The torta ahogada at La Terraza in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The torta ahogada at La Terraza in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hidden Gems: Five SnoCo sandwiches to spice up your lunch break

From fried chicken to Filipino cheesesteaks, explore the wide world of possibilities between two slices of bread

Ah, sandwiches. There’s really nothing quite like a lunch that fits neatly (or not so neatly, depending on your choice of fillings) between two slices of bread. It’s a lunchbox go-to for a reason, a dependable staple customizable beyond your wildest dreams.

Most of the time, though, if I’m looking to expand my palate, sandwiches aren’t the first thing that springs to mind. It seems silly to consider such a staid, predictable choice when untold new and noteworthy flavors await me out there in the world of Snohomish County dining.

But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to stick with the classics to make the best of a classic format. In this edition of Hidden Gems, I’m taking you to five local sandwich spots that are anything but predictable. The one commonality they all share is that they tend to go pretty heavy on the meats — I am a carnivore at heart when it comes to sandwiches — but if you’re looking to fill your belly and nourish your soul with one efficient, handheld package, you could do worse than loading it up with cold cuts.

(If you’re hankering for a plant-based option, though, Cafe Wylde in Everett has some adventurous choices — as do many of the places highlighted in The Daily Herald’s guide to SnoCo vegan spots.)

Read on to get inspiration for your next lunchtime craving, and don’t forget the napkins.

Tubs Gourmet Subs, Lynnwood and Bothell

We’ll start off with the place on our list that’s admittedly the least likely to actually be hidden in the minds of longtime SnoCo sandwich enthusiasts. Tubs has been an institution of sandwich artistry since its first North Seattle location opened in 1983, and its two current locations on Highway 99 in Lynnwood and in downtown Bothell still carry on the proud tradition of inventive fillings packed to the rafters on footlong subs — or a half-size, for the less ambitious.

Tubs Gourmet Subs in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Tubs Gourmet Subs in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

I haven’t been to the Bothell location, but the 99 location is small and tidy, almost always with a line of lunch breakers waiting for their fix if you go around midday. There’s something for just about everyone here, whether you’re looking for a simple ham sandwich done right or something you never could possibly have dreamed up on your own.

Take for example the Tuna Roll ($16 for a large), albacore topped with pickled ginger and honey-wasabi mayo on a toasted baguette. My favorites at Tubs tend to be the combos that take classic fillings, like turkey or an Italian combo, to new heights by pairing them with a little something new. The Phoenix’s ($16) raspberry-chipotle sauce pairs so fruitfully with the richness of cheddar and cream cheeses and smoky sliced turkey that it’s become my new regular order, displacing my long-held fixation on the Godfather with its piles of cured meats and slick of pesto and garlic mayo.

Tubs Gourmet Subs, 4400 168th St SW # 201, Lynnwood. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Heidi’s Sandwichboard, Snohomish

Known as Christa’s Sandwichboard until Heidi and Karam Mannassumed ownership earlier this year, this spot is a fixture in downtown Snohomish for sandwiches, yes, but also for rotating scratch-made soups, creative drink specials and inventive charcuterie offerings.

For an eminently reasonable price, your lunch break can feel like a getaway to anywhere you choose with the fresh and flavorful combos on Heidi’s hot and cold sandwiches. The Humboldt Fog Melt ($16) could sweep you away to the misty shores of California with the faintly blue-veined goat cheese melted over thinly sliced ham smeared with fig jam, or the hoisin-infused pulled pork sandwich ($16.50) topped with crunchy, tangy coleslaw could be your ticket to memories of summertime cookouts even when the weather is less than sunny.

The Super-Dooper at Heidi’s Sandwichboard in Snohomish. (Ben Watanabe / The Herald)

The Super-Dooper at Heidi’s Sandwichboard in Snohomish. (Ben Watanabe / The Herald)

There are plenty of the usual sandwich suspects too, like the club, BLTA and Italian Stallion, but for my money the standout menu offering is the BMT: basil, mozzarella and tomato ($16). Even in the depths of winter, the fresh, creamy cheese, herbs and veggies dressed simply with a balsamic glaze on a crusty baguette hits the spot every single time.

Heidi’s Sandwichboard, 1206 1st St., Snohomish. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

Lasa Sandwiches and Pearls, Lynnwood and Tulalip

Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff. When you’ve had your fill of expertly executed takes on your well-known sandwich faves, check out this spot for something completely different.

