How lucky we are to be alive during this golden age of sandwiches in San Francisco. Sure, there are a number of shops that have been piling meat and cheese on crusty loaves of bread for generations. But it feels as if there are more top-notch sandwich options spread across these seven hills than ever before, and if that’s not a reason to celebrate, then nothing is. Of course, there are good sandwich shops — and then there are great sandwich shops, and this list aims to point you only to the latter. Without further ado, here’s a guide to the 17 essential sandwich shops in San Francisco right now.Read More
17 Essential San Francisco Sandwich Spots Right Now
There’s never been a better time to be a sandwich lover in San Francisco
If you’re only going to try one sandwich at Lucca's Deli, make it the Americano, with house-roasted turkey, cranberry, mayo, iceberg lettuce, and black pepper on Acme focaccia, which makes it easy to bite into, but not too mushy. But, really, you can’t go wrong at this spot, which has been serving sandwich fans since 1929.
Pilgrims to this legendary North Beach Delicatessen (est. 1896) are greeted by a well-stocked deli counter overhung with Molinari’s famous cured salami. Once you were allowed to grab your own piece of bread from a bin, bring it up to the counter, and order your combination, but these days they do it all for you. Great choices include the North Beach special and Luciano Special, but one standout for its simplicity and excellence is the Renzo special, generously stuffed with prosciutto, coppa (hot or mild), fresh mozzarella, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Former fine-dining chef turned sandwich and bar pro-Dennis Leary reopened his SoMa sandwich destination the Sentinel, which means your end-of-week lunch can once again be a giant corned beef with Swiss, slaw, and Russian dressing on grilled focaccia. And if you’re not there on Friday, don’t fret, there are other excellent options ranging from deviled egg to lamb and eggplant.
Saigon Sandwich has long been one of San Francisco's most excellent and affordable destinations, offering an unbeatable deal — $5 — on banh mi sandwiches stuffed with roast pork, chicken, and paté.
Calling your turkey sandwich the "world's best" is quite a claim, but one thing's for sure: Arguello’s is one of the best in San Francisco. Thick slices of moist meat off of a freshly roasted turkey are topped with lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles — and obviously, you're getting it on Dutch Crunch. Add pepper jack and avocado to finish it off and if you're feeling crazy, ask them to throw some cranberry sauce on there as well.
Lucinda's Deli & More
This subterranean bodega on the border of Alamo Square offers some of the city’s best sandwiches, with an oft-changing menu of meat-stuffed monsters like a mortadella with a haunting hot pepper chili relish and a tuna melt made spicy with pickled jalapenos and Sriracha mayo. Lines get long at peak times, so order pickup online or stop by during off hours.
Haight Street inherited a little piece of the Big Easy thanks to Sandy’s, the quaint muffuletta shop run by owner and New Orleans native Peterson Harter. Fans fell in love with Harter’s fat, stacked sandwiches when he operated Sandy’s as a pop-up, but these days you can stop into the shop for a quarter- or 1/8th-slice of a muffuletta, which also comes in meaty and vegetarian varieties.
Also featured in:
Pretty much every sandwich at Cole Valley's Say Cheese is worth ordering, especially if you get it on Dutch crunch, but the Jamón Serrano with manchego, romesco sauce, and arugula is the perfect combination of Spanish ingredients, textures, and flavors. While you're there, get some cheese and a bottle of wine to take home for later.
If Zuni Cafe’s Judy Rodgers had opened a sandwich shop, it might have looked a little like Turner’s Kitchen. Instead, Turner’s is the passion project of Ken Turner, a former Zuni chef and Rodgers acolyte. His low-key, high-quality shop opened in 2015 in the former Clare’s deli — after owner Clare Hulme taught him to make her “locally famous french dip sandwich.” All of Ken’s sandwiches deserve local fame, but even meat eaters go nuts for his vegan sandwich options.
Palm City Wines
Palm City, the Outer Sunset restaurant and wine shop, didn’t mean to become a sandwich destination, but diners went wild for their hoagies, which are made on special-ordered loaves from Rize Up Bakery. Everybody loves the Italian-American, but the roasted veggie option is also a necessity, with spicy sauce and parm crisps that keep you from minding that you’ve ruined your shirt, soaked through your napkin, and left hoagie-induced handprints everywhere in your vicinity.
Chuck’s Takeaway is perhaps an unexpected move for Slanted Door chef Charles Phan, but a welcome one. Here, the popular chef serves sandwiches on a baguette he spent months perfecting including his take on banh mi, loaded with two types of pate and pork cha, along with a shallot mayo made in-house. If you’re looking for something different, there’s also Chuck’s egg salad sandwich, served on milk bread with a generous sprinkling of chives.
Also featured in:
This sandwich shop opened somewhat quietly in the Castro, but the team has been smoking pastrami for a couple of years now and the sandwiches remain top-notch. You can get the brined and smoked meat stuffed between crispy pieces of sourdough and thick slices of Texas toast or on marbled rye and even Acme pan de mie. There’s no bad order and if you’re eating on-site, check out the airy back patio.
Rhea's Deli & Market
Perfect for grabbing and going when you're spending the afternoon in Dolores Park, Rhea's menu is filled with wonders, despite the Korean Steak sandwich leaving the menu in recent years. Peruse the menu taped to the deli counter to find your perfect sandwich for a park afternoon, although it’s worth shouting out the Freak, with pastrami and kimchi. Perhaps most importantly, they're generous with the meat if you’re looking for something hearty.
La Torta Gorda
The pierna enchilada torta made with pulled pork is the perennial favorite at this bright, family-run Mexican sandwich spot in the deep Mission. It comes with a mound of pulled pork topped with plenty of beans, avocado, and jalapenos and stuffed inside a crisp-soft torta roll. But all the sandwiches are good here — and huge, so no need to order the large unless you've got an especially hefty appetite or a hellish hangover.
Guerra Quality Meats
This small Outer Sunset deli and grocery has been plying top-notch sandwiches to locals and fans from all across the Bay Area for decades. It remains a family-owned operation and the most popular options speak to the Guerra family’s Italian roots. Take the Sicilian as an example: it stacks salami and hot coppa with provolone along with jalapenos, lettuce, mustard, mayonnaise, oil and, vinegar. No matter what you order, it should be on Dutch crunch.
No one in West Portal wants Sub Center to make this list because the lines are already lengthy. But, like all good sub sandwiches, the wait is well worth it. The Atomic has three meats (hot pastrami, roasted turkey breast, and corned beef brisket), layered with cheese, hot peppers, mustard, mayonnaise, onions, shredded lettuce, tomato, and a secret sauce that ties it all together. You'll be tempted to get the super, but the center is usually enough.
Roxie Food Center
This beloved corner store across from Balboa Park changed owners in 2020 but the sandwiches remain the same: massive and delicious. They’ve got all the basics covered whether you’re craving smoked or peppered turkey, barbecue beef, meatballs, or liverwurst. The pro-move, however, is to order the tri tip, which comes with melty cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and horseradish.