Italian submarine? Pastrami on rye? Classic BLT? Sandwiches are the perfect on-the-go lunch, park and picnic snack, not to mention, is a favorite meal option when you just don’t want to cook dinner that night. Good thing the Bay Area has some amazing delis. Here’s our must-stop spots whether you’re hitting up a play date or when you’re about to hit the road.
Best Delis around San Francisco
Clancey’s Market and Deli - Outer Sunset
Clancey’s is a convenience store and deli and in true, old-school manner, doesn’t have a website but rather, uses Facebook instead. Our suggestion on what to nosh? Owner Sean and master sandwich maker Raul's "The Raging Cajun"—a must-try with cajun turkey and jalapenos. For the kids? Keep it classic with their BLT with avocado.
Submarine Center - West Portal
This small, low-key Italian-style deli has perfected the combination of toasted bread and sauce—not too much and not too little. The roast beef is literally, "everyone's favorite."
Deli Board SF - SoMa
What started as a catering business took off and became a very popular sandwich spot in the city. Their “Sando Boards” all come with pickles on the side (check out "The Board for daily specials). Our sando pick? The "Carlze"—Romanian pastrami, brisket, provolone, cherry peppers, pickles, cole slaw, Board sauce on a garlic french roll. And for the kids? The "Stephanie"—tuna salad, bacon, American cheeses, sprouts, pickles, Board sauce on a french roll.
Freddie’s Sandwiches - North Beach
With more than 20 different sandwich combinations on the menu, there is definitely something for everyone here. The Italian Combo is a winner, being in North Beach and all. Picky eaters will love the simple ham and cheese that is big on flavor. We love their "Skip the line, order online" feature—clutch with hangry kids in tow.
Best Delis in the East Bay
Star Meats - Berkeley
For quality meat on a roll, you can’t go wrong with a butcher shop and deli in one. Sandwiches change daily, depending on what's in store, and are available until sold out. Try the Raging Bull (turkey, salami and olives) on Sun., or the My Cousin Vinny (ham and mozzarella) on Tues. You can also call ahead to reserve a sandwich to guarantee you'll have your favorite before they sell out.
Cheese ‘N’ Stuff - Berkeley
This East Bay deli is all about creating sandwiches that even the pickiest easter will love (there's a reason it's been voted 'Best Deli' since 1996!). Our favorite part? Sandwiches are stacked high with meat and cheese for the low price of $5. Now that’s hard to beat.
Luigi’s Italian Deli - Concord
Luigi’s has been making sandwiches for over 40 years and is still going strong. We like the "Enrico Caruso" with roast beef and garlic mayo and the "Italian Dagwood" for a classic Italian sub while the kids will adore "Claire's Club Melt." They also have salads and fresh pasta which are equally delicious.
Bara’s Deli - San Leandro
Family run since 1986, Bara’s deli is a favorite with East Bay families (and touted as East Bay's best kept secret—until now that is). The sandwiches are piled high, and classics like the Ruben and BLT are always a great choice. For specialty subs, check out "The Godfather" (Italian) and customer-inspired creations like the "Bam Bam" (roast beef and gouda) and the "Mario Brother" (meatball). For kids, you can't go wrong with the "Ultimate Grilled Cheese"—a grilled ciabatta filled with provolone, cheddar, muenster and havarti.
Best Delis on the Peninsula
The Sandwich Spot - Redwood City
Whether you choose the weekly special, an on-the-menu item or get your daily veggies allowance with the Mean Lean Veggie Machine, all of the sandwiches at this hip and cool Redwood City deli are downright delicious. Make a special trip on Wed. for "Coco’s Tri-Tip" special.
Little Luca Specialty Shop - South San Francisco
While the deli is unassuming on the outside, this small, family-owned shop is a favorite and always draws a queue. The subs are big (enough to share between two people or more) and the secret sauce—garlic and hot pepper—which really makes these subs stand out from the rest.
Golden 9th Deli - San Mateo
For a no-fuss ham and cheese on white bread that both kids and adults will love, Golden 9th is your place (not to mention one of the friendliest owners around). The cheese to meat to bread ratio is spot on and while you won’t get fancy sandwich combos here, you're guaranteed the best tasting classic sandwiches bar none.
Two Cousins Deli - Belmont
This family-owned business delivers sandwiches that are plentiful, and the chip wall is stacked with your favorite kind. We love the "Ham Pachino" and "Veggie Time" but they can also make a simple turkey and swiss for the kiddos. Bonus: they have breakfast sandwiches too.
Best Delis in the South Bay
Ike’s Love and Sandwiches - San Jose
This beloved sandwich spot with locations all over the Bay Area had to make our list. Every location has a slightly different menu, and we love the funky decor and creative names and combinations. The "Steph Curry" is a turkey and BBQ sauce sandwich, "Reading Rainbow" is all about the colorful veggies, and the "Matt Cain" has won a "Fanwich Award" for best sports sandwich.
Beach Hut Deli - Morgan Hill
With locations all over California, the deli decor alone will transport you to a sandy beach with surfboards and palm trees no matter how far from the ocean you may be. The sandwiches are fantastic, with creative names like "Surfin’ Bird," "Beach Comber" and "Santa Cruz." Grab a seat outside under an umbrella and pretend you’re on vacation.
California Sourdough - San Jose
This San Jose deli has a pretty big following, with their classic sandwiches costing a $10 flat rate. Whether it’s roast beef, pastrami, or turkey, there's something for everyone in the family. Leave your credit card at home, this is a cash-only deli.
Crust - Milpitas
For those sandwich lovers who are all about hot, freshly baked sourdough bread, check out this deli located in Milpitas. Know as one of the best in town, choose the turkey and salami sandwich known as "The Royal," and for the kids, order the "Three Cheese Ultimate."
Best Delis in the North Bay & Marin County
Rozmary Kitchen - San Rafael
Catch these sandwiches at the farmer’s market on Thur. and Sun., or at Midwife and the Baker on Fri. The menu is small, with just five items but somehow covers all the cravings. The "K-Town" is a roast beef and poblano kimchi combo that will have you coming back for seconds while "Noni’s Eggplant" with eggplant, tomatoes and burrata is a refreshing as it sounds. You just can’t go wrong.
Picnicky’s - Vallejo
For a sandwich that is made exactly how you want and perfectly packaged to eat on the go, stop by Picnicky’s before your next road trip. Of course their specialty sandwiches like the "Grand Salami" or "Mr. Cowboy" are well worth the drive to Vallejo—road trip or not.
Davey Jones Deli - Sausalito
We love a menu that is grouped by type of meat or veggies. And best part? The ingredients are fresh, thoughtfully sourced and "will you make you strong like a lion." We like the "Vulcan Wrap" for vegans and the "Standard" for brisket lovers.
Michael’s Sourdough - Novato
Freshly baked sourdough bread with its own starter is made daily at this North Bay deli, taking these sandwiches to a whole other level. With locations in Novato and San Rafael, we recommend trying the "Golden Gate" (turkey and ham combo), or the "Dusty Dog" with chicken and apple sausage with swiss cheese on sourdough bread.