I don’t need to say it, but 2020 sucked. It’s been a constant struggle for all of us, to survive the physical and mental foolishness that this year brought. Fortunately, during the trials and tribulations there was some amazing food from restaurants who are surviving the hardship.
Regardless of the roaring shitstorm this year has been, the gluttonous hustle continues on. I’ve listed my 10 favorite OC sandwiches of 2020 and like my past lists, they aren’t ranked. Did I miss a place that you thought deserved to be on this list? DM me on my instagram.
The Top 10 OC sandwiches of 2020
Pastars opened up at one of the worst times a restaurant could and somehow managed to get people waiting in line for it’s grand opening. They’re specialty is the house made pasta, but the porchetta sandwich is worth your trip into Westminster. It’s decadent multi-layered flavors is only beaten by the amazing textures of crispy pork belly and fresh toasted sourdough.
14250 Beach Blvd, Westminster, CA 92683
Of all the Chicken Sandwiches I’ve gorged upon this year, Cluck was easily my favorite. The havarti hen breaks the mold of the hot chicken sandwich that’s so popular right and brings some interesting flavors not found at most places. Of course if you want hot chicken, Cluck Kitchen provides, so go nuts.
17915 MacArthur Blvd, Irvine, CA 92614
You don’t find many adventurous seafood sandwiches. I think the flavor profile is very specific, so it doesn’t work with a lot of things. If you want to try something that isn’t slathered in tartar sauce or a lobster roll, The Wharf in Garden Grove has a very photogenic Crawfish Croque Madame that will send you directly into a food coma. The mounds of melted cheese, bechamel sauce, and buttery shellfish stopped my heart for about a half a second, but in a good way.
12941 Main St, Garden Grove, CA 92840
South OC doesn’t get a lot of acknowledgement on this blog, but it is slowly catching up. Heritage BBQ is a smokey jewel in San Juan Capistrano. Just across the street from the famous Mission SJC, Heritage brings rich central Texas Smokehouse traditions so Orange County. They make sandwiches there, but they do sell all the ingredients to make your own. Be sure to pick up their brisket, it works amazingly well with their pickled onions, peppers, and potato bread.
31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
The Cut is actually owned by the same people who own Cluck Kitchen and there’s a reason why both places are on this list. They’re a little pricier with more variety, but all the food that I have had there has been great. They’re known for their burger, which is very good, but don’t sleep on the chicken sandwich either.
3831 Alton Pkwy Suite C Irvine, CA 92606
Bosscat Kitchen is a full service restaurant with a sleek comfort food forward menu. It’s one of the only restaurants on this list that has a craft cocktail menu and servers to bring it to you. This makes this one of the more expensive places on this list, but I assure you it’s worth your time (especially when you’re able to dine out with friends again). Thinking of their shaved pork chop sandwich has me salivating over the subtle flavors and beautifully crispy texture. For those of you who don’t partake in the consumption of swine, their signature burger is a monster.
4647 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660
La Super Birria [Santa Ana]
Santa Ana is rife with good Mexican food. It’s sometimes hard to differentiate what’s great from good (and I’m hardly a qualified judge), but I was so impressed by La Super Birria that I couldn’t help but tell my friends. If you’ve never had Birria before, it’s a slow cooked meat (seems like beef or goat etc) cooked it a paste chilis and spices until it’s ridiculously tender. It’s served with lime, broth, and other condiments to create an amazing multi-flavored experience. It also has become quite popular on instagram, because of the indulgent quesabirria taco.
1041 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703
Next Round Bar and Grill [Santa Ana]
***Update Now open!***
Next Round Bar and Grill, like most of us, has had a lot of ups and downs this year. As of the writing of this post, they are temporarily closed, but when they open up again you should support them. The restaurant has all the comfortable familiarity of a sports bar, with a nicely elevated menu of comfort classics.
200 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Piadina is a flatbread sandwich that was made famous in the Northern Italian Region of Emilia-Romagna. This is easily the lightest sandwich on the list, but it’s one that I could see myself eating on a regular basis. The flaky flatbread just works perfectly with the salty flavors of prosciutto and dry nutty flavors of pecorino. It’s a nice meal that won’t weigh you down.
2933 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92782
Eureka! is a restaurant chain that started in California and has since expanded into Texas, Washington, and Idaho. I try to stay away from chains on this blog (it’s not like they need the rub) but I was very impressed with Eureka! and it’s burgers. All the food that I have tried here is done well and the flavors are balanced. They also have a completely touchless service even when you are sitting on their patio for lunch.
4143 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
Honorable Mentions/Special Thank You’s
There have been some great people that have reached out this year and now more than ever I appreciate their generosity. I only traveled a couple of times in January before the lockdown, but I’ve also included some of my favorite meals as well.
Caballeros BBQ isn’t a restaurant, but a very talented guy who is honing his craft constantly. His pulled pork sandwich is still one of my favorite ones to date. He brines his own pickles makes his own slaw and orders his meat from some of the best purveyors in SoCal. Every so often he sells his BBQ, so follow him on Instagram: @CaballerosBBQ
Carlos and the team from Eggslice in Buena Park invited me to try their breakfast sandwiches a couple of month ago. Eggs are fine, but I never went out of my way to eat them. Eggslice opened my eyes to some possibilities for my blog and social media, so I owe them my appreciation.
8340 La Palma Ave Unit A, Buena Park, CA 90620
Meat And Bread
Vancouver BC will always have a piece of my heart, mostly because of Meat and Bread. I’ve traveled to VanCity four times already and every time I’ve had a sandwich from these fine folks. If you’re ever in the city, be sure to check them out and finish your meal at Bella Gelataria; The Akbar Mashti is absolutely divine (it’s a saffron and rosewater Gelato with pistachio).
So there you have it, my top 10 OC sandwiches of 2020. The year may have sucked for many of us, but I really am thankful for what it has brought to my life. There is a lot that is being tested for all of us and we are getting through it anyway that we can. Despite all of it’s difficulty, at least we still have good food.