast of a sandwich, depending on your hunger level.

Italian Stallion at Cricca’s Italian Deli & Subs | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Cricca’s Italian Deli & Subs



Driving south on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, before you reach the Santa Monica Mountains, a strip mall provides wonderful food to passersby, including Blinkie’s Donut Emporium and Cricca’s Italian Deli & Subs, which dates to 1969. The small space features just five tables inside, two on the sidewalk, a loaded deli case, and shelves of ingredients like pepperoncini, extra virgin olive oil and Italian peeled tomatoes. The Godfather is the most popular sandwich, but don’t sleep on the Italian Stallion, named for Sylvester Stallone. Expect a heap of ham, turkey breast, Genoa salami, pepperoni, Provolone and Swiss with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing on either a soft or crusty roll. Hot subs include chicken Parm, sausage, and meatballs.

Lamb brain and duck tongue sandwich at Denj | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Denj



Tehran native Frank Mazloumi, wife Nahid and their daughters all pitch in at their small Woodland Hills restaurant, which started out as Mr. Cook and now goes by Denj, which means "quiet, safe place" in Farsi. The family has a firm handle on sandwiches, including a particularly devastating - and somewhat exotic - pairing of duck tongue and lamb brain. Juicy, griddle-seared tongue joins creamy brains in a supple roll that also touts tart pickle spears, raw onions, tomato slices, garlic sauce and cilantro, which all help to provide a pungent counterpunch to the richness of the offal duo.

Spicy Dom at Domingo’s Italian Deli | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Domingo’s Italian Deli



Domingo’s Italian Deli, the self-described “Little Italy of the Valley,” dates to 1948. Through the years, the business from founders Phyllis and Frank Domingo has passed to several different owners, currently falling under Carlo Ghailian’s purview. The Italian deli and market houses only six tables, but makes the most of the space. The Spicy Dom is a terrific eponymous sandwich featuring spicy salami, spicy ham, silky mortadella, spicy sopressata, provolone, red onion, pepperoncini, pickles, olives, tomato, lettuce, Italian dressing, and spicy giardiniera spread on rustic, crackly crusted, house-baked ciabatta.

Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Eggslut



Chef Alvin Cailan and his kitchen crew work wonders with eggs at the open-air counter on the Broadway side of the retooled Grand Central Market. Whether it’s during breakfast or lunch, just about every menu item features a deftly cooked egg that is either fried, coddled or soft-scrambled. Still, it’s at breakfast where Eggslut sandwiches shine brightest. The Fairfax, an homage to the neighborhood where the bygone Eggslut truck used to park at the beginning of its run, features fluffy soft-scrambled eggs, chives, melted cheddar, caramelized onions and spicy Sriracha mayo on a warm brioche bun.

The Farmer at Es Todo | Instagram by @iloveestodo

Es Todo

In July 2018, Sarkis Vartanian closed Daily Dose, located in a brick-lined alley in the DTLA Arts District, and reopened as Café Société after a two-week renovation. A month later, Vartanian opened Es Todo, a sandwich and wrap takeaway window, behind the cafe. Previously available at Daily Dose, The Farmer is a vegetarian behemoth that weighs a full pound and packs a rainbow’s worth of ingredients between slices of toasted Kalamata olive bread from nearby Bread Lounge. Beyond that, expect slabs of roasted squash, heirloom tomatoes, Okinawan purple potatoes, ancho chile jam, vegan pesto, creamy burrata cheese, avocado and a house-made veggie patty that changes with the seasons.