From classic hoagies to a crispy duck bahn mi: the 6–5–0 sandwich scene is diverse and deeply delicious.
The San Francisco Peninsula is one of the most culturally diverse places in America, and lucky for us it is reflected in our local sandwich scene: scrumptious subs, tasty tortas, promising paninis. And every time we think we have it all mapped out, some new and delicious sandwich lands on our radar (and then in our belly).
So we’ve been eating our way far and wide around the 6–5–0 area code to compile this handy list of our current favorite sandwiches from around the Peninsula. We’ve included mainstays, obscurities and a few awesome oddities as well. Take a look and have a bite.
Meatless Mike—Ike’s Place, Palo Alto
Since there is no shortage of consumption options for carnivores on this list, we thought we’d mix it up by starting with a meatless masterpiece.
And yes, Ike’s is known for its many creative meat-based sandwiches like the Matt Cain (roast beef, turkey, salami, provolone) and the Menage A Trois (Halal Chicken, BBQ, Honey Mustard and three cheeses), but its premiere veggie sandwich, the Meatless Mike, is a classic all the same. And simple too: vegan meatballs, pepper jack and marinara. It may seem plain at first, but remember that the core ingredients are merely a baseline that can be morphed and crafted to the customer’s specifications through the addition of banana peppers, jalapeños, fried mozzarella sticks (!!!) and Ike’s famous Godfather Sauce.
All told, it’s a must-try Ike’s staple, and the sandwich is so delicious that its popularity extends well beyond just vegetarians.
Ike’s Place // 401 Lytton Avenue, Palo Alto; 650.386.6469
The Lucca Dog — Little Lucca, South SF
Similar to Ike’s, Little Lucca is a Bay Area institution. Founded in 1980, the South San Francisco specialty shop has been serving sandwiches drizzled in its famous garlic sauce for nearly four decades. As a result, Little Lucca is typically around-the-clock busy, though thankfully the store recently opened a second location in Burlingame to alleviate its lunchtime logjam.
There’s no shortage of worthwhile sandwich options, but we’ve just never encountered anything quite like the Lucca Dog: two hot dogs, pastrami, bacon and cheddar cheese, plus full fixings and the famous house hot pepper and garlic sauces. Wow! (And kinda Yikes! too.) It requires the heartiest of hearty appetites. So be warned, after eating the Lucca Dog, you might just slip into a food coma (…for the rest of your life).
Little Lucca Specialty Sandwich Shop // 724 El Camino Real, South San Francisco; 650.589.8916
Crispy duck bahn mi—Cafe Bunn Mi, South SF
We’re gonna stick around in South SF for a sec to clue you into a little-known gem. You probably don’t expect duck to surface much on a sandwich list, but the crispy duck bahn mi at Cafe Bunn Mi is one of the best eats we’ve encountered in awhile: crispy (and juicy) dark meat served with shredded veggies (AKA Vietnamese coleslaw) and jalapenos served on a soft baguette. So good..and seriously worth the visit.
Factor in one of their many top-notch drink options—plum soda, jackfruit shake, mojito lemonade—and you might (like us) get in the habit of dropping by whenever you’re in the neighborhood.
Cafe Bunn Mi // 226 Grand Ave, South San Francisco; 650.745.8883
Pulled Pork Sandwich—Gorilla Barbeque, Pacifica
Driving up the coast to Pacifica, Gorilla Barbeque tends to stand out, whether by the orange caboose that houses it along the side of Highway 1, or the perennially long line out the front door.
Once featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Gorilla Barbeque is famous for its divine ribs. In fact, their owner, Rich Bacchi (a.k.a. Gorilla), even has the words “Pork Ribs” tattooed across his knuckles. But this doesn’t mean the rest of their menu doesn’t deserve some love. Bacchi’s barbecue excellence extends to Gorilla’s pulled pork sandwich: savory, slow-cooked “melt in your mouth” magic. Finding good barbecue on the Peninsula is not easy, but this pulled pork from Pacifica will take your palate on a whirlwind tour of Deep South culinary delight.
Gorilla Barbeque // 2145 Coast Highway, Pacifica; 650.359.7427
Maine Lobster Roll—Old Port Lobster Shack, Portola Valley
Founded in 2006 by Russell Deutsch, who had lived in Portland, Maine, before moving to the West Coast, Old Port Lobster Shack prides itself on having “the freshest lobster on the West Coast” (via flying in fresh lobster from the East Coast several times per week).
And while this does make this the priciest sandwich on our list, it’s definitely worth the extra few bucks. Their Maine Lobster roll ($21.95) at Old Port is an authentic mainstay: hefty chunks of lobster, mayo, butter, plenty of salt and fresh lemon. Can you taste that hint of Maine sea salt? It’s like a bit of the Atlantic nested in Portola Valley.
Old Port Lobster Shack // 3130 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; 650.561.9500
Golden Gate—Mr. Pickle’s, San Mateo
Mr. Pickle’s in San Mateo is a sandwich shop that pays homage to its local roots. Much of its menu has local namesakes, like its sandwiches named after local high schools (e.g., the Hillsdale Knight) or Bay Area sports teams (e.g., the 49er).
