Wondering where to get a great sandwich? Some of the best are right in the heart of Bucks County. Having successfully eaten my way through the county, east to west and north to south, I am confident that I have curated a mouthwatering and eclectic selection, for dining-in, taking-out and some great local ambience.
The Borscht Belt – Newtown, PA
A visit to The Borscht Belt is an absolute must. Advertised as a “love letter to the Jewish delicatessen,” this restaurant offers an array of breakfast and lunch sandwiches that would make your grandmother, no matter her ethnicity, cry with tears of joy. Walking into the retro-fabulous storefront, you will be delighted by the gracious staff, immaculate dining area and gargantuan bagel and lox in the “Bungalow Room.” Many sandwiches bear the names of famous comedians like Joan Rivers and Jerry Lewis or now-defunct resorts in the Catskill Mountains. While you wait for your sandwich, you will have to make a conscious effort NOT to press your nose against the gorgeous refrigerated glass cases of salads, meats and fish. They are a visual feast.
On this visit, we dined in versus taking out, but both are possible. Lucky for us, we got the last free table. If judging a place by popularity alone, I knew we were in for a treat. I had “The Nevele”, which is house-cured gravlax with sliced red onion, tomato, capers, and a splash of lemon juice on a toasted, buttered bialy. The symphony of flavors and textures made me want to grab a microphone and tell one-liners. My partner had a beef brisket on rye, piled generously high. Both sandwiches were accompanied by a side of coleslaw and pickles, the perfect pairing for any sandwich. I can say without hesitation that the brisket is the best I’ve ever had. I think this is due, in part, to the in-house brining and preparation of the meat.
Our delightful waiter, Jonah, insisted that we try some chocolate babka for dessert. It was so good that I am not sure chocolate babka should be legal in Pennsylvania.
My greatest regret? We weren’t there for breakfast. The Borscht Belt Breakfast Sandwich was calling my name. Eggs, bacon, cheddar, avocado, caramelized onions, microgreens and “mensch” sauce on a challah roll? You had me at hello. As an added bonus, Chef Nick Liberato shared that The Borscht Belt is now shipping via Goldbelly.com all over the U.S. and planning to franchise nationwide.
Altomonte’s – Doylestown, PA
Enter Altomonte’s for a sandwich and you will quickly realize it’s not just a sandwich shop. It’s a wine store, a cheese shop, an Italian and local grocery, a coffee and piano bar (yes, there’s an upright piano that literally has a sign asking you to play), a pizzeria and a bakery. Luckily, the signage is clear, so you will know both where to place your sandwich order and which direction will point you toward Palermo. While you wait for your sandwich, browse the aisles and get lost in the sea of Italian wines and luxurious cheeses. It made me want to abandon this post and host a wine and cheese party instead.
There are multiple kiosks in store where you can place your order and you can watch the Sandwich Artists at work on your lunch, which I always enjoy. On our visit, there was a beautifully crafted “Italian Fired Up” sandwich on display, 2024 style. This was a fine work of art, made with hot capocollo ham, hot soppressata, hot dry capocollo, hot calabrese salami, aged provolone cheese, hot hoagie spread, lettuce, tomato and onion.
I chose a close relative of the “Italian Fired Up”, the “Italian Old School”, with soppressata, dry cured capocollo, aged sharp provolone, arugula, tomato, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), oregano, tomato and onions. My partner, a self-proclaimed meatball snob, had a meatball parmigiana with extra sauce and without mozzarella. He said these were the only store-bought meatballs he’s ever had that were almost as good as his. Now that’s saying something.
The meats and cheese in my sandwich were of the highest quality and the arugula and EVOO combination elevated the elegant complexity of this sandwich. The real game changer was the bread, which was next-level phenomenal. Both sandwiches were made on seeded semolina. If I did have that wine and cheese party, this bread would also need a seat at my table. The bread is made using tipo 00 flour that’s milled in Italy and imported. Luckily, you don’t need your passport to have it; you just need to stop by Atomonte’s.
