Austin’s love affair with the sandwich hit a serious rough patch a few years ago amid the low-carb diet craze—but it seems the trend finally broke when Oprah declared, “I love bread!” Now, new sandwich shops are popping up all over town. Here is a small sampling of Austin’s best sandwiches.
The overstuffed sandwiches at La Matta are all delightful, but it’s hard to beat a panino filled with lightly smoked speck, Taleggio cheese, grilled zucchini, and arugula (pictured above). If you prefer your sandwiches without meat, opt for this simpler—but equally delicious—classic: buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and basil.
Served on thin slices of toasted bread, the Knuckle Sandwich is packed with roast beef, caramelized onions, cheddar, and a dash of spicy horseradish. If you’re not interested in a dainty sandwich, consider the Noble Pig. This beautiful behemoth has ham, pulled pork, and bacon, plus provolone and a spicy mustard/mayo blend. Fun fact: the meat preparation process alone takes about a week. The Food Network called it a “triple-threat pig-out.”
Austin’s homegrown sub shop sells several great sandwiches, but the California Club is a clear standout. Served on a soft roll, the sandwich is stuffed with turkey, avocado, and bacon that is always just the right amount of crispness. Vegetarians also sing the praises of the hummus sandwich and the Nada Chicken sandwich, made with a meatless patty that tastes just like chicken.
Sure, it’s a national chain now, but Schlotzsky’s was born on Congress Avenue right here in Austin in 1971. It built its business around The Original, which is served on a wonderfully chewy sourdough bun. The bun itself would make a great meal, but tucked inside is a delicious array of ham, two types of salami, cheddar, mozzarella, black olives, red onions, and a secret sauce (Hint: It's made with garlic).
This Cuban sandwich comes with a hefty helping of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. It’s all smash-grilled together and enveloped in thick, Cuban bread. Get an order of mofongo—made with green plantains deep fried in garlic, onions, and olive oil—to make your visit to the islands complete.
Almost all bánh mì sandwiches feature a fantastic variety of tastes and textures, but the pork bánh mì at this Vietnamese sandwich truck is on another level. The pork itself is flame-grilled and crunchy, and it’s tucked into a puffy French roll with cilantro, thinly sliced carrots, peppers, and onions. The spice can sneak up on you, but it’s not so strong that it overwhelms the other flavors.
No list of Austin’s best sandwiches would be complete without an excellent Reuben. At the family-run NeWorlDeli, the Reuben is a consistent crowd-pleaser. The lightly grilled sandwich is chock-full of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and homemade Russian dressing. If you don't eat meat, the "Maxey" is a slight variation on the traditional Reuben with avocado in place of the corned beef.
Vegetarian Sandwich at Little Deli & Pizza
This quaint eatery in north Austin is primarily known for its pizza, but the vegetarian sandwich has gained a cult-like following around town. While many veggie sandwiches get stuck in the rut of trying to include something meat-like, Little Deli’s version gets its extra zing from marinated artichoke hearts and roasted eggplant. Those two ingredients provide intense flavor and a good, chewy texture, all accented with avocado, mozzarella, provolone, onions, tomatoes. You should probably go ahead and try the New York-style pizza while you’re here.