clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A glass case with sandwiches lines up.
Bakeries like Fabrique are a great place to pick up modest-sized summer sandwiches.

Eater Critic Robert Sietsema’s 9 Favorite Summer Sandwiches So Far

From frittata to caprese to salmon on brioche

Winter wants a big sandwich, maybe one overstuffed with meat, or perhaps a hot sandwich that sits in your stomach like a little radiator and warms you. But summer sandwiches are quite a different animal. They should be small and lightweight, and easy to hold in one hand. They should stifle hunger but not overwhelm it, leaving you nimble on your feet and not bloated.

As part of my continuing quarterly sandwich round-up, I sought out those sandwiches that I wanted to eat when the temperature and humidity soared. Here is the collection I assembled, in no particular order of preference.

Check out the earlier installments of the series: 11 Unexpected Sandwiches, 11 Favorite Hot Parm Heros, 11 Favorite Winter Sandwiches, 11 Favorite Fall Sandwiches, 11 More NYC Sandwiches That Are Getting Us Through the Pandemic, 11 Great NYC Sandwiches That Got Us Through the Pandemic,

Spinach frittata sandwich at Partners Coffee

Coffee bars are a great place to search for tiny but nourishing sandwiches, and Partners, with branches in Manhattan and Brooklyn, always has a selection on display. Approximately three inches in diameter, the spinach frittata sandwich ($8) comes on a pretzel roll with a melting slice of cheese on top, and the sandwich proves stomach soothing at breakfast or lunch.

A small dark roll with a yellow omelet with green filling peeking out.
Spinach frittata sandwich at Partners.

Salmon brioche at Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Nothing is cooler in summer than a bright orange slice of cured salmon, and it forms the centerpiece of the sandwich selection at this arcane French bakery in the West Village. Brioche is the perfect summer bun and this sandwich ($8.50) is made using only half of one. Additionally, cream cheese — itself a cooling substance — is slathered on, cucumber slices are added (ever heard the expression “cool as a cucumber”), along with dill fronds, for maximum summer greenness and flavor. 37 8th Avenue, between Jane and West 4th streets, West Village

A sandwich cut in half with salmon, cukes, and cream cheese oozing out.
Salmon brioche at Aux Merveilleux de Fred.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Asparagus sandwich at Bread & Salt

In summer, vegetable sandwiches become more desirable, not only because they represent fewer calories and less grease, but because the vegetables are often currently in season and at the height of their flavor. Asparagus, with its distinctive earthy taste, makes a great and assertive sandwich, though the tall vegetable is rarely exploited in that way ($11). (While asparagus likely won’t be available consider whatever vegetable is on the menu.) 435 Palisade Avenue, between Griffith and Hutton streets, Jersey City [Disclosure: Interim ENY editor Melissa McCart is Bread and Salt owner Rick Easton’s partner and co-author.]

A baguette held forward by two hands with asparagus sticking out helter skelter.
Bread & Salt’s asparagus sandwich.

Levain roll with cheese at Fabrique

With its breads fresh out of the oven, a bakery is an excellent place to look for a sandwich — because great bread must always be the starting point of a great sandwich. The sourdough Levain roll at this Swedish bakery is already fantastic, but smeared with butter and piled with a modest amount of aged cheddar, lettuce, and tomato, this solid hit rounds the bases for a home run ($7.25). 348 West 14th Street, between 7th and 8th avenues, West Village

A small brown roll with cheese, lettuce, and tomato on an aquamarine plate.
Levain roll with cheese at Fabrique.

Pao com mortadela at Bica Cafe

Summer is for grilling, even if what you’re grilling is this Brazilian version of mortadella. The cooking method imparts a faint flavor of smoke and an almost-crunchy char. Kept small, the sandwich ($18) is nonetheless rich, the richness boosted with a single slice of cheddar and a schmear of garlicky aioli. Other sandwiches at Brazilian-Portuguese Bica (a small shop implanted in the restaurant Ipanema) are similarly modest in size, easy to hold and eat. 3 West 36th Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Midtown

A long roll with grilled luncheon meat on it.
Pao com mortadela at Bica.

Chicken cutlet on a roll at Frank’s Luncheonette

Located right over the clattering F tracks as they dive underground in Carroll Gardens, Frank’s Luncheonette is one of the few of its kind left, making breakfast and luncheon dishes in a rustic setting that looks like the 1940s, and then shutting down midafternoon. The food is often spectacular in a plainish sort of way, and it’s one of the few places where you can scale back your hero sandwich. Thus a chicken cutlet comes on a kaiser roll with the usual tomato sauce and melted mozzarella, with about one-third of the heft and volume of your average hero ($8). 365 Smith Street, between 2nd and 3rd streets, Carroll Gardens

A roll with a crumbed cutlet, cheese, and tomato sauce oozing out of the cut surface.
Chicken cutlet on a roll at Frank’s Luncheonette.

Falafel manousheh at Manousheh

Let’s face it, falafel sandwiches are considered a healthy vegan option, but they are also a bit heavy and greasy for summer consumption. This workaround on the part of a distinguished Lebanese bakery involves transforming the falafel mix into a batter and painting the inside of a flatbread with it. Baked and rolled, the sandwich ($10) is further improved with tomato, mint, and toum, the whipped white garlicky condiment. 193 Bleecker Street, between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village

A rolled flatbread open to show a greenish smear and some vegetables inside.
Falafel manousheh at Manousheh.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ham and swiss at Abingdon Market

First, you’ve got to find a deli that doesn’t overstuff its sandwiches. There’s something noble about eating a sandwich the way it was invented, as a hand-held hunger stopper. The ham and Swiss sandwich remains much as it was a century ago: two smallish pieces of bread, a few slices of ham, and fewer slices of cheese, maybe with lettuce and tomato if you want to get fancy. Mustard or mayo is optional. The slender sandwich won’t weigh you down, and you can eat it with one hand while walking. 1 Abingdon Square, at Bleecker Street, West Village

A modest sandwich wrapped in a plastic container.
Ham and swiss — don’t forget to recycle the plastic.

Caprese sandwich at Le Fournil

This French bakery assembles a series of sandwiches on its distinguished baguettes and rolls, displayed in a glass case to the right of the sales counter. They are perfect to grab and eat at the very Parisian outdoor tables or carried to nearby Tompkins Square. The caprese is in many ways the best, a transformation of the classic salad of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, improved with the addition of pesto. Nothing could be more summery ($9). 115 2nd Avenue at 7th Street, East Village

A round sandwich with tomatoes and mozzarella visible, on a worn wooden table outdoors.
Caprese sandwich at Le Fournil.

NYC Restaurant Openings

A Dish Right Out of the ’70s Is an Early Bestseller at This UES Revival

NYC Restaurant Openings

Chinese Cheese Tea Chain to Open First U.S. Location in Manhattan

A.M. Intel

After the City Shut it Down, Corona Plaza’s Food Vendors Have Returned