The shop on Highway 99 in Lynnwood and its newly-opened second location at Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip serves up six different sandwiches loaded with Filipino flavors, all of which are utterly unlike anything else I’ve tried in the area. Their breakfast longanisa sandwich ($12) is a contender for the best breakfast sammie in SnoCo, with its fluffy chive scrambled eggs, roasted jalapeño spread and thick patty of Filipino pork sausage, and the Fili-Bistek ($14) is everything you love about a Philly cheesesteak made even more amazing with the addition of Lasa’s delicious marinated top sirloin.

The lumpia sub at Lasa Sandwiches & Pearls in Lynnwood. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald).

The lumpia sub at Lasa Sandwiches & Pearls in Lynnwood. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald).

For all the other delicious offerings, though, it’s hard to pry me away from the lechon kawali roll ($16). Served on a baguette and doused with a spicy Thai bird chili and herb garnish, the sandwich is the ideal vehicle for the sticky-sweet, soy-glazed pork belly within.

As a person with a deep love of marinated meats as well as an incurable sweet tooth, Lasa really knows how to reel me in for dessert, too. Get one of their signature drinks loaded with tapioca pearls, like the creamy, graham-cracker-crumb-infused mango float ($8.50), to wash down your spicy sandwich and thank me later.

Lasa Sandwiches and Pearls, 18009 Hwy 99 Suite C, Lynnwood. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Zoey’s Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Wings, Everett

Fried chicken sandwiches are arguably a different category entirely from just “sandwiches,” but this gem is too hidden and too delicious not to include in this roundup. Once you’ve made the pilgrimage to try this spot for yourself, you’ll thank me for my disregard of the rules.

Zoey’s does exactly what it says on the tin, serving up gut-bustingly delicious fried chicken sandwiches, wings and burgers from an unassuming strip mall on Casino Road. The first time I stumbled in, tired and bedraggled from a long day, owner Aissa Mbaye welcomed me in like an old friend, chatting warmly with me about upcoming holiday plans while I placed my order. Mbaye said the restaurant is a “one-woman show,” doing most of the cooking, cashiering and cleaning herself with occasional help from family, and the love inherent to this one-woman show is apparent in the perfectly breaded, expertly seasoned chicken coming out of her kitchen.

The hot chicken sandwich at Zoey’s Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The hot chicken sandwich at Zoey’s Fried Chicken Sandwiches in Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

On my first try, I ordered the hot chicken sandwich ($13). Adorned simply with crispy pickle coins and mayo, plus an order of crinkle-cut fries (included in the price!), it would be hard to walk away feeling anything other than satisfied. The generously-portioned chicken breast is juicy and flavorful, with plenty of craggy breading to hold onto seasonings and sauces. The next time I came back to Zoey’s, I went for the chicken cordon bleu sandwich ($15), which adds a thick slice of deli ham and a creamy housemade garlic spread to the basic patty and soft, pillowy bun.

Elsewhere on Zoey’s menu, you’ll find burgers, chicken tenders and wings in a variety of flavors from spicy buffalo to mild curry. I have no doubt Mbaye’s wings are among the best in the world, given her demonstrated chicken prowess, but it’ll be tough to get me to look away from these sandwiches.

Zoey’s Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Wings, 510 Casino Road Ste. G, Everett. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

La Terraza, Lynnwood and Marysville

I’ve really saved the biggest kicker for last here. La Terraza is not a sandwich shop by any stretch of the imagination — it’s a Mexican restaurant in the classic family-run style, with a brick and mortar location in Marysville and food trucks outside NW Furniture on Highway 99 in Lynnwood and on Marine Drive NE in Tulalip. But if you come here for only one thing, let it be the one sandwich on the menu.

A Guadalajaran specialty, the torta ahogada ($12) is probably not the sandwich you’d pick for a quick lunch break or portable snack. The hard roll upon which all tortas begin is stuffed with slow-roasted pork carnitas — thrilling enough a concept on its own, but wait till the whole thing gets doused in a spicy red sauce flavored with tomatoes and arbol chiles. That’s when you’ll see why its name translates directly to “drowned sandwich.”

La Terraza has locations in Lynnwood and Tulalip (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

La Terraza has locations in Lynnwood and Tulalip (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

I know what you’re thinking. A sandwich drowned in sauce? Wouldn’t that make the bread soggy? Couldn’t I just order a wet enchilada instead?

Trust me on this one. The crunchy exterior of the bolillo roll holds up stunningly well to the ladles of sauce, and while I still wouldn’t recommend trying to eat it one-handed while driving, it’s the rare sandwich that’s worth picking up a fork for. As you work your way through, which will take a while on this ample sandwich, the flavors meld into one another and create the perfect mashup of flavors and textures.

La Terraza Lynnwood, 16530 Highway 99, Lynnwood. Open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Riley Haun: 425-339-3192; riley.haun@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @RHaunID.

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