Could the sandwich simply be the greatest culinary invention ever? It’s versatile, mobile, and incredibly satisfying when done just right. Fortunately for San Franciscans, we have an abundance of places dedicated to making the best sandwiches ever, with special care taken to provide the most quality meats, veggies, spreads, sauces, and—absolute #1 priority—breads. Here are the best sandwich shops in San Francisco.
1. Molinari Delicatessen
This North Beach landmark has been been serving up fat, juicy, Italian-inspired sandwiches since 1896! How can you question that?! Grab a ticket and pick out your bread (the Dutch Crunch is a local fave) before you order. Or get the Renzo or Luciano Special and experience Italy in some unforgettable bites.
2. Ike’s Place
Ike’s is so popular it’s expanded throughout the entire Bay Area and beyond. Their menu will appeal to both the extreme omnivore and the extreme vegan, and every sandwich has a cheeky name (many Hollywood and sport-inspired). Of course, it’s all about their Dirty Secret Sauce, though.
3. Darwin Cafe
It’s downright impossible to find a tasteless sandwich at this tiny spot in SoMa. Their menu changes weekly, which means you’ll be tempted to go back regularly. Their aioli sauces are killer, and they turn some unique combinations into serious culinary masterpieces. Even their simple baguettes are so satisfying (favorite: fresh mozzarella + basil pesto).
4. Deli Board
The menu offers a smorgasbord of options (and you can also build your own—“Make It Basic,” they call it) at this SoMA spot inspired by the owner’s Cleveland roots and a deep love for Jewish delis. And though the prices may seem a bit steep, you’ll be getting one overstuffed sandwich filled to the gills with sliced meats (pastrami and brisket are faves), cheeses, slaws, and sauces. Try the Carzle.
5. Saigon Sandwich
This Tenderloin mainstay is the place to get the pickled-and-jalapeno topped Vietnamese wonder aka the banh mi sandwich. It’s also one of the cheaper sandwich spots in the city. Honorable mentions in the Bahn Mi Category: Doc Loi in the Mission, Bun Mee (a more sleek, modern spot with a few locations), and Fresh Brew Coffee, a tiny nook in Nob Hill.
6. Lucca Delicatessen
Open since 1929, this Italian-styled Marina deli slices house-roasted meats and cheeses to order and uses fresh, local Acme bread. All together, simple and delicious. Be sure to grab some specialty Italian groceries while you’re at it.
7. Cheese Plus
This cozy Polk Street food store specializes in cheese (duh), along with wines, chocolates, and charcuterie, but don’t miss the counter in the back, where you can order house-made sandwiches, many with locally inspired names. We especially love Castro’s Cubano and the North Beach. And the outdoor public parklet is a perfect spot to scarf it all down.
8. Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen
The 24th Street location brings classic New York Jewish deli food to the West Coast. Really, you gotta get the pastrami here—the Reuben is a favorite. And if you’re missing real-deal bagels—here’s your spot.
9. Lou’s Cafe
An old Richmond District standby, Lou’s has an array of gourmet toasted sandwiches and breakfast sammies. Don’t forget Lou’s Special Sauce and Jalapeño Spread!
10. Rhea’s Deli & Market
This hole-in-the-wall market will provide you with the ideal fat, juicy sandwich for a day at Dolores Park. The Korean Steak and Judah Street sandwiches are some of our faves.
11. Submarine Center
This West Portal joint does regular subs, “gourmet” subs (typically means avocado), meatball and sausage subs, and, yes, pizza subs. And they also have a “Secret Sauce,” too!
12. Bite Me Sandwiches
The sandwiches are just as good as the names at this spot in the Mission and Castro. Go ahead and order the Winnie Cooper, the Poultry Geist, the Jack Tripper, or the Ike Who (yes, that’d be referring to #2 on our list).
13. The Yellow Submarine