Sometimes, you just want a sandwich.
And not just any sandwich, either. You want soft bread piled high with meat, cheese and veggies and slathered in sauce, paired with potato chips, pickles or pasta salad.
Armed with recommendations from The Tribune’s Facebook followers, our intrepid staffers set off in search of San Luis Obispo County’s best sandwiches.
Here are some of the spectacular sandos and sensational sammies we discovered in our quest, from a classic Italian sub to a spicy white prawn po’ boy loaded with succulent seafood. (Readers’ favorites also included offerings from Broad Street Giant Grinder in San Luis Obispo, Cricket’s Deli in Atascadero, Grand Deli in Grover Beach and Full Belly Deli in Paso Robles.)
Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments.
$10 to $15.50 burgers and sandwiches, other menu items vary
The acclaimed salmon sandwich at Morro Bay’s aptly named Bayside Café includes six ounces of perfectly charbroiled salmon filet on a big, puffy brioche bun, lavish schmears of tasty house-made tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato and dill pickle chips. Assembled, it’s mouth-stretchingly massive. Several sides are offered; we went with a sweet-and-sour slaw, a softened cabbage salad flavored like bread-and-butter-pickles. Yum! And the tempura-style cod-and-chips were some of the best we’d had in a long time.
The café’s indoor dining room has wide-window views of the marina, and outside, there’s a pet-friendly, shielded-and-heated patio that’s backed by stately eucalyptus trees and Morro Bay State Park. — Kathe Tanner
Cafe on Bridge St.
$6.95 to $12.95 sandwiches and burgers, $10.95 to $13.25 salads
Dine surrounded by antiques in a circa-1877 house and garden at Cambria’s quirkily charming Café on Bridge Street. The best-selling sandwiches are gently steam-heated hot pastrami and house-roasted beef with au jus dip.
My choice from more than four dozen options? A 6-inch-long, 5-inch-tall tower of that tender rare beef, plus avocado, cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a toasty, poppy-seeded whole-wheat bun. I couldn’t do a Guy Fieri-style big bite, so I noshed around the edges first. Yum! (I took half of the sandwich home for dinner.) — Kathe Tanner
$9.50 to $12.95 sandwiches, $8.95 to $10.95 salads, $3.94 to $13.92 chips
Ahoy, mateys! Housemade potato chips may be the main draw at this small, pirate-themed spot just off Pismo Beach’s main drag, but Chipwrecked — not to be confused with the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie of the same name — also serves up a mean sandwich.
The Ports of Call, as they’re called, range from the Port San Luis, featuring toasted garlic bread topped with tri-tip, melted Swiss cheese and salsa, to the Port Marseille, a truffle-topped egg salad sandwich with fresh arugula on toasted ciabatta bread. Each sando comes with a serving of crisp, crunchy sea salt chips.
I opted for a Port Margherita with mild provolone cheese, creamy avocado, ripe red tomatoes, lettuce and basil on a soft toasted roll smeared with tangy balsamic mayo, while my pint-sized shipmate got a tiny turkey slider.
I paired my sandwich with some of Chipwrecked’s signature gourmet chips, known as Chipwrecks. My choice, El Conquistador, featured chili salt-flavored chips dusted with cotija cheese and topped with fresh cilantro and sliced jalapeños. I picked a side of herbal ranch dressing — they call sauces “tugboats” — to cool some of that delicious heat.
I couldn’t resist tucking a few of those thick-cut potato chips into my sandwich to add some crunch — and I’m so glad I did. — Sarah Linn
$9 to $20 sandwiches, $7 to $9 soup, $7 to $9 salad bar
There are menus galore on the walls of the entrance to Flavor Factory. The slightly funky Morro Bay café’s many burgers and sandwiches tempt you to forget that dull diet and indulge. Order at the counter at the end of the open kitchen, and soon your meal shows up at your table in the other side of the restaurant.
Some offerings are chef Adam Pollard’s riffs on standards. Others are off the scale — like the spicy white prawn po’ boy sandwich with lump crab salad, tomato, onion, lettuce and Creole mayo on a toasted lobster roll.
Is it popular? I got the last one of the day, but missed out on Dawnelle Pollard’s wonderful chocolate bread pudding. Next time. — Kathe Tanner
$8.95 to $12.95 sandwiches and burritos, $3 to $7.50 salads, $5.49 to $6.29 wraps
It’s a sandwich deli and convenience store wrapped up into one. What more could you want?
Gus’s Grocery, which opened in 1989, has an endless summer-time feel, with classic rock tunes playing in the background and friendly customer service.
At Gus’s Grocery, customers can create their own sandwich, choose from specialty options or try the daily special. You can chose between a half sandwich, regular size or “bomber.”
Avocado lovers looking for a filling meal look no further than the delicious turkey veggie sandwich served on a wheat roll. Customers can enjoy their sandwich (or burrito, which I hear are also tasty) on the outdoor patio under the shade of umbrellas. — Cassandra Garibay
High Street Deli
$8.75 to $11.50 sandwiches, $8.50 salads
This tiny, charming spot decorated with vintage signs is popular and legendary.
I got the Tropical Vacation, a sandwich with smoked turkey, romaine, sprouts, avocado, honey mustard and cranberry on sliced sourdough bread. I wondered about the name, as cranberries and turkey make me think “Thanksgiving feast” and not “summer in Oahu,” but I decided to let the sandwich speak for itself.
And this sandwich didn’t just speak — it sang. It was completely loaded, so full I had to strategize how I was going to get a bite into my mouth.
You know that scene in the movie “Ratatouille” where the rat takes a bite of people food and sees colors? That’s what eating this sandwich was like. A symphony of tangy, savory goodness with a clear, sweet note of cranberry soaring over the whole thing.
