The platonic deal of the sandwich is simple enough: meat, veggies and condiments wedged between two slices of bread. But the sammie’s simplicity belies its sprawling potential. At its most banal, it is the mushy mess that mom or dad hurriedly assembled before pushing you out the front door to catch the bus. In its highest and most noble manifestation, it is a culinary masterwork.

The sandwich is the place where melted cheeses, special sauces, exotic ingredients and artisan loaves are all invited to come together in harmony. Every sandwich is similar; every sandwich is unique. Bring your appetite and join us as we celebrate Silicon Valley’s best subs, grinders, French dips, cheesesteaks, tortas, Cubanos, reubens, bahn mi and beyond.

The Ace of Sandwiches
1070 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto
The Ace of Sandwiches goes all in on their sammies, upping the ante with mouth-watering and fully loaded options like The Brown Derby—a hot pastrami sandwich with Swiss cheese, a fried egg, crispy bacon and lightning sauce on Dutch crunch ($12.99).

Amato’s Cheesesteaks
1162 Saratoga Ave, San Jose and 2306 Almaden Rd, San Jose
For more than 20 years, Amato’s has been the the South Bay’s go-to spot for a legit Philly cheesesteak—and after my recent trip to the city of brotherly love—I can confidently say that Amato’s can hang with the big boys. Their gigantic “shorties” ($9-11) are plenty big enough for two diners to share (or one hungry food writer). For the authentic Philly experience, make sure to order it wit’ (onions) and—of course—you gotta have the Whiz. Pro Tip: try their secret menu item “The Death Basket” ($16) which is a giant plate of their Whiz fries topped with a huge portion of steak and (what else?) more cheese.

Bertucelli’s La Villa Gourmet
1319 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
This venerable Italian deli is one of the last of a dying breed in this valley. They’ve been serving  up hearty comfort food in the heart of downtown Willow Glen since 1947. Although they’re known more for their foodgasmic raviolis, desserts and daily housemade Italian specials than their sandwiches, what goes better with a half-pint of cheese ravs than a properly constructed sandwich? La Villa’s off-the-menu Chris Combo ($9) is a house favorite featuring turkey, melted cheese and a mix of Italian meats. If one really wants to get crazy, their Death Sandwich is stuffed inside an entire loaf of garlic bread and piled high with two pounds of meatballs, cheese and slathered in their housemade Italian gravy. Go big, or go home. Pro Tip: don’t forget to grab a number when entering, or be prepared to get passed up.

California Sourdough
1150 Murphy Ave, Ste A, San Jose
Sourdough lovers, rejoice! California Sourdough serves delicious deli classics on soft, fresh bread made in-house. Made fast and at a reasonable price, customers can choose from a wide variety of meat and vegetarian options—making it a perfect place for anyone to enjoy their lunch break. But don’t delay! This cash-only sub shop is only open 11am-2pm every weekday. Lovers of wheat and rye are also welcome.

325 S First St Ste 120, San Jose
This small sandwich shop has a short, simple and flavorful menu. With nine items to choose from, Cubamex specializes in Cuban delights. Although their bread isn’t toasted on a panini press, they serve every one of their savory sandwiches on soft, light bread.

Earl of Sandwich
1 S Market St Ste 20, San Jose
This national chain has finally found the way to San Jose, opening their first NorCal location downtown. While paying homage to the originator of the sandwich, John Montagu the fourth Earl of Sandwich (for real),; this chain is actually partially owned by his descendants, Lord John Montagu the 11th Earl of Sandwich. Hard to argue with over 250 years of sandwich making history, as they do actually serve up a pretty tasty one. their Holiday Turkey ($10) is one of the more popular items and comes with a nice helping of their house cornbread stuffing served with cranberry, turkey and their fresh-baked bread.

Freshly Baked Eatery
152 N Third St # 101, San Jose
Fresh-baked bread is a key component in a next-level sandwich. , but usually most loaves are baked earlier in the day–not at Freshly Baked. Here their sourdough loaves are only half-baked and then finished up just moments before patrons order up one of their tasty subs. There’s always a bit of a show as the sandwich makers pop open the bread so that patrons can ooh and aah at waves of hot steam erupting from the tasty loaves. By the way, did we mention that Freshly Baked also roasts their meats in-house, as well? Yeah. They’re legit.

