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 that are here to guarantee you a good time.
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 the below fine sandwich establishments 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.
Why: If you’re on Instagram and follow a few foodie friends in London, chances are you’ve seen Dom’s Subs' work. These guys make their bread in-house for the perfect soft and squishy surrounds for their cult-inducing fillings. While the combinations change semi-regularly, popular serves usually make a comeback every few weeks or so. The Cold Cuts is a classic that combines bresaola, gabagool, salami and mortadella, sharp provolone, vinegar peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise, while The Grapow is a spicy Thai number that is made up of fragrant ground chicken, gem lettuce, kewpie mayo, pickled cucumbers and carrots, Thai basil, coriander, pickled red chillies, crispy shallots and fragrant toasted rice powder.
Where: Hackney Road and Bevis Marks
Secret Sandwich Shop
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 are Japanese sando style sandwiches which 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
Why: Calling all vegans, we think we’ve found the ultimate plant-based sandwich. Bodega Rita’s King Banh Mi takes oyster mushrooms and elevates them to a filling that is completely delicious and moreish. This is then topped with a whole host of other tasty bits – think peanut butter, pickles, herbs and chilli. If you’re stopping off for lunch you can also make the most of your time and grab one of the house chocolate milkshakes for dessert (because every meal should be followed by pudding), made with oat milk.
Where: 92 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BH
Sons + Daughters
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 riff on prawn cocktail is tarted up with prawn crackers while a ham, egg and chips sandwich gets its crunch from straw fries. 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
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: Shoreditch, Fitzrovia and Notting Hill
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
The Black Pig
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, Coal Drops Yard
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
Max’s Sandwich Shop
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, Stroud Green, N4 4AP
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
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, 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. And if you’re feeling generous they also deliver to offices, for the opportunity to allow the whole gang to enjoy a good sarnie.
Where: Abbot Street, Dalston, E8 3DP
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. A recent favourite of ours was made up of crispy deep fried egg roll, housemade seeni sambol and a hot coconut, turmeric curry to dip your sandwich into. A dip? For a sandwich? We’ve never felt more understood.
Where: 18-20 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9RG
Why: Deeney's claim to be, ‘like a highland breeze wafting up your kilt’. While we can’t say we can relate to that feeling, we can relate to 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, Leyton, E10 6QE
The Good Egg
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.
Where: Kingly Court, Ground Floor, Kingly Street, W1B 5PW; 93 Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, N16 0AS
Why? This little London food truck punches above its weight when it comes to sandwiches, and part of the appeal must be in the limited time period you’re able to buy one of their wares for. But beyond that there’s a really considered menu of sarnies that people just want to eat, we’re talking smoked beef pastrami Reuben sandwiches, as well as a vegan equivalent with smoked vegetable pastrami and rye bread.
Where: North End Road Market, B317, Fulham, SW6 1NW (Thurs – Sat only)
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 Big Smoke – a sourdough toastie packed with free range BBQ pulled pork with chipotle, red Leicester cheese and generous pickle chunks.
Where: Clapham, Balham, Streatham and Tooting
Carrots + Daikon
Why: It would seem like North London has more than its fair share of delicious sandwich spots, so Carrots + Daikon are in good company. Despite being one of a few tasty lunch options in the area, they offer up something quite different to the rest: Banh Mi. Crusty, French baguettes are stuffed with meat or tofu and topped generously with salads and sauce. Try the grilled crispy belly pork marinated with spices and a honey glaze, the Chinese-style spiced sweet barbecued pork or the lemongrass chicken.
Where: 10 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1NR
Looking for something a bit more substantial in central? Try one of Soho's top 14 places for lunch.