Words: Shamim de Brún
Dubliners can get fierce about Sandwiches. Is a roll a sandwich? Is a wrap a sandwich? A panini? Could you feasibly call a burrito, a burger, or, god forbid, a hot dog a sandwich? Not without eliciting much debate and a touch of vitriol.
Sometimes I think Sandwiches are Ireland’s favourite way to consume food. It packs together everything we love in slightly different yet comfortably familiar ways. It’s one of the first things you learn as a child. Take the bread, butter it and put something in between. Boom Sandwich. Whether that’s jam, sugar, or ham and cheese, it was a simple and efficient way to nourish yourself. Easy enough for a child or a lazy adult to make.
That means that when you buy a sandwich, it has to be good. It has to do something you can’t do. That many, you can’t even conceive of top quality as good.
You can get a sandwich in every cafe trying to get an add-on sale. But our experts were interested in the subpar sandwiches of the boxed variety. So they honed in on the places doing a little something extra.
Get the chopping board out, slice that bread and get a good covering of butter. Into your hangry little hands, we lovingly place The Ultimate Food Guide to Dublin’s Best Sandwiches:
Hen’s Teeth come up repeatedly in the ultimate food guide, so we’ll forgive you for thinking we’re in some way biased in their favour. But the thing is, they do a lot well, including sandwiches. Admittedly, it’s not a place that first comes to mind when you think of sandwiches. But as anyone who has ducked in for lunch on a day they happened to be in the vicinity will tell you, they are pleasantly surprising.
As with everything Hen’s Teeth, they are made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients by passionate chefs who know what they’re doing. They might exceed a tenner, but you are investing in the local community and munching on a quality sambo for the extra few euros.
They came near the top of Alex O’Neill of Bahay’s infamous list because their veggie sandwiches are a textural joy to chow down on. She said, “I’ve had some great vegetarian sandwiches in Hens Teeth.”
Order: Whatever is on special
Location: Black Pitts
Opening Times: Lunch is served 12-16:00 and Dinner served from 17:00-23:00 on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays
Tír Deli have had a challenging year with the closing of their original shop in the city centre. But their sandwiches have never faltered. Hot smoking, roasting, fermentation and pickling are the sorts of techniques that they employ to bring a flourish to the humble sambo. The team also astutely sources produce such as Dexter beef, Feighcullen Farm chicken and Dermot Carey’s organic vegetables.
There’s a next-level commendable focus on sustainability here. They use vegetable scraps and chicken bones to make their stock. Any leftover bread is used for stuffing. Richie Castillo of Bahay said he loved Tír Deli “ because I like the whole seasonality, Irish-driven thing.”
Order: Something cheesy
Location: Station Building on Hatch Street
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:00
Born from one man’s love of sandwiches and New York-style sandwiches in particular. They have a new ethos, roasting the meat in their Charlotte Way spot. They make all their own sauces in the house too. The comprehensive menu covers the classics and throws in a few Americana-tinged curveballs. Doughboys were on Holly Dalton’s sandwich hit list and Kevin from Nomo Ramen.
Kevin said, “this is not a biased thing. They do amazing sandwiches, and they’re one of my favourites. There is one sandwich called Frank Lebouef; it’s essentially roast beef. And I a cheese and truffle mayo”.
Order: The Chicken Tenderwich
Location: Dublin 2’s 5 Charlotte Way
Opening times: Monday-Friday 9.00-15.00Saturday 11.00-17.00 Sunday 11.00-16.00
For more information, visit the website.
Of course, there has to be an Italian sandwich spot on this list. In many ways, contemporary sandwich culture can be traced back to the arrival of the panini in Ireland. This humble squished roll filled with different sandwich ingredients changed how a generation of us saw sandwiches.
Il Fornaio does classic Italian sambos and does them well. They were high up on Holly Dalton’s list. She said, “ Last time I ate there, I was blown away. I get really excited when you get something delicious for that value. Also, I love when you go in there. It’s like everyone’s Italian. They all speak Italian, and they’re having a little espresso. It’s so great.”
Carved hit the ground running in 2022 when they landed with sandwiches that chefs covet. The pull of Carved is so strong you’d swear we were Odysseus passing through the seas of the sirens. They have some badass bread filled with a devil-may-care filling that has gotten everyone’s attention. Sommelier Tara Deery called this spot a new favourite, recalling how she “very recently went to Carved in Grand Canal Dock and thought these are really, really good sandwiches. The pork sandwich! I went back like twice in one week for it. So that place is nice. I want them to be like one of those places that start popping up everywhere. So you have one in every corner.” A roaring endorsement.
Order: The Pork Sambo
Location: Grand Canal
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:00
Can you beat a cheese toastie? Only if you stuff it with artisanal cheeses, and Loose Cannon has done just that. The cheese list at Loose Cannon is almost unrivalled. Kevin Powell, the supervising chef there, has a deal with the cheese makers to send him any cheese they think is particularly good. So you literally never get a dud cheese. Now imagine those high-end cheeses encased in crunchy bread and toasted? How could they not end up on our list?
