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Sandwiches

5 Great Sandwiches Worth the Drive to Atwater Village

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Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 9:05 AM
click to enlarge A pair of Proof sandwiches in their wrappers - BEN MESIROW
  • Ben Mesirow
  • A pair of Proof sandwiches in their wrappers
If Tacos Villa Corona were open reasonable hours, this list probably wouldn’t exist — what point would there be in seeking out other cheap and hearty lunch options in a neighborhood already blessed with such spectacular burritos? But thanks to its abbreviated schedule, we have found ourselves on an island, stranded and starving in the middle of Atwater in the early afternoon, far more times than we care to recall. But though it may seem initially like no backup lunch could possibly suffice, Atwater is home to a wealth of great sandwich options — the perfect way to recover from a burrito letdown.

The sandwich shops in Atwater are eclectic but accessible, interesting but not necessarily challenging, and exciting while staying family-friendly, much like the neighborhood itself. There is house-baked bread and slow-roasted pork, garlic and vinegar and meat carved to order. There are sandwiches so big you may not be able to get your mouth around them.

We’ve composed a guide to get you straight to your perfect spot. Below you will find, listed alphabetically, five of our favorite places to get a sandwich in Atwater Village.
See also: 5 Great Sandwiches Worth the Drive to Burbank

Baracoa

In the middle of all the buzzier, better-known places along Glendale Boulevard (Tacos Villa Corona and Canele, Viet and Hugo’s Tacos), Baracoa is incredibly easy to overlook, a tiny, single-room Cuban restaurant right in the middle of the main strip, with a simple sign that seems to blend into the background. The entranceway is dark and almost entirely blocked off with tropical plants, to the point that it can be difficult to know whether it’s even open. If you brave the front-door flora, you will enter into a little room with a few booths lining the walls and a couple of tables down the middle, the walls painted to look like a Cuban beach.

The menu has a lot of larger dishes on offer (ropa vieja, arroz con pollo, steaks, and shrimp al mojo de ajo), and it also has a handful of traditional Cuban sandwich options, from pan con bistec to the ever-wonderful Cubano. The roasted pork that comes on the majority of the sandwiches is outstanding: rich, tender and fatty, dripping with deliciously intense pork grease. The bread is noticeably good as well, pressed but not squished, sturdy enough to absorb that piggy oil without turning to mush, and topped with just the right amount of punchy condiment, whether that’s mustard and pickles on your Cubano or a healthy scoop of garlic sauce on your pan con lechon3175 Glendale Blvd., Atwater; (323) 665-9590.

click to enlarge A hot pastrami sandwich from Giamela's - BEN MESIROW
  • Ben Mesirow
  • A hot pastrami sandwich from Giamela's
Giamela’s
Though its official relationship with the sandwich shop of the same name in Burbank is ambiguous, the Giamela’s in Atwater is clearly in a similar spiritual state. Despite a newish coat of bright orange exterior paint and some new lights, it's a little concrete box on Los Feliz Boulevard not far east of the river, with a well-loved feel. The interior is brightly lit and spare, which may sound trendy though it is distinctly not so. There are a dozen tables with matching chairs, a shelf of chips, a small flat-screen TV in the corner only partially obscured by the rabbit ears sitting directly in front of it, and a little counter for placing and picking up your order.

The format, too, matches the Burbank version – a titanic roll, upon which they pile meat, cheese and a side salad’s worth of vegetables, pickles, onions and fresh tomato. The Italian cold-cut sandwich is a stunner, perfectly salty, doused with mayo, mustard, oil, vinegar, pepper and whatever else you can think to dump on it, a mountain of mixed flavors such that no two bites are quite alike. You will round the corner of the first half of your sandwich with an eye on the whole thing, but no matter your head of steam, no matter how hard you rage against the setting sun of absolute stomach capacity, you will not finish. When you unwrap the final piece hours later, you will prod it suspiciously – it has grown soggy, oil having seeped not only through the bread but through the wrapper and probably the bag, too. But miracle of miracles, it may be even better than before, a lovely pile of vinegar-tinged mush, a reminder of its earlier glory and yet something entirely new, a hulking, ugly butterfly shedding its cocoon. 3178 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater; (323) 661-9444.

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