Genuine Heroes
5978 Silver Creek Valley Rd, San Jose
This father-and-son-run joint is definitely one of the lesser-known spots in the city because of their random Edenvale locale. But sandwich lovers would be missing out on a real treat as the Orozcos prepare almost all their meats in-house. Their sandwiches are served up simply, not drenched in sauce and unnecessary toppings. Their roast pork ($9) sammie comes with a pork au jus that is slurp-worthy, and their tri-tip sandwich ($10) comes out medium-rare and full of beefy flavor. Keep an eye on their daily specials, as their Brisket (Thu only) and Italian-style braised pork shoulder (Fri only) are not to be missed.

Gunther’s Restaurant & Catering
1601 Meridian Ave, San Jose
This cozy Willow Glen spot is the closest thing we’ll find to a legit New York-style deli here in the South Bay. The menu skews a bit toward the German end of the spectrum, but they also serve up some solid sammies. Their Reuben ($12) comes with their pastrami and house-made corned beef and blanketed in Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and toasted rye bread. Hungry diners will want to grab the Rich Boy ($14) which is piled high with roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, turkey, salami and choice of cheese. Pro Tip: make sure to get one of their chocolate chip cookies ($2). They’re slightly underbaked and have a rich, gooey center that brings one back to mom’s kitchen.

Gus’s Meat & Deli
2523 Winchester Blvd, Ste B, Campbell
If you’re on the hunt for a great breakfast sammie, then you must try Gus’s Meat & Deli. Served on toasted, sliced sourdough with your choice of bacon or sausage, Tapatio, eggs and hashbrowns, this sandwich is a simple, delicious breakfast option that can be enjoyed anytime at this old-school, comfort-food eatery.

43761 Boscell Rd, Fremont
Three generations later, Kinders still has people licking their chops and eating their meats. Opened in 1946, they are notable for their marinated ball tip sandwiches. Kinder’s meats and sandwiches will satisfy the carnivorous cravings with an abundance of meat that falls out of your sandwich. Don’t forget the mouth-watering, award-winning BBQ sauce.

Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market
Multiple locations
This SoCal-based chain is finally coming home as they’ve quickly opened up two South Bay locations in the past few months. Mendo focuses on sustainable and locally sourced goods as they try and make almost everything themselves. The “Not-So Fried” Chicken sandwich is the perennial favorite and is served up with crispy “krunchies” to give all the taste and feel of fried chicken without all those pesky calories.

Mexico Bakery
Multiple locations
Burrito lovers on the hunt for a sandwich would do well to swing by this East Side bakery known for serving up gigantic Mexican sandwiches (tortas) for very little dinero. Their housemade bread has a nice crusty exterior and soft interior that doesn’t overwhelm, but stands up to their copious filling. Their Milanese ($7.50) might be their most popular sammie, as it’s filled to the brim with breaded steak, avocado, thick-cut queso fresco, jalapeños and tomatoes. And their green and red salsas are delicious.


Our House caters to locavores, as all ingredients are sourced from within a 500-mile radius. Photo by John Dyke

Our House caters to locavores, as all ingredients are sourced from within a 500-mile radius. Photo by John Dyke

Our House
185 Park Ave #189, San Jose
While not exclusively known for their sandwiches, Our House has one of the better menus in the fast casual arena. They cater to locavores—people who like to eat only locally sourced food—as their entire menu is sourced from within a 500-mile radius and features sustainable, GMO-free and organically grown items. Their Brie-licious ($10) has a chicken breast, creamy brie cheese and pickled peaches for one creamy, sweet and sour punch, and their Cubano ($10) might be the most legit Cuban sandwich in the South Bay, and is made with an organic crispy-fried pork belly.

Panino Giusto
19469 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino
With only one location in the U.S., Panino Giusto serves paninis made with the highest quality and authentic ingredients. The company first opened in Milan in 1979. Since then, they have opened shops in four different countries. Their menu offers a wide variety of panini combinations, as well as soups, salads, beer and wine.

Phát Trí
1210 Story Rd, San Jose
Not only is Phát Trí one of the primary sources of bread for Vietnamese restaurants, but they also serve up some of the best bánh mí in the South Bay. Their primary base of operations is in San Jose’s Little Saigon neighborhood and cranks out loaf after loaf of giant, fluffy French baguettes. Their No. 31 ($6) is fantastic and comes with grilled pork, scrambled eggs and their mayo-based “special sauce.” When combined with their bread, pickled veggies and smoldering jalapenos this makes for one of the best sammies in the South Bay. Their real strong suit is their fantastic value, as all their sandwiches range in the $5-6 range and are so huge that one could make two meals out of it.

