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Top Things You Must Try at Bay Cities Italian Deli

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Bay Cities Deli

If you are looking for authentic Italian food in Los Angeles, be sure to check out Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica. It is one of the top Italian Delis in the United States and one of the top Italian Delis in Los Angeles. And I’m fortunate to live nearby and have made many visits over the years.

Bay Cities Italian Deli – History and Background

Bay Cities Italian Deli is a Los Angeles Italian Deli that is well known for its mouth-watering Italian sandwiches and cold cuts. It has been operating in the region since 1925 and is a family-owned deli. The establishment has stuck through the hard times and continues to serve excellent food to its patrons.

Aside from being a delicatessen, Bay Cities is also a grocery store that features  high-quality, imported Italian food products. You can browse through the collection of products they have available for patrons as you wait for your sandwich to be prepared.

Things to Know Before You Visit Bay Cities Italian Deli

To be honest, this place is SUPER busy. It can be very stressful to visit when it is crowded during lunch especially. Some of the staff are not always pleasant (or think they are being funny). And they could make the process MUCH easier but they don’t. Almost all the negative YELP reviews mention some of these things I’m about to share.

So if you know what to expect before you go you will have a MUCH better visit and can focus on enjoying the food instead of being annoyed. And I love the food there so want to make sure you have a good visit.

They are Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

They are only open 5 days a week: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Their hours are 9am to 6pm.

Parking Can Be Challenging

The parking lot is just before the restaurant, if you are approaching from the south. At lunch time, the lot is often full and there is a cue backing into the lane. If this happens it is easiest to just look for street parking. Also if you are coming up from the opposite of the street you would have to take an illegal left turn to get into the lot and this is an EXTREMELY busy street so do not try this.

Bay Cities Deli Parking Lot

They only accept Debit cards or cash

Yeah this is super dumb in 2022 but it is what it is. So you should be prepared ahead of time.

Bay Cities Deli Only Accepts Debit or Cash

Overall – Have a plan before you go inside

If it’s your first time, you should get the full on experience which will likely involve a bit of confusion and some frustration. Just know what to expect!

Know What You Want to Order BEFORE You Step in the Store

The store only has 2 very small menus up on the wall. This makes it incredibly difficult to get close enough to see it especially when it is crowded at lunch.

So it is good to take a look at the menu and go into the store with a plan. If you are there at lunch, the store tends to be massively crowded and the environment always seems a bit stressful!

Bay Cities Deli Menu In Store

Consider Ordering Ahead or Grabbing a Pre-Made Sandwich

If you are repeat visitor or a local, be sure to either: 1. order ahead (link below) or 2. grab one of the popular pre-made sandwiches in the pre-made refrigerator near the front of the store. Extra sauces and condiments are above the sandwiches, along with some smaller to go things like an assortment of olives.

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Order Ahead: To order your sandwich online before you go, click on the Bay Cities Deli online ordering option on the website.

Grab and Go Refrigerator: They make some of the most popular sandwiches throughout the day and put them in this refrigerator which is on the end cap of an aisle near the front of the store.

Bay Cities Deli Pre Made Sandwiches Section

Order at the counter

If it’s your first visit, or you NEED a custom sandwich, or you just like more stress, then order a sandwich after you walk in the store. First thing you MUST do is take a number. Then look at the menu if you haven’t already.

Bay Cities Deli - Deli Counter

Order HOT Sandwiches at the Smaller Counter in Front

This is also where you will find the delicious lasagne. And delicious warm sandwiches like the meatball (which includes spaghetti sauce), Chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, hot pastrami, meatloaf, pot roast, and sausage sandwiches.

My favorite warm sandwich here is the Meatball one.

Bay Cities Deli Hot Sandwich Counter

Grab a Drink While You are Waiting to Order for your Sandwich

The drinks section is most of the back wall so you can’t miss it. They have a wide range of water, juices and of course all the awesome Italian sodas.

Bay Cities Deli - Beverages

Save some room for dessert!

They have an excellent to go refrigerated section near the front of the store. It has Tiramisu and other Italian desserts you will love, such as: Cannoli, Cookies, Profiteroles and Sfogliatelle.

Here’s what it looks like:

Bay Cities Deli To Go Desserts Section

There is no indoor seating

All of the seating is outside at the tables. There is no indoor seating. Much of the seating will be in the sun if the sun is out so make sure you have a hat, sunglasses, etc.

Here is what the outdoor seating looks like. Usually all tables are full during lunch and this is earlier in the day.

Bay Cities Deli Outdoor Seating Tables

Okay, now that I’ve share all these tips to make sure you have a great visit, let’s get on to the delicious food items you need to know about.

The Single Best Item at Bay Cities Italian Deli is the Godmother Sandwich!

The best item on the Bay Cities Italian Deli menu is its Italian sub called The Godmother. The Godmother has been hailed as the best sandwich you can eat in Los Angeles by many locals and tourists. They have many signs around the store promoting the sandwich!

Bay Cities Deli - Home of the Godmother

That is a bold statement, but the Godmother backs up this claim with its out-of-this-world flavors and mouth-watering cold cuts. The sandwich features salty ham with prosciutto, Genoa salami, mortadella, capicola, and delicious provolone cheese.

Some other eaters have described as an “actual Italian Nirvana” – so that’s a very strong reputation.

