Who would’ve thought back in 1762 that John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich and a prolific gambler who didn’t want to leave his hand of cards to grab dinner, would start a tasty revolution?
Legend has it, during a 24-hour gambling binge he asked the cook to prepare a meal that would not interfere with his intense card game. And so the cook prepared a meal of sliced meat between two slices of toast that required no utensils and could be eaten with one hand while the other held the cards.
If time travel were true, Montagu would likely love to flash forward to present-day Palm Springs where he’d be able to indulge in gourmet hoagies and melts eons beyond the eats of his day. Whether it be a mile-high pastrami sandwich at Sherman’s Deli or a succulent chicken sandwich named — ahem — the MILF at the Sandwich Spot, the wide variety of mouth-watering handcrafted sandwiches would certainly hit any gambler’s jackpot.
Deli & Bakery
One of the most awe-inspiring scenes at Aspen Mills is the in-house bakery in action. It’s like a Willy Wonka bread factory where industrial-size ovens are magically baking more than 30 different artisan breads daily in gobstopping flavors like cranberry spice, pumpkin raisin, and jalapeño cheddar. You can buy bread by the loaf or try it by the slice with a handcrafted sandwich.
The Tuscany, made with prosciutto, capacolla, honey glazed ham, provolone cheese in an 8-inch freshly baked baguette is a sandwich lover’s dream.
Aspen Mills’ unique sandwich menu features everything from tuna to vegetarian toppings. Try the fan favorite, Tuscany, made with prosciutto, capocollo, honey-glazed ham, and provolone cheese with an 8-inch freshly baked baguette. The layers of flavor from the fresh meats, cheeses, and Italian veggies (that fresh basil!) is a taste-burst on the tongue.
Owner Marty Webster takes pride in delivering the best and freshest ingredients. “We’ve been here for 21 years, since 1995,” he says. “We make our sandwiches on our fresh-baked bread everyday. No preservatives in anything.” They even offer gluten-free bread.
Aspen Mills Deli & Bakery, 555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. 760-323-3123; aspenmillsps.com
• See related post: Acqua California Bistro Arrives at The River
Go Deli Market
Try not to be distracted by all the fine wine and boozy delights at Desert Wine & Spirits in Palm Springs — it’s really all about the deli, where they serve up some appetizing sandwiches made with a wide variety of fresh Boar’s Head meat.
Owner Costa Nichols offers a daily special that kicks up the flavor on the traditional sandwich. Peppenero garlic ham with cheddar and avocado on rye is just what the taste-bud doctor ordered today, and it did not disappoint. The perfect balance of meat and cheese, it has a tiny punch of heat from the dijon mustard that lingers on the tongue. Go Deli also makes fresh deviled eggs daily that are a popular add-on to sandwiches. Enjoy your tasty lunch inside the large shop, which features a wine tasting room and market where you can buy choice meats and cheeses as well as designer condiments to enjoy a sandwich at home.
The daily special made with Peppenero garlic ham with cheddar and avocado on rye. Go Deli Market has new sandwich specials every day.
“We use the best possible meats and cheeses you can,” says Nichols. “All our sandwiches are made fresh daily. My favorite sandwich is the vegetarian sandwich because it is loaded with all the really great vegetables.”
Go Deli Market inside Desert Wine & Spirits, 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-7701; desertwinesandspirits.com
The Lunch Box
The Lunch Box may be too cool for school. Hidden within an industrial part of Palm Desert in a discreet location that might have out-of-towners adjusting their Google maps, locals know all about those heavenly sandwiches made by owner Kari Kneigge.
“It’s a mom-and-pop,” Kneigge says. “Everything is made to order; everything is fresh and made in house; and it’s all made with love. All of our soups, salads, and dressings are house made. I steam the bread, which nobody does. Every sandwich is as important as the last.”
