Seven Cult Sandwiches | Menu of Menus | North Coast Journal
For a lunch that’s mutually utilitarian and delicious, sandwiches are the timeless go-to. But the proletarian origins of the humble sandwich, coupled with Subway’s ubiquity, have too often given sandwiches the reputation as blasé affairs. The good news for the sandwich curious is that the lunch scene in Humboldt is everything but cold cuts and yellow mustard. We found sandwiches dressing themselves up with gourmet trappings like arugula and Sriracha aioli or making innovative mimicry of other cultural mainstays like tacos, pizza and spring rolls. Reliable sandwich outposts dot the route from Fortuna to Trinidad, but here are few favorite spots to mow down Humboldt’s best meals between two slices of bread.
The transports-you-to-Italy factor at Pasta Luego (791 8th Arcata) cannot be overstated, particularly after biting into one of their perfectly crafted paninis. Italian cookies, aprons, wine and refrigerated pasta sauce surround the main event – a deli case stocked with premium Italian charcuterie, sliced per order. The menu consists of Italian subs on a Brio baguette and a selection of panino, perhaps the highest art of the sandwich, where the slow toast of bread and cheese creates a perfect harmony of textures. If you also love the interplay of sweet and savory, try the Coco featuring a wonderfully salty Rosa Cotta ham, roasted red peppers, arugula, Gorgonzola cheese and house made fig jam ($9.50).
Ferndale Meat Company
A trip to Ferndale is filled with the nostalgic reminders of the towns rich history as both a Victorian village and a dairy town. The shops and restaurants along Main Street have the classic eats to match. The Ferndale Meat Company (376 Main St.) dates back to the Humboldt Gold Rush days and holds an honorable place on the town's historic registrar. A butcher, deli and grocer, the Meat Company smokes the tri-tip in house to feature on its best-selling sando, the smoked trick-tip ($7.50). A generous pile of sliced meat is accompanied by mustard, mayo, pickles, onions, lettuce and tomato with your choice of cheese and bread, but we recommend the soft, savory onion roll to hold that oozy, smoky deliciousness together.
Murphy's Market, Trindad
If there were a signature Humboldt sandwich, it'd be the sweet taste of fresh crab bookended by slices of Velluntini's sourdough, with a light smear of mayo, lettuce and tomato. This Humboldt classic can be caught in the fishing village of Trinidad at the Murphy's Market deli (1 Main St. Trinidad). Sure, there are branches in Bayside and Eureka, but the sea air adds something. Though the Humboldt crab industry has ben stymied by water quality regulations in 2016, until the season opened here, Murphy's was keeping the regulars faithful by shipping in fresh-caught crab from the nearby Oregon coast. The crab sandwich (market price) featuring a 1/4 pound of lump Dungeness is available from the start of crab season through the summer. Some prefer the taste of crab clean and natural, but many locals will ask for Larrupin's mustard dill sauce to make it extra sweet and delicious.
Wildberries – Wild Platter Café
Wildberries deli offers a menu of special sandos that will pair perfectly with a 6-pack of IPA and a trip to Moonstone beach. For something on the healthier side, try the Wild Veggie Delight ($7.99 whole, $4.99 half), a sturdy sandwich housed by a whole wheat roll and layered with organic hummus, Vegeniase, cilantro, red onions, lettuce and tomatoes. If BYOS (building your own sandwich), try keeping it local with Wild Planet tuna or grilled organic Tofu Shop tofu and topping it off with Larrupin’s signature mustard dill sauce ($7.29 whole, $4.49 half).
A few different BBQ houses are in the hunt for Humboldt’s best BBQ, but the Humboldt Smokehouse (310 5th Eureka) is making authentic slow-cooked meat. Their sandwiches ($9.99) are filled with either pulled pork, pork belly, smoked chicken, pork loin or burnt ends (which you must get to know) in a variety of smoky combinations. The Kansas City, made with your choice of meat, smoked cheddar cheese, scallions and bacon is a house favorite, but meat lovers can upgrade to the Big Poppa where smoked cream cheese, smoked jalapenos, bacon and BBQ sauce accompany your choice of meat. Now about those burnt ends - an exercise in culinary zero-waste, burnt ends are the beef trimmings and odd discarded bits set aside by the pit master. Their origins can be traced back to a serious-BBQ town, Kansas City, where burnt ends used to be given away as doggy snacks. By now humans, too, have learned to love their delectable salty fattiness and the Humboldt Smokehouse will ply your soft roll with burnt ends for only an extra $1.99 well spent.
Z & J’s Asian Subs
If you remember anything about Z & J’s, it should be these two words - drive-thru (2336 3rd Eureka). Pull up to the silver silo-shaped building across from Target and a friendly face will ask you chicken, pork, BBQ beef, prime rib, tuna or tofu, do you want to add avocado or cheese ($1.49 each) and if you’d like if Spicy, Medium or Mild. Before you know it, a large sub ($8.99-10.99) will be coming through the sliding window, packed with shredded carrots, fresh cilantro and house-smoked meats, spicy as you like.
Hole in the Wall
With inconspicuous locations in both Eureka (1331 Broadway) and Arcata (590 G), Hole in the Wall has the best sandwich quality to micro-real estate ratio sewn up. The options to BYOS are endless, but in terms of creativity and taste, their signature creations are the best choice. In a reverse deconstructed-salad maneuver, the Cobb ($9.75) stacks lettuce, avocado, bacon, turkey and blue cheese between two slices of your choice of bread for a sandwich that gives you the gold star feeling of having ordered a salad. If you’re a bit hungrier or perhaps even a waffling on sandwich vs, taco, try the torta ($9.25). It's essentially several delicious carnitas tacos packed into a fresh-baked Brio roll with cilantro, hot sauce and avocado.