From house-made condiments and farm-fresh veggies to protein piled high between a crackly baguette or soft, chewy ciabatta, a well-built sandwich checks all the boxes for nutrition, versatility, and flavor. And modern takes on this tried-and-true menu staple might just be the best thing since sliced bread. Here in Huntington Beach, restaurants are taking the template of meat, cheese, and bread and turning a simple sandwich into an edible masterpiece. Check out 10 of our favorite spots to grab a sandwich in Surf City USA.
1. Sessions West Coast Deli
Views of palm trees and the pier are fitting for this surf-inspired deli where sauces are made in-house, locally baked bread is delivered fresh daily and chefs approach sandwiches with culinary creativity befitting a Michelin-starred meal. Sessions, located in downtown Huntington Beach, have a consistent presence on the OC Register’s annual list of best sandwiches, and for good reason. The Summer Zephyr Caprese is a classic, but if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in, try the towering monstrosity of a spicy chicken sandwich. A hot take on everyone’s favorite fried sammie, this version features chile-garlic slaw, pickled red fresno, and cucumber for a sweet and tangy complement to the expected spice of the Sriracha aioli.
2. Board & Brew
Board & Brew, a beer and sandwich shop, is a must-visit destination for hopheads cruising Beach Boulevard. With more than a dozen rotating beers on tap, primarily from California-based breweries, it’s not hard to find the perfect pairing for a hot or cold from-scratch sandwich. Organic, sustainably farmed ingredients are plentiful on the menu of old-fashioned favorites like the chicken club or hot pastrami. For a great to-go beach meal, grab the baja wrap with tender chicken breast, avocado, grilled onions, and melted jack cheese rolled up in a spinach tortilla.
If you’re craving a lobster roll, you’ll find one of the best in OC here at Slapfish. Known for its generous size and buttery toasted brioche, the Slapfish lobster roll is served warm with drawn butter for an incredible melt-in-your-mouth experience. Other popular picks at the seafood shack’s Beach Boulevard flagship include the shrimp roll served grilled or fried, and the “lobster” grilled cheese — a melting, gooey mix of lobster, crab, and creamy herb sauce.
4. Burnt Crumbs
The spaghetti grilled cheese at Burnt Crumbs inside Pacific City’s Lot 579 food hall is the stuff of pop-culture legend. Made famous by the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food,” this sandwich offers all the flavors of a home-cooked Italian dinner in a single bite: garlicky sourdough, spaghetti noodles, and a meaty sauce tied together with fresh mozzarella. It’s just the beginning of the creative offerings from the masterminds of this food truck turned brick-and-mortar eatery, which invites diners to fire up their taste buds with options like the Nashville hot chicken sandwich.
5. John's Philly Grille
John's Philly Grille, a family-owned eatery, offers a flavor-packed, no-frills taste of Philadelphia at its two Huntington Beach locations on Beach Boulevard and Goldenwest Street. They get down to business with grilled meat, onions and hot peppers served fresh to order in signature cheesesteaks. In the unlikely event, you're not craving the East Coast delicacy, John's "Godfather" sandwich has both meatballs and Italian sausage, all smothered in homemade sauce and provolone cheese.
6. Subculture Extraordinary Sandwiches
Photo Credits: @dailyfoodfeed
At the Subculture Extraordinary Sandwiches, the garlic Dutch crunch roll, with its satisfyingly crackly top, is the star of each sandwich at this small shop tucked away in a Warner Avenue plaza. You might order the gourmet sandwiches to go, but they'll be gone long before you hit the beach — the generous portions of roast beef, salami and fresh veggies doused in a signature house dressing are just that good. Upgrade to an "XL" size of favorites like the Beach Blitz, which can be made with turkey or avocado, jalapeno cream cheese, cucumbers, and sprouts.
7. Firehouse Subs
Don’t write off this stellar sub shop as just another chain — Firehouse Subs is a frequent contender on the OC Register’s list of best sandwiches around town. The Surf City USA location, which boasts a hand-painted mural of the pier and firefighters catching a few waves, offers cold build-your-own subs and hot specialty sandwiches with premium meats and fresh veggies. Try the popular smokehouse beef and cheddar brisket known for tender slices of meat dripping with a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce.
8. Esther's Places
In the charming Old World Village, Esther’s Place serves up a healthy take on sandwiches that pair well with one of its fresh fruit smoothies. Vegetarian mouths will water with plenty of plant-powered options, like soy turkey, avocado, garden burger, and veggie delight. All sandwiches are served with lettuce, sprouts, and tomatoes on whole wheat, and can be enjoyed as a combo with a shake or sides like a vegetarian soup, fruit, or garden salad.
9. Jan's Health Bar
Fresh ingredients from local vendors help Jan’s Health Bar create dishes that are good for you and packed with flavor. The turkey sandwich is bursting with colorful veggies — crisp green lettuce, juicy red tomatoes, and a generous handful of crunchy sprouts. Another popular pick, the avocado sandwich, is loaded with cucumbers, tomato, vegan bacon bits, and sprouts and finished with a dash of herbaceous Spike seasoning. All six sandwiches at the Main Street mainstay are served on soft cracked wheat bread with a side of Have’a Corn Chips, fruit, strawberry quinoa, or pasta salad.
Deli-licious, a family-owned deli, on Gothard Street in north Huntington Beach proudly serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Grab a breakfast sandwich on a fresh ciabatta roll, or wait for lunch to indulge in one of the two dozen signature handheld specialties. Each hearty sandwich is made with love, from the “famous” french dip to Sue’s chicken and avocado Caprese with a light lemon caper mayonnaise. A must-try is Michelle’s turkey on squaw, a sandwich that generously layers fresh mozzarella and caper mayo with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sprouts, and avocado.