Picnic Sandwich Bistro
39370 Civic Ctr Dr. Ste A, Fremont
With all recipes made from scratch, the folks at Picnic Sandwich Bistro pride themselves on being better than basic. Their menu offers a wide selection and has many items named after popular attractions around California—like their Pacific Coast Highway sammie, a crab and artichoke salad topped with cheddar and tomato on grilled sourdough.

Poor House Bistro
91 S Autumn St, San Jose
While not exclusively a po’ boy sandwich shop—as the Poor House Bistro features all manner of Cajun goodies—the restaurant’s eponymous Poor House ($11) po’ boy features, ham, beef, beef drippings and is topped with an au jus sauce that’ll have patrons waddling out. Their fried shrimp ($11) po’ boy is also a solid choice—with its crispy cornmeal exterior and the tangy zip of their homemade remoulade sauce. Pro Tip: can’t decide on what po’ boy to get? Poor House allows patrons to get a half-and-half for no extra charge.

Sea Link Cafe
187 S Main St, Milpitas
This cafe offers a mix of hot and cold sandwiches. One of their most popular items is the Torta Cubana—made with marinated pork, ham, turkey and cheese, served up on ciabatta bread with special apricot habanero salsa on the side.

Spread Deli & Bottles
193 E Campbell Ave, Campbell
Owned by the same people behind the beloved Beerwalk, Liquid Bread and Jack’s Bar & Lounge, this Campbell deli offers a colorful assortment of uniquely named signature sandwiches with a huge selection of craft brew. Come during the week for happy hour (3pm-6pm) and choose from over 200 bottles, 20 draft beers and a selection of local wines.

2348 Walsh Ave, Ste G, Santa Clara
Spreadz prides itself on health-conscious options. Spreadz uses Boar’s Head meats and condiments—a good sign at any deli—and serves their subs on freshly baked bread made in-house daily.

1088 E Brokaw Rd, San Jose
Fast food has a new, healthier face, and its star is chicken. Starbird offers an array of chicken sandwiches, salads and tacos. Pair their hand-battered and fried chicken with freshly baked bread and condiments like coleslaw and delicious house made sauces. Starbird has locations in San Jose and Sunnyvale.

The Sub Hub
495 El Camino Real #111, Santa Clara
The Sub Hub offers up quality meats and locally sourced vegetables served on bread from San Jose’s iconic, 100-year-old Roma Bakery. Their sandwiches are all named after local sports teams and icons. Try the Stephen Curry, featuring juicy chicken breast topped with their house made curry sauce; if that’s not enough spice, make sure to apply a liberal dosing of their house Kick Ass sauce to really turn up the heat. Sub Hub also has kombucha on tap and a nice selection of pizzas.

Thien Huong Sandwiches & Bakery
Multiple locations
This Little Saigon favorite also makes their own bread. With a crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, it’s the perfect housing for the restaurant’s must-get item—grilled pork bánh mí ($5). Smoky, sweet and oh-so tender, this sandwich will have patrons coming back time and again. If you’re feeling brave, try their durian-filled pastry ($1.50). It smells like hell, but tastes like heaven.

Toasted, Craft Sandwiches
387 S 1st St, San Jose
Located in the SoFa Market food court, this high-end deli counter offers an great selection of hearty sandwiches made with fresh ingredients for every kind of sandwich lover. Try their classic BLT or Turkey Pesto—both served with avocado. Vegans can enjoy the balsamic portobello mushroom served with arugula, avocado, red onions and garlic mayo on a crispy ciabatta roll. Order a sandwich served fast and experience the heart of the SoFa District.

Willow Glen/Los Gatos Meats & Smokehouse
885 Delmas Ave, San Jose and 575 University Ave, Los Gatos |
These two sister locations could arguably serve up the best sandwiches in the South Bay, and most residents have probably never heard of either one. This is a real travesty. These guys do things the real old-school way as 95 percent of what they serve at the shop is made in-house—including their pastrami. The popular AJ ($11) comes with their pastrami, avocado and bacon. However, the Quadruple ByPass ($11) which sports tri-tip, pulled pork, pastrami, bacon, chipotle sauce and pepper jack cheese is the sandwich to end all sandwiches.

Yummee Sandwiches
472 W Hamilton Ave, Campbell
This small Vietnamese sandwich shop serves up traditional cuisine at an extremely reasonable price. Guests can enjoy a variety of bahn mi options, including spicy grilled pork or savory tofu with saute mushrooms on a soft baguette. Make it a combo and you can have your sandwich with chips and a drink for $7, or you can enjoy your meal with a cup of pho or bo kho.