Decent sandwiches are elusive little creatures. Sure, it’s easy to find any old sandwiches, but the great ones? Not so simple (thanks mainly to all-too-common soggy supermarket varieties in our opinion). If the mere thought gives you the shivers, fear not, we’ve done the hard work for you here and tracked down the best sandwiches London has to offer, from filled focaccias to magnificent subs.
Despite their humble status these days, sandwiches had quite the high-end start to life, being invented by the 4th Earl of Sandwich no less. He is said to have asked his valet to bring him meat in between two pieces of bread, and the news spread like wildfire, with people asking more and more for 'the same as Sandwich’, giving way to the lunchtime mainstay we know today.
Okay, the history lesson is over, but the fun is just beginning. London’s best bakers and makers have been hard at work over the past few years to come up with cult-level sandwiches that have severe queue-inducing abilities on us mere mortals. Whether you’re in the mood for a Vietnamese banh mi baguette or fancy tucking into an Italian focaccia feast, London has some of the best sandwich options in the UK. The beauty of our selection of the best sandwiches in London is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ policy here, there are carbs for every occasion. Some spots put on a spread to allow you the time and space to relax in a restaurant proper, while other, street food-style stalls are the ideal places to grab a sandwich before getting back to work.
Have a scroll through these unbeaten sandwich shops in London to find your next midday meal. And maybe set yourself the challenge to try them all, we can say from experience it’s a tough job, but you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something truly worthwhile afterwards.
Dom’s Subs, Hackney
What: Legendary sub spot Dom’s Subs now sells its mighty sarnies out of two locations: a tiny little kiosk in Ludgate Circus, as well as its original shop on Hackney Road. These guys don’t mess about. All subs feature their super soft, housemade semolina rolls, and are packed to the nines with fillings such as lamb dripping kofte, baba ganoush, tabouleh, pickled red cabbage, garlic yoghurt and pitta chips.
Where: 262 Hackney Road, E2 7SQ
Find out more: Dom’s Subs
What: From the same team behind Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream comes Panadera, a Filipino bakery in Camden serving some seriously good sandos. Sandwiched between two slices of fluffy white bread, its tantalising fillings include panko chicken and mushroom, and its award-winning corned beef hash, which sees three-day brined brisket mixed with a rich bechamel sauce and fried until crisp. Get yourselves over there pronto.
Where: 83 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8NY
Find out more: Panadera
Poor Boys, Kingston
What: We have three words for you: fried chicken sandwiches. You truly can’t go wrong with a fried chicken sarnie, and New Orleans-inspired spot Poor Boys is taking it to new heights with its epic ‘Po Boys’. Brioche rolls are stuffed with mayo, lettuce, pickles and buttermilk fried chicken, then topped with your choice of sauce - think honey mustard, Philly cheese or cajun mayo. They’re a decadent treat and worth every penny. It’s not just fried chicken on the menu though! Other indulgent fillings include buttermilk fried jumbo shrimp, flat iron steak and slow roast pork belly.
Where: 5 Griffin Centre, Marketplace, KT1 1JT
Find out more: Poor Boys
Mondo Sando, Peckham and Camberwell
Why: Mondo Sando is one of those if-you-know-you-know kinds of street food places, and you can find it serving its epic subs over at Grove House Tavern in Camberwell. When it comes to the sandwiches themselves, these guys are no joke. The menu changes all the time, but just some of its ludicrous creations include the Mondo Frango featuring chargrilled peri-peri chicken thigh, pea salsa verde, peri mayo, potato matchsticks and shrettuce, and the BM2 which combines fennel and picante salami, peppered ham, provolone, sweet pepper, olive salad, hoagie oil and rocket. Don't forget to order a side of hot sauce for dipping.
Where: 26 Camberwell Grove, SE5 8RE
Book now: Grove Hill Tavern
Secret Sandwich Shop, Notting Hill
Why: There’s no denying the best sandwiches have to look as good as they taste if they're going to make it to the 'gram, and fulfilling that brief is the Secret Sandwich Shop. These Japanese sando-style sandwiches are stuffed to bursting with colourful layers of ingredients. The egg salad is a solid choice – which comes with watercress and a dijon kewpie mayo – while the signature Secret Sandwich manages to cram in five seasonal vegetables alongside avocado, tomato and Japanese mayonnaise for a sandwich that is practically a health food (don’t quote us on that).
Where: 103 Talbot Road, W11 2AT
Find out more: Secret Sandwich Shop
Sons + Daughters, King's Cross
Why: An independent sandwich shop that deals in little else, Sons + Daughters proves the point that doing one thing really well is far superior to trying to be everything to everyone. Here playful fillings are king, with texture given just as much gravitas as the ingredients themselves. A twist on a chicken sandwich involves soy-cured parmesan, pickled cucumber, gem lettuce, miso mayo, green sauce and wasabi cress, while it upgrades a simple egg mayo with truffle crisps, miso mayo and salad cress. Eat in and enjoy the people-watching of the restaurant's King’s Cross location, or grab a bag to go along with one of the interesting soft drinks (think kombucha et al) for a lunch al desko.
Where: Unit 119a Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ
Find out more: Sons + Daughters
Eggslut, Shoreditch, Fitzrovia and Notting Hill
Why: Oozy eggs sandwiched into soft glazed brioche buns are Eggslut’s raison d'etre and amazingly aren’t just confined to the breakfast zone, giving egg fans a treat at any old time of the day. The sausage, egg and cheese is somewhat akin to a luxury McMuffin (although don’t tell them we said that) and comes with a homemade turkey sausage patty, a free-range ‘over medium’ egg – the brand is American if you didn’t already know – cheese and a honey mustard aioli. The cheeseburger is another popular choice, as is the egg salad. Sides are limited to one salad and one cookie, but the cookie is a really good one, treat yourself.
