On a Hawthorn backstreet away from Glenferrie Road, Ray’s Sandwich Deli could be easily missed – but that’s kind of the idea. The laid-back coffee and sandwich spot is quietly becoming a hit with locals seeking a moment of respite from the main road, as well as uni students looking for an affordable grab-and-go option.

It’s a plan built on years of hospo experience between co-owners Mariella Traina (The Counter, Meet Gerard) and brother-in-law Jonathan Mandel, who have run cafes and takeaway joints in Melbourne and Sydney.

“We wanted Ray’s to be a little bit of a reprieve from everywhere else, a relaxed environment where you can take your time, grab a sandwich and a coffee, stop for a chat or park yourself in the sun outside,” Traina says.

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Inside, that sunshine filters through the north-facing windows (inspiring the name) onto a pink terrazzo counter designed by Flack Studio (which also designed Aussie pop star Troye Sivan’s house), where sandwiches are assembled to order. The experience and menu both borrow from sandwich delis in New York, where Traina has spent a lot of time.

“I love that you can walk into somewhere in New York such as Katz’s Deli, talk to the person making your sandwich and they’ll ask if you want a fatty or a lean slice of pastrami – the service is really personalised and immediate, so we’re trying to bring some of that theatre here.”

It’s not just the service that’s inspired by New York delis. There are also handmade plain and blueberry bagels from Garden State Bakery served with cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, jam, avocado, Vegemite or smoked salmon. And a toastie menu that includes a tuna melt, a Reuben, ham and cheese as well as a triple-cheese veggie number.

Fresh sandwiches are Italian-inspired – the Continental with hot sopressa salami, mortadella, peppers, olives, stracciatella cheese and pesto is a standout. There’re also chocolate chip cookies baked in-house and scrolls from Sebby’s on Fridays and Saturdays, with coffee from Coffee Supreme served in big diner mugs and weekly-changing house-made sodas with flavours such as jam lamington rounding out the menu.

Ray’s Sandwich Deli
Shop 2/731 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn (shopfront is on Chrystobel Crescent despite address)
(03) 9078 2457

Tues to Sat 7am-3pm