New York City's Five Best Sandwiches

June 14, 2012 2:40 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Lobster Roll
Lobster! (Photo: Better Being Underground, with)

New Yorkers, are you tired of bringing soggy sandwiches to work day after day? We're rounding up the best sandwich joints in New York City and showing you how to navigate their menus to get to something you'll really love. 

1. Hana Food - East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

If you're lucky enough to work in the blossoming East Williamsburg scene, you can use you lunch break to steal away to this twenty-four hour Metropolitan Avenue haunt that reinvents the relationship between delis and sandwiches. With just about fifty sandwiches on their menu, each one filled with an ecstatic and unconventional combination of ingredients, you're bound to find something that hits the spot.

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Our favorite is the Metropolitan Hang Over, a combination of chicken cutlet, prosciutto, cheddar cheese, spinach, and blue cheese dressing. It's totally unhealthy, but has all the things you need to get back to work completely satisfied.

Vegan or vegetarian? This place has you covered with an array of sandwiches fitted to your dietary needs. We like the Butter Face (vegetarian), a breakfast wrap consisting of vegan sausage, egg whites, avocado, and sun-dried tomato. If you're not in the mood for breakfast, go for the Monkey Returns, which combines vegan chicken salad, sprouts, avocado, tomato, and fresh mozzarella on seven-grain bread.

If you're a vegan and you're looking for something with a bite, go for the Health Three, a wrap stuffed with vegan curry chicken, vegan cheese, basil, avocado, and sun-dried tomato.

Not only are all of these options under ten bucks, but Hana Food has free delivery twenty-four hours a day (they just don't advertise it), so you can get anything in their deli whenever the craving hits you delivered right to your front door. And (not that we endorse this!) that includes cigarettes.

2. Graham Avenue Meats and Deli - East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

For the longest time, Graham Avenue Meats and Deli held the coveted Number #1 spot on Yelp for the best-reviewed restaurant in New York City. If that isn't a glowing endorsement of how awesome their sandwiches are, we don't know what is.

Growing up in the Bronx, my Arthur Avenue introduction to the greasy, down-to-earth world of the Italian sub was bar-none until I tasted the Godfather Sandwich at Graham Avenue. The wonderfully friendly people behind the counter pile layer-after-layer of imported Italian meats, cheeses, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, vine-ripe tomatoes, sprouts, sweet peppers, and (depending on how spicy you tell them you want it) some very hot italian peppers.

If the size of the sandwich isn't enough to get you excited, they have a guy there whose chief responsibility is to inspect the sandwich for quality assurance before it's handed on over to you. The flavor is as immense as the sandwich-- sweet from the peppers and the vinegar, salty and savory from the meats and the cheeses, and spicy from all those hot peppers. It's all the things you wanted from a classic Italian sandwich multiplied by twenty.

And the best part? It's only $7.50.

3. Alidoro - SoHo, Manhattan

What Graham Avenue is to friendliness, Alidoro is to misanthropy. A sign right at the counter displaying a graphic of a person in an intense state of pain warns patrons from refraining to ask the woman at the counter what her favorite sandwich is. Their system of ordering is confusing and counter-intuitive, and you're scolding for not being an immediate expert in its ways upon first visit (for the record, choose your sandwich while you wait, pay in cash immediately, then stand aside and wait for it to be handed to you).

They're the Sandwich Nazis of SoHo, and they mean business. The fact that they treat you like garbage and you keep coming back for more (to the extent that you can expect a fairly long wait during peak lunch hours) is a testament to what they're doing to their meats. And make no mistake: the reason to come to this joint is their meats, which they cure like doctors. Vegetarians can go elsewhere, especially if it's just a couple of blocks away to the next spot in the feature.

When I went there last, I had a special with salted pork cheek that was out of this world. But since their specials rotate, go for something simple so you can really taste their craft: the Matthew. It has prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, dressing, and arugula. In other words, this is a sandwich so spare that you'd be able to taste every flawed nook and cranny. But you can't. And you'll keep coming back for more.

4. Dominique Ansel - SoHo, Manhattan

Two for SoHo, two for East Williamsburg? I guess that's just how these things work. This place is new, and it's great. Though their confectionary treats come front and center (I recommend their Strawberry Balsamic Macarons), you've gotta try their Avocado Toast, especially if you're vegetarian/vegan/broke/love avocados as much as I do.

For $6.50, you get two slices of fresh brioche toast slathered with a heaping of a homemade avocado and tarragon puree (think French guacamole). If that isn't decadent enough, they add to the top of that slices of avocado and finish it all off with a squirt of citrus and olive oil. Bring it back to your office and be the envy of all your coworkers, or eat it in their beautiful backyard, rain-or-shine.

5. Better Being Underground - West Village, Manhattan

We're saving the best for last. Open only during lunch hours, this secret sandwich shop located in the basement of an old West Village building has relied on word of mouth marketing for years. They have a WordPress blog, located at, that informs new customers and long-standing patrons about their lunch offerings of the day.

Literally everything there is terrific. But since we're looking for the transcendent, we have to push the Radical Roll, a $16 Connecticut-style lobster roll loaded with fresh lobster, herbs, and citrus that completely demolishes the competition. It's the best lobster roll I've ever had in my entire life, and it's also one of the cheapest. You'll never schlep out to Red Hook again!


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