The Best Sandwiches in Melbourne

Updated 1 month ago

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When John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, assembled the world’s original sandwich in the 1700s, he probably had no idea how far it would go. We don’t just mean geographically, either. Sandwiches are now the vehicles for just about every edible item on Earth.

Here in Melbourne, we’ve embraced the lot – sandwiches filled with cold-cuts, fiery Thai salads, American fried chook and every other combo imaginable. Whether they’re wild, simple or luxurious, here’s where to find Melbourne’s best.

  • Hector’s kicked off Melbourne’s new-wave sandwich craze when it took over a former milk bar in 2017. And it hasn’t looked back since – corner-store standards made with elevated ingredients are now the norm, and Hector’s has copy-pasted its winning formula to further shops in South Melbourne and Fitzroy. Follow the queues for hulking schnitzel sangas, hot tuna melts, banger brekkie muffins and more.

  • Inside this tiny banh mi bar from the Anchovy/Jeow team, a woodfire hearth turns out turmeric chicken, Laotian pork sausage and Manchurian pumpkin to fill its warm, crusty baguettes. But it’s the “banh stra-mi” – a special stuffed with house-made pastrami, pickled mustard greens and dill – that we can’t get over.

  • Melbourne isn’t short on sandwich shops. But there are few doing it quite like Stef and Diana Condello. Come for classic Italian sandwiches, including a house-roasted porchetta number with crackling.

  • This daytime hangout from the team behind north-side favourite Florian offers fresh sandwiches, nourishing salads, a next-level mushroom congee, and a no-fuss takeaway menu.

  • This Indonesian sandwich and coffee shop (by an ex-Navi sous-chef) serves Aussie cafe favourites with Indo flair. Find gado gado sandwiches, sambal-spiked Filet-o-Fish and sweets like kaya crullers. Plus, Dukes coffee all day.

  • Kelso’s is another long-serving player in Melbourne's sandwich scene, serving Abbotsford from its cheery, nostalgic digs since 2016. Come for stretchy grilled cheese melts, and technicolour salad sangas like you’d get from a primary school tuckshop.

  • Enter this Euro-style grocer and cafe for an impressive salad sanga, Baker Bleu pizza squares and fancy picnic hampers. Plus, two-person cakes (including Marion’s Basque cheesecake), produce, seedlings, fresh blooms and more for home.

  • Falco's chicken salad sandwich is superlative. The filling is soft, creamy and tangy; and it's offset by one of the crispest bread crusts in Melbourne. The salad and egg sandwiches also get podium finishes.

  • Enter through the discreet side gate, order at the garage window, then head to a leafy nearby park with a saucy meatball sub and a side of fries loaded with either bolognaise or carbonara – made from family recipes.

  • The team behind Good Days is serving up excellent banh mis, pillowy bao and pastries. Come for chewy baguettes stuffed with xiu mai (saucy Vietnamese meatballs), crunchy porchetta and turmeric fried fish. Plus, Vietnamese iced coffee and nitro tea.

  • Saul's is the sandwich king of the south east. Taking inspiration from New York’s delis and diners, it serves fully-loaded sangas such as smoked pastrami and chicken parma alongside gooey choux-pastry custard puffs and iced-coffee.

  • A takeaway-only spot by Terror Twilight serving hulking mortadella sandwiches; four-cheese toasties with French dip; and crispy, curly fries. These sangas also come with a soundtrack – an eclectic mix of vinyl spins behind the counter all day long.

  • Shannon Martinez’ inimitable vegan deli is bigger and better than ever in its Collingwood era. Hit the deli and carvery for the chef’s Melbourne-famous two-handers, or grab sliced-to-order vegan cold cuts and pantry items to assemble your own sanga at home.

  • The tortas here – Mexico City-style sangas – are all exceptional, but the pick of the bunch has to be the pollo milanesa (fried chicken). The pork shoulder torta gives it a run for its money, though. There are banquettes and high tables to sit at, or you can get your torta to take away.

  • Fancy katsu sandos and high-quality coffee are the draws at this takeaway-driven spot inside Emporium

  • Find yourself a second home at this cool neighbourhood cafe by a team of hospo veterans. Roll in for coffee and sandwiches on Falco sourdough during the day, then cocktails and snacks at night – all within a timber-clad space decked out like a north-side living room.

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  • Look for the old-school cobalt-blue signage to find Nico’s, now with locations in Brunswick East, Fitzroy and the CBD. You’ll be rewarded with Italian deli-style sandwiches with a surprising Asian twist, braised oxtail melts and whopping meatball subs.

  • Wild Life’s slow-fermented sourdough loaves are well worth slicing up to make your own sangas at home. But honestly, you’re never gonna top its cheesy kimchi toastie. Or the harissa roast chicken baguette with kombu-fermented daikon, cos lettuce and lemony herb mayo. They’re just too good.

