There are few things more comforting in life than a heavily laden sandwich. It’s the perfect food. Tasty, portable, and with endless potential for variation, the sandwich is lunchtime comfort food you can have every day and never get bored.
Invented, according to legend, by John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who requested his servants stick another slice of bread on top of the bread-and-toppings snacks he was usually served, making his meal easy to hold while playing cards. It was such a revelation that they named it after him.
Sandwich’s sandwich became the carby template for all the generations of fillings-between-bread to come and, in Sydney, we still go mad for a proper sanga. As a city, we’re drawn to those hefty two-handers that would be unwise to flop around at the poker table—packed to the brim, wrapped in foil, and designed to fill you up.
Hunrgy? Here's where you'll find Sydney's best sandwiches.
NEWTOWN & CBD
What can we say about Continental Deli other than the two locations created by the guys from Porteno and Bodega have wholly mastered delicious simplicity? There’s a chance you might not head into these venues with sandwiches on your mind and that you’ll be thinking firstly about their house-tinned cocktails or the impressive bistro menu filled with pasta and beautiful cuts of meat. But take it from us, the sandwiches are incredible (there's even an Insta account dedicated to them).
Like any good deli, think flavour-filled and straightforward like the country ham, cheese pickle, butter, mayo, and mustard or the "super deli sandwich" with mortadella, hot sopressa salami, country ham, iceberg, and oregano vinaigrette. If you’re hankering for something warm, do not skip the famous meatball and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese sandwich with house-made pork and fennel meatballs and sugo. Or the recently re-introduced "French dip" with Riverine sirloin, appenzeller cheese, and onion on a Brickfields Bakery baguette to dip into a bowl of jus.
Opening up in early 2021, Mensch Bagels found an immediate and welcome home amongst bustling Crown Street. Repeatedly selling out of stock before its usual closing time thanks to curious and hungry Surry Hills locals, the bagel hot spot was quickly forced to increase its daily production to meet the needs of the weekend lines gathering down the street. With a small and beloved menu, Mensch already feels like a long-established friend. The signature offering has to be the gravlax bagel, inspired by founder Mike Samaha’s first taste of a New York bagel with gravlax (salmon cured with salt, sugar, and dill), scallion cream cheese, tomato, Spanish onion, and capers on a poppy seed bagel. Otherwise, look for the Za’atar inspired by Samaha’s Lebanese father, the chicken Waldorf, the curried egg, or a steak and smashed potato bagel.
Good Ways Deli
Another newcomer to the Sydney sandwich scene, Good Ways Deli has received a lot of well-deserved attention since opening its doors last month. And once again, the deli is all about nailing a small menu with simple and outstanding flavour combinations. But unlike other shops around town, the primary protein you’ll find in these sandwiches is kangaroo. The reason for that is simple: “using kangaroo from an environmental or sustainable perspective just makes sense. Supply chains have come a long way, and the quality of the product is great,” says co-owner Jordan McKenzie.
If that’s your vibe (and it should be), try the kangaroo mortadella sandwich with hot butter, white onion, and broadleaf rocket, or the kangaroo saucisson with broadleaf rocket, pickled fennel, and maffra mature cheddar. For some mind-blowing vego options, order the cheese and apple toastie or the not-run-of-the-mill salad sandwich, chock-full of healthy and delicious things. Best of all, the bread used for the sandwiches is freshly made in-house.
Kosta's is Rockdale's newest hole-in-the-wall sandwich joint with stacks of attitude. Painted bright blue and white, the zero-fuss menu is divided into "You Like, You Buy", "Classic, Not Basic", "Tell Your Missus", and "Best Coffee In Town", (which reveals more of Kosta's overall vibe as opposed to what they actually serve but, whatever, we dig it).
As for what you can actually fill up on here, the menu has been crafted by ex Cornersmith Chef Cameron Harris and Delicious magazine recipe writer, Helena Moursellas. Hero sandwiches are the Super Deli panini, with turkey ham, basturma, marinated peppers, spinach, graviera, fennel butter, lettuce, and salsa verde, and the classic poached chicken sandwich, which is
chicken, avocado, slaw, chives, mayo, and salsa verde on Tuscan-style schiacciata. There's also a schnitty sandwich served on an olive oil bun.
