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13 Mendocino Farms Sandwiches, Ranked Worst To Best

assorted Mendocino Farms sandwiches
assorted Mendocino Farms sandwiches - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

Since its 2005 inception in LA's Bunker Hill neighborhood, Mendocino Farms has been crafting gourmet sandwiches beloved by Angelenos. The family-owned fast-casual chain, affectionately called Mendo, now boasts over 50 locations across California, with additional spots in Texas and Washington.

Founded by Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, Mendo aims to promote happiness through extraordinary service and delicious food made with high-quality ingredients. The seasonal, evolving, chef-driven Mendocino Farms menu items — which include sandwiches, soups, salads, sides, and beverages — boast unexpected flavors that highlight partnerships with local farmers and culinary artisans.

I used to spend time in Marina del Rey, California, and frequented Mendocino Farms often for lunch. Their concept of serving creative dishes made with farm-fresh ingredients in a warm, welcoming atmosphere always resonated with me, so I was excited to put my chef-trained taste buds to the test for this ranking. I tried every sandwich available at my local Laguna Niguel, California location. The methodology included judging the sandwiches based on taste, uniqueness, and visual appeal; more methodology specifics are shared later in this article.

If you're fortunate enough to have a Mendocino Farms nearby, consider perusing this list of sandwiches, ranked from least to most favorite. It may help you decide what to choose from the extensive sandwich menu of foodie favorites and crave-worthy classics. If your neighborhood has no Mendo, we have a feeling one may soon appear, so sit tight — or better yet, make the trip to the nearest location, and you'll be nicely rewarded.

Read more: 19 Popular Pizza Chains, Ranked From Worst To Best

13. Peruvian Steak

Mendocino Farms Peruvian Steak sandwich
Mendocino Farms Peruvian Steak sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

Mendo's Peruvian Steak sandwich has been a menu staple for about a decade, so we were eager to take the first bite. Unfortunately, it fell short of our expectations. The sandwich pays homage to Peru with spicy aji amarillo marinated steak, accompanied by Oaxaca cheese, herb aioli, red onions, tomatoes, and shredded romaine. Creating a sandwich involves finding the right balance of bold flavors without hiding the subtle ones. In this case, that balance still needs to be perfected.

With its appealing sheen and soft texture, the toasted potato roll provided a pleasant base, but we craved more textural diversity. Another disappointment stemmed from the aji amarillo sauce, which, we admit, might be a matter of personal taste. But the pronounced flavor and assertive heat of the aji amarillo peppers dominated the sandwich, overshadowing the delicate flavors of the herb aioli, tomatoes, and romaine. Nevertheless, we appreciated the sandwich's use of aji amarillo peppers and a potato roll — culinary nods to Peru's rich culinary heritage.

12. Mendo's Original Pork Belly Banh Mi

Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich
Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

This creative twist on the beloved Vietnamese banh mi sandwich features chunks of tender braised pork belly with a caramelized finish and a zingy sriracha mayo that packs a hefty punch, making this sandwich simultaneously spicy and satisfying. The remaining ingredients are the familiar banh mi components of pickled daikon and carrots, fresh cilantro, crisp cucumbers, spicy jalapeños, and fragrant Thai basil.

Mendo uses ciabatta for this sandwich, which may deter you from ordering it. While unconventional for a banh mi, the ciabatta's flavor — enhanced with toasting in the panini press — is a worthy stand-in for a traditional baguette.

The caramelized pork belly offers a delicate sweetness that plays well with the tangy veggies, fresh herbs, and spicy mayo. However, the awkward chunks of meat may not appeal to everyone, which was the case for us. Ultimately, Mendo's Original Pork Belly Banh Mi is a perfectly enjoyable rendition of the Vietnamese sandwich. However, we won't go out of our way to get it again; instead, we'll venture to our local Vietnamese market.

11. Turkey Avo Salsa Verde

Turkey Avo Salsa Verde sandwich
Turkey Avo Salsa Verde sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

The Turkey Avo Salsa Verde features roasted turkey breast, smashed avocado, smoked gouda, jalapeño salsa aioli, tomatoes, and shredded romaine. In 2023 a new version of the sandwich premiered with Mama Lil's sweet hot peppers, cotija cheese, and red onions. The sandwich is built on sourdough bread and then pressed in a panini for an attractive golden-brown crust.

