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Best Sandwich Options in Downtown San Francisco

Updated on June 23, 2011

While Ike's Place gets all the rave reviews among sandwich aficionados, it's all the way in the Castro (i.e. not even close to downtown). What if you're looking for decent sandwich spots in the downtown/SoMa area? Fortunately, there are 4 reliable spots which might strike your fancy. See the map at the end of this Hub to find out specific locations, and get directions, if you like.

1. The Sentinel

The Sentinel has quite a following. Operating out of a tiny newsstand-like corner, it serves up decent espresso and fantastic muffins in the morning, and it's popular for sandwiches for lunch. The line goes well outside the door, although, to be honest, the place only has (standing) room for about 6 inside!

The lunch menu changes seasonally, and there's a special every day (not necessarily a sandwich, though). There are usually about 5-7 cold sandwich options available, and 3-4 hot ones. They run about $8-9 each, but are not small, and are served with a pickle slice in a wax paper bag, and an Andes thin mint for dessert (yes, seriously). Here are some of the sandwich options available:

  • Egg salad
  • Mushroom with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and parmesan cheese
  • Roast beef with butter lettuce, grilled onions, and blue cheese
  • Corned beef and cabbage, served with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing
  • Coppa with mozzarella, greens, and pumpkin-seed pesto

There are usually a couple of vegetarian options available (like the egg salad and mushroom sandwiches I mention), and pretty much all of the sandwiches are served on a fluffy, slightly sweet roll they bake. They also sell cookies if you want something sweet and the Andes mint isn't enough.

TIP: If you want to avoid the line, you can preorder your sandwich by phone and go straight to the register to pay. You'll only have to wait about 3-5 minutes after paying, instead of 10+ minutes in line during the peak lunch rush.

2. A. G. Ferrari

A. G. Ferrari is a local chain (with about 9 stores in the Bay Area only) of gourmet Italian shops. In addition to a lot of Italian grocery items that you're not likely to find anywhere outside Italy, they have a great deli with lots of sandwich options and a large deli case of salad options to eat along with them. The food is consistently great here, and, unlike the high-priced imported grocery items, the sandwiches are relatively reasonably priced (in the $8-10 range, on average). Most sandwiches are deli-style cold, but they do have some grilled ones (panini) available, too.

Here are some of the favorites:

  • mozzarella, tomatoes, basil dressing, cracked black pepper, on filone
  • roasted seasonal vegetables, ricotta salata, baby greens, balsamic vinaigrette, on filone
  • salame toscano, olive tapenade, provolone, red leaf lettuce, balsamic vinaigrette, on ciabatta
  • roasted pork loin, pecorino romano, fresh arugula, garlic aioli, tomatoes, on focaccia
  • soppressata, asiago, red leaf lettuce, peperoncini, on filone
  • roasted seasonal vegetables, mozzarella, sun dried tomato pesto, basil dressing, on baguette
  • prosciutto di san daniele, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, evoo, red leaf lettuce, on focaccia
  • prosciutto di parma, mozzarella, evoo, red leaf lettuce, on grilled flatbread piadina

The taste of the food and the feel of this place is the closest you're going to get to the authentic thing in the area.

3. The Snack Depot

The Snack Depot is a hard-to-find, unassuming little convenience store that also makes some terrific sandwiches (its nickname is the "Secret Sandwich Shop"). The secret is out, and patrons looking to just buy a soda or a bag of chips will have to wait a long time in line. But there's a reason people hunt this place down and patiently wait as the mom & pop operation prepares each sandwich order rather slowly - they're awesome.

The owners of this shop hail from the Middle East, so they do feature some sandwiches inspired from the region, like falafel, but they do have a large range of other hot, hearty sandwiches, too, so if you're very hungry and want something warm, then this is the place to visit. Here are some of the most popular, treasured options:

  • tuna melt
  • eggplant pesto
  • pastrami and cheese melt
  • turkey, bacon, cream cheese and avocado
  • meatball and cheese
  • Philly cheese steak
  • Italian melt (salami, capicola, ham, and pepperoni, with mozzarella and Italian vinaigrette)

Another not-well-kept secret about this place is that you're not going to lose any weight eating here regularly!

4. Hennessey's

Hennessey's is a small wine and gourmet food shop, but which also has a cool, Molinari's-style sandwich deli section. You grab a little menu and pencil, and check off all the items you'd like to be included in your sandwich. Drop it off in a basket, shop around for a drink or accompanying snack, and your sandwich will be waiting for you in about 5 minutes. The sandwiches are Italian-style, quite large, and all cold, delicatessen-style.

The place is perfect if you don't want the hassle of waiting in line or dealing with crowds, and want to soak up some of the charming ambiance of the shop.

The Sentinel:
35 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA

get directions

Tasty sandwiches for lunch, and, frankly, even better fresh muffins in the morning.

A.G. Ferrari:
688 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA

get directions

Very authentic Italian sandwiches, with lots of delicatessen-style cold salads. And, of course, you can enjoy a Limonata or Chinotto, too.

The Snack Depot (aka Secret Sandwich Shop):
303 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA

get directions

It's a bit hard to find - in an office building - but look for suite S128 or ask around. Large, hot sandwiches.

545 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA

get directions

This wine/gourmet food shop also serves up Italian-style sandwiches to your order.


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