Where: 185 Portobello Road, W11 2ED
Find out more: Eggslut
Why: Run by Jackson Boxer’s dad, Italo is a cosy family-friendly Italian deli on an unassuming corner of Bonnington Square in Vauxhall. Red formica tables and diner-style chairs sit outside during the summer months, while a cosy basement lined with tins and jars creates an indoor escape come winter. The sandwiches change each day, because they have a rotation of chefs that work with them, but they’re always delicious. Unexpected combinations like smashed white beans with caramelised chicory and crispy onions are served in between two hunks of oily, salty focaccia bread. If you manage a full one it’s a good day, these are generously portioned.
Where: 13 Bonnington Square, SW8 1TE
Find out more: Italo
The Black Pig, London Bridge
Why: Finding its home in Borough Market, The Black Pig is all about the meat. Here you’ll find Italian-influenced ciabatta sandwiches that are filled with ingredients mainly sourced from the traders surrounding the stall (in fact, they’re so proud of their links with their suppliers that you can spy a little map of where everything comes from while you’re queuing for your sarnie). The star of the show is the meltingly tender slow-cooked pork shoulder which comes in a couple of different guises. One version sees it combined with aioli, fennel and apple slaw, basil passata and smoked cheese, while the alternative replaces the tomato and cheese hit with zingy salsa verde. Vegetarians are catered for too, with a cheese and honey truffle mayo iteration.
Where: Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, SE1 9AG
Morty & Bob's, King's Cross
Why: This casual eatery in the popular Coal Drops Yard development at King's Cross serves up one of the cheesiest toasted sandwiches this side of Cheddar. There are a couple of different options, which include fillings like mushrooms and truffle, but for us, the best sandwich at Morty & Bob's is the original grilled number packed with oozing cheese and a few onions. And because, as any true carb-lover knows, you can never have too much of a good thing we're happy to report that there is also a handy sides section on the menu that includes some of the crunchiest Parmesan truffle fries we've ever tried (and the portion is actually big enough to share, if you're feeling generous).
Where: 49 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ
Book now: Morty & Bob's
Max’s Sandwich Shop, Crouch Hill
Why: Max is a self-titled ‘sandwicher', and aren’t we just ever so glad he is? Paying just as much attention to texture as to flavour our dear friend Max produces some seriously tasty sandwiches. His creations are always changing, but previous iterations have included tikka mutton with toasted mustard seeds, cumin pickled onions, lime pickle, yoghurt, parsley, mint, coriander and Bombay mix, and a ham, egg and chips creation that was stuffed full of shoe-string fries. Max is talking our language.
Where: 19 Crouch Hill, N4 4AP
Find out more: Max's Sandwich Shop
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery, Dalston
Why: All ingredients used at The Dusty Knuckle Bakery are organic where possible and things that can be made from scratch are – think labneh, harissa and salt beef. Quite the labour of love, you might be thinking, and it is. But the payoff is sandwiches that are out of this world, and packed full of flavour. You’ll be given the chance to tuck into creations like roasted aubergine, churrasco, egg, tahini and chopped salad, or porchetta, salsa verde and braised spring onions.
Where: Abbot Street, E8 3DP
Find out more: The Dusty Knuckle
Why: Milk has become an institution in its hometown of Balham, and a contributing factor to that must be its sandwiches. Ever-changing, but permanently powerful, their creations go roughly ten thousand times further than the ham and cheese sarnie from your local supermarket. The one that our heart will forever go out to is its fish sando, filled with panko fried fish snapper, housemade tonkatsu, fukujinzuke daikon and togarashi, then served on fluffy shokupan milk bread. It's a lot of words that might go over your head, so we suggest giving it a go yourself to fully understand its brilliance.
Where: 18-20 Bedford Hill, SW12 9RG
Find out more: Milk
Why: Deeney's claim to be fresh as 'a highland breeze wafting up your kilt’. While we can’t say we relate to such a thing, we can understand the feeling of joy that washes over you when faced with one of Deeney's sandwiches. The secret here, we think, is that they squash their toasties as they cook them, for that crack and crunch on the outside, which somehow makes the soft, stringy fillings even more enjoyable. The Hamish Macbeth is their signature toastie and features haggis, bacon, cheddar, caramelised onions, rocket and mustard.
Where: 360 High Road Leyton, E10 6QE
Find out more: Deeney's
The Good Egg, Stoke Newington
Why: As the name might suggest, The Good Egg serve up rather good eggs, and some of them are served in sandwiches for even greater appeal. Giving the usual sandwich bread a rest, The Good Egg do a particularly good line in pitas, stuffed with filling combinations like fried aubergine, tahini, mango amba, dak dak, pickles and zhoug. However, if you like your sandwiches with an egg, try the merguez bun with spicy lamb and beef, chilli, chive, egg and cheddar. One last thing - don't leave without trying the babka (we know it's not a sandwich but it's definitely a must).
Where: 93 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AS
Book now: The Good Egg Stoke Newington
Brickwood, various locations
Why? An Australian theme in a café might sound slightly odd, but the results are salty, savoury toasted sandwiches served up in baskets with accompanying hot sauce. So we’re not complaining. Service is fun and friendly, and the sandwiches come with the option to add hash nuggets (obviously you always add the hash nuggets). The crowning glory of the sandwich section has to be the Salt Beef – a sourdough toastie packed with British salt beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and mustard relish.
Where: 21 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HG
Find out more: Brickwood
Looking for something flatter and rounder? Grab a slice of the best pizza in London instead.