There are many things packed into this sandwich. While all the ingredients work well together, the sandwich as a whole didn't blow us away, and the tasting ended with a hit and a miss. The hit was the jalapeño salsa verde that's served on the side. This mildly sweet salsa adds depth to the sandwich and a lively kick of heat (sensitive taste buds, be forewarned). The miss was the panini-pressed sourdough bread. While the bread lent a delightful tang and texture, it did present some challenges, falling apart from the juicy fillings of smashed avocado and tomato.

Our takeaway? This sandwich balances familiar flavors and some adventurous ingredients, making it a good choice for those seeking a satisfying yet slightly daring eating experience.

10. The Farm Club

The Farm Club sandwich
The Farm Club sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

The Farm Club presents a twist on the classic turkey avocado sandwich. It features roasted turkey breast, smashed avocado, applewood smoked bacon, herb aioli, tomatoes, mixed greens, and pickled red onions. The blend of flavors and textures creates a satisfying but relatively basic eating experience.

The sandwich features a lovely bread that Mendo calls Mom's seeded honey whole wheat. It crossed my mind to seek out Mom's seeded honey whole wheat bread separately, as its exceptional taste and texture lingered in my mouth. I wondered if at some point in the future Mendo might consider selling loaves of the bread used to make their sandwiches. I digress.

Although this sandwich was delicious, and no doubt attracts a diverse range of eaters with its familiar ingredients, there may be better choices if you're looking for something more unique. It's a sandwich that wouldn't be hard to replicate at home, and is a reliable option for those seeking comfort and familiarity in a meal.

9. Chimichurri Steak & Bacon

Chimichurri Steak & Bacon sandwich
Chimichurri Steak & Bacon sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

This meaty sandwich is packed with roasted steak and applewood smoked bacon, complemented by marinated red peppers, caramelized onion jam, chimichurri, shredded romaine, and herb aioli, all nestled in a toasted sesame seed roll. This sandwich is undoubtedly a favorite among meat lovers, especially those who love to eat beef and bacon at the same time.

While the red peppers add a zesty kick and the steak is cooked to perfection with a pleasant chewiness, the sandwich loses points for being a bit messy to eat. The chimichurri oil drips from all sides, making it challenging to enjoy on the go, especially in a car. However, despite this slight drawback, the sandwich still delivers on flavor.

The sweet peppers and chimichurri contribute to a well-balanced profile, enhanced by the bacon's smokiness and the texture of the crisp toasted sesame seed bun. If you're a fan of meat, it's hard to imagine not enjoying this hearty sandwich.

8. Philly Shroomsteak

Philly Shroomsteak sandwich
Philly Shroomsteak sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

This newest addition to the 2024 menu had us smiling. Mendo partnered with Fable — a producer of mushroom-based meat alternatives — to create a plant-based version of the beloved Philly cheesesteak sandwich. According to Mendocino Farms Executive Chef Jeremy Bringardner, "Introducing more plant-based options has been a priority for us."

Bringardner insists that the protein replacement doesn't diminish taste. "This plant-based version of the classic cheesesteak is packed with flavor," said the chef. "The meaty texture and flavor of the Fable mushroom 'steak' works so well with ooey gooey, melted, plant-based American cheese, the sweetness of the roasted red peppers and sweet onions, and the hits of bright acidity and mild heat from my favorite sandwich condiment, Chicago-style giardiniera."

What's truly impressive is the plant-based American cheese, which melts to perfection and coats the palate like dairy cheese. We also enjoyed the meat-like texture of the tender Fable shiitake steak, which offered the same chewiness expected from beef steak. It's challenging to discern that this isn't animal meat, making it a game-changing option for those seeking more plant-based choices. Overall, this sandwich delivers an umami-filled, juicy, meaty, satisfying experience. However, it's worth noting that all this pleasure comes at a cost, as the Philly Shroomsteak has the highest calorie count — over 1,100 — of all the sandwiches we tried.

