The best part? Their signature, lightly toasted Italian bread.

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Building a sandwich seems like a no-brainer; it just requires sticking cold cuts between two slices of bread, right? But Grinders Hot Sands in Shoreline — set amid a blurring row of strip malls off Aurora Avenue — has raised the bar on what a sandwich should be.

The first thing you’ll notice at Grinders is its signature lightly toasted, yet very soft Italian roll or the warm, thick ciabatta bread.

While the bread sets the tone, don’t overlook what you’ll find inside. Each sandwich is layered with meat, vegetables and cheese; many contain its signature caramelized onions.

Grinders Hot Sands

Sandwiches

19811 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline

206-542-0627

grindersshoreline.com

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

Prices: $

Chris Dalton, who runs Seattle’s venerable breakfast joint Beth’s Café, took ownership of Grinders last year with partner Jackie Olson, the former bar manager at Duck Island Ale House.

Both have kept to the vision of previous owner Mitch Gilbert — who created the original grinder recipes from his mom — pretty much intact, expanding the beer and wine list and adding live music on Saturday nights.

The menu: Choose from 15 different grinders ($9.95-$13.95) with off-the-wall names like Dipper, Gilbano, Giardino, Goomba, Tricolore and Red Eye Ham. Also available: a house-made soup of the day and chili ($3.95-$6.95), along with some huge salads — the Whack, Whack ($11.95), Blu ($11.95) and House ($5.95).

Don’t miss: The Stromboli ($10.95) is loaded (fork and knife included) with grilled pepperoni, salami, caramelized onions, melted mozzarella and sweet spicy peppers on an Italian roll, plus a side of marinara sauce. In the Dipper ($13.95), you’ll find roast beef, sautéed mushrooms, melted cheese, caramelized onions and a creamy horseradish cradled in ciabatta bread with a side of au jus.

The Whack Whack ($11.95) — think Chop Chop salad — was large enough to feed two, and comes with a side of garlic cheese bread.

A surprise: The “not on the current menu” pasta dishes ($8.95) came with corkscrew-type cavatappi pasta. Choose a white creamy sauce, marinara or vodka red cream sauce and add chicken, sausage, shrimp, meatballs or vegetables ($1-$5).

The setting: Thirteen tables and bar-style seating face an open-air kitchen. A large painted mural of a jazz band and some framed, black-and-white pictures adorn the walls.

Summing up: The Dipper ($13.95); Stromboli ($10.95); Whack Whack ($11.95) and pasta with white sauce ($8.95) totaled $45.80.