In my opinion sandwiches are a great American pastime. Who didn’t grow up scarfing down PB&J, bologna on white, or turkey and cheese sandwiches? They have been a staple of my diet long before I even knew that burritos existed. My favorites over the years have been The Italian Deli in Los Altos CA, sandwich day in the Louisburg College cafeteria, Subconscious in Raleigh NC, and Marina Submarine in San Francisco. I never got around to finding my favorite sandwich place in NYC, but I have succeeded in finding one in LA! The gold standard: Marina Submarine In 2008 I ate here multiple times per week and because of that Q, the sandwich maker, still knows my order even five years later. I get a small roast beef with american cheese (toasted), with only mayo, tomato, avocado, and special sauce. The bread is always fresh, he never over toasts it, and the way he cuts the avocados without looking is impressive. I find myself craving one at least once a week.
The winner: The Heights Deli and Bottle Shop in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. I customized their roast beef sandwich so that it was as similar to the one I get from Marina Sub as possible. I substituted american cheese in place of mozzarella, added the house sauce and avocado, and took off lettuce. The result was a perfectly toasted, delicious sandwich that was the closest thing to my favorite sandwich I’ve had. The bread was crunchy but not hard to eat, and the cold ingredients (mayo, tomato, avocado and sauce) were still cold. Next time I am craving a Marina Sub sandwich I plan to swing by The Heights Deli to get my fix!
The runner up: Dave’s Chillin and Grillin in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. First of all, the owner and sandwich maker, Dave, is the nicest person living on this planet, I am sure of it. If you’re having a bad day, visit Dave’s Chillin and Grillin. His thick Boston accent, huge smile and sweet demeanor will turn any bad day around! The sandwich was very different from my Marina Sub sandwich so it couldn’t be a direct comparison, but it was one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever had. Dave suggested the roast beef melt that is marinated in an aus jus sauce and served on fresh sourdough slices with multiple cheeses. It was packed with flavor and I can’t wait to get this sandwich again!
A pattern emerged, during this quest, about my food service preferences. I realized I like to pick out my ingredients by looking at them from behind a glass wall (a la Subway Sandwiches). Besides taste, this is the main thing I use to judge whether I like a certain burrito or sandwich shop. I know it’s an unusual preference, and I laughed when I realized it, but at least I am consistent!