ADDRESS: 1517 Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401


My friend Michele and I were spending time down at a farmer’s market in Santa Monica one weekend, and we decided on getting some lunch before we headed out of the area. There was an Italian deli that was very well known locally called Bay Cities, which Michele had suggested. It had been on her list of places to try for quite some time, and it worked out pretty well since we had been looking around at deli sandwich places to try. With the circumstances lining up, we made our way over to Bay Cities and found out just how popular the place was.

To say the deli was busy might be an understatement. The moment that we walked into the place, you could already tell that the majority of people were there with sandwiches in mind. (For context, we got there a little after 1:30PM and the crowd was still packing the place.) While the deli counter took up one entire side of the space, the remainder was a marketplace, where you could pick up Italian ingredients, along with wines and liquor in another area as well. There were probably already 15 people in line ahead of us when we arrived, and it seemed like the line continued building pretty consistently as more people came in behind us.

As you’d expect from an Italian deli, the sandwiches on their menu ranged between both hot and cold offerings. Your hot sandwiches included meatball, chicken parmesan, and sausage, to name a few. The cold cut sandwiches had the usual slate of cured meats like salami, pepperoni, mortadella, prosciutto, or capicola, along with other traditional cold cuts like ham, turkey, or roast beef. That didn’t include the 14 different types of cheeses that they offered as well to add onto your sandwich. You had plenty of choices to consider, and it was tempting to order several sandwiches just to try out different ones.

Michele mentioned that the Godmother Sandwich on their menu was one that the deli was pretty known for. Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto, and provolone cheese assembled on an Italian filone roll (also known as Italian sourdough), which are fresh-baked every hour. I decided to ask for my sandwich with “The Works,” which included mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, Italian dressing, and hot peppers. We grabbed some chips and drinks before checking out at the register and going outside to see about any open tables.

Given that Bay Cities was more of a deli and marketplace, there were only a limited number of tables outside of the building that were available for patrons to sit down and eat at. We were fortunate enough that a couple was getting up just as we came outside for us to grab their table. Upon unwrapping the sandwich, I do have to say that it looked pretty good. The crust on the outside of the bread looked crisp, and there was also a pretty good amount of meats layered into the sandwich as well. The condiments felt like they were a good proportion with the meat as well, keeping balance within the sandwich.

My first bite into the sandwich was a culmination of savory, sweet, tart, and slightly spicy flavors, which was a testament to all of the sandwich ingredients working well together. I did like the fact that even with all of the condiments, you could still pick out the flavors of the different meats that were part of the sandwich. If there was one knock that I had on the sandwich, however, it was probably that the bread was too tough at times. I don’t know if that was just a natural characteristic of the Italian filone roll or whether this particular batch of bread was a little more well done, but I thought that if the bread was just a bit softer, then it would have hit all of the notes to be a stellar sandwich.

It’s not hard to see why this place has people constantly lining up to order sandwiches out of their deli. Their fresh-baked rolls, coupled with their quality ingredients from the meats, condiments, and vegetables, do make it one of the higher quality deli sandwiches I’ve tried. Now, I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’d drive all the way out to Santa Monica from where I am for the sandwich, but I’d say that it’s definitely worth a solid consideration to wait in line for if you are in that general area and looking for a high quality lunch option that you can take on-the-go or enjoy right there.

Let’s now take a look at the Bay Cities Italian Deli Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** The Godmother **
Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, pickles, onions, Italian dressing, and hot peppers, inside an Italian filone roll. (Pictured with no provolone cheese.)


And finally, here are my rankings for Bay Cities Italian Deli:

Food: 4.25 / 5

Fresh-baked bread along with high quality ingredients make for an excellent sandwich combination. There are plenty of hot and cold cut sandwich options available to choose from. Slight knockdown, however, on the bread being a bit too tough.

Atmosphere: N/A

Being that this place is situated more as a market and deli, with some tables set up outdoors, it’d be tough to give this place a true atmosphere rating.

Service: 4.25 / 5

Shoutout to the staff member that led us to a side area, where we were able to skip the main line at the deli and still order our sandwiches. It looked like this other area was responsible for making the catering orders, and they managed to squeeze our sandwiches in as well.

Price: 4.25 / 5

At $13 for the whole sandwich, while taking into account the quality of both the meats and vegetables (not to mention the fresh-baked bread), I thought that the price was worth it, at the end of the day.

12.75 / 15

Categories: California, Restaurants

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