A few months ago, a yet-to-open sandwich shop called Wax Paper Co. received a lot of media attention for its cheeky menu, which named all of its sandwiches after National Public Radio hosts: Ira Glass of This American Life (veggie), Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace (tuna), Audie Cornish of All Things Considered (ham & cheese), etc.
Now that Wax Paper Co. is finally open and serving the riverside Frogtown community, it’s safe to proclaim that their NPR name game is no mere gimmick. Even if these sandwiches were named after Fox Morning Show anchors, we’d still be huge fans.
The Ira Glass ($11) — garlic aioli, shredded cheddar, avocado, sprouts, cucumber, and pickled onions between two slices of poppy seed wheat bread — is an instant standout. It’s rare to get excited about a veggie sandwich on wheat, but the gorgeously soft artisan bread from local bakers Bub and Grandma's (they also supply Dune nearby) is a vast improvement over the dry health-food fodder you might be imagining.
The Larry Mantle ($12), Wax Paper’s riff on an Italian cold cut, hits the same comforting notes as its traditional counterpart, layering house-made herb bologna and thick-cut capicola with shaved provolone, pickled peppers and a zesty oregano vinaigrette. The seeded hoagie roll it's built on isn’t quite as stunning as Bub’s wheat, but it does an admirable job holding things together.
Once you meet Wax Paper's owners, husband-wife team Peter and Lauren Lemos, it shouldn't be surprising that its sandwiches are cut above the usual sub shop. They’re both restaurant industry veterans; Peter most recently served as chef de cuisine at Jon & Vinny’s, while Lauren has worked at L&E Oyster Bar. When the couple came upon a small take-out space in a new development just steps from the L.A. River, they knew they’d found the ideal spot for their first concept. “We knew we wanted to serve food that chefs liked to eat on their day off,” says Peter, “and there’s probably nothing a chef loves more than a good sandwich.”
As for the NPR theme, Lemos says it began as an homage to the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry David obsesses over ingredients in celebrity-named sandwich at a local deli. “We wanted to name the sandwiches after famous people,” he explains, “and then we thought ‘Why not use the names you hear on public radio that are so distinctive?’”
Wax Paper Co. is currently open from noon until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with plans to expand to breakfast service early next year.
Wax Paper Co., 2902 Knox Ave., Frogtown; (323) 284-8857, waxpaperco.com.