Searching for the Best Sandwich in Isla Vista

Photo by Graeme Jackson

Christine Ho
Layout Editor

Sandwiches — a basic, simple tradition seemingly rooted in American culture. (Fun fact, the sandwich actually originated in England in the 18th century, when John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich wanted to eat a piece of meat between two pieces of bread). With its long history and ubiquity, the sandwich has gone through multiple revisions and alterations. This week, The Bottom Line’s Photo Editor and Layout Editor decided to find the best sandwich restaurant in Isla Vista. 

We started our journey at Sam’s To Go, Isla Vista’s resident sandwich stop. We ordered a medium turkey, avocado & cheese sandwich. 

Bread: We ordered sourdough bread for our sandwiches. Overall, the bread quality was good. The texture was fluffy and the sourdough had a good amount of sourness. Although, we wished that the bread had been toasted. 

Distribution of toppings: This is probably the biggest flaw in a Sam’s sandwich. The toppings in the sandwich were not well distributed: the meat was mostly on one side, while the vegetables stayed on the other. This made the sandwich feel uneven and each bite was either full of meat or full of veggies. 

Sauce: The sauce at Sam’s was decent but slightly watery, which made the eating experience a little messy, but taste-wise it was satisfactory. 

Ambiance: The ambiance at Sam’s was slightly off-putting. We went later in the night (around 9 p.m.), which meant our surroundings were relatively quiet. But the music at Sam’s was still quite loud, making it difficult to have a conversation.

Price: At $9.50 for a 9-inch sandwich, Sam’s sandwiches are about $1 per inch. 

Overall, we give Sam’s 2.5/5 sammies. 


Our next stop was South Coast Deli, a slightly more upscale sandwich shop featuring more creative sandwich combinations. We ordered a Cajun turkey sandwich.

Bread: We ordered sourdough bread for our sandwich. Instead of using sub bread, South Coast Deli makes their sandwiches with toast. This made the sandwich feel more like the good ol’ “sandwich-next-door.” However, the bread was slightly stale and the sourdough did not taste as sour. 

Distribution of toppings: Since the sandwich was made layer by layer, it had an even distribution of toppings. 

Sauce: The Cajun sauce on this sandwich was fantastic. It had the tartness of mayo, but with a little kick of spice. All around, it complemented the turkey and other ingredients perfectly.  

Ambiance: The restaurant was a little messy and disheveled, but there was a lot of indoor seating available for a cold day out. 

Price: Since the sandwich was not a sub, we could not measure it by the inch. The sandwich here seemed a little smaller than the 9-inch Sam’s sandwich, but still a sizable amount. It was $10.24.

Overall, we give South Coast Deli a 4/5 sammies. 


Our final stop was Subway’s, I.V.’s token chain sandwich restaurant.

Bread: This location did not have sourdough, so we ordered Italian bread. We really liked that Subway offered to toast our sandwich, but we wished that the bread was a little more fluffy. 

Distribution of toppings: We thought they had a very even distribution of ingredients for a sub, and every bite had a little bit of each topping.

Sauce: One benefit that Subway offers is the choice to choose and mix your own sauces. We stuck with a simple mayonnaise, but we encourage you to take advantage and try to find the perfect combination of sauces. 

Ambiance: This location was the quietest out of all three sandwich shops, and it also had a lot of seating both inside and outside. 

Price: At $5.29 for a 6-inch sandwich, Subway’s sandwiches are a little less than $1 per inch. 

Overall, we give Subway’s a 4.5/5 sammies. 


If you are looking for a higher-end, pricier sandwich, South Coast Deli will provide you a great selection. If you are looking to save some money and play with different sandwich combos, Subway’s will be your go-to. If you are with a group of people looking for sandwiches and a good time, Sam’s will be the perfect place.