Some Things Never Change—Luckily This Local Beachside Sandwich Shop is Among Them
There are few things better than diving into a solid turkey sub after a day at the beach. Coast up or down Pacific Coast Highway to Gallo’s Italian Deli, a timeless sandwich shop in the charming neighborhood of Corona Del Mar. Signature subs with sliced-to-order deli meat are what locals have known and loved since 1973. Current owner Eric Hanna has been dining at the establishment since he was only seven years old—even before his father took over the shop in 1991. This family can attest to what sets Gallo’s apart. Fluffy french rolls piled high with turkey and jack cheese or salami and provolone always hit the spot—the driving force behind this time-honored eatery for 50 years.
Gallo’s first gained attention for its iconic six-foot subs and classic 80’s candy counter. Today locals love it for its honest, no-frills sandwiches. These reliable lunch staples are most often made by Operations Manager Jose Andrade, who has been perfecting the art of the Gallo’s sub for over two decades. Locals recognize his friendly smile and line up out the door for his succulent sandwiches.
Jose started working at Gallo’s after moving from El Salvador in 1989, and he never looked back. Making sandwiches at Gallo’s was his first job in the States; the tight-knit community that surrounded the shop made him feel right at home. Gallo’s has become a place where Andrade enjoys working every day. With a tenure that has survived three owners, Andrade has been the shop’s steady anchor—a testament to its reputation and integrity.
According to Hanna, Andrade is the foundational force that makes this Corona del Mar sandwich shop so nostalgic. Hanna fondly remembers walking down to Gallo’s while growing up: “Henry and Jose would give us free candy and squirt guns; it will always be a childhood memory of mine,” he reflects. Just like Hanna, Corona del Mar locals associate Gallo’s with adolescent memories and now return for their favorite sub or inside jokes with Andrade.
The original 1973 Gallo’s consisted of nothing but the deli counter and a picnic-style table in the back, but the now-famous subs and iconic blue awning have kept customers coming back time and time again. In 2021, Gallo’s took a brief hiatus for some basic maintenance to the original building. Locals worried that their favorite sub shop would lose its captivating charm, yet the current owners were determined to preserve the deli’s original design. “It was really important to us that we had the same people working and the same sandwiches,” the Hannas explain. A photo of the original 1973 Gallo’s hangs proudly behind the counter, and long-time customers can find the same items that were sold 50 years ago on today’s menu.
Six new sandwiches have been added to the roster since Gallo’s humble beginnings. These include the Italian Star, Napoleon, The Pickler, Spicy Chicken, Epic and Turbacado; two of which—the Epic and Turbacado—are now among their best selling subs. The Epic is a California classic: mayo is slathered on a pillowy soft roll, which is piled high with avocado, shredded lettuce and sliced-to-order turkey and jack cheese.
Like other menu items, the Epic and Turbacado are not overly complicated. Gallo’s prides itself on staying true to its simple origins. Sandwiches are served on two types of breads—fluffy french rolls or whole-grain wheat—and deli meats are always thinly cut. Along the counter are an assortment of chips and sodas to pair with your sando. Some sodas, a few bags of salt-and-vinegar chips and an assortment of Gallo’s subs make for a perfect picnic at Lookout Point across the street!11/15
With 50 years of history, it’s no shock Gallo’s has faced its ups and downs. When the restaurant went up for sale in 1991, potential buyers wanted to tear the property down, thereby abolishing the essential community hub. Eric and his father never imagined owning a sandwich shop, but as long-time friends of the previous owner and loyal customers of Gallo’s, they decided to purchase and save the business, promising never to tear it down. “It was serendipitous how it all happened,” says Hanna.
“There is something so special about a small, family-owned business” the owners share, which is why there were very few changes made to the already adored establishment. “Gallo’s has remained consistent when other things are changing all the time,” Hanna says. And they plan to keep it that way. You can always expect a friendly staff, fast service and bountiful subs. As a beachtown necessity, Gallo’s promises a laid-back vibe that is perfect for post-beach lunches, work-break hangs and on-the-go dining.
Local Insight: In celebration of serving soul-satisfying subs for 50 years, Gallo’s is offering half off any sandwich when you leave a Yelp or Google review!
Gallo’s Italian Deli
3900 East Coast Hwy
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625