A Sandwich Lover’s Guide To Cape Ann


The popular origin story of the sandwich lies in the 18th Century when it’s said that John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich requested meat tucked between two pieces of bread, allowing him to continue playing cards, notably cribbage, uninterrupted. 

The truth is this casual form of food dates as far back as Hillel the Elder, the Jewish sage, who is said to have wrapped lamb and herbs in soft matzah.  Similar histories of “to-go” bread and meat assemblies are found in Norway, Africa, and Asia.

Whatever its origins, the sandwich is a perfect meal.  It's easy, delicious, and cheap.  It can offer a great excuse to explore new places and neighborhoods.  We’ve assembled a spectrum of interesting options that will get you around Cape Ann, and even into Beverly Farms.  All are a quick drive, they’re easy on the wallet and they all are entirely appropriate for lunch or a picnic dinner.  Even if your picnic is at home.

Seared Tuna Sandwich | $16.99

This new Magnolia cafe’s Seared Tuna Sandwich combines steaks of fresh seared tuna with charred broccoli rabe, green harissa, and sweet red peppers for a perfectly seasoned bite.  Packed with plenty of flavor and character, it’s a delicious and filling option for lunch or dinner.  Although the sandwich comes with a more costly price tag than the cafe’s other sandwich options, it doesn’t skimp on the tuna.  Check out the café’s other sandwiches, like roasted chicken or pork to cold cuts or veggies, depending on your mood and dietary restrictions.  Happy Humpback is perfect snagging a sandwich on the way to the beach, or Magnolia Pier.

Happy Humpback Café | 2 Lexington Ave, Magnolia

The Saint Joseph | $8

Virgilio’s Bakery is a favorite for locals, and their sandwiches are mainstays.  The famous Saint Joseph is one, featuring a variety of cold cuts, including bologna, mortadella, and two types of salami, plus provolone cheese.  Prosciutto is the star of the North Ender, balanced by slices of fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil.  The wide selection of Italian sandwiches includes vegetarian options, including the flavorful Eggplant Special, with breaded eggplant, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and basil.  The sandwich is surprisingly light but still satisfies a craving for comfort food.  Most sandwiches on the menu are priced at just $8, a great deal for any wallet.  After tasting the shiny, crispy-soft sesame roll, it’s easy to understand the slogan on the sandwich menu: “The bread makes the sandwich.”

Virgilio’s | 29 Main St, Gloucester

The Anchor | $11.99

Driving through Cape Ann?  Stop off for a bite at Willow Rest.  With 14 signature sandwiches to choose from, you’re sure to find one to match your mood.  The Anchor marries barbecue chicken breast, cheddar, avocado, bacon, onion, lettuce, and spicy mayo on airy, chewy ciabatta.  Enjoy your sandwich at the counter, on an outdoor picnic table, or on a beach nearby.  In Gloucester, wherever you are, you aren’t far from the ocean.  The Anchor is sure to upstage the coastal sights as you drive towards downtown, or up to Rockport.

Willow Rest | 1 Holly St, Gloucester

Banh Mi | $10

Along the marshlands on Eastern Ave, The Mill offers a tasty selection of sandwiches, and you get to choose their ultimate destination.  The sandwich shop’s take on a Banh Mi is a must-try, spicy and savory with a note of crisp tartness from the pickled vegetables.  You can choose between pork or chicken on the sandwich or order the breakfast Banh Mi for a delicious twist: eggs and bacon replace the lunch protein options.  The Mill’s eclectic menu will keep you coming back — marsh or beach, rain or shine.  And take your yummy sandwich up Route 133 to Conomo Point, or Gloucester, or head back to downtown Essex to enjoy the views of the river and the Great Marsh. 

The Mill | 121 Eastern Ave, Essex

The West Beach | $8.99

The West Beach sandwich is aptly named for Vidalia’s location in Beverly Farms, less than half a mile from its namesake.  Stop in for fresh produce, baked goods, and a perfect beach lunch.  The West Beach pairs sliced turkey with creamy brie, topped with cranberry horseradish sauce and lettuce, and served on your choice of bread: simple, mouthwatering, and reliable.  Midsummer, the BLT at Vidalia’s is second to none.  The market has a choice for everyone, from chicken salad to ham and swiss, a vegetarian hummus and veggie option, and even PB&J or grilled cheese for littler picnic companions.

Vidalias | 9 West St, Beverly Farms

The Singing Beach | $10.50

A delightful bite is waiting inside the Laughing Gull in downtown Manchester.  The Singing Beach Sandwich features turkey, bacon, avocado, with cheddar and chipotle on your choice of bread.  You can press any one of the sandwiches on the Laughing Gull’s extensive menu for a crispy, melty treat.  The cafe has every variation of cold cut, vegetable, wrap, bagel, warm, and cold sandwich you can imagine.  Say hi to Dede or Bruce Warren and head to a picnic at Masconomo Park, or the beach.  It can’t get much better than that.

Laughing Gull | 4 Summer St, Manchester

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