It is a staple in the Los Angeles food landscape and must be ordered with “the works” for an ultimate combination.

The Best Items at Bay Cities Italian Deli

The Burrata Caprese

Bay Cities Deli Burrata Caprese

If you have tried the Godmother many times and want to check out Bay Cities Italian Deli’s other menu options, we recommend checking out the Caprese sandwich or the Burrata Caprese.

Also if you are vegetarian, this is one of the best choices.

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This fantastic sandwich features Burrata instead of water mozzarella. This is an excellent incorporation of different textures in the sandwich, since you get a luscious taste of the solid mozzarella exterior of the cheese and then when you bit into it, a blend of the cream and mozzarella inside, oozes into your mouth!

Words cannot accurately describe this – trust me!

The sandwich also has fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, olive oil, and oregano.

Potato Salad

The potato salad from Bay Cities Italian Deli may look simple, but it packs a punch.

The potato salad is sold by the pound and is quite reasonably priced. It is one of the most underrated items on the menu and tastes fantastic whether you try it with a sub or munch on its own.

The Special

This Bay Cities special sandwich is totally customizable, which makes it such a fun option to try when you are craving something new.

You can choose your meats and cheeses, and the employees behind the counter work their magic to build the rest of the sandwich.

Choosing the Special on your first visit to the deli can be risky since you can end up choosing the wrong combination of meats to pair with cheese.

However, if you are confident that you know your Italian subs, we recommend going for The Special and making your own unique sandwich.


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Chicken Salad Sandwich

The Chicken Salad sandwich from Bay Cities is a good choice for people who want to try something healthier at the deli. It has chicken breast, mayo, red onion, celery, green onions, and bell peppers, and it is seasoned to perfection with a bit of pepper and salt.

It may sound like a basic deli sandwich, but for people who want flavor without the pizazz, this is the best choice.

Corned Beef Sandwich

Although you may not find corned beef commonly at Italian delis, the Bay Cities Italian Deli serves a great corned beef sandwich that can give Jewish delis in Los Angeles a run for their money.

Although it isn’t the best corned beef sandwich you can try in Los Angeles, the salt-cured lean corned beef slices in the sandwich are packed with meaty flavors that pair wonderfully with fresh vegetables and condiments.

Little Don Lorenzo

People who are looking for an elevated version of the Caprese sandwich will love Little Don Lorenzo by Bay Cities Italian Deli.

The sandwich has mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto di parma, olive oil, and fresh basil, making it a delight to eat at lunchtime. This sandwich is best paired with a chicken salad if you want to enjoy a filling meal or would like some leftovers for later.


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The Spaniard

Aside from classic Italian flavors, you can also find spicy offerings inspired by traditional Spanish flavors and ingredients at the Bay Cities Italian Deli.

The Spaniard is a great sandwich for people who are looking for something with a spicy kick to it. The sandwich contains Jamon Serrano, Copa Seca, ham, Pamplona chorizo, olive oil, rosemary, and black pepper.

Tip: If you are worried this sandwich may be too spicy for you, pair it with a side of coleslaw or kale salad.

Turkey Pesto

For the people who always feel a little guilty after indulging in a treat from the deli, this sandwich is made for them.

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The turkey is a healthier alternative to beef and pork, and the pesto’s freshness makes the sandwich taste unique and refreshing. It may be a little big for people who prefer smaller portions, but it will give you a comforting satisfaction that you only get after eating something healthy.


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Anyone who claims to be a fan of Italian food needs to try their lasagna.

The meat lasagna at Bay Cities is made with multiple layers of fresh lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, beef sausages, parmesan cheese, pork sausages, mozzarella cheese, and a secret blend of spices.

The deli also offers a version of lasagna for vegetarians that includes layers of fresh lasagna noodles, spinach, and mushrooms with mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheese. Both of these lasagnas come with a fresh dinner roll to help you enjoy your meal better.

Bay Cities Italian Deli – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I order from Bay Cities Italian Deli online?

Yes. Customers who wish to order from Bay Cities Italian Deli online can place their order through their website between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The deli mentions that it can take up to 45 minutes for an order to be prepared and delivered to your location.

Where can I find the menu for Bay Cities Italian Deli?

You can view all the deli’s offerings online on Bay Cities Italian Deli’s website. The menu on their website highlights their cold and hot sandwiches and showcases the sides and salads they have available.

What is the Godmother Sandwich?

The Godmother sandwich is the most popular item at the Bay Cities Italian Deli. It is the establishment’s signature sandwich which features provolone cheese, prosciutto, mortadella, Genoa salami, ham, and capicola.

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In this video, Zoe discovers the best offerings from the most famous Italian deli in Los Angeles: Bay Cities!


Most people don’t think they can find good Italian delis in Los Angeles since they are most commonly associated with the East Coast and the large Italian-American population in the area.

However, when you try any sandwich from the Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, you’ll know that the West Coast also offers great Italian deli food.

The Godmother from the Bay Cities is a must-try sandwich for first-time visitors to the deli. It features the eatery’s classic cold cuts, such as mortadella, prosciutto, salami, capicola, and ham with provolone.

Even if you don’t want to order the Godmother, there are plenty of great options you can choose from the deli’s menu and pick out suitable sides and salads to complement the sandwiches’ taste.

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