Sandwiches are elusive little creatures. Sure, it’s easy to find any old sandwiches. But the great ones? Not so simple. We’ve done the hard work for you here and tracked down the best sandwiches London has to offer.
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 wild fire, 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. 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.
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, London N4 4AP
Why: Not all sandwiches are born equal, and when Bodega Rita’s sandwiches were born they had favourite sibling status written all over them. Appealing to the masses with that tried-and-tested flavour combination of sweet, salty and sour; one of Bodega Rita’s recent favourites of ours has been gorgonzola blue cheese with smoky and sweet tomato jam and sharp pickled radishes on a robust sourdough, for just the right amount of chew.
Where: Unit 114 Stable St, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DR
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 St, Dalston, London E8 3DP
Why: If you’re looking for a classic New York-style stacked sandwich then look no further, Monty’s have what you’ve been searching for. They haven’t messed with the traditional flavours, instead sticking to doing each element really well, by using the best ingredients, and packing your sandwich full of them. Their iteration of a Reuben includes pastrami and salt beef as well as Swiss cheese, punchy mustard, Russian dressing and sauerkraut sandwiched between lightly toasted rye bread.
Where: 227-229 Hoxton St, London N1 5LG
Why: Princi is right in the heart of Soho, and this Italian deli is always bustling because of it. For a quick and lively lunch, either take away or sit in, it’s the perfect spot. Sandwiches are served up in between thick, deliciously oily slices of focaccia, and fillings spotlight good old fashioned flavours – like their caprese which features tomatoes, mozzarella and rocket only. They also do delivery in Central London, as well as catering for offices and parties, if you fancy spreading the sandwich love further.
Where: 135 Wardour St, Soho, London W1F 0UT
Why: Expect innovative ingredient combinations – scallops, calamari, crackling – when paying a visit to Sub Cult. Their use of lesser-used sandwich fillings makes their offering intriguing and delightful all at once. The subs are freshly baked from a bagel-brioche dough, meat here is sourced from premium butchers, seafood is sustainable and veg is gathered from as close by as possible. The results are really quite something, and a favourite of ours is the Sub Marine - slow cooked pork, marinated calamari, salsa verde mayonnaise, crackling and torched scallops. We know, it sounds like it shouldn’t work - but it really, really does.
Where: 82 Watling Street, London EC4M 9BX (from June 2019)
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, London SW12 9RG
Why: Deeny’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 Deeny’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 Rd Leyton, Leyton, London E10 6QE
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 St, London W1B 5PW; 93 Stoke Newington Church St, Stoke Newington, London 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, London 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: 16 Clapham Common South Side, Clapham, London SW4 7AB; 11 Hildreth St, Balham, London SW12 9RQ; 292 Streatham High Rd, Streatham, London SW16 6HG; Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High St, Tooting, London SW17 0SN
Why: Open sandwiches are the order of the day at SNAPS + RYE, with this Danish restaurant specialising in clean, Nordic flavours. Try something a little different with toppings like smoked new potatoes, rocket, tarragon mayo, smoked pepper, burnt leeks, smoked ricotta and shallots; or Danish shrimps, Clarence Court soft egg, baby spinach, basil mayonnaise and dill. As with a few of the other spots in our round up these guys offer sandwich platters, perfect for parties or sharing with work pals.
Where: 93 Golborne Rd, London W10 5NL
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 Rd, Kentish Town, London NW5 1NR
Looking for something a bit more substantial in central? Try one of Soho's top 14 places for lunch.