You’re going to thank me for this one. We all love a good sandwich – from leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving to fresh tomato and cucumber in the summer. But a truly gourmet sandwich, I mean the kind that you can’t stop thinking about, that can border on a religious experience. These 15 places in Virginia serve up just that kind of sandwich…and once you try them, you’ll be back for sure.
1. Earl’s Sandwiches, Arlington (Ballston and Clarendon)
What makes Earl’s Sandwiches the best? They only use freshly roasted beef, pork and turkey – no deli meats for these sammies. Try their signature pork and fries sandwich – roasted pork loin, chipotle mayo, french fries, roasted red peppers, sweet pickles and chopped onion on grilled ciabatta. It might just change your life.
2. The Black Sheep, Richmond
The Black Sheep / Facebook
With sandwiches so big they have to be called battleships instead of subs, it’s no wonder The Black Sheep is a Richmond favorite. In 2012, the Travel Channel’s Adam Richmans named the “CSS Virginia” one of the Best Sandwiches in America. Measuring 2-feet long and featuring fried chicken livers, shredded cabbage, green onions, granny smith apples and remoulade sauce on a toasted french baguette, this sandwich is aptly placed under the menu heading “War of Northern Ingestion.”
3. Leaping Lizard Café, Virginia Beach
Tucked away in an antiques and gift boutique in Virginia Beach, the Leaping Lizard Café has been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” where Guy Fieri fell in love with the Chicken Salad Panini. With homemade bread, shredded chicken, peach chutney, curry yogurt, fresh tomatoes and mixed greens – how could you not?
4. Take It Away, Charlottesville
Take It Away has been a Charlottesville “Corner” classic since they opened in 1992. Inauspiciously hidden down a side street, this shop is well worth the hunt when you can walk away with the perfect sandwich made from fresh meats, veggies, cheeses and breads.
5. Grilled Cheese Mania, Harrisonburg (Wolfe St. and South High St.)
This food truck claims to offer “simple comfort food” and after one taste of something like the Port Ruby (sauteed portabella mushroom, sauerkraut grilled with sweet onions, Thousand Island dressing, swiss cheese on butter-grilled rye bread), I don’t think anyone would argue. Voted the Shenandoah Valley’s #1 food truck, Grilled Cheese Mania serves up deliciousness in 2 locations.
6. Chiocca’s, Richmond
Winner of the Best Sandwich in Richmond in 2012, Chiocca’s deli is still holding strong. Serving up classic hot and cold options, like the reuben with corned beef, swiss, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and Dijon mustard on rye, Ciocca’s has been a Richmond fave since 1952.
7. Basilico Italian Market and New York Deli, Fredericksburg
Even if you’re not especially into Italian food, this is one place you won’t want to miss. Already featured in our Best Pizzas in Virginia article, we’re now back for sandwiches. And with options like the Italian Roast pork with grilled onion relish on toasted focaccia, you’ll be back, too.
8. Cutting Edge Café, Chesapeake
Fresh food fast – this is what Cutting Edge promises, but what they forgot to mention is that it is also incredibly delicious food. Cutting Edge bakes their own artisanal breads daily, then using ingredients from local farms and suppliers, they dish up delicacies like soft shell crab with apple beet slaw, charred orange aioli and fresh herbs on a Kaiser roll. With plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, everyone goes away happy.
9. Our Daily Bread Bakery and Bistro, Blacksburg and Roanoke
If you can manage to tear yourself away from the bakery case at the front of this shop, just sit down for something like the Capicola Sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil, pesto and olive spread served on homemade bread, and you’ll be glad you did. I say that only because dessert will still be waiting for you when you’re done.
10. South Street Under, Leesburg
A self-proclaimed “bakery, coffee house, deli and take out”, this little shop in historic Old Town Leesburg is definitely doing something right. After 10 years, South Street Under is one of the busiest lunch spots in town, serving amazing sandwiches like this House-Cooked Rare Roast Beef Sandwich with Swiss horseradish mayo on black-olive rosemary bread.
11. The Cheese Shop, Williamsburg
The Cheese Shop on Gloucester Street hasn’t only earned the praise of locals – even Frommer’s Travel Guide recognizes their tasty sandwiches, dishing up a 5-star rating for their premium meats, cheeses and fresh baked breads. One look at this smoked turkey with cheddar and sprouts on rye and it’s easy to see why.
12. Kind Roots Café, Lexington
Organic is the key to this café’s success. Named as the Shenandoah’s Best Lunch in Virginia Living’s 2014 reader poll, Kind Roots earned their rank by using only locally sourced, preservative free ingredients to make amazing creations like their Sweet Potato BLT (roasted sweet potato salad, bacon, greens, tomato, cilantro basil aioli on flatbread) or the chicken and apple slaw sandwich shown here. Located inside a YMCA building, it can be tricky to find, so just be sure to look for the green awning – you’re welcome!
13. Wildflour Restaurant and Bakery, Roanoke
Wildflour Restaurant and Bakery / Yelp
While featuring a full-service menu, Wildflour gets rave reviews for its sandwiches and wraps made from freshly baked bread, whole wheat tortillas and premium ingredients. The Lucky Loaf, shown here, is house-made meatloaf, served hot with lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers, mustard, mayo, provolone cheese and Italian dressing. Also known for veggie and vegan options, their Millet Grain Burger has long been a favorite of the non-meat-eating crowd.
14. No Forks CheeseSteaks and More, Virginia Beach
If you love a good cheesesteak (and who doesn’t?), then you won’t want to miss No Forks. Try their signature JoJo – ribeye steak and melted provolone on a toasted roll, topped with Cajun seasoned fries and warm Cheez Whiz. It's amazing. You may not believe me now, but you’ll thank me later.
15. O’Kelly’s Deli and Pastries, Danville
This Danville-based deli and bakery has gotten a pretty big taste of success. In just the last 2 years, they have expanded out of their original 3 locations in Danville and Brosville to now include Tightsqueeze, Lynchburg, Smith Mountain Lake and Roxboro, NC. The secret is the freshest ingredients, homemade yeast rolls and great prices. Try their signature chicken salad, bbq or White Vermont Cheddar Pimento Cheese and see if you can pick a favorite…
I’m sure we’ve left a few off the list, so be sure to let us know your favorite sandwiches, subs and wraps in Virginia. Tell us what and where in the comments below!