Fun With Listicles

The Best Things Since Sliced Bread: A Dozen of Seattle's Superlative Sandwich Shops

Gloriously messy, expertly piled layers and where to find them.

By Seattle Met Staff October 31, 2017

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Making many a best restaurant list this year (including "Seattle Met's Best Restaurants of 2017"): Mean Sandwich.

Image: Amber Fouts

Valhalla Sandwiches

The feisty Now Make Me a Sandwich truck spun off an equally feisty restaurant in Greenwood. It's got a less-despotic name than the truck—fitting for a neighborhood restaurant perennially full of young families—but the food is big and brazen as ever. The Bad Lieutenant sandwich, for example, stacks bacon, ham, and provolone atop pulled pork steeped in barbecue sauce, and caps the whole porcine pileup with crunchy slaw. Bacon atop ham atop pulled pork sounds like a novelty act, but the heady flavor is something far greater than the sum of its many pig parts. Each table sports a little bucket filled with napkins and hefty knives; even when you cut these sandwiches in half, it’s a gloriously messy business. 

Mean Sandwich

It’s rare to find sandwich combinations that really seem new or unexpected, not just an ever-more-outrageous pileup of various meats. Then again, it’s also rare to find a hole in the wall sandwich counter serving natural wines on tap. A Momofuku alum does really exciting things in this bare-bones Ballard counter, like the signature Mean Sandwich (fat hunks of corned beef, mustard, pickled red cabbage—an unexpected gust of mint), a steak tartare club, and fried chunks of baked potato instead of fries. In case you still aren't convinced: The kitchen takes its day-old sandwich buns and turns them into bread pudding.

Slab Sandwiches and Pie

Around the corner from and sharing a kitchen with John Sundstrom’s magnificent Lark is its daytime takeout sibling, dedicated to the reinvention of sandwiches and pie. About a half dozen of the former are on hand any given day, including things like short rib meat pies and English muffin breakfast sandwiches and gluten-free flatbread. (If the Spanish sardine sandwich is on offer, get it: a masterpiece of meaty fish and piperade and plenty of lemon on a yielding French roll.) Pies are equally various and sure handed, with offerings like caramel apple pie between slabs of biscuity pie crust that exist at the corner of divine inspiration and butter. Not much seating.

Anchor End Pretzel Shoppe

A food truck, but not just any food truck. These good folks build sandwiches on pretzel rolls, to most satisfying effect, out of a vintage trailer: Sea-salt or cinnamon sugar pretzels as the bread for sandwich combos like fried pork belly, Swiss cheese, stoneground mustard, and jalapenos; or chicken parm with arugula, marinara, and roasted red peppers. 


A dozen each “Traditionalist” and “Progressive” sandwiches fill the chalkboard of Pioneer Square’s manliest hipster-brick deli; choose among the latter for the smartest innovation. Like the glorious shank lamb: lightly toasted ciabatta bread oozing braised lamb shank and chive aioli, ruffled with lettuce and tomato and the occasional thrilling detonation of hot pepper. A second location in Benaroya Hall has its own list of specialty sandwiches. 


From the primal folks behind Bitterroot BBQ comes a sandwiches-and-beer-taps pit stop in Eastlake, on the way to everywhere. The place, all right angles and white tile and international beers lined up inside the fridge case, is a monument to precision—but the sandwiches, 16 of them, are a little bit wild. We favor the warm ones—try the Predator: a French roll slicked with caper aioli, then overstuffed with warm fried chicken leg, hunks of pork belly, swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, and a fistful of arugula—enjoyed with a Porter or Belgian from the taps. Kids welcome; ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Primal indeed.

Un Bien

The sons of the original Paseo founder opened Un Bien with their dad’s recipes—which makes this Caribbean roast sandwich the legendarily messy original: pork shoulder, caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, all on an aioli’d Macrina roll. A blast to eat, especially with a cob of slathered grilled corn—but have multiple napkins handy. Two locations bookend Ballard.

Lan Hue

Baker Mon Tat spent decades making the baguettes at his family's banh mi shop in Saigon. Now a transplant to Seattle, he fashions the traditional loaves that drive the 17-item sandwich menu at this new banh mi shop generating major buzz in Chinatown-International District. Just about everything in these sandwiches—from the beef ground in house and flavored with lemongrass right down to the mayonnaise—is made in house. Sandwiches are $4 apiece; don't miss the buttery, savory wonderment that happens in the pastry case.

The HoneyHole

Biting into a HoneyHole sandwich feels kind of like what you see on those juicy burger commercials. You know, it’s a little obscene—special sauce dribbling down your chin, as a look of pure ecstasy spreads across your face mid-bite. The little sandwich shop knows how to turn a simple lunch item into a dinner spectacle: The smoke-flavored shaved meats are layered between pesto spreads and fresh vegetables, combined with the melted provolone cheese, and packed into a flaky, warm roll. All in a jolly alt dive along the Pike/Pine corridor.

Hitchcock Deli

There’s something wonderfully dislocating about one of the state’s famed locavore restaurants sharing its name with a couple of delis—one in Georgetown, the other on Bainbridge. And they stick to the same careful sourcing and in-house elan, from condiments to fermentations, that make their namesake Hitchcock a destination. Feeling classic? They’ve got a turkey club. Even if you snag an adventurous sandwich—like the house-preserved Westport albacore with salsa verde and bibb lettuce—the side of Tim’s Chips and salted chocolate chip cookie keep things grounded.

The Swinery

It may look like a wee courtyard off a West Seattle butcher shop, but it’s actually Holy of Holies for those who want their pig and want it bad. Pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers crafted of pristine grass-fed beef and topped with smoky pork belly, chorizo tacos, bacon dogs–bacon caramels!—every porcophile’s dream is here for your artery-clenching pleasure, served off a grill under an awning to a crowd who doesn’t much miss tables or a roof. (And don’t worry, cows are given their due: the Danger Fries are done in beef tallow.) After, a wander through the Swinery butcher shop is de rigeur if only to see the other parts of the pig—the tongue, the livers, the kidneys—in glorious display in the pates and terrines this whole-animal butcher shop has made its name on. Lunch and brunch only.

The Butcher and the Baker

The teensy pleaser along Latona’s restaurant row is both charcuterie and bakery, with a lineup of thoughtful sandwiches at lunchtime and a weekend brunch so adored the sidewalk wait often stretches to 40 minutes. The reason? An unusually high level of invention in the preparations, particularly the savories—witness a recent bennie with cured pork leg, garlic collard greens, and fried tomatoes on a cheddar chive biscuit alongside a curried vegetable hash, or the perennially favored Winner Winner Chicken Fritter, where craveable fried chicken arrives all gravied up over a bacon cheddar biscuit with a crown of parsnip frizzles. Pastries are not yet up to this level, which means the gratis cakey blueberry–vanilla bean scone is finer as a gesture than as an accompaniment, but in general the view through B&B’s pomegranate sparkler is a rosy one.

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