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Restaurants / Lists

Houston’s Best Sandwich Shops — a Top 10 to Eat By

From Hidden Finds to Houston Institutions to New Trendsetters, These Houston Sandwiches Rule

BY // 07.22.19

There are few things on this earth so satisfying as a sandwich. No matter what mood you’re in, no matter how hungry you are, you can always go for a sandwich. Sandwiches are a classic, perfect for filling you up. They’re always reliable, and they always hit the spot.

But what is Houston’s best sandwich shop? Which ‘wich is best?

You’ll find sandwiches scattered across menus all over the city, from healthy, farm-to-table spots like Local Foods to any old-fashioned diner you can think of. They’ll do in a pinch. But when you’re craving a top tier sandwich, it’s time to hit up a proper sub shop or deli.

Houston’s got sandwich shops in spades, from ones specializing in banh mis to Philly cheesesteaks. Some are decades old, others are newer to the scene. But Houston’s 10 Best Sandwich Shops are all excellent.

Fair warning, though — if you want your crusts cut off, it might be best to just stay at home.

Carter & Cooley Co

3941, 375 West 19th Street

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This sandwich shop is a classic Houston favorite, dating back more than 30 years — with the restored old drugstore digs and authentic tin ceiling to prove it. It’s a Heights staple, offering an extremely robust menu. But of course, every sandwich is made to order, so they’re more like guidelines.

Carter & Cooley’s BLT is simple, straightforward, but to die for with the freshest lettuce, juiciest tomato and crispiest bacon out there. And Carter & Cooley’s brought a whopping slice of New York to Houston with its Reube, piled high with hot corned beef and sauerkraut.

carter and cooley double decker turkey club
Carter & Cooley is a Houston institution for a reason.

East Hampton Sandwich Co.

4444 Westheimer Road, Suite H110

This tasty Texas-based trendsetter may have closed one of its Houston locations, but its joint in River Oaks District is still going strong. And it’s no wonder why this Dallas shop is so popular, given its gourmet ‘wiches, stunning sides and refreshing frosés.

The lobster sandwiches are the go-to, whether you choose the traditional (lobster) knuckle sandwich with lemon zest and Old Bay mayo, or the lobster grilled cheese with shaved Havarti and sriracha dijonnaise. You know you want basil pesto pasta on the side.

Les Givral’s

2704 Milam Street; 4601 Washington Avenue

Let’s be real. The Washington location can’t hold a candle to the Milam original, but both Les Givral’s are ultra-satisfying. The Midtown mainstay has been serving up banh mis that go beyond ample, beyond robust, for as long as anyone can remember.

Why? Well, it’s hard to forget the authentic Vietnamese sandwich done so right. The chargrill barbecue pork is the long-time favorite, and you can add on pate if you so desire. But you can get any kind of heaping sandwich, from meatballs to beef to steamed pork to tofu.

There’s something for everyone.

Kenny & Ziggy’s

2327 Post Oak Boulevard; 5172 Buffalo Speedway

This traditional Jewish deli is all of New York on a plate. After all, Ziggy’s grandpa launched The Rialto Deli in 1927, the first-ever Jewish deli on New York’s Broadway. Delis are in the family’s blood, and the tradition is kept alive in Houston.

Their menu is hearty but nondescript, with simple names like Hebrew National Balogna, Prime Roast Beef and Triple Smoked Pastrami — the latter of which is made with Kenny & Ziggy’s homemade meat.

But that’s all you need to know. Put your faith in their hands, and their seeded rye in yours.

kenny & ziggy’s massive
Kenny & Ziggy’s is authentic New York sandwiches right at your fingertips here in Houston.

Pappa Geno’s

1801 Ella Boulevard; 515 Westheimer; various

Hands down, without a doubt, this is the best place for a Philly cheesesteak in all of Houston. That’s not to say you should shy away from Pappa Geno’s Hot Italian Hoagie with lean ham and genoa salami. But believe us when we call these cheesesteaks the real deal.

There are no less than eight on the menu, from the Philly Style with grilled onions and ooey gooey cheese whiz to the Texas Philly Melt on Texas toast, of course, and the Smothered Philly overflowing with zesty brown gravy. But the Fat Philly takes the cake — steak?— as it were: topped with two chicken strips, mozzarella cheese sticks and French fries.

Yup. You read that right.

Nielsen’s Delicatessen

4500 Richmond Avenue

This 65-year-old sandwich shop is as old-school as it gets. To the extent that it doesn’t even have its own website, though you can find Nielsen’s menu online. They’re doing something right — actually, everything right, from homemade bread and mayo from scratch to quality meats and cheeses.

If you’re a fan of those new-fangled sub shops, this might not be the place for you. But if you are obsessed with classic chicken salad sandwiches and no-frills roast beef with Swiss cheese, this is definitely the place for you.

Paulie’s Poboys

3823 Bellaire Boulevard; 11805 Westheimer Road 

The cherished, decades-old Antone’s has an all-new life in the form of Paulie’s Poboys, which has kept the magic alive and added a whole new look. The Lebanese owners set to redefine “poboy” with their own unique take. The contemporary takes on time-tested sandwiches have garnered them something of a cult following.

Paulie’s Supreme Poboy comes with imported ham galore, extra salami and chow chow. The Smoked Turkey lives up to its name with perfectly smoked turkey and even smoked swiss Gouda. But some of the best elements come courtesy of their heritage — falafel sandwiches does Panini-style, plus gyros with lamb and beef, and tatziki.

paulie’s poboys veggies
Paulie’s Poboys is the beloved Antone’s, revamped.

Rocky’s Subs

210 Greens Road

This spot-on pitstop is all about massive hoagies and Philly cheesesteaks. Open since 1980, Rocky’s Subs has been delighting Houstonians with its perfected basics, making it a surefire place to satisfy that sandwich craving — but you’d better come with a big appetite.

Or else, you might not be able to handle the towering Roast Beef Hoagie, mammoth Tuna Salad Hoagie or gargantuan Italian Hoagie with capicolla, genoa salami, ham and provolone cheese. And, as a bonus: Rocky’s serve some seriously good pizzas, too.

Ploughman’s Deli & Cafe

965 Pinemont Drive

The best part of Ploughman’s isn’t the warm service, signature deli-style charcuterie platter or even the specialty sandwiches — though you truly can’t go wrong with the pickled shrimp Prawn Star and Brewben with corned beef and beer-infused sauerkraut.

No, it would be the expansive customize-your-own menu. You can truly have it your way, with six bread options from ciabatta to rye, eight spread options from stone ground mustard to harissa, six protein options from bone-in ham to bacon, plus six cheeses, five dressings and 12 veggie options. And don’t forget the handy-dandy kid’s menu.

Mendocino Farms

5510 Morningside Drive 

This California export just opened in Houston, promising a bounty of healthy, hearty sandwiches made from scratch with ingredients sourced from local vendors. Husband-and-wife duo Mario Del Poro and Ellen Chen opened the first Mendocino in Los Angeles, and it caught on like crazy.

Expect classics such as The Farm Club with smashed avocado and nitrate-free Applewood smoked bacon, Mario’s Caprese with marinated bell peppers and BelGioiso fresh mozarella, and The Hot Italian with caramelized Creminelli salami and spicy olive-mustard giardiniera.

There may be a lot of eats only true sandwich connoisseurs can pronounce, but they’re sure to be loved by everyone.

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