HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 9 Best Sandwiches on O‘ahu

O‘ahu sure knows how to pack a lunch: Paper-thin salami, juicy roast beef, tasty tonkatsu, sumptuous smoked brisket, hefty lumps of crab, fresh fish and everything else that’s best between bread.


Iliili Italian Hoagie Tobungen

Photo: Thomas Obungen



The Italian Hoagie

$17 from ‘Ili‘ili Cash & Carry

My search for a solid hoagie ends at ‘Ili‘ili Cash & Carry. The Italian on fresh-baked bread comes stacked with layers of paper-thin salami, mortadella, soppressata, lettuce, tomato and pickled pepperoncini. It’s dressed with mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar but I add on the house-made giardiniera pickle mix ($2) to amp up the acidity that cuts through the cured meat like a cleaver. This no-frills sandwich earns its praise for its simplicity and ability to satisfy me beyond just one meal. —Thomas Obungen, contributing dining editor


2065 S. Beretania St., (808) 367-0606, toasttab.com, @iliili_cash_carry


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 8 Best Noodle Soups on O‘ahu for Rainy Days


Sunset Sub

$9 from Storto’s Deli & Sandwich Shoppe

Everyone raved about Storto’s opening Downtown a few years ago but I’d never heard of the 44-year-old Hale‘iwa shop before then, so it was a while before I finally checked out its new location. Now, my go-to is the Sunset Sub, with roast beef, ham and turkey. The half sandwich is still a pretty whopping 8 inches, yet I’m able to devour the whole meat-packed thing in one sitting, much to the surprise of everyone around me. When it comes to customizing it, I always go for jalapeño cheese, mayo and mustard, all the veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper, sprouts) and a knockout papaya seed dressing that you can also buy bottled. The shop stopped issuing stamp cards recently but I’m four subs away from a free lunch so I’ll be back soon! —Katrina Valcourt, managing editor


Davies Pacific Center, 841 Bishop St., #152, (808) 587-7720, @stortosdowntown


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 14 Best Breakfasts in Hawai‘i (and Where to Get Them)


Katsu Sando 808 at Kaka‘ako Farmers Market

Photo: Marisa Heung



Tonkatsu Sandwich

$10, Kaka‘ako Farmers Market (and other locations, but this is the one I go to)

The fluffy bread (no crusts, ’cause who needs ’em?), the tangy tonkatsu sauce, the juicy fried pork cutlet … This sandwich is like Mary Poppins: Practically perfect in every way. —Marisa Heung, special projects editor


katsusando808.com, @katsusando808


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 6 Best Hot Dogs on O‘ahu



Smoked Brisket Pho French Dip Banh Mi

$17 from Piggy Smalls

I grew up on the French dip from Philippe The Original in Los Angeles, often after a visit to the saber-toothed tiger exhibit at the La Brea Tar Pits: sawdust on the floor, standing at a tiny table with my father, uncles and grandfather, our jaws yanked open like jungle cats and cranked sideways to control the prime rib runoff spilling out of our mouths and crusty rolls. Thus is the meaty magic of the French dip sandwich. But, Neanderthal nostalgia aside, I’m not missing a thing when I order my go-to at Piggy Smalls. In fact, given its pricier prep and accoutrements, I’d probably prefer Le Petit Cochon. In searching for the elusive one-word description for this divinely inhalable pho French dip—which has a cloudlike mouthfeel despite its substantial 12-hour slow-roasted beef brisket, spicy hoisin, a chimichurri sauce and crunchy onion and sautéed bean sprouts—my palatal thesaurus returned sumptuous. Yeah, that’s what it feels like to bathe this hunk in beef pho broth and bite down—close your eyes and you’re at a feast. Better open them, though, to make sure you’re not sluicing the juice onto your shorts. —Don Wallace, contributing editor


Only available at weekend brunch, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 665, thepigandthelady.com/piggysmalls, @piggysmallshawaii 


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 12 Best Meaty and Meatless Burgers on O‘ahu



