While tacos, burgers, and bbq usually get the lion's share of the attention in Houston, our sandwich game deserves some love, too. That’s because the between-bread options in this city are as diverse as our population—with banh mi, po’ boys, and tortas blending seamlessly with Italian hoagies and Jewish deli classics. You can find them at the best sandwich shops spread across Mutt City. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Before all these newfangled sandwich places came into town, there was Antone’s. The stalwart began slinging po’boys back in 1962, and it does so to this day. Grab a taste of nostalgia with classics like the chow-chow topped Super Original (an Italian style po’boy), simple tuna salad and pickle sandwich, or Nola-style muffuletta; or go for updated creations like Dr Hotez Bánh Mì, with beef, pickled veggies, fresh jalapeño, and garlic sambal aioli.
We’d categorize this as more of a dine-in cafe than a sandwich shop, but the messy po’ boys at this homegrown favorite are way too backslappin’ to be left out. The Midnight Masterpiece is just that, a masterpiece fully dressed and piled high with roast beef debris (and you can, in fact, get it at midnight, as many locations are open into the wee hours of the night). And the Bedtime in the Bayou, a fried Gulf shrimp po’boy, also ushers in those sweet dreams.
Part luxe steakhouse, part butcher shop, this Washington Ave standby is full of New York charm. So it’s no surprise they make a mean hero. Pop in for signature sammies like the B&B Italian Special, stacked with shaved ham, salami, capicola, mortadella, provolone, roasted red peppers, and balsamic on a crusty Italian roll; or The Delancey, a sandwich featuring deli-style hot pastrami and mustard on rye.
Coming to H-town by way of San Francisco, Ike’s has won the hearts of locals, one “dirty sauce” smothered sandwich at a time. That dirty sauce, by the way, is an addicting house garlic aioli with a hush-hush blend of seasonings and spices; and it’s not the only sandwich component that sets Ike’s apart from the pack—there’s also the San Fran-style Dutch Crunch bread, and fillings from halal chicken and vegan meatballs to meats from local bbq stalwart Pinkerton’s (a Houston–only delight).
Like any good Jewish delicatessen, the sandwiches at Kenny & Ziggy’s are gut-bustingly large. Consider sharing the Texas-sized triple deckers—packed with alarmingly good corned beef and pastrami made in house, coleslaw, melty Swiss, and dreamy thousand island dressing on rye (get it griddled if you know what’s good for you) along with house pickles. That way, you can tack on extras from matzo ball soup to kreplach and spinach knish.
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Bánh mì are done right at this Vietnamese kitchen and sandwich shop. That’s because the crew goes the extra mile when making and sourcing its ingredients—daily baked baguettes, housemade aioli and duck pate, perfectly pickled veg, and damn good fillings from hoisin butter chicken and oak smoked brisket to the coconut basil prawns. Add a fried egg and café sua dá (Vietnamese iced coffee) to reach expert-level.
The Crunchy Chicken at this homegrown sandwich and salad slinger has a dedicated following, as does the Truffled Egg Salad. So it’s a good thing it has locations across the city (and one in Austin). The crunchy chicken gets its crunch from a nut-seed crumble and crushed homemade chips, and an extra “it” factor from shavings of roast chicken, zippy house pickles, and an oh-so-tasty pretzel bun (which, don’t worry, also provides the bed for that incredible egg salad).
This California-born farm-to-table sandwich shop opened its doors in Houston just a few years back, and it’s clearly made a name for itself, as it now boasts a total of five venues around town. Go for beloved staples like The Farm Club on seeded whole wheat and Chimichurri Steak & Bacon on toasted sesame, or check out newer sando options like the Sweet Heat Crispy Thai Chicken.
Missing the northeast? Homesick transplants can get a greasy, cheesy taste of the City of Brotherly Love at this local cheesesteak empire. Pop in one and you can get your buttery hoagie filled with razor-thin beefsteak, golden griddled onions, hot oil onions, and Whiz. Don’t forget the gravy fries.
A neighborhood staple since the late ‘90s, Paulie’s combines a mom-n-pop attitude with seriously good Italian food. While yes, you should definitely try the housemade pastas, the hoagies and panini are not to be overlooked. Go for classic Italians, shrimp BLTs, and crispy panini stuffed with things like salami, provolone, and artichoke spread; and tack on some cookies while you’re at it.
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Skywalk up to the counter and say howdy to the Darth Vader and Yoda portraits at this cheerfully geeky deli and cafe. Here, you’ll find specialty sammies from bone-in ham and egg salad on ciabatta (a sleeper hit) and to a killer reuben with beer-infused sauerkraut and house Russian; and be sure to look out for daily blackboard specials, like the gorgeously greasy peppers and onions smothered cheesesteak on Wednesdays.
Think of Roostar like the Subway of banh mi, but actually fresh and with a laser-set focus on ingredients that are locally sourced and homemade. We’re talking house pickled vegetables, from-scratch garlic aioli and pork pate, and quality proteins like pork belly, chopped ribeye, fried pollock, and Vietnamese ham.
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Crunched for time? You can snag banh mi via the drive-thru window at this GOOF-area haunt. Choose your protein—honey glazed lemongrass salmon and tofu, chargrilled bbq pork and ribeye, and more—to get stuffed inside crispy baguette along with things like pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeños, chicken liver pate, and a Vietnamese buttery mayo.
Back in the day, Midtown used to be known as Little Saigon thanks to the Vietnamese community and mom-and-pops in the area. Today, this decades-old banh mi shop stands as a reminder of the hood’s past, and a tasty one at that. In addition to its popular pho and banh xeo (Vietnamese crepe), hit this institution to score tried-and-true banh mi stacked with lemongrass chicken, pork meatballs, Vietnamese cold cuts, and fried egg.
See that big “I <3 Tortas” sign? Open that door beneath it to enter torta heaven. There are countless varieties of the Mexican sandwich, each done justice thanks to buttery, toasty bread with a generous amount of fixin’s stuffed inside—think steak milanesa, egg, and Oaxacan cheese or jamon, chuleta (smoked pork chop), and pineapple. Get the napkins ready, and don’t forget the torta shop also boasts a location in Northside.
This grilled cheese slinger has been melting hearts since it’s beginning as a food truck. You can now find its brick-and-mortar over on Washington Ave, slingin’ the same reimagined grilled cheese sammies, and then some. Turn up the volume on the simple cheese melt with five-napkin fillings from smoked brisket and pickled jalapeño with white American, mozzarella, and Vermont white cheddar to a tarragon lobster salad number with Old Bay mayo, gruyere, mozzarella, and provolone.