7. Chicken Parm Dip

Mendocino Farms Chicken Parm Dip
Mendocino Farms Chicken Parm Dip - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

This Italian sandwich immediately caught our eye on the menu. Chicken Parmesan is a universally loved dish, and we were excited to try it in the form of a sandwich. Served warm and generously loaded with basil leaves, this addition to the menu does not disappoint. Accompanied by Mendo's pomodoro sauce — a delightful, slightly sweet tomato sauce — for dipping, each bite becomes complete. The sauce impressed us so much that we couldn't resist taking an extra serving home to savor over pasta later.

The sandwich starts with a toasted sesame roll with just the right amount of chew, generously slathered with a mild Calabrian chili aioli. Instead of the traditional breaded and deep-fried chicken, it features roasted chicken breast, elevated by a coating of Mendo's signature krispies, a crunchy blend of herbs, buttermilk, and polenta. This ingenious twist adds a pleasing crunch, like that found in the brand's "Not So Fried" Chicken sandwich.

The final flourish was melty, creamy mozzarella cheese, which covered the shaved chicken like a weighted blanket. A splash of pomodoro sauce provided a burst of tomatoey goodness, complemented by a generous handful of fresh basil leaves.

6. Chicken Pesto Caprese

Mendocino Farms Chicken Pesto Caprese
Mendocino Farms Chicken Pesto Caprese

If you're a fan of Caprese salad, you'll enjoy Mendo's fan-favorite Chicken Pesto Caprese sandwich. Despite lacking tomatoes, it captures all the refreshing flavors of the famous Italian salad. The chefs at Mendo substitute the tomatoes with marinated red peppers, and they work exceptionally well in this sandwich, bringing sweetness and tang. The shaved, roasted chicken breast provides protein that's complemented well with creamy fresh mozzarella, pesto, mixed greens, and a balsamic glaze drizzle.

Two components of this sandwich stood out. The terrific basil pesto was bright, flavorful, fresh, and big on basil and Parmesan. The warm, toasted Italian ciabatta bread encasing the sandwich is the perfect choice. The ciabatta crust crisps up in the panini press, while the rest warms for a fluffy, springy, chewy interior.

If you avoid meat, you can order this as a vegetarian sandwich, doubling down on the mozzarella instead of the chicken. While we didn't taste this option, we're sure it would be delectable.

5. Not So Fried Chicken

Mendo's 'Not So Fried' Chicken
Mendo's 'Not So Fried' Chicken - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

Breaking into the top five, we find Mendo's uniquely healthy riff on fried chicken. The "Not So Fried" Chicken sandwich is the chain's bestseller, and it's clear why. This sandwich has many things that make it stand out: a unique spin on a classic, familiar food, with layers of textures and balanced flavors.

So, what magical combination of ingredients does Mendo use to create such a delicious sandwich? To start, layers of roasted chicken breast topped with the company's signature krispies, gives this sandwich the crunchy essence of fried chicken. The remaining components include a tangy mustard pickle slaw, fresh tomatoes, pickled red onions, and an herb aioli on toasted ciabatta bread that has just the right fluffiness and chew.

The "Not So Fried" Chicken sandwich comes with a choice of sauce on the side: tangy mustard barbecue sauce or mustard pickle remoulade. Both are delicious, but since the mustard pickle remoulade tastes suspiciously similar to the slaw dressing used in the sandwich, opt for the mustard barbecue sauce — it's tangy, smoky, sweet, and salty, and adds another dimension of flavor to the sandwich.

4. Italian Roast Beef

Mendocino Farms Italian Roast Beef
Mendocino Farms Italian Roast Beef - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

We had modest expectations for this roast beef sandwich, considering that it's a familiar staple. But to our surprise, it surpassed all expectations. This sandwich truly shines with its combination of thinly sliced roast beef, fresh mozzarella, mild Chicago-style giardiniera, ripe tomatoes, sweet onion, crisp romaine lettuce, and a mouthwatering Italian herb and cheese aioli, all encased by a toasted sesame roll.

The sandwich is a superb interpretation of a classic Italian roast beef sub, with flavors that hit the mark perfectly. The giardiniera stands out with its exceptional taste, leaving you wanting more. The toasted sesame roll adds a delightful crackly texture and nutty flavor, and played a big part in the high ranking of this sandwich.

