Though tacos and BBQ undoubtedly steal the limelight in the capital of Texas, our city has more than a few options when it comes to quality sandwich shops. When picnic season hits, grab a few friends, some craft beer and a blanket before working your way through this list of restaurants, delis and food trucks offering stellar sandwiches. The creations they serve are the best thing since, well, sliced bread.
Austin’s best sandwich shops
This longtime campus mainstay opened in 2006 as a tiny deli with just a few seats, then expanded to a much larger space in 2011. Choose from a list of popular sandwich specials like the lauded pastrami on rye, Paul’s Spicy Reuben (corned beef with sauerkraut, pepperjack, pepperoncini, purple onions and rocket sauce) and the Pizza (pepperoni, salami, purple onions, black olives, tomato, basil and marinara grilled on sourdough). Mix things up by ordering just half a sandwich and a side like Italian pasta salad, soup or salad. Or leave things to the true sandwich artists and order an Ainsworth, a creation made using the best ingredients of the day.
Sink your teeth into one of the artisanal sandwiches at Lox, Box & Barrel and you’ll immediately know it was worth a drive to the edge of southwest Austin. The Reuben, made with Akashi house corned beef and house kraut, is a must, but you also wouldn’t be wrong to order a French Dip made with Akashi house roasted beef or a BLT using house smoked bacon. Almost everything is made in house here, but New World Bakery bakes the bread, and all the bagels (used for cream cheese and lox or egg and cheese sandwiches), are flown in daily from New York. Dinner is now available Thursday through Saturday, with daily specials announced on Facebook.
When chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez opened The Noble Pig in Lakeway in 2010, they never imagined the tiny sandwich shop would draw a line of adoring customers around the block for favorites like smoked duck pastrami and seared beef tongue sandwiches. Four years later, they opened another location on Burnet Road, slightly changed the name to Noble Sandwich Co., and added a weekend breakfast menu which includes a sausage and egg biscuit with home fries and black peppery gravy.
This sandwich shop housed in a bungalow just north of UT campus has been one of the city’s best kept secrets since opening in 2001. Those in the know line up on sunny days to enjoy grilled signature sandwiches like the Gypsy Grove (grilled pork tenderloin, grilled ham, Swiss cheese, jalapeño relish, Tabasco slaw and a fried egg on ciabatta) and the Chicken & Eggplant (grilled chicken, roasted eggplant, goat cheese, basil pesto, spinach, tomato and blackberry balsamic vinaigrette on multigrain bread) or cold deli sandwiches made using bread from Sweetish Hill and Mi Tradición.
Though they maintain a menu of classic deli sandwiches (from liverwurst to egg salad to PBJ), there’s no finer place to wrap your hands around an Italian sub than Little Deli. This Crestview neighborhood deli and restaurant, owned by Tony Villani, specializes in Jersey-style hoagies (on 6-inch regular buns or 12-inch large buns), layered with high quality cold cuts, shredded lettuce and red wine vinaigrette, plus hot subs stuffed with hearty meatballs and thinly-sliced, cheese-drenched Philly steaks.
The only way to improve the melted perfection of a grilled cheese sandwich is by enjoying one for a good cause. After teaching English in the Dominican Republic and meeting Haitians affected by the earthquake, 16-year-old Anna Hutto decided to open a food trailer and donate 100 percent of the profits to the International Justice Mission, a group which empowers people in third world countries to lift themselves out of poverty. Not only are the sandwiches here reasonably priced, but they’re one of a kind, too. Enjoying a grilled mac sandwich (melted shells, marinated bacon, onion crisps and house queso on artisan sourdough) never felt so good.
If there’s anything Austin needs more of in this town, it’s Jewish delis. Luckily, Biderman’s saw that need and came to the rescue, opening in a former NeWorlDeli in Far West. Enjoy chewy housemade corned beef Reubens, hot French dip sandwiches on crusty bread and even veggie creations like a matzo ball sandwich on rye or the pesto potato topped with cheese and greens. And, of course, there’s plenty of Dr. Brown’s soda and black and white cookies in stock. Do note that Biderman’s is not, in fact, kosher, so the nearby deli inside the Far West H-E-B will continue to serve that community need.
Texas French Bread has been providing Austin with freshly baked, rustic bread since opening in West Campus in 1981, serving simple lunch sandwiches like roasted turkey on whole wheat sourdough, smoked ham and Swiss on amber rye sourdough and a vegetarian sandwich on foccacia. The $12 daily lunch special comes with a half sandwich, cookie, drink and a side (green salad, soup of the day or fruit).
Burro Cheese Kitchen opened in a shipping container on South Congress in 2013, and has since grown to three locations strong. Build your own creation from a list of seven different cheeses, three types of bread, countless homemade sauces and both meat and veggie fillings. Or pick from a list of signature sandwiches like the Waylon & Willie (aged cheddar, Gouda, caramelized onions, pepperoncini, and spicy maple bacon on sourdough) and the Little Kahuna (Provolone, smoked ham, pineapple serrano sauce on a King’s Hawaiian roll).
After starting out in a tiny food truck in 2010 (and winning the Great American Food Truck Race), Austin Daily Press opened an eastside brick and mortar a couple years later, which allowed them to expand their menu of sandwich offerings. Choose from popular tortas (like the Pineapple Express, with roasted chicken, Black Forest ham, grilled pineapple, Jack, Swiss, spicy ranch and cilantro) or get creative with The Edward (edamame fritter, ginger peanut sauce, avocado, pickle peppers, onion, cilantro and mint).
If the name of this shop is any indication, subs are the specialty at both South Austin locations of this sandwich shop. New World Bakery bakes the white and wheat breads fresh daily and Boar’s Head is the butcher of choice. Tucci's offers cold subs (including three variations on an Italian sub) that are best ordered “Tucci’s Way” (topped with garlic mayo, lettuce, red onion, Roma tomato, dill pickle, hotsweet peppers, oil, vinegar and oregano), as well as hot subs like the Italian beef, which comes topped with Provolone and banana peppers, hot Italian sausage and meatballs.
This unassuming eastside dive bar features a menu of cold sandwiches like The Earl (Italian-marinated chicken breast, Provolone, poblanos, black olives, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, sprouts and pepperoncini relish) plus a listing of “fat sandwiches,” packed with proteins and veggies like the Second Deadly Sin (smoked turkey, bacon, Swiss, fried avocado, sprouts, green goddess mayo). Served with house pickles and chips on a paper-lined tray, all you’ll need to complete this meal is a tall, cold local brew.
One of the most important elements of Austin's trailer boom was that it gave many old-school chefs an opportunity to flex their culinary muscles on their own terms. Luke's evolved from a culinary biz that serviced venues like ACL Live, bringing a seasoned chef-centric approach to otherwise stoner-ish hot grilled sandwiches. The burger is one of the girthiest in town, and the Pressed Pig—jerk pork, mortadella, swiss—is hoagie bomb that'll put you in a food coma for hours (worth it).