Their Golden Gate sandwich was recommended to us once and has been a favorite ever since: a creative combination of teriyaki chicken and melted jack cheese on a Dutch crunch roll. We recommend adding avocado, veggies and sauce (such as their secret G-sauce) to bulk it all up a notch. It’s not one of their signature sandwiches, but getting off the beaten path has never tasted so good.
Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop // 1432 S El Camino Real, San Mateo; 650.571.9170
The Italian Hoagie—Jersey Joe’s Coastside, Half Moon Bay
The East Coast transplants in our office testify to the authenticity of this one…and…they don’t do that often. Then again, the hoagie at Jersey Joe’s speaks for itself as a perfectly rendered classic: two types of salami, spicy capicola and provolone cheese, plus a mix of onions, tomatoes and shredded lettuce doused with oil and vinegar, all served up on a soft Italian roll. (Aye-oh…its as good as cruising down the Turnpike with Springsteen blasting out the Camaro.)
Joe’s has no shortage of worthwhile cheesesteak and burger options on their menu (not to mention a legit patty melt), but again and again we find ourselves coming back to this Italian hoagie as our go-to. It comes in 6- and 12-inch versions and can also be found at their San Carlos location.
Jersey Joe’s Coastside // 40 Stone Pine Rd, Half Moon Bay; 650.726.4043
La Torta Cubana— La Casita Chilanga, Redwood City
Need a break from your typical burrito routine? Enter the Chilanga Cubana: a sandwich stacked with ham, sausage, chorizo, beef and turkey, plus a bit of onion, jalapeno and avocado all tightly packed between soft grilled bread.
Redwood City has no shortage of taquerias, but when it comes to tortas, La Casita is our spot for huge sandwiches that are heavy on the meat and packed with flavor.
La Casita Chilanga // 2928 Middlefield Road, Redwood City; 650.568.0351
Chicken Lickin’ with Garlic Spread—CJ’s, Burlingame
CJ’s is a small sandwich shop in Downtown Burlingame with a big following. Its enthusiastic fans have kept the Primrose Road restaurant open for more than a quarter century, and for good reason. CJ’s offers a number of delightful original sandwiches and spreads, but by far its most popular combination is the Chicken Lickin’: roasted chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado and melted Monterey Jack. Add CJ’s famous garlic spread, and it’s winner, winner, chicken dinner.
(Need an alternative to the carb-heavy sandwich bread? Try their Chicken Lickin’ in a spinach wrap.)
CJ’s Gourmet Deli // 290 Primrose Road, Burlingame; 650.348.3117
Hot Pastrami—Lorenzo’s Sandwich Shop, Belmont
A fan favorite in Belmont, Lorenzo’s is the kind of classic family-owned store where the owner will take the time to learn your name. They’ve been serving up their signature Hot Pastrami sandwich for over 40 years, and it seems as popular now as ever before. Contrary to old-school etiquette, we like it with Swiss cheese and lettuce. However you prefer it, make sure to add Lorenzo’s house-made special sauce.
Patrons claim that once you try this Hot Pastrami sandwich, you won’t be able to eat one anywhere else.
Lorenzo’s Sandwich Shop // 911 Villa Avenue, Belmont; 650.592.4321
Don Caprese Panino—Just Panini, San Carlos
Just Panini whips up artisan Panini sandwiches with manageable portions for eaters who don’t have the over-the-top appetite for the likes of Ike’s or Little Lucca.
If the word “artisan” makes you exhausted, don’t worry; you won’t find that sort of typical pretension here as you might in other Bay Area “artisan” restaurants. Just Panini offers a pleasant restaurant experience with healthy portions, without sacrificing the family atmosphere.
The Don Caprese Panino ($8.95) is a perfect example of what they do well: one meat (salami), topped with delicious vegetables (tomatoes and basil), with mozzarella and pesto mayo on onion focaccia. Simple yet scrumptious.
Just Panini // 711 Laurel Street, San Carlos; 650.486.1162
Sisig Surprise—Toast Deli, Daly City
Toast Deli is a beloved “secret” in the heart of Daly City. And while its recent entry into the food truck universe will certainly spread the word about its delicious Filipino cuisine around the Bay, nothing beats visiting its brick-and-mortar location on King Drive.
Toast Deli is best known for its Sisig dishes: a blend of minced pork, chicken, onions and chili peppers. Their Chicken Sisig Surprise sandwich is a must-try. They serve it with a fried egg folded into the sandwich, and drizzle in their famous house “hitter sauce.” One of the highest-rated sandwiches on this list, the Sisig Surprise is a can’t-miss Filipino classic.
Toast Deli // 950 King Drive Ste. 125, Daly City; 650.878.8855
Jalapeño Bacon BLT —Lutticken’s, Menlo Park
In Menlo Park, the name Lutticken has been synonymous with sandwiches for more than 40 years.
Over the decades, they’ve had had plenty of time to experiment with their sandwich menu, and patrons claim they’ve struck gold with their jalapeño bacon. Add this bacon to a classic BLT ($8.99), and you’ll taste a delicious combination only found at Lutticken’s. The hot, savory sandwich is sure to leave your mouth watering, without draining your pockets. Yep, Lutticken’s is also well-known for its reasonable pricing. So if you want a savory meal that will allow you to take a step back from the hustle of other nearby eateries, a Lutticken’s jalapeño bacon BLT is the way to go.
Lutticken’s // 3535 Alameda de las Pulgas, Menlo Park; 650.854.0291
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