Every ingredient in the sandwich is well-balanced and shines through equally, including the satisfying crunch from the toasted sesame roll (yes, I'm mentioning it again, because it's that good). Each component adds gourmet flair, from the premium-quality roast beef to the flavorful giardiniera and the herb and cheese aioli, which combine to make an outstanding sandwich.

3. Vegan Banh Mi

Mendocino Farms Vegan Banh Mi
Mendocino Farms Vegan Banh Mi

This plant-based sandwich has been a favorite at Mendocino Farms for years now. It offers all the umami goodness of a classic banh mi without the heaviness of pork. Featuring organic baked tofu, vegan aioli, sweet chili sauce, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, Thai basil, and cilantro on panini-pressed ciabatta, it's a light and flavorful meal that hits all the right notes.

A tofu banh mi recipe works well, and this version of the sandwich stands out with a harmonious blend of crisp veggies, fresh herbs, a kick of heat from the jalapeños, perfectly marinated tofu, and the toasty goodness of the ciabatta. Despite the occasional poke in the face from the batonnet-like cuts of veggies, we enjoyed the flavors too much to mind. With the lowest calorie count among the sandwiches we tried — coming in at 650 — the Vegan Banh Mi at Mendo is a guilt-free treat that's hard not to fall in love with at first bite.

2. The Happy Hippie

Mendocino Farms Happy Hippie sandwich
Mendocino Farms Happy Hippie sandwich - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

Warning: This sandwich may cause uncontrollable cravings, sudden bursts of joy, and a newfound love for veggies. This plant-based delight is a veggie lover's dream, brimming with a colorful array of ingredients that make every bite worth it.

Packed with avocado, cucumber, carrots, Kumato tomatoes, beet caviar, sprouts, hummus, white cheddar, and cucumber dill ranch on toasted Mom's seeded honey whole wheat bread, this sandwich will draw you in with its irresistible crunch of fresh veggies. As a bonus, this stuffed sandwich is incredibly filling, and could easily be divided into two meals.

Notable mentions go to the cucumber dill ranch for its zesty kick that elevates the sandwich, the visually stunning beet caviar adding earthy notes, and the Kumato tomatoes, which are sweet yet tangy with a rich flavor akin to heirloom varieties. This revitalizing sandwich offers vibrant colors, clean flavors, and delightful textures. Prefer to eat vegan? Ask for ciabatta bread and skip the white cheddar for an equally satisfying experience.

1. Prosciutto & Chicken

Mendocino Farms Prosciutto & Chicken
Mendocino Farms Prosciutto & Chicken

This well-crafted sandwich takes the top spot in our ranking. Italian prosciutto and roasted chicken breast are paired with fresh mozzarella, crushed honey-roasted almonds, basil pesto, balsamic glaze, and tomatoes on panini-pressed ciabatta for a blend of delightful flavors and textures.

A Mendocino Farms manager overseeing the Laguna Niguel location described this creation as a charcuterie board on a sandwich, highlighting the sophistication and variety of ingredients. Each element — from the savory prosciutto to the sweet and crunchy honey-roasted almonds — is crucial in elevating this sandwich to gourmet status.

The crushed honey-roasted almonds deserve special mention. The unexpected texture and sweetness they provide perfectly complement the savory and salty elements. And while chicken may not be a traditional charcuterie board item, its inclusion brings necessary bulk and meatiness to each bite. This attention to detail and balance sets this sandwich apart, making it our favorite at Mendocino Farms.

Methodology

Mendocino Farms exterior in California
Mendocino Farms exterior in California - Lei Shishak/Tasting Table

I tried and tasted every sandwich available at my local Mendocino Farms location at the time of writing, and these rankings are solely based on my opinion. My primary criteria for ranking the sandwiches were taste, uniqueness, and presentation. I also paid attention to ease of eating; a good sandwich should be easy to eat. If a sandwich falls apart after the first bite, it's not a winner in my book. The tasting was conducted inside my local Mendocino Farms store, and each sandwich was freshly prepared. Since Mendocino Farms provided every sandwich to me free of charge, cost was not a factor in the rankings.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.