  • A sandwich spot with an old-school, family-run feel serving fried chicken on shokupan, and classic Reubens piled with locally made pastrami. Throw in some coffee off the tap (served hot or cold), and you've got another serious contender in the city's modern sandwich boom.

  • The permanent home of Italian sandwich pop-up Rocco’s took things to a new level with big bowls of pasta and house-made Italian liqueurs. But it’s the signature meatball sub and fried-bologna sandwich that put Rocco’s on the map. Best of all – you can now get them till 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Former Gimlet chef Raphael Exton Pery made his lockdown-era pop-up a permanent fixture at craft-beer bar Near & Far. Now, you can get a jolly good French Dip (prime roast beef, Swiss cheese, house mustard and a tub of gravy for dipping roll) with a hazy Victorian beer on the side.

  • Find sandwiches, smallgoods and Italian pantry staples. The floor-to-ceiling shelves are jam-packed, so you can stock up on fancy Italian pantry staples while you're picking up lunch. Plus, grazing platters and flaky pastizzi.

  • On top of finish-at-home-meals and premium pantry fillers, this deli has a range of classic Italian sandwiches, including a Sicilian meatball sub and a vegan panino.

  • Seriously tricked-out sangas reign supreme at Rusty’s. Spicy school prawns with pickled jalapeno, sour cream and avo salsa? Yep. A vegan spin on a Reuben with beetroot as the star? Right this way.

  • Greenwich Deli owner Johnny Moroney’s career trajectory is unusual: from political advisor, to social-media sensation, to cafe owner. Head to Newport to try his fried-eggplant sub doused in vodka sauce, or a saucy eggs-Benny-inspired beef brioche.

  • Two French bakers are making classic sourdough, fruit loaves and three-ingredient baguettes and getting creative with banana-split croissants and blood-orange doughnuts in an airy, mint-green space.

  • A Subaru Sherpa with “hot sandwiches” emblazoned on the side marks the spot at Applehead. The succinct menu here is designed to push nostalgia buttons – for the full Big Apple experience, it has to be the classic Reuben stuffed with corned beef, pastrami, gherkins, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

  • It’s named after (but is far more likeable than) the worst character in ’90s golf comedy Happy Gilmore. Expect sangas brimming with hot-honey fried chicken biscuits and fish 'n' chip butties.

  • The lines form early (and out the door) at this no-frills deli. Its main draw is the Rocco Roll – an Italian-style sub that’s made-to-order with antipasti, cold-cuts and cheese. But the cannoli, jam donuts and coffee by Reverence are also worth the wait.

  • Picnic is a simple sort of place with good coffee, good vibes and a refined sandwich list. The hero is the roast chicken sandwich, which is finished with bacon jam made from a 100-year-old recipe that the co-owner found wedged into a Greek mythology book on his travels through Ireland.

  • This Brunswick Street site was once a fish-and-chip shop. Now, Aphro & Wolfe is a cosy cafe that prides itself on filling toasties and hot coffee. Go for its standout Reuben with Wagyu corned beef, or its sandwich packed with balsamic roasted mushrooms, thyme, garlic and mozzarella.

  • This inviting old-school deli is inspired by those found across New York. You’ll find a bagel bar, wine and bottled cocktails to take home, ready-made roasts, dips and salads. And of course, a killer Reuben sandwich.

  • This sleek sandwich deli brings the bustle of Manhattan to a sleepy suburban street (without annoying the locals). Stop by for Italian-inspired sangas, handmade bagels and coffee.

  • Since 2017, All Are Welcome’s sourdough loaves and lesser-known pastries have helped it become one of Melbourne’s favourite bakeries. At this north-east spot, go for its fluffy kouign-amanns, savoury tartines and hulking sausage rolls. Plus, Everyday Coffee, every way.

  • Come for a Japanese- and Korean-style menu that might include crispy pork katsu sandos, house-made muesli topped with honey cheong (syrup) and the Japanese lunch set of your dreams. Plus, coffees from Primary, and iced lattes laced with condensed milk.

  • This panini spot takes cues from Italian paninotecas and old-world Mediterranean delis. Build your own panini or choose from classic combos such as mortadella and crushed pistachio, or prosciutto, pesto and fior di latte.

  • It’s all about the simple pleasures at this corner canteen, which serves good sandwiches, coffee and milkshakes. Loaded sangas in flavours like Buffalo fried chicken and pastrami nod to its humble milk bar roots.

  • This bright, canary-yellow spot has big Italian vibes. Come for fly-out-the-door focaccias (with cheeky names like The Roman Empire) and spritzes tweaked with Aperol and locally made limoncello, alongside beer and wines.

  • Look for the striped, ketchup-red awning to find one of Melbourne’s few spots slinging Eastern European cevapi – a sausage usually served in flatbread. Plus, burgers oozing with provolone.

  • A pint-sized panini bar slinging Italian-style deli rolls (and house party vibes). Fresh, pillowy focaccias are packed with house-crumbed chicken cotoletta with pickled onions, mortadella with Stracciatella, and more.