You can order ahead online for quick pick up or in-store and eat in or take out. We chose to eat in and cozied up next to the piano and the coffee bar. Lucky for us, an enthusiastic customer decided to tickle the ivories and played some “Jingle Bells” and “Happy Birthday.” All she needed was a tip jar.
Pallante’s – Richboro, PA
If you are looking for an authentic, neighborhood takeout sandwich shop, visit Pallante’s in Richboro. Located in a small strip mall between an insurance agency and a nail salon, you might miss it, even if you are paying attention. Pallante’s charm is its local feel. It’s a small, bright space, packed with a steady stream of customers and decorated with Phillies, Eagles and Sixers paraphernalia, in addition to photos of local youth sports teams that they take pride in sponsoring.
The sandwich selection is robust: with South Philly style hoagies, paninis, grilled steak and chicken hoagies, traditional hoagies and hot sandwiches. There is something to satisfy every palate. The South Philly style hoagies have memorable names, like the Don Supreme, the Godfather and the Triple Threat. On this visit, my heart wanted the Buffalo Chicken Panini with blue cheese and hot sauce, but my head led me to a traditional chicken salad hoagie that did not disappoint. If you eat chicken salad frequently (which I do), you know that most restaurant-style chicken salads are drowning in goopy mayonnaise. This one was just the opposite; the sandwich was light on mayo and heavy on texture and flavor, with very fresh lettuce, onions and tomatoes. My partner had a hot pork Italian on a seeded roll, with broccoli rabe, sharp provolone and “long hots.” We were both a little nervous about the long hots; while they were long, they were thankfully not of the nuclear variety. The meat was sumptuously moist and lean and the long hots were crunchy, with a mild pop of occasional heat.
Pallante’s offers their own private-label root beer, which is a key part of the experience. Available in regular and diet, it is a true companion for your sandwich and a strong dose of nostalgia. I am kicking myself for not buying several bottles to take home. Judging from the case, we weren’t the only ones who love the diet version…there was only one left! While sandwiches are exclusively for takeout, I am certain that everyone who visits the place – even a Dallas Cowboys fan in Eagles country – will feel right at home!
Lily’s Gourmet – Doylestown, PA
Located in the heart of Doylestown across from the courthouse, Lily’s Gourmet offers delicious sandwiches for the most discriminating palate, featuring standard staples delivered in gourmet ways. Walking in, the farmhouse chic décor feels immediately inviting, combining rustic charm with a modern elegance. Lily’s offers one business with two concepts: a sandwich shop and a microbrewery, separated by a short hallway. Unfortunately, the microbrewery was closed during our visit, but we got a sneak peak at Geronimo Brewing and the incredibly cool, intimate space that it occupies.
Eating in and taking out are both options here. My friend Sonya joined me for this visit and we chose to eat in. I loved the simplicity of standing in front of a wall menu with big print to decide what to order. Although I must admit, I was gleefully distracted by the jumbo cookies and gumball machine located to the left of the menu, like a five-year-old with a short attention span.
I landed on the smoked pulled pork, with slaw, pickled red onion and Carolina BBQ sauce on a brioche bun. My friend chose the ham and cheese, with maple glazed ham, Brie cheese, fig jam, Granny Smith apple and baby arugula on a French baguette. We both had a little bit of sandwich envy, because both of the sandwiches looked so darn good.
The pork was tender and juicy and the slaw was just the right balance for the tangy Carolia sauce. This was a three-napkin sandwich, which was just fine by me. Pulled pork sandwiches are entitled to a little bit of ooze. My friend’s sandwich was a true gourmet twist on ham and cheese. The Brie was exceptionally creamy and the inclusion of fig jam with the crunch of Granny Smith apples and arugula had us both agreeing that this is a sandwich you will want to imitate at home. Chances are, it will never be as good as the original though…
Bread-y or not, there are some amazing sandwiches to be enjoyed in Bucks County. Best of all, each of these great spots offers catering options that are sure to delight your guests on any occasion. So, lettuce call it a wrap - the best sandwiches in Bucks County are waiting for you to enjoy!