Up until about five years ago, you could say, “Atlanta isn’t a sandwich town,” and be right. Or, mostly right. But when a friend of mine recently tweeted that “Atlanta is the worst sandwich city in the country,” it gave me pause and got me thinking.
As it turns out, there are a lot of places to get a good sandwich in ATL and beyond the city borders these days. I started keeping a running list of such spots. When Eater reached out to ask which sandwiches I considered the best in town, I set out to find the ten sandwiches Atlantans should be eating right now. These sandwiches are all excellent. Many sit on menus alongside even more excellent sandwiches. The list below isn’t ranked, but is an embarrassment of sandwich riches — and I’m not done exploring this topic.
Just what’s causing ATL’s current sandwich renaissance? That’s a great question, and a report we’re saving for another day. After all, you’ve got a lot of sandwiches to eat first, so get after it.
The meatloaf melt at Humble Mumble
Collective at Coda food hall, 756 West Peachtree Street, Midtown
Georgia Beer Garden, 420 Edgewood Avenue, Sweet Auburn
Put quite simply, chef Justin Dixon and his sandwich shop Humble Mumble do not miss. The salad, the turkey stack, the seasonal chili? There’s too much to love about this OutKast-inspired sandwich joint. No wonder it keeps generating headlines in Atlanta. But the meatloaf melt, which includes bacon jam, pimento cheese, and “fancy greens”, is the standout at Humble Mumble. What should you eat after you’ve had that sandwich? It’s a tough decision, no doubt. But that’s the way the cracker crumbles. Sometimes you’ve got to re-route your dreams.
The grinder at Staplehouse
541 Edgewood Avenue, Old Fourth Ward
Chef Ryan Smith says this life-changing grinder at Staplehouse was its “intro to making sandwiches” after converting the award-winning tasting menu restaurant into a market and counter-service spot in 2021.
“We knew we wanted to create something that was a good representation of us,” Smith says. “We landed on the grinder as it’s something we can make all the components for —mortadella, pepperoni, fennel salami cotto, cheese sauce from Walden, benne hoagie roll, olive tapenade, and giardiniera.”
The result, which undergoes slight, seasonal changes, is a grinder that is absolutely stunning.
The cheesesteak at Fred’s Meat and Bread
Krog Street Market, 99 Krog Street, Inman Park
With all due respect to the Philly-inspired OGs of the Atlanta metro, this is the one I reach for when it’s cheesesteak time. Screaming hot, and surprisingly dense, the Philly at Fred’s features simple ingredients —ribeye, onions, and American cheese —and packs a ridiculous flavor punch. The Krog Street Market stall is a staple with a number of top-tier sandwiches on the menu, but this is its flagship.
The TGM Bread BLT at Grant Park Farmers Market
1040 Grant Street, Grant Park
This sandwich pops up at Grant Park Farmers Market during tomato season. (Spoiler alert for you non-growers: that’s coming up soon. But if you go to the market and the BLT isn’t there yet, the current seasonal sandwich is also great.) As beautiful as it is delicious, the secret charm of the TGM Bread BLT isn’t a secret at all. It’s just a properly made BLT with fresh, simple ingredients. TGM Bread also serves daily soups and sandwiches from its bakery location next door to sister restaurant the General Muir at Emory Point.
The pastrami sandwich at Evergreen Butcher and Baker
2011 Hosea L. Williams Drive, Kirkwood
There’s a lunch sandwich special every day Evergreen is open. And on Wednesdays and Thursdays, “the variety changes daily based on what we have on hand. We always use our deli meats and it’s always on our sourdough focaccia,” co-owner and baker Emma Schacke says.
While you can’t go wrong with any sandwich Evergreen is serving, the pastrami shines particularly bright. Tender pastrami is paired with Swiss cheese, house pickles, mustard, and the occasional arugula. Schacke says they typically “utilize whatever local produce” is in the shop that day to create sandwiches, including pickles if they’ve made a fresh batch. There are 50 sandwiches ready to go at 11 a.m. Friday features the fantastic chicken salad croissant. Saturday is a rotating sausage roll with dipping sauce. Sunday afternoon is reserved for 100 of Evergreen’s much-lauded cheeseburger. Go there any day Evergreen is open and eat whatever sandwich they’re serving, is what I’m saying.
The “pastrami” smoked beets at Bona Fide Deluxe
454 La France Street, Edgewood
While many of the sandwich selections at Bona Fide Deluxe are piled ridiculously high with meat (the smoked turkey melt and the OKie hoagie are carnivorous standouts,) the vegetarian “pastrami” smoked beets thrills. Whipped goat cheese, arugula, pickled onions, and cranberries all complement the titular star of the show. Pair it with a couple of cocktails and sit outside to watch the MARTA trains roll by at the Edgewood-Candler Park station for a quintessential ATL evening.
The Lê Sunny-Side Up egg sandwich at Lee’s Bakery
4005 Buford Highway, Chamblee
There is no wrong answer at this iconic Buford Highway Vietnamese restaurant that’s been slinging perhaps the best bánh mì in all of ATL since 2006. But if you’ve grown tired of your regular bánh mì order, this tasty and affordable option includes a sunny-side egg, Vietnamese bologna, head cheese, and pâté. Bonus points if you eat it in the parking lot like a complete monster.
The roast pork sandwich at Oakhurst Market
650 East Lake Drive, Oakhurst, Decatur
You’d be forgiven for not realizing that this market also includes a sandwich menu, as there’s a lot going on here. But hang a right as you enter, make a beeline for the counter, and order the roast pork sandwich. It’s a gem. For those who’ve been eating sandwiches in Atlanta for a while, this one may bring to mind a similar selection at Decatur’s dearly missed Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood and More, which closed on West Ponce in 2016 (RIP). Roasted pork, arugula, mayonnaise, and pickled onions intermingle nicely on an Alon’s baguette, but it’s the fried lemons that really bring it home.
The B-east of Burden at B-Side
151 Sycamore Street, Decatur
Owned by chef Terry Koval, the sandwiches at this Decatur gem next door to sibling restaurant the Deer and the Dove are all good, but the pounders, which come on benne seed rolls, and often include a musically-inclined name, steal the show. The B-east of Burden is full of delightful supporting characters, but the tender, succulent beef tongue is a rare treat.
The Tanwich-Chicken Bacon Ranch at Kelly’s Market
308 East Howard Avenue, Decatur
Located across the street from Kimball House, Kelly’s Market is full of everything good: beer, ice cream, and loads of snacks. But the sandwich lineup is worthy of exploration, particularly the Tanwich. Sliced chicken and Spotted Trotter bacon join forces with roasted red peppers and onions tucked underneath melted provolone. A soft baguette holds it all together, garnished with lettuce, tomato, and ranch dressing. A comfort sandwich if there ever was one.
Got a sandwich suggestion for Austin to try next? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austin L. Ray is an award-winning journalist whose work appears in Rolling Stone, Good Beer Hunting, Creative Loafing (RIP), The Outline, the A.V. Club, Atlanta magazine, Eater, Vulture, Oxford American, and First We Feast. Ray is also the founder of essay series and zine How I’d Fix Atlanta, which explores ideas from different writers on making the city a better place to live. He loves gardening, making people laugh, listening to rap music, and hoodie weather. Zach Galifianakis once screamed in his face.