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A post shared by Earl (@earlkakaako)


Maryland Style Crab Cake Sandwich

$23 from Earl Kaka‘ako

If you’re looking to splurge, these hefty sandwiches are worth their price. Each sammie features a blue crab patty made with 7.5 ounces of lump crab meat topped with tomato, lettuce and mayo on a Martin’s potato roll. I love this sandwich because there’s so much meat in every mouthful, and it’s pure lump crab—no back fin, claw or filler added. The seafood practically falls out of the sandwich while I’m eating. —Kelli Shiroma Braiotta, digital marketing specialist


Earl Kaka‘ako usually features this crab cake sandwich special once a month. 400 Keawe St., Suite 103, (808) 744-3370, earlhawaii.com, @earlkakaako 


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 9 Best Açaí Smoothie Bowls on O‘ahu


Img 9232

Photo: Kelli Shiroma Braiotta



‘Ahi Melt

$9.45 from Andy’s Sandwiches & Smoothies

I haven’t actually ordered any other sandwich from this Mānoa shop because it’s too hard to deviate from the ‘ahi melt. This loaded sandwich is filled with mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, sprouts, melted cheese and a generous portion of smoked ‘ahi spread. It comes with papaya seed dressing on the side for dipping. This sandwich always satisfies my craving for a delicious, hearty and healthy-ish meal because of the addictive, creamy ‘ahi spread and the plethora of veggies. —KSB


2904 E. Mānoa Road, (808) 988-6161, andyssandwiches.com, @andyssandwiches  


SEE ALSO: HONOLULU Staff Favorites: The 6 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches on O‘ahu



Moroccan Spiced Fresh Fish Sandwich

$17 from Merriman’s Honolulu

If you’ve ever had that delightfully light yet hefty fish sandwich at Moku Kitchen, you’ll know how good this little zinger is. Perfectly paired with the house-made liliko‘i iced tea ($6), this is what a seafood sammie is all about; local fresh fish (I’ve had it with monchong but the menu says Merriman’s uses mahimahi now), a tangy and creamy sauce, lime-crushed avocado, local sprouts and Hau‘ula tomato on a house-made Kaiser bun all make for a bright and juicy, citrusy punch of a lunch. Best enjoyed while sitting outside.Katie Kenny, digital editorial specialist


1108 Auahi St., (808) 215-0022, merrimanshawaii.com/honolulu, @merrimanshonolulu


SEE ALSO: The 5 Best Places To Eat Outside in Ward and Kaka‘ako Right Now


Fried Chicken Sandwich

$14 from Over Easy

Honolulu Staff Favorites The Best Sandwiches On Oahu Fried Chicken Sandwich Over Easy

Photo: Robbie Dingeman



Sometimes lunch demands a sandwich, even at Over Easy in Kailua where several breakfast dishes prove nearly irresistible (especially the Brunch bowl). And that’s when we order the fried chicken sandwich, a plated party of contrasts that play well against one another: salty/sweet, crunchy/soft, fried/fresh. The chicken comes boneless, deep fried to a golden crisp that crunches when you bite, paired with bright and tangy cabbage, carrots and an aioli that reminds us of a banh mi, piled onto a pillowy brioche bun. Best of all worlds? Go with friends and share several dishes so you miss nothing.


Honolulu Staff Favorites The Best Sandwiches On Oahu Fried Egg Sandwich Over Easy

Photo: Robbie Dingeman



Another unassuming choice is the fried egg sandwich ($11). Sourdough bread, fresh OK Farms local eggs with those bright-orange yolks, melty cheddar, a kick of heat in the aioli and some caramelized onions. It all sounds simple but combines into something memorable. Worthy variations include adding avocado for vegetarians or bacon for omnivores.


418 Ku‘ulei Road, #103, Kailua, (808) 260-1732, overeasyhi.com, @overeasyhi 


SEE ALSO: 2019 Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: The Best Breakfast Restaurants in Hawai‘i