In the era of the posh takeaway, status subs and whopping focaccias are the new kings. In fact, our city is awash with tasty sarnies right now. Here are some of the best for your discerning tastebuds.
1. The absolutely, incredibly, ridiculously massive one
At some point in Lockdown 1 (don’t ask us when, time is blurry) Time Out’s art director posted a picture of a takeaway sandwich on the office Slack that caused uproar. It was giant. It was crusty. It looked so, so delicious. And it was from the Dusty Knuckle bakery of ginormous crusty potato sourdough fame. The socially conscious spot (in Dalston) is doing four big sarnie babies for you to collect right now. The best is a veggie number: charred hispi cabbage and fennel with hella crispy shallots (£7.90). Pre-order from the bakehouse and introduce it to its new mommy (your big belly). Abbot St, E8 3DP.
2. The hangover destroyer
At Tottenham’s Wine & Rind, the toastie press has, like, really found itself. Sure, it’s spent the past 20 years focusing on turning Cathedral City, beans and a couple of slices of Warburtons into mouth-burning snacks for drunk students. But that’s the past. The trusty bread-smusher has taken some time to really work on itself, done a couple of retreats, and it now knows who it’s meant to be. And that is a kitchen utensil ready to seal gorgonzola and jalapeños between perfect sourdough or to turn black truffle and Mont d’Or molten. Uber Eats yourself the Cacio e Pepe toastie (£7) – mozzarella, pecorino, and cracked black– and you won’t be disappointed. Holcombe Market, N17 9AA.
3. The one so ’80s it basically has a mullet
The vibe at Sons and Daughters is cool, posh versions of flavours your nan would have been well into in 1985. Ooh, a nice chicken and mayo bloomer? Here it’s done with soy-cured parmesan, pickled cucumber and wasabi cress. Prawn salad? With jalapeño vinaigrette, some pickled ginger and some prawn crackers, please. A lovely bit of egg salad (£8.50)? Let's slip in some miso mayo and some truffle crisps. (That’s the best one.) It’s so huge it’s basically your breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one, baby. Unit 119a Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ.
4. The legendarily weird one
The butties that Max Halley churns out in his Crouch Hill caff bear no relation to any sandwich you’ve had anywhere else ever before. This is a man who spikes his mayo with vinegar, anchovies, gravy or black beans to suit the sandwich it’s moistening, and that’s just the start. That bit of cheese you got between two slabs of MDF from Tesco the other day? A different species to the heavenly specimens he births. (He even does a sandwich with samosas in it.) Go worship his runny take on ham, egg and chips (£9.95). 19 Crouch Hill, N4 4AP.
5. The Scottish(ish) one
Sure, Deeney’s might look like your average trendy east London joint. It’s got white walls, dangling houseplants and ’70s-style chairs. But this Leyton spot (which started as a Scottish street food stall on Broadway Market) has a not-very-well-kept secret – a serious skill for making grilled cheese sandwiches. The best way to eat these crispy, tangy ooooooooozy geezers is filled with robust cheddar, tangy mustard, onion, rocket and your choice of meat or vegan haggis. The haggis in the vegan one – Lady Macbeth (£6.50) – is a tasty nut-roast kind of thing and it’s arguably the better of the two. Don’t @ us, meatheads. 360 High Rd Leyton, E10 6QE.
6. The one you’ll probably take a picture of
Swaddled in foil like a post-race marathon runner, then sliced in half, Dom’s Subs pop up all over Instagram like they’re Wish.com ads. These status-symbol hand snacks were dreamed up in Lockdown 1 by the lads from coffee shop Lanark on Hackney Rd. The aim? Deli-style sandwiches available for collection and delivery around east London. The result? Soft, freshly baked subs with a vast list of ingredients. Take the Cold Cuts (£10) featuring mortadella, salami milano, bresaola, gabagool, mayo, vinegar peppers and shredded iceberg, for example. Cross-sections of these long boys look like they should be hanging in Victoria Miro. 262 Hackney Rd, E2 7SJ.
7. The sloppy meatbally one
Since Peckham diner Larry’s opened earlier this year, it’s earned a rep for being a rather serious purveyor of some of the city’s top comfort food. It’s no surprise that calling Larry’s meatball sanga (£10.50) ‘a sandwich’ is something of an understatement. Peel open the chonk’s two paving-slab-sized pillows of focaccia and you’ll find hunky beef and pork meatballs in pools of house red sauce, melted mozzarella and fermented chilli mayo. Pre-book it for delivery or collection and make a big old mess of yourself eating it. Unit 5, 12-16 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL.
8. The posh fish-finger one
Balham Aussie joint Milk is the kind of London café that has white-washed brick walls, serves buckwheat pancakes (plated up like they’re on ‘MasterChef’) and gets shout-outs from Goop. But don’t let that put you off. This place does a fish-finger sarnie like you’ve never eaten in your life. Or should we say a ‘panko-breadcrumbed red snapper’ sarnie. The Milk Bread Sando (£10.20) is served with punchy fukujinzuke pickle, dashi mayo and housemade tonkatsu sauce, snuggled up in a soft, fluffy bun, and delivered every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 20 Bedford Hill, SW12 9RG.
9. The one with a whole chicken kiev in it
‘Ooh, have you heard of this little-known spot called the Breakfast Club?’ is something no one has said since 2015. But bear with us. This summer, London’s most over-subscribed hash-brown-server created something new. St Elmo’s – a sarnie bar menu. Its highlight? The Chicken Kiev, which unsurprisingly features a chicken kiev plonked into toasted focaccia with peas, melty cheesy sauce and burnt onion cream. It’s retro, massive and a hefty £10.50 (but it is almost a burger). It will render your body exhausted and motionless for 36 hours post-eating, but we’ve all got a lot of time to kill at the moment. Multiple venues.
10. The really simple one
You know how 2020 has streamlined all of our choices? There’s no ‘should I go out tonight?’ or ‘should I quit my job and travel the world?’ nowadays. And you know how that’s a bad thing? Doesn’t it also feel… a little bit good? Peaceful, even. Getting a sandwich at Tongue & Brisket captures that latter #mood. You have literally four options : chicken schnitzel, roast beef, tongue or salt beef brisket (our favourite: perfectly salted meat with tangy pickled cucumber) on rye. That’s it. No scrolling endlessly through Deliveroo or scanning two sides of paper filled with options. Just go, spend £5 and have a nice time. Multiple venues.
11. The festive-but-good one
Here’s some news that will come as sweet, sweet music to the ears of sandwich stans across the city: the legendary Bodega Rita’s is back. Founders Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn, whose King’s Cross joint shut this summer, are proper pioneers of the Sarnies as Serious Food scene. And now they’ve teamed up with Lyaness (the famous and good bar) on a Deliveroo menu of snacks and booze, with 5 percent of sales donated to charity The Felix Project. Those snacks? Two souped-up Christmas sourdough numbers: one meat, one veggie. Both are Grade A stacks, but you’re going to want to chomp your way through The PSF most of all: it’s a sweet-salty mix of pumpkin falafel, whipped goat’s cheese, spinach, red pepper relish and tahini for £9.50.
All of London's most hyped meal kits.