Don’t underestimate the art of the sandwich in this town. We have some real sculptors and performance artists here, who cure their own meats, make their own spreads and bake their own bread. The result is fabulous sandwiches that you need to grab with both hands. It’s just mustard on the turkey that a lot of them come from quirky trailers too.
House Banh Mi at Elizabeth Street Café
No, this isn’t a $1.50 banh mi but rather a sandwich event to be celebrated, and it will cost you a bit more. Chef Larry McGuire has elevated Vietnamese food to his upscale usual at this South First Street locale. Evidence: the house specialty banh mi, with chicken liver mousse, pork pâté and roasted pork on an elegant fresh baguette with homemade mayo, cucumber, daikon, carrot, sambal, cilantro and jalapeño.
Insider Tip: Call it in and get it to go for a quick, satisfying lunch without any wait.
1501 S. First St.; 512-291-2881
Monte Cristo at Hey! You Gonna Eat or What
They might have to change the saying from "Everything's bigger in Texas" to “Everything’s fried in Texas.” Take the famous sandwich from this food trailer with a lot of character: Pit-smoked ham and mesquite-smoked turkey combine with cheddar, provolone and a housemade cherry and fig jelly. It's then battered in Shiner Bock and deep-fried for that crispy taste you were missing.
Insider Tip: The chips on the side of their sandwiches are all homemade too.
1318 S. Congress Ave.; 512-296-3547
Specials at Austin Daily Press
This East Austin spot comes up with so many new, delicious specials that we can’t pick a favorite. Should it be the Sir Anthony, with braised lamb shoulder, poached potato and apple, and smoked hazelnuts? The Frank Reynolds, with braised pork belly, caramelized fennel, arugula and carrot-juniper aioli? Or the Humpty Dumpty, with fried marinated eggplant, pickled green tomatoes, beets, sriracha and herbs? We’ll let you decide.
Price: $6 to $10, depending on which you choose
Insider Tip: Check out their creative, over-the-top vegetarian specials too, like the recent Clever Girl, with scratch-made ricotta, pepper relish, roasted cauliflower, Texas grapefruit, pecans and mint pesto.
900 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; 512-828-6463
Tipsy Texan at Franklin Barbecue
Can Aaron Franklin make his already amazing barbecue any better? Why, yes, friends, he can. Franklin piles chopped brisket and sausage onto a fresh-baked bun and then adds a crunchy layer of purple coleslaw and pickles for an out-of-this-world, enormous meal.
900 E. 11th St.; 512-653-1187
Lami at FoodHeads
The 34th Street staple has long been known for its high-quality ingredients and interesting flavor combinations. For example, the Lami pairs grilled salami and fresh mozzarella with fresh veggies and blackberry-balsamic vinaigrette on toasted multigrain bread. Also, don’t miss the delicious cookies and brownies here for dessert.
Insider Tip: The cute, refurbished house makes it feel like casual, comfy Austin, and the patio is perfect for a nice day.
616 W. 34th St.; 512-420-8400
Puccia Classica at Lucky’s Puccias
The ticket at this West Sixth Street spot is the amazing wood-fired bread called a puccia (think pizza crust but lighter). The owner (and the sandwich) hails from the Puglia region of Italy, and he’s truly brought his regional comfort cuisine to Austin, with fresh, organic ingredients like prosciutto and mozzarella. We like the Puccia Classica, with smoked ham, fontina, mixed greens, tomato, onion and housemade chipotle mayo, with a side of basil oil.
Insider Tip: Save room for a Puccia Dolce for dessert, with Nutella. They'll even add peanut butter if you ask nicely.
817 W. Fifth St.; 512-739-8785
Hot Italian Beef at Melvin’s Deli Comfort
Why does Congress’ chef Erica Waksmunski like Melvin’s so much? Well, the North Loop–area trailer cures its own deli meats and confit as well as makes its own condiments. That means an absolutely addictive menu, with highlights like the hot Italian beef with roast beef warmed in jus, green peppers, provolone and spicy pepper giardiniera on a sub roll, served with jus.
Insider Tip: For $2 more, get it stacked and get twice as much meat.
501 E. 53rd St.; 512- 705-3906
Pesto Chicken Salad at Fricano’s Deli
The first and last bastion of an original Italian deli in town, Fricano’s offers huge sandwiches that continue to amaze us. Whether you go for the Wednesday special, chicken salad with homemade pesto, or hit up classics like the Italian club or Paul’s Reuben, you’re in good hands.
Insider Tip: Be sure to get your bread grilled, since it makes everything more decadent.
2405 Nueces St.; 512-482-3322
Knuckle Sandwich at Noble Sandwiches
The city is waiting with bated breath for chef John Bates to officially open his new Central location on Burnet Road, but until then, we’re trekking up to 620 for his house-cured meats atop house-baked bread. All of the sandwiches fulfill our fantasies (duck pastrami, anyone?), but we’re partial to the Knuckle Sandwich, with roast beef, horseradish and onion with melty cheddar.
Insider Tip: If you like the sandwiches here, check out their monthly fixed-price dinner series, where Bates gets to flex his creative muscle even more.
12233 Ranch Rd. 620 N.; 512-382-6248