The Lunch Box features a colorful menu of all kinds of different sandwich combinations including the famous California Split made with crisp bacon, melted jack cheese, sliced avocados, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and mayo on steamed sourdough. If you’ve never had a sandwich on steamed bread before, it’s quite the experience. The bread melts in your mouth — an experience akin to cuddling up with a comfy blanket on a cold day. It’s warm, soft, and allows the flavors of the sandwich to rise up, especially that crispy bacon, which packs some serious flavor. Other sandwiches to drool over include the Redneck “greeled” Cheese, French Dip, and the Missile, made with roasted pork, thinly sliced ham, pickles, yellow mustard, and Swiss cheese all “smash grilled” on a French roll.
If you want to raise your sandwich game, Manhattan in the Desert offers a dare with a sweet reward. Its signature Manhattan-size sandwich is made with corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, Swiss cheese, and tomato and served on rye bread. It’s a towering sandwich that comes with a challenge — finish it and a full side dish and you win a free dessert. Manhattan’s desserts are monstrous versions of classics like the Ding Dong, so it’s definitely worth the full tummy.
Manhattan-sized sandwich is made with corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, Swiss cheese, and tomato served on rye bread. Eat this entire sandwich plus a side and get a free dessert!
I tried to finish the sandwich (at home while watching Netflix) but seriously could not. The sandwiches are all made fresh — New York style on homemade bread that you can purchase in their bakery.
There are over 100 different sandwiches on the menu including the Philly Cheesesteak, the Chicken Caesar Sandwich, and the Grilled Knockwurst Reuben. You can find just about anything to tickle your palate, from the fancy Monte Cristo to the bologna or chopped liver.
Manhattan in the Desert, 2665 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-3354; manhattaninthedesert.com
• See related post: 5 Best Places for a Hot Dog
It’s easy to fall in love with the housemade spicy marinara sauce in Mario’s homemade meatball sub.
Mario’s Italian Cafe
If anyone ever tells you, “It’s just not right to be romantically in love with a sandwich,” then pity their ignorance and send them over to try Mario’s homemade meatball sub. It’s easy to fall in love with the housemade spicy marinara sauce that drowns the large meatballs covered in four different kinds of melting cheese. It’s certainly a mouthful, but each bite is a romance ballad that sings to your belly just like those crooning gondoliers in Venice, Italy.
Mario’s specialty sub sandwiches are tastier versions of your favorites, like chicken parmigiano, eggplant parmigiano, and pastrami. The popular Torpedo Combo, made with dry salami, mortadella, ham, cotto salami, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and pepperoncinis, can also be made completely vegetarian.
Mario’s Italian Cafe has been going strong for 41 years in Palm Springs (with seven valley locations overall), and spans three generations that began in Brooklyn. The savory sandwiches are just one of many family recipes you’ll find on the diverse menu of Italian classics.
Mario’s, 425 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. 760-322-6636; mariositaliancafes.com
The Real Italian Deli
If you’re a little tight on funds and that trip to Italy just isn’t going to happen this year, then grab a little piece of the boot in Palm Springs. The Real Italian Deli is like taking an instant vacation to a small Italian village where mama and papa are baking bread, creating homemade pesto sauce, and slicing tasty prosciutto to make you the best sandwich of your life.
The sandwiches are similar to those you would find in the small towns in Italy while walking the cobblestone streets. One of the bestselling sandwiches is the Toscano, made with Toscano salami, olive tapenade, lettuce, tomatoes, and provolone cheese. The salami is rich in flavor and the olive tapenade acts as the perfect condiment to this divine sandwich.
The Sophia Loren of Sandwiches. The Toscano made with toscano salami, olive tapenade, lettuce, tomatoes, and provolone cheese.
“We offer really good ingredients,” says owner Jean Luc Hoffer. “Our bread is baked daily on premises. Our meat is not pre-cut — it’s sliced on demand so every sandwich is made with the freshest ingredients.”
The Real Italian Deli is also a market where you can snag some pretty amazing artisan pastas, sauces, deli meats, and cheeses to make your own Italian meal at home. (I was this close to opening my handbag and yelling at Hoffer, “Take my money!”) There wasn’t one fancy mustard I didn’t want to buy.
