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The Best Sandwiches to Get Your Hands on in Melbourne

When you're craving comfort (and a little adventure), these lunchtime treats tick all the right boxes.
By Marnie Vinall
April 30, 2021
By Marnie Vinall
April 30, 2021


When you're craving comfort (and a little adventure), these lunchtime treats tick all the right boxes.

It's hard to find a soul out there who isn't a fan of the humble sandwich. Invented by the fourth Earl of Sandwich in the 18th century, the convenient 'meat between two slices of bread' has come a very long way in that time.

Today, cafes and delis across Melbourne are paying worthy homage to this iconic dish, plating up riffs on global favourites, reinvented classics and everything in between. Whether you've got a penchant for panino, you cherish a good ciabatta, or you're mad for meatball subs — this city's got a standout sandwich joint to suit.

We've done the hard work for you and hunted down 10 Melbourne spots that are simply smashing it in the sandwich department. All that's left is to decide which one you'll try first.

  • 10

    Located along Johnston Street in Abbotsford, Kelso’s Sandwich Shoppe is a favourite of many locals and for good reason — as the name might suggest, they know how to make a damn fine sanga. The menu boasts a swag of buttery toasted options, from a cheesy tuna melt on rye, to the Hawaiian-inspired mix of cheese, bacon and pineapple relish. Reckon fresh is best? Try the smoked chicken baguette finished with kewpie-laced cabbage slaw, or the veggie-packed ‘tuck shop salad’ bap roll. Take a seat at the old-school, loosely American-style diner and order a cup of Coffee Supreme filter to match. Oh, and don’t forget to experience the house-made pickles while you’re there.

    Images: Tofu Studio

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  • 9

    For more than two decades, Alimentari has been satisfying deli cravings in the inner north with coffee, salads and paninis stacked with succulent meats from its rotisserie. The popular Fitzroy staple expanded to its second Smith Street location back in 2013, as demand for its signature goodies grew. The sandwich offering here is nothing short of hefty, the cabinets filled daily with a tempting array of generous panini, wraps and ciabattas. Highlights include the roast beef sanga — with onion jam, tomato relish and cheddar on Baker Bleu bread — a vegetarian-friendly caprese ciabatta and of course, the crowd favourite meatball wrap.

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  • 8

    A New York-style delicatessen with an all-vegan twist, from the minds behind Smith & Daughters. This cult-favourite Fitzroy spot inspires queues around the block come lunchtime, as vegans and carnivores alike flock in for its legendary offering of baked goods, pantry staples and freshly made sandwiches. There might not be any animal products on the menu, but you can bet there’s stacks of flavour, across creations like the vegan meatball and pesto toastie, a Philly cheesesteak-inspired number, and the mock chicken schnitzel sanga with bacon and ranch. And meat-free sure doesn’t equal minimalist here — the Home Alone toastie features a hefty combination of mock turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cabbage, mashed potato and gravy.

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  • 7
    Hector's Deli

    Sitting somewhere between a local corner store and an Italian deli, this neighbourhood sandwich shop was co-founded by two former Stokehouse chefs, Dom Wilton and Jason Barratt. And it’s earned itself cult status for its unpretentious menu, starring just six very good signature sandos. The kitchen’s take on the classic chicken sanga features crumbed schnitzel, tarragon butter and iceberg lettuce on a steamed potato bun, while the beef sandwich teams brisket with mustard pickle spread, dill pickles and kraut on toasted rye. Veggie options might include the likes of a cheesy mushroom melt, and you should keep an eye on the specials board for some pretty banging guest stars.

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  • 6
    Saluministi Flinders Lane

    Brothers-in-law Frank Bressi and Peter Mastro took out a place in the 2012 Melbourne Salami Festa — and the rest was history. They opened their first Saluministi salumi bar in North Melbourne in 2015, and a bit of expansion and many signature porchetta panino later, the pair now has two stores, in Docklands and the CBD. Paying homage to the duo’s shared heritage, Saluministi is all about celebrating proper Italian flavours, renowned for its stand-out offering of made-to-order panino and tramezzino (an Italian white bread sandwich). That legendary porchetta number is a clear favourite for lunch-breakers, loaded with free-range slow-roasted pork, artichoke paste, rocket and Pecorino Romano DOP. Though there are plenty more tempting options among the rest of the panini crew — like one teaming mortadella with stracciatella and green olives.

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  • 5

    Saint Dreux, a Japanese-inspired coffee and katsu sando bar in Melbourne’s CBD, is a study in both minimalism and precision. Here, against a modern, monochromatic backdrop, it’s serving a concise menu of just four sandwiches, alongside castella cakes, pastries and coffee by Tokyo’s Onibus. Fans of the humble katsu sando can expect to be mighty impressed with these beautifully-executed renditions, made on fluffy white Little Cardigan shokupan, premium meats and top-quality panko crumbs. Though you’re faced with a tough decision when it comes to fillings — will it be the chicken, prawn, wagyu beef, or classic tonkatsu featuring Kurobuta Berkshire pork?

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  • 4

    Named after the Korean word for ‘bridge’, Dari is melding together the best of Australian and Korean cafe culture, whipping up the sort of supersized sandwiches normally found on the streets of Busan and Seoul. You’ve likely already heard about its legendary Idol Sandwich — a riff on a viral sensation made famous by K-pop stars, featuring an unlikely combination of strawberry jam, slaw and egg salad. But there’s plenty more fun to be had with options like the bulgogi toastie and the K-Street Toast — a tower of omelette, mayo, cheese, ketchup and cabbage. Even dessert’s been sandwich-ified, with a range of sweet Korean-style rice cake toasts.

    Image: Julia Sansone

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  • 3

    A modern riff on the classic New York deli and diner, Stan’s Deli & Sandwiches is a haven of good, honest food, decked out in smart green and white. The food menu celebrates simplicity, focused on straightforward flavours and featuring a stack of elements crafted in-house. The sandwich game is especially strong, starring considered options like a roast chook sanga with Swiss gruyere, herb mayo and green tomatoes that are salted overnight. Pork and fennel sausage comes housed in a muffin alongside curried egg and cheese, while an eggplant parm sandwich features a mix of napoli, mozzarella, peppers and rocket. A Small Batch coffee and your day is looking good.

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  • 2
    Rusty's Sandwich Parlour

    An ode to everyone’s favourite two-handed feed, Rusty’s Sandwich Parlour is an inner north go-to for delicious things stuffed between bread. Or more specifically, for generous ciabattas featuring a diverse range of creative fillings. Here, carnivores and plant-based diners are catered to in equal measure — you’ll find the likes of a vegan beetroot reuben with Russian dressing celebrated with as much fanfare as the turkey and watercress sanga, or the signature Cubano starring 12-hour orange-braised free-range pork. There’s a classic breakfast sandwich teaming cheesy omelette and chilli jam, and you can add a cheeky side of chippies to any order for just $4.

    Image: Jake Roden

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  • 1
    EARL Canteen - 360 Collins

    Now with six stores across the city, the long-running EARL Canteen knows how to craft a simple yet scrumptious sandwich. It’s dishing up a range of unfussy everyday lunch heroes, made fresh daily on top-notch local ingredients. There’s a roll-call of familiar favourites done well; from a nostalgic egg and watercress combo on wholemeal sourdough bread, to a free-range chicken and avo baguette finished with dukkah. Shaking things up for that Friday lunch? EARL’s ‘fancy’ menu line features amped-up sandwiches with fillings like slow-cooked harissa lamb and quince, and falafel with chunky ratatouille. And you’ll want to opt for the add-on potato gems, of course.

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Top image: Dari Korean, by Julia Sansone

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