17 Places to Score Sublime Hot Sandwiches in Seattle

Warning: This list includes excessive amounts of melted cheese.

Edited by Jaime Archer March 26, 2019 Published in the April 2019 issue of Seattle Met

Mean Sandwich’s namesake offering comes stuffed with thick cuts of corned beef

Image: Amber Fouts

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

There are no tables in this Pike Place Market marvel, but still it’s one of the must-see joints in the Market for its glassed-in views of cheese makers at work. Most line up for a cup of Beecher’s mac and cheese, but the grilled cheese sandwiches are the unsung heroes of the menu. Classic flavor combos like smoked turkey appeal to everyone, the kimchi melt is more daring, but all pair well with the tomato flagship soup which is made, unsurprisingly, with Beecher’s famous flagship cheese. 

Brass Knuckle Bistro

Swinery alum Case Justham does all his own meats at this White Center sandwich shop; his renditions of pastrami, cheesesteak, and even a Nashville hot chicken sandwich each pack a carefully constructed wallop. The serve-yourself hot sauce shelf holds various bottles labeled with names like Dirty Dick (smoked jalapenos and onions) and Tijuana Necktie (jalapenos, cilantro, and mustard). Not that sandwiches at Brass Knuckle Bistro require additional condiments. Go there without delay. Get fries.

Cheese Meats Bread

Amid Chinatown–International District’s Uwajimaya food court offerings, this corner spot sounds like kids’ menu fodder, but Kevin Chung, who also owns 8oz. Burger and Company, knows how to embellish the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Take the Seoul, a blend of Beecher’s white cheddar, buffalo mozzarella, and fontina, melded with kimchi and slices of rich pork belly. Even better—a counter full of hot sauces awaits.


About a dozen each “Classic” and “Signature” sandwiches fill the chalkboard of this Pioneer Square deli; choose among the latter for the smartest innovation. Like the glorious ShankLamb: 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.

Dingfelder’s Delicatessen

Vance Dingfelder stays loyal to the traditions he learned from his family at his Jewish deli on Capitol Hill. His sandwich meats—pastrami and corned beef, for example, which are slowly cooked for upwards of four hours—are hand sliced and uber succulent, and tempered by the tang of Russian dressing slaw or a swipe of smooth chopped chicken liver. The sandwich’s eyebrow-raising $18 price tag notes the cost of the organic ingredients that go into making sandwiches the way a New Yorker like Dingfelder would approve. It first debuted as a walk-up window on 14th and Pine, but has since added indoor seating where diners can grab knishes, kugels, heart-warming matzo ball soup, and jaw-testing sandwiches.

Hitchcock Deli

There’s something wonderfully dislocating about one of the state’s famed locavore restaurants sharing its name with a deli next door on Bainbridge’s main drag. And it sticks to the same careful sourcing and in-house elan, from condiments to fermentations, that make its namesake Hitchcock a destination. Brendan McGill loves his housemade craft meats, like the hot pastrami, corned beef, slender slices of porchetta, and the “OG roast beef,” topped with fat slices of swiss cheese. You won’t have room for a salted chocolate chip cookie after one of these sandwiches, but that’s no excuse to miss out.

HoneyHole Sandwiches

Biting into a HoneyHole sandwich feels kind of like those juicy burger commercials, complete with special sauce dribbling down your chin. The little sandwich shop knows how to turn a simple lunch item into a dinner spectacle: The smoke-flavored shaved meats, layered between pesto spreads and fresh vegetables, are combined with the melted provolone cheese, and packed into a flaky, warm demi baguette. Thank goodness this jolly alt dive hasn’t submitted to the redevelopment currently sweeping the Pike/Pine corridor.

Mammoth: Go for the Predator, stay to ponder your carnivorous luck in the light-filled space.


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, with Pacific Northwest 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—all with a porter or belgian from the taps. Kids welcome; ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Primal indeed.

Mean Sandwich

It’s rare to find sandwich combinations that truly seem new or unexpected, not just an ever-more-outrageous pileup of various meats. A Momofuku alum does really exciting things at this bare-bones Ballard counter, like the signature Mean Sandwich (fat hunks of hot 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.

Meat and Bread

Plenty of joints do the porchetta-plus-salsa verde combo, so what is it about the Vancouver sandwich shop’s Seattle outpost (another Meat and Bread location on Capitol Hill shuttered in summer 2016) serving up this combo with such satisfying success that it sells out daily? In a word: cracklings. The helpful servers slice off pieces of impossibly moist porchetta, pile it high on sturdy rectangular buns with the green sauce, then add in all that crackly fat that brings the lushness and the music. Just wow.


Once upon a time, retired Boeing engineer Armandino Batali drew on his family recipes and Tuscan butcher training to build a sliver of a salumeria in Pioneer Square. The plucky deli grew into a dry-cured Seattle institution. In 2017, his daughter, Gina, sold the majority stake in the business, and Salumi moved to larger, brighter quarters not far from its original storefront. It’s all there—the sandwiches of cured meat and the menu of warm sandwiches, from gloriously unwieldy porchetta to Leonetta’s meatballs—plus actual tables and chairs (though not many) and streamlining features like to-go sandwiches and four-packs of sliced meat.

Smarty Pants

Overstuffed, underpriced grills and melts feel exactly right amid the brick walls, cracked cement floors, motorcycle kitsch, and really loud music. Slightly divey Smarty Pants elevates the humble sandwich to a new status entirely. Like the Gringa, in which succulent pork freshened with lime juice arrives piled on a mayo-slathered, toasted french roll with tomato and lettuce. Or the Lil’ Philly, featuring a grilled mess of roast beef, onions, and peppers, topped with melting swiss, piqued with horseradish, and heaped to heaven inside a toasted roll. Miraculously, the coleslaw and potato salad sides are both fresh and feisty. Even more miraculously, the whole basketful—enough for two regular appetites or one enormous one—costs less than $13.

Sunny Up

For a food truck that caters to the bleary-eyed morning masses, Sunny Up packs an awful lot of culinary intrigue into a breakfast sandwich. Tomato jam amplifies the Ruth Bacon Ginsburg; Italian seasoning gives new dimension to the Sausage Patti Smith. The vegetarian Frida Avokahlo actually makes kale seem decadent. The only thing better than the femtastic sandwich names: those harissa-dusted hash brown patties.

Tat’s Delicatessen

The headliner in this crammed East Coast–style deli is the Tat’strami, a sweet-meets-savory heap of pastrami and Russian dressing, coleslaw, and melting swiss: the unholy spawn of a pastrami sandwich and cheesesteak, served hot and dripping inside an Italian roll. For the two of you who don’t like the sound of that, Tat’s offers nearly 30 other sandwiches—bountiful riffs on cheesesteaks, hoagies, subs, and grinders—that make Seattle feel more like Jersey.

The Shambles

This butcher-deli has taken Roosevelt by storm, in part because of a beer list that corrals unexpected marvels from the state’s best breweries—the sort of list that can only be achieved by two beer industry vets calling in a lot of favors. But also because the Shambles makes expert charcuterie and memorable sandwiches stuffed with tri-tip or sausage or smoked chicken. Even the kale salad, showered with nuts and seeds, is a pleasure.

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 during warmer months—but have multiple napkins handy. 

Valhalla Sandwiches

Fitting for a neighborhood restaurant perennially full of young families, Valhalla’s got a less-despotic name than the original Now Make Me a Sandwich truck, but the food is as 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.

Show Comments

Related Content