It's a dilemma you may be familiar with: you're hankering for a quality, hearty sandwich but there's only a Subway and a supermarket nearby. New Cuba Street gem, Sandwich Emporium, promises not only to be a viable alternative for a solid sarnie fix but also one of the hippest lunch joints this side of town.
A small, unassuming spot right on the upper end of Cuba, the Emporium oozes cool without needing to try too hard. Retro art hangs casually on the walls, complementing the fashionably tattered leather seats and pinball machines, and the place looks more like a tattoo parlour than a deli.
Moreover, the Emporium is proudly Wellington through and through. In addition to nabbing a spot on one of the city's most endeared streets, it draws its ingredients from local suppliers — the Arobake rolls and meat from Smoke Ring will ring a bell for switched-on foodies.
The Smokey Joe ($13) should hit the spot for lovers of a good meat sub. You'll fall in love with the copious serving of delicious smoked brisket spilling out the top — and that's before you even take a bite. Packing a powerful smokey flavour, the brisket is also incredibly tender with a subtle spicy kick. The meat mingles superbly with the chunky pickles and house tomato relish for a simply unreal mix of tastes. And don't even get us started on the smoked gouda, which adds a perfectly firm, cheesy bite to the sandwich.
Meatlovers who are after something a bit lighter will appreciate the outrageously named white boy banh mi ($13). Thick, juicy strips of five spice smoked pork are the highlight here, supported by a generous slathering of pate, while the pickled carrot and coriander offer a refreshing, zesty counterpoint.
Of course, a sandwich with the best fillings in the world is nothing without quality bread to hold it all together. The rolls at the Emporium are from Arobake — need we say more? Brilliantly textured and dusted and deliciously chewy, it's really the only option for sandwiches of this calibre.
With an inventive, ever-changing menu that caters to everyone (you'll find vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options here), it's no wonder they're always selling out. Sandwich Emporium is steadily making a name for itself as a cool place to grab lunch and just hang out. Have a spin on the pinball machines before you leave — if you're not already bouncing off the walls after trying one of their delicious sandwiches.