wo 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 20 multicultural destination sandwiches in L.A.
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 Blanketwith 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.”
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.
Beet Milanesa Torta at B.S. Taqueria | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Chef Ray Garcia and front of house partner Jacob Shure teamed with the Sprout restaurant group on this exciting Downtown L.A. taqueria. The space features a pink, yellow and orange color scheme and decorative maracas. Yes, tacos factor prominently into the wall-mounted menu, but don’t sleep on B.S. Taqueria’s only sandwich. The Beet Milanesa Torta features beet slabs that are boiled with salt and red wine vinegar to mitigate earthiness, dipped in egg batter, breaded with crumbs and deep-fried. Pickled beets, escabeche, house-made kewpie mayo and shredded iceberg lettuce round out the soft house-baked telera roll.
Bacalao at Cook’s Tortas | Photo by Joshua Lurie
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 Isles using 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
The Farmer at The Daily Dose | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Sarkis Vartanian’s café, which resides down a brick-lined alley in Downtown L.A.’s Arts District, could easily maintain an air of secrecy, if not for the monkey-in-a-suit logo. There are usually a couple of specials available, but one constant has been The Farmer, 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. During a recent visit, the veggie patty was purple and crafted from beets, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, kale stock, onions, garlic, herbs and spices.
Lamb brain and duck tongue sandwich at Denj | Photo by Joshua Lurie
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.
Fairfax sandwich at Eggslut | Photo by Joshua Lurie
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.
FREE RANGE AT COFFEE COMMISSARY
Free Range Fried Chicken Sandwich at Coffee Commissary | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Jesse Furman, cluck-master general for the roving Free Range LA truck, entrusted Coffee Commissary in Burbank with some of his signature chicken and egg recipes. You’ll find Furman’s Free Range Chicken Sandwich every day at the most ambitious culinary link in Coffee Commissary owner Tyler King’s chain. This avian marvel features tempura-fried free range chicken thigh served with punchy jalapeño slaw and honey mustard on either a brioche bun or a flaky house-made biscuit. If you’re willing to wander, the Free Range LA truck also features fun specials, including a chicken Caesar salad sandwich.
Porchetta Melt at Gjusta | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Chef Travis Lett and business partner Fran Camaj, who built Gjelina and Gjelina Take Away into Abbot Kinney hits, also operate this ambitious bakery and café behind Gold’s Gym. The space features white brick walls, marble counters, outdoor benches and plenty of people wearing Lulu Lemon. Sandwiches are very popular here. Their Porchetta Melt features Beeler’s pork loin wrapped in belly, rubbed with oregano, rosemary, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and roasted on the rotisserie. The savory meat is sliced and griddled, layered with bitter rapini that’s been sautéed with red onion and chile flake, and served with molten Fontina cheese on a crusty house-baked baguette.
THE LITTLE JEWEL OF NEW ORLEANS
Surf and Turf Po’boy at The Little Jewel of New Orleans | Photo by Joshua Lurie
This New Orleans inspired deli and market from Marcus Christiana-Beniger and Eunah Kang has helped to diversify and revitalize Chinatown. The duo features a number of different fillings in their po’boys, including fried Louisiana catfish, chaurice (house-made Creole hot sausage) and blackened chicken. Still, nothing can top the impact of the Little Jewel Surf and Turf Po’boy, which combines the two most popular po’boys in the New Orleans pantheon: roast beef and fried shrimp. Roast beef cooks low and slow and luxuriates in Irish Channel debris gravy crafted with drippings, mirepoix, carrots and spices. A mountain of meat joins 10 fried shrimp with crispy sheathes on a New Orleans-born Liedenheimer roll with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato, dill pickle and mayo.
Source: Discover Los Angeles