The Real Italian Deli, 100 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-3800; therealitaliandeli.com
44795 San Pablo Drive, Palm Desert. 760-836-1493
• See related post: 8 Places to Taste Great Barbecue
The Sandwich Spot
One look at the menu and you’ll know you are in Palm Springs. Imaginative sandwiches like The Dinah and The Chairman of the Board are like a Picasso — complex and exciting, an artistic masterpiece that you need to stare at for a few minutes before you can fully wrap your head around the layers of flavor.
“It’s all about the bread and the balance of the ingredients,” says owner Corey Saldana. “That’s what makes our sandwiches the best. We provide the freshest bread and produce we can find and create it with lots of detail.”
Saldana loves to have fun naming the sandwiches, influenced by pop culture and the history of Palm Springs. The Sunny and Share is a triple-decker of bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado that can certainly take care of lunch for two people. (See what Saldana did there?) You’ll find your favorite tennis-inspired sandwiches here too, like The Grand Slam, which is made with turkey, ham, and roast beef, and The Federer, made with warm turkey, prosciutto, avocado, and Swiss cheese.
Naughty + Nice — The MILF is a succulent marinated chicken sandwich with fresh cranberry sauce, their signature Bomb sauce, and pepper jack cheese.
But really, how can you resist The MILF? A marinated chicken sandwich with fresh cranberry sauce, the signature “bomb” sauce, and pepper jack cheese. It’s the stuff sandwich dreams are made of. The Sandwich Spot also offers salads, catering, a kid’s menu, and the softest chocolate chip cookies in town.
The Sandwich Spot, 240 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-778-7900; thesandwichspot.com
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery
For more than six decades, Sherman’s Deli has been a favorite haunt for delicious deli sandwiches in Palm Springs. The combination of daily made-from-scratch breads, artisan meats, and impeccable service makes Sherman’s a bucket-list item for visitors when it comes to delivering one of the best sandwiches in town.
This was my first time at the iconic deli — Guy Fieri beat me to it! But I can see why he loved it: It’s not to be missed. The pastrami is top-notch and not one bit skimpy. They pile those beautiful cuts of meat like they are playing Jenga.
One bite of the pastrami and you can see why some Hollywood heavies like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope were swooning over this New York style deli years ago.
Take a cue from Sinatra and eat here — The Reuben is made with pastrami, fresh sauerkraut and freshly baked bread. It’s one of the most popular dishes and comes with fries, potato salad or cole slaw.
The classic sandwiches you know and love are all here, but elevated with Sherman signature touches. You can taste the just-from-the-oven bread that they bake each morning. Pick a number, any number, and you’re sure to taste a winner with such sandwiches as the No. 5, corned beef, pastrami, and swiss; No. 15, lox and cream cheese; and a customer-favorite No. 17, aka the Special Sandwich, made with a mound of corned beef, pastrami, and turkey topped with coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing.
Another must-try, according to owner Sam Harris, is the Latkes with Brisket. “It’s latkes with fresh, roasted brisket,” he says. “Our latkes are homemade with fresh potatoes. Excellent. We roast our own brisket and home-make our own coleslaw.”
The latkes are prepared to perfection with just the right about of crisp to hold that heavenly pile of brisket in between the sandwich’s two potato parts. Sherman’s is also known for its full-service bakery and offers catering for special events.
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery, 401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs. 760-325-1199; shermansdeli.com
73161 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert. 760-568-1350
• See related post: Bar Bites
TKB has a long-standing relationship with hungry tummies in the desert area since its opening in 1994. It’s one of those places people willingly drive across the valley for. A family-run business, TKB Deli takes pride in handcrafting both delicious and unique sandwiches with amusing names like The Mexican Monroe and The Hangover.
• See related post on TKB Deli: The Sandwich Generation
The Trump is the best-selling sandwich, made with an salvo of savory deli delights — turkey, salami, bacon, pepper jack cheese, avocado, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeño, potato chips, and chipotle on a jalapeño focaccia roll.
Feeling creative? At TKB Deli you can create your own sandwich with choice of bread, cheese, protein, and condiments. They also offer freshly baked bread and desserts in the bakery.
TKB Deli, 44911 Golf Center Parkway, Indio. 760-775-8330; tkbbakery.com