But be warned: This is not a cute sandwich. I felt like a goblin who had recently broken out of prison and hungrily robbed a sandwich shop. I had juices running down my face, as well as my hands and arms. Napkins are a necessity! — Gabby Ferreira
350 High St., San Luis Obispo | 805-541-4738 or highstdeli.com
Hush-Harbor Artisan Bakery and Café
$8.95 to $12.95 sandwiches, $10.25 to $13.50 salads
Hush-Harbor is a hidden gem tucked away in a small Atascadero strip mall on El Camino Real. It’s a family-run café and bakery that’s known for its delicious bread, but also serves up tasty sandwiches, salads and quiches.
The menu has a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, all of which come with a side. Options include potato, pasta and tossed salads, along with fruit and french fries.
I opted for the turkey grinder, which comes with turkey breast, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, roasted red pepper, red onion, plus pesto, caesar sauce and balsamic vinaigrette, on your choice of bread.
The sandwich was damn good, and the rustic Italian bread I selected was definitely a highlight. The crust was nicely crunchy, and the middle was soft and chewy.
Although I got a half-size sandwich, I’d recommend going for Hush-Harbor’s full-size offerings if you’re hungry. Their portions are definitely more reasonable than some San Luis Obispo delis, so you’ll probably be able to finish the whole thing with no problem.
I left Hush-Harbor wondering why I hadn’t ventured in sooner. I’ll definitely be back for another sandwich, and maybe a loaf of bread, too. — Lindsey Holden
Lincoln Market & Deli
$6.50 to $9 sandwiches and burritos, $6 tater tots, $2.50 to $4 salads
With a fully stocked gourmet market plus sandwiches, breakfast burritos and loaded tater tots, Lincoln Market & Deli really lives up to its name. Where else can you pick up diapers, dish detergent and dog food alongside coconut yogurt and cocktail mixers?
If you’ve already exhausted the extensive lists of hot and cold sandos — options range from BBQ beef to Tuscan turkey to pork banh mi — check out the secret menu, which features such sophisticated choices as Anholm Sweet Home, with roast beef, goat cheese and fig marmalade, and El Cubano, featuring pulled pork, ham and melty Swiss cheese. That last one is a winner.
On a low-carb diet? Skip the bread together and try a tasty salad such as the Tuna Cup, which features tuna mixed with avocado, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and olives and drizzled with honey mustard dressing.
Once you’ve placed your order, snag a seat under an umbrella on the sunny, enclosed patio or join your friends at a large, family-style table inside. I usually find myself gravitating toward the bank of pinball machines in the back, where a rad mural of Abraham Lincoln bids sandwich lovers to “Party on, dudes” a la “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” There’s also a console loaded with old-school video games. — Sarah Linn
Monterey St. Market
$9 to $10.50 sandwiches, other items vary
If you’re looking for a classic Italian sandwich, you can’t go wrong with Monterey St. Market, formerly known as Piemonte’s Italian Deli. Take your pick from hot or cold, meatball or pastrami, prosciutto or Philly cheesesteak — there’s a ton to choose from. I went for the classic SLO Town Special: dry and cooked salami, ham, mortadella and the perfect amount of provolone cheese, topped with banana peppers, tomato, lettuce, mustard and mayo and wrapped in a sesame French roll. The bread is crisp but fluffy, the meat is powerful on its own, and the toppings add a satisfying crunch.
If you’re feeling creative, you can buy house-made hot dinners, plus salads, desserts and deli trays, to have an authentic Italian meal in your own kitchen. — Kayla Missman
Red Scooter Deli & Cafe
$3 to $10.50 sandwiches, $10 wraps, $2.5 to $11 salads
Why do readers love this Paso Robles restaurant?
Let’s start with the location. Nestled next to Park Cinemas, Red Scooter Deli is located just across the street from Downtown City Park — the perfect spot for a lunchtime picnic.
The other main draw is Red Scooter Deli’s massive menu, which features dozens of delicious hot and cold options for sandwich fans.
Tempted by a host of vegetarian-friendly choices, including the Avocado Reuben and the Thai Tofu Wrap, I finally settled on the Sweet Cheese, a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Served on sliced sourdough, the warm smoked Gouda, rich walnuts and sweet caramelized onions got a crunch from fresh green apples and a delicious tang from honey mustard dressing.
The symphony of sweet and savory conjured by memories of one of my favorite party foods, brie en croute.
Appropriately, I took the party outside and enjoyed my lunch on a park bench under a spreading oak tree. What better way to while away an afternoon? — Sarah Linn
$7.25 to $12.49 sandwiches
Construction on Shell Beach Road makes it a little challenging to get here, but don’t let that deter you from checking out this gem of a sandwich shop.
Sando’s is a cozy establishment with friendly service. It’s tiny, with just a few spots to sit inside, but there are some tables outside so you can dine al fresco. The menu is simple, with delicious options for vegetarians and carnivores alike, or you can build your own custom sandwich.
I ordered the turkey pesto sandwich — yum! The sandwich, which comes with avocado, provolone, turkey, pesto, tomato and lettuce on a Dutch crunch roll, is simple and filling. The earthy tones of the pesto pair well with the buttery avocado, savory turkey and crunchy lettuce. I’ll definitely order this one again. — Gabby Ferreira
$9 to $11, $6.99 salads
The Closeout is one of the specialty sandwiches created by Surfside Deli in Grover Beach and is a customer favorite. Its thick layers of roast beef, ham, turkey and cheddar is topped with swiss cheese, tomato, onion, sprouts, mayo, and mustard stuffed in a Dutch crunch roll. It’s a very husky sandwich to get your mouth around. It’s a very meaty sandwich with the right mix of veggies which makes a delicious combo. I couldn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting! — Laura Dickinson