Tucked away behind Crown Street but very visible to any local resident or worker in the area, Lucky Pickle has established itself as one of Sydney’s most beloved sandwich shops. What’s the secret? Keep it simple. Available for lunch between 10.30 am – 2.30 pm (or until sold out), the menu offers just five sandwiches, and you can bet any return customers have strong feelings about which is their favourite. The current menu includes beef meatballs with pickled cucumber, pickled onion, rocket, parmesan cheese, and pasta sauce or the staple pork belly with duck liver, pickled carrot, and daikon, cucumber, coriander, mayo and sriracha. But the prize item has to be the chicken katsu with cabbage, sesame, mayo, and tonkatsu sauce served on a fresh baguette.
Lox In A Box
At Urban List, we’re very much in the camp of bagels count as sandwiches. Plus, we’ll also take any excuse to talk about Lox In A Box. Bondi’s hole-in-the-wall deli and bagel shop is pumping out some of the tastiest sandwich creations east of the CBD. Inspired by traditional Jewish delis and all your NYC food dreams, the takeaway shop is only open Friday through to Sunday, giving you one more reason for a weekend beach swim.
Alongside a chockers deli fridge and small goods list is a tasty array of bagel options. You can opt for the classic lox bagel with lox (brined salmon fillet), schmear, tomato capers, and red onions, or something a little meatier like LP’s cheeky Reuben bagel with smoked beef cheeks from LP’s Quality Meats, Russian dressing, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and pickles. If you’re really looking to fill up, we definitely recommend getting around a giant schnitz or tofu katsu bagel with miso mayo, slaw, tonkatsu sauce, and pickled cucumbers.
Nothing makes us happier than a new kid on the block bringing more mouth-watering sandwiches into our lives. Especially if those creations happen to be authentic Italian paninis filled with our European culinary dreams. Recently opening on Crown and Goulburn Streets, Bar Positano has introduced itself as a deli, cafe, and bar all wrapped up in one. Aside from imported cheeses and meats, cocktails, and a killer brekky menu, the new arrival is rocking a panini menu very worthy of this list. We’re talking the likes of porchetta with sundried tomatoes, rocket, and chilli mayo, meatballs with sauce and provolone, prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive tapenade, or grilled eggplant with capsicum, buffalo mozzarella, and pesto.
Harvey's Hot Sandwiches
You'll find this retro-style sandwich bar in the new Parramatta Square dining precinct, serving made-to-order subs served simple (with mustard and swiss cheese) or sloppy (with Russian dressing, coleslaw, and swiss cheese).
There's a classic meatball sub, made with pork and veal meatballs, garlic butter, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, and, in true Americana style, a Philly Cheesesteak with shaved scotch fillet steak, grilled onions, provolone cheese and a hot pepper spread. Our favourite has to be the Muffuletta, made with mortadella, ham, salami, Harvey's olive spread, provolone cheese, and Swiss cheese. It's a lot—but that's the vibe here.
If you're a multi-tasker when it comes to lunch breaks, hit up Fabbrica for a sandwich, a spot of grocery shopping, and maybe a midday Negroni too. Led by the Ragazzi team, this subterranean spot in the CBD sells the group's fresh pasta, as well as hard-to-find pasta-making essentials, Italian and Aussie wine, cheese, and charcuterie. Sandwiches at Fabbrica are rotating specials served on housemade bread, but regulars include a standout ham and cheese baguette filled with Prosciutto Parma, Holy Goat La Luna cheese, and Meander Valley Dairy cultured butter, and a hefty mortadella and pickled artichoke panino.
The Hungry Spoon
A local neighbourhood corner shop-style cafe in the sleepy suburb of Oatly is not exactly where you might expect to find some of the best sandwiches in Sydney. Don’t be fooled, these guys take their bread stuffing game seriously. Their Club House Gourmet is a definite two-hander and comes with grilled chicken, turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and aioli on toasted sourdough. They also do an excellent Reuben here and the staff are always friendly.
South Dowling Sandwiches
Darlinghurst and Alexandria
Massive sambos from another family-run Inner East institution, South Dowling Sandwiches has been serving up lunchtime staples for over 20 years now. They offer a range of thick-cut, freshly made bread options to support your stuffings and a solid selection of specials too. The Hugo is a mighty chicken schnitty, herbed mayo, and salad concoction, while The Brad Pitt (why isn’t it called Bread Pitt though?) has just about everything you can fit between two slices of bread. It’s little wonder the queue here normally winds down the street.
Marrickville Pork Roll
A giant in the Sydney sandwich scene (banh mi is a sandwich, right?), Marrickville Pork Roll has been serving Vietnamese sandwiches for over a decade. While they’ve now expanded to two more CBD locations, the charm of the original MPR is part of the sandwich experience. Barely enough room to move and a wall of ingredients to choose from, you get in, load up your crunchy white roll, and skip off into the sunset knowing you’ve got some of the best lunch in town in your hand. It’s seriously that good.
