Compact and transportable, and most of all affordable, many of the sandwiches on this list are priced at $10 or less. And they hold up better than other mushy takeout options. Below are the best budget sandwiches I ate this month.
The Ebi Katsu Sando from Grillbird Teriyaki
6501 35th Ave. S.W.; Seattle; 206-402-4388; grillbird.com
Fast-food joints are trying to Jedi-mind trick us into thinking that the fish fillet is the new chicken sandwich. I still haven’t tasted a fish sandwich I like. But I will devour Grillbird Teriyaki’s homage to McDonald’s fish fillet — a square shrimp cake disguised as a fish sandwich. Some of the shrimp was coarsely ground and some was just chopped, resulting in a cake with lumps of shrimp instead of a flimsy, pasty patty. A firm, juicy bite. The shrimp is interspersed with scallions, garlic, nori salt and sambal, encased in a crunchy panko crust and then topped with American cheese, cabbage slaw and lug-nut-size bread-and-butter pickles. The supersized shrimp cake is served on a grilled Marino’s potato roll (as every good sandwich should be). Just a wonderful medley of textures and flavors. Comes with a side of nori ranch sauce, but it tastes better without it.
The meatball sub from Good Day Donuts
9823 15th Ave. S.W. (White Center), Seattle; 206-503-2898; gooddaydonuts.com
People come for his crullers and maple bars, but owner Erik Jackson also makes a mean sandwich. An alumnus of the late Dahlia Lounge and Spur Gastropub, Jackson focuses on lunch sammies after the morning sugar rush. The rotating menu will always feature its old reliable, the meatball sub. There aren’t many meatball subs this good priced under $10 around the Seattle area. The ideal trinity of meaty, gooey and tangy elements, this pork-and-beef combo contains enough fat for a flavorful, succulent bite. But the secret ingredient is the zing from the rings of fried, battered jalapeño peppers. These meatballs won’t slide out of the crackly banh mi bread thanks to the globs of mozzarella, cheddar and Monterey Jack that double as a cohesiveness to keep the fillings in place for a consistent bite.
The Gooch beef dip sandwich from HoneyHole
703 E. Pike St. (second location opens in the Central District in late May at 1305 E. Jefferson St.), Seattle; 206-709-1399; thehoneyhole.com
Ask, “Have you had The Gooch?” and every old-school Capitol Hill dweller knows you’re referring to the French dip at HoneyHole. This neighborhood classic hasn’t changed even though ownership changed hands earlier this year. New management knew not to mess with a bestseller. The Gooch is four layers of flame-grilled tri-tip cut with sharp cheddar, red onions and the nasal-burning horseradish that is meant to entice you to dip and dip again into the au jus made from pan drippings, a beefy, umami-rich bite. A new legion of Gooch fans awaits. HoneyHole will open a second, bigger bar restaurant near Seattle University in late May.
The Whidbey tuna sandwich from Greenbank Pantry & Deli
Price: $5 for half; $10 for full
25175 Highway 525, Greenbank; 360-222-3623; greenbankstore.com
This Whidbey Island gem is easy to miss if you don’t GPS the address, and even then, I damn near overshot it along the main road. A great spot for your picnic needs if you want a day getaway. Owners Emily Terao and Alex Pulichino used to farm in Italy and Napa, California, before settling down to life on the island with the intent on refurbishing the historical Greenbank Store and preparing to open a bakery before the summer tourist rush. In the meantime, they also run a deli, where they bake bread every morning. There is mortadella and fresh mozzarella. And the albacore in their tuna salad comes from nearby Island Trollers. The tuna salad isn’t soggy, just a modicum of mayo to bind the onions, olives, celery and fish chunks, served on spongy country bread. Your kids will likely prefer the tuna melt, served on buttery bread with warm, gooey cheddar.