Fundamental LA and Baco Mercat. Photographs by Lisa Romerein
For the best deal stick to the bäcos, the signature taco-flatbread sandwich hybrids that are the creation of former Lazy Ox Canteen chef Josef Centeno. (At night he ups the ante with fancier though still affordable small plates.) The bäcos are loaded with an ethnic mishmash of ingredients such as carnitas, sriracha, spiced lebni, oxtail hash, and more. » 408 S. Main St., downtown, 213-687-8808.
Boo’s Philly Cheesesteaks
The bread: Amoroso’s. The beef: Dietz & Watson. The cheese: provolone or American. The result: a glorious cauldron of molten cheese bathing grilled onions and curly ribbons of meat. Search no more for Philadelphia’s iconic sandwich. This version should please the most demanding Philly expat. Boo’s even has Tastykakes, another City of Brotherly Love institution. » 4501 Fountain Ave., Silver Lake, 323-661-1955.
Eastside Market Italian Deli
The deli in this 83-year-old Italian market serves unfussy sandwiches laden with meat. Don’t waste your time trying to decide between moist roast beef and smoky pastrami; you can get them on the same sandwich. Throw on some snappy sausage and large, crumbly meatballs and you’ve got the popular D.A. Special. » 1013 Alpine St., Chinatown, 213-250-2464.
The spartan shop has a rotating menu that manages to be both modish and hearty: pan-roasted sweetbreads with pickled turnips, or egg salad made with crème fraîche instead of mayo. A contemporary take on porchetta—an inch-thick slab of roasted pork belly slathered with sauerkraut and XXL-grain mustard—is the crowning achievement. A sandwich might run you $10, but the quality makes up for the price. » 1303 Westwood Blvd., Westwood, 310-444-7581.
Next door to his upscale Ink., Michael Voltaggio has opened a small shop specializing in inventive sandwiches. Sriracha mayo coats large chunks of albacore in his take on spicy tuna; fried chicken skin daubed with chicken liver mousse replaces bacon in the CLT. The sandwiches are petite, but you can afford two. » 8360 Melrose Ave., Ste. 107, West Hollywood, 323- 655-7225.
Served on a shiny bun, the hot pastrami sandwich, overflowing with peppery meat, makes grease look good. The chili cheese fries and throwback taco (that hard shell and yellow cheese again) are simple and satisfying. So is the classic lunch counter ambience. » 4017 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 310-397-6654.
From the vegan “shawarma” (it’s made with chickpeas) to the ultra-meaty BLT (with steak), the menu at this gourmet sandwich shop staggers with its variety. The burgeoning local chain aims to be all things to all people, but it’s most successful with cross-cultural hybrids, such as an updated bánh mì made with pork belly, chili aioli, and pickled daikon on grilled ciabatta. »mendocinofarms.com.