Silverwater and Eastwood
Ten Thousand deals in caffeine, waffles, and toasties in slick modern settings. The place is stark white and so popular that there is frequently a line out the door. The toasties here are partway between a roll and a burger and all come dripping in scrambled egg. It’s super light and fluffy and perfect for a breakfast stop.
Opening in late 2018, Sandoitchi quickly made a name for itself by with its coveted pork-katsu sandwich. If you couldn’t guess, they sell Japanese-inspired sandwiches on thick-cut white bread that are simply out of this world. Their veggie eggplant katsu banh mi with apple kimchi is particularly good. If you’re looking to drop a sizeable chunk of change on your lunch, this place is also the home of the Kobe wagyu katsu sando, the most expensive sandwich in Sydney.
Jo’s Sandwich Bar
It’s can be hard to find a good vegan option in the sandwich department that doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Jo’s Sandwich Bar fills that gap beautifully by offering up fully vegan sandos that will have even the most ardent carnivores salivating. The signature is the smoked tempeh Reuben with apple slaw, cashew cream, and mushroom pickles but the eggplant parmi is also really good. Toppings are spilling over sourdough slices of the white stuff from Iggy’s Bread in Bronte.
And now one for the meat lovers. Charc slings fresh hand-cut and home-aged meats in their famous massive huge sandwiches. Having only recently opened up a second location in the CBD and being forced by the pandemic to retreat to their home base of Artarmon, these guys need some love and they deserve it because their Reuben sandwiches vie for best in the city. Grab some homemade jerky while you’re there too!
Small’s is a slick, French-style deli that was opened just two weeks before lockdown. The fact they’ve managed to keep it working is testament to the quality of their output: huge, deli-style sandwiches on Iggy’s iconic bread. Grab yourself a Croque Monsieur blanketed in liquid gruyere and tangy dijon mustard, or the supremely popular eggplant and salami panini soaked in cream cheese and find yourself a sunny spot nearby to devour.
Chatswood and Haymarket
Everything Toastiesmith does is cartoonishly good. The bread they serve their fluffy scrambled egg creations in is jumbo-sized, super sweet, and unlike anything you’ve had before. It's Korean street food for comfort on the go and for a minute it transports you to this otherworldly place of toastie goodness. Although it’s not the most sophisticated of foods, Toastiesmith has Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs grilling the goods so you know they take this stuff seriously.
The menu is neat with just 10 loaded toastie varieties to choose from. The Signature Eggsmith is loaded up with scrambled eggs, cheese, roasted sesame flavoured slaw, spicy tomato relish, sweet corn, fish roe, chives, and chipotle. For a major brekkie vibe, the Bacon My Heart features the same egg, cheese, and sesame slaw combo, with added bacon and smoky BBQ sauce.
Mrs Palmer Sandwich
Back again to Darlinghurst (seriously, you just cannot escape the sheer quality and quantity of sandwich joints here) we have Mrs Palmer Sandwich, who dish up just five sandwiches extremely well. The guys behind Wings and Tins have turned their deft hands to slicing bread and stacking toppings dangerously high. Each sandwich has a ludicrous number of mouth-watering ingredients and is liable to put you out of action for a least a few hours. Oh and there’s a secret margarita bar out back if you get thirsty!
For obvious reasons, if there’s one kind of place we trust getting a sandwich made with the freshest possible bread—it’s a bakery. An absolute local’s favourite, Brickfields has been serving up amazing sandwich creations to Chippo residents since it opened its doors in 2013. If you’re passing through, the bacon sandwich with manchego cheese, house-made lemon and garlic mayo, house pickles, cavolo nero, and wombok (during the winter months) served on a lightly toasted seeded ciabatta bun is an absolute must. The famed sandwich is the only menu item that has existed since the shop’s inception.
Otherwise, get your lips around the ultimate winter warming mushroom melt toasted sandwich with gruyere, truffle mayo, and pickled jalapenos. Or rotating options like the beef brisket with pickled cabbage, anchovy mayo, sweet beet, and Vietnamese mint, and the broccoli, endive, parmesan, and chilli mayo sandwich.
If your favourite sandwich is banh mi, you'll want to suss out this list of Sydney's tastiest.
Image credit: Mrs Palmers, Continental Deli, Mensch Bagels, Nikki To, Kosta's, Claudia Lowe, Leigh Griffiths, Nikki To, The Hungry Spoon, South Dowling Sandwiches, Sandoitchi, Jo's Sandwich Bar, Charc, Small's Deli, Toastiesmith, Mrs Palmers, Brickfields