They ranked on Mick O’Connell MW’s list as well as taking pride of place on Gastro Gays offering. Gastro Gays said it best when Patrick said, “Moving into toastie territory, Loose Cannon is a great, great toasty spot. First, he gets you in with wine, so everyone’s happy. Also, amazing cheeses and amazing charcuterie and those toasties that they do there are perfect. It’s a great little quick snack if you’re passing through town. The smell is gorgeous, and all you can dream of is a nice good toastie from Loose Cannon”.
Order: Literally anything
Location: Drury Street
Opening Times: Everyday from 12:00
Opening up the definition of a sambo gives you a lot of room to play. For some, a sambo is anything encased in a bread-like product. I am one of those people. We don’t need the white westernised rigid view of a sambo to be the prevailing one. To me, a wrap is a sambo, a roll is a sambo, and it catches me in the right mood, and a burger is a sambo. Some of our experts agreed with me and cited Passion 4 Food’s kebabs as among their ultimate sambos.
They ranked on Alex’s list as well as Robs, with Rob saying, “I think that they’re really solid. It’s nice to have a place of still no faff, no pretentiousness and make all their own food, make all their own, produce all their own stuff”.
Alex said, “I actually would say that a, like a raft or a pitta is a sandwich. And I just love Middle Eastern food. So like going into Passion4Food to get a kebab with falafel as I would just get away with it and just to be able to mention it here! I love it, yeah, every time. I love every falafel.” She finished by reiterating, “I really will stand by a kebab as a sandwich.”
Order: Their falafel wrap
Location: Camden Street , and Clanbrassil Street
Opening Times: Every day from 12:00
There is something undeniably wholesome about The Fumbally. A collective of creatives and food enthusiasts who came together to make a space that Sian Conway, part of team CHAR, calls warmly communal. But aside from that, they made delicious food. In particular sandwiches. They are renowned for their bread. So many other businesses get Fumbally bread delivered. It has such a good reputation. And good bread is one of the key ingredients to a good sambo.
Fumbally came in top of Alex from Bahay’s list and featured in Richies Rob’s and Holly’s.
Alex cited the bread as a crucial part of her love for The Fumbally, saying, “I just love their bread. So whatever mechanism, I can get as much of their bread into me as possible. That’s what I like to do. And sandwich-wise, I’m never disappointed when I go to The Fumbally for a sandwich. It’s really good.”
The hodgepodge that makes up The Pepper Pot is tucked away in Powerscourt Shopping Centre. It’s a counterintuitive place to think of getting a sandwich. And it can be a little confusing to work out how to approach it and where to sit, but once you get passed that, the sandwiches are like heavenly bites of good-god-damn.
They cropped up on nearly every list, but it is the Gastro Gays Russell that said it best when he said, “Our favourite sandwich spot is almost not even a place. I can hone in precisely on it because it’s a particular sandwich. It’s the pear and cheddar sandwich from Pepper Pot Cafe. It is our absolute favourite sandwich that we dream of constantly, and it’s such a great combination of flavours and ingredients and has always been perfection in our eyes”.
Patrick added, “Thick slices of homemade bread, unashamedly white and fluffy and a crispy crust on the outside. It does not skimp on the mayo. It always just slaps”. Now, if that doesn’t entice you, you are wrong. Objectively wrong.
Order: Their veggie sambos
Location: The Liberties
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 09:00
Ah, you knew it was coming. Literally, anyone into sandwiches in Dublin will know this spot was the guaranteed winner as soon as they click into this piece.
Holly called a spade a spade when she said, “Okay, I just want to get this out of the way. Deli 147. Everyone’s going to say it. It’s really, really good. Okay, it’s great. We all love Deli 147. It’s really, really great. Incredible. And some of the best food out there.”
Deli 147 is so known for its quality of fare that they have cult specials fans. People queue up every week to see what the team has concocted. Because you can always rely on it to be good. There are no dud sandwiches here. Instead, every single one deserves your care and attention because it has been prepared by a team who gives all the shits about the work they do.
This is the only spot every one of our experts, including the Gluten Free Tara Gartlan, name-checked.
Tara Deery called it the “mecca of sandwiches in Dublin. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.”
Mick O’Connell namechecked Barry, the owner of 147, saying, “Barry who is 147 Deli – everything he touches is just epic and also a lovely human being”, and we couldn’t agree more.
Their second venture Just Chubbies was a rip-roaring success before it fell victim to the staffing crisis and would have ranked among the top food trucks had it not been closed. So keep an eye out for this team as they grow and expand.
Order: Literally Anything
Location: Parnell Street
Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 15:00
Elsewhere On CHAR: Dublin’s Ultimate Burger