I don't just like Ike's. I love it. I have even dreamed about it — but I'll save that story for another post. The point is, Ike's Place is a must-stop for any sandwich-lover visiting San Francisco. Catapulted to insane popularity by Yelp, the joint is one of those I'm loathe to write about because it will only get more crowded. But owner Ike Shehadeh deserves the success; his "West Coast sandwiches" are playing a major part in making SF into a great sandwich town. To find out what makes them so insanely super, click on the pics.
At the corner of Haight and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco sits a tiny grass-green sandwich shop called Estela's. The diminuitive family-owned deli and juice bar has no schtick and no real specialty, yet it remains one of my favorite sandwich stops in the city.
It proves that sometimes, a simple, well-executed sandwich made with fresh, flavor-packed ingredients can be more satisfying than any high concept or overindulgent competition. Estela's ingredients are mostly familiar: better-than-average deli meats and cheeses, ripe tomatoes and avocado, plain ol' red leaf lettuce, and thin-sliced red onions. But a few unexpected fixings, including artichoke spread and cranberry mustard, on exceedingly freshed sliced bread and telera rolls set these sammies apart. Check out some of my favorite menu items.
Sometimes I get an intense craving for Mexican food. But I always have an intense craving for sandwiches. So how is a girl to find balance? Behold, the torta.
This Mexican sandwich — perfect for today's Cinco de Mayo celebration — is like a burrito meets sub sandwich, or a South of the Border version of the Cuban sandwich.
I devoured this chicken torta at a humble joint called Super Tortas in Los Angeles. Like most tortas, it was served on a soft, toasted white roll called a telera or bolillo, and the juicy, peppery shredded chicken was dressed simply with guacamole, lettuce, and onions. Some places also add tomato or chopped peppers. To me, the bread — brown on top and fluffy in the middle — is what takes it over the top. Now I just need to find a fabulous torta place in San Francisco. Anyone know of one?
I love my neighborhood, but I dearly miss living in the sandwich mecca that is the Lower Haight. Until recently, the 'wich options in the Western Addition have been pretty woeful, which is why I was so excited to welcome B's BBQ and Grill. After a somewhat underwhelming meal when it first opened, we returned to our new neighborhood barbecue joint the other night and got sandwiches to go.
I opted for the smoked chicken sandwich on wheat bread, which came with lettuce, tomato, onion, and spicy barbecue sauce. It's like a messy BBQ sandwich conceived at a deli counter, but it actually works, and I always like getting some veggies, no matter how minimal. The moist, thin-sliced chicken tastes straight out a smokehouse. On the side, I got sweet baked beans, which remind me of picnics in Pensacola. They were simple but classic.
Andrew got the pulled pork, which was served on "ciabatta" that was really just a French roll. He voted against the lettuce and tomato, which I think was the right choice, and piled on a side of spicy slaw instead. The pork was a little ketchupier than I like it — I like the one I made better — but it was moist and juicy against the crusty bread.
To many people, Thanksgiving is the most exciting meal of the year. For me, it's the sandwich I make the Friday after Thanksgiving (or late that Thursday night, depending on how drunk and hungry I get). On their own, turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing are good; between bread (preferably a soft wheat) they are transcendent.
So on the rare work days when I don't bring my own turkey sandwich from home, I slip out to my local Specialty's for a turkey sandwich. Their sandwiches are pretty good, not like amazing or anything, but they have this one version that piles on the cranberry sauce, a sort of jellied spread with bits of cranberries mixed it. On the deli's fresh multigrain bread, it's a great holdover until Thanksgiving.
One thing I miss about living in the Lower Haight is Rosamunde Sausage Grill (and Estela's sandwich shop, and Metro cheesesteaks . . . can you tell where my priorities are?). So I was delighted to cohost a barbecue on Saturday at which the featured grilling meats were sausages from Rosamunde.
The tiny little sausage stand carries all sorts of transcendently good sausages, including old standbys like bratwurst and beer sausage and unusual recipes like chicken cherry and habanero lime chicken (my faves). You can get hot sausages in buns to go and take them to a nearby bar, or you can buy raw ones and cook 'em yourself. The only problem with cooking the sausages yourself is that Rosamunde has extraordinary buns that they refuse to sell (understandably) so all other buns pale in comparison. But this weekend, my friend Adam had a brilliant idea: buy a bunch of naan from the Indian restaurant on the same block and wrap the wieners in that. The flavor combination was delicious, and the naan made an easy and efficient vehicle for the sausage.
That sandwich pictured at the top of my blog? Why, it's only one of the most delicious sandwiches ever: the muffuletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Enough people have asked me about it that I figure it's time for a little 'letta lesson.
Invented by a Sicilian grocer in New Orleans around 1906, the muffuletta (pronounced moofalottah or moofalettah, depending on who you ask) contains an antipasto platter's worth of genoa salami, Italian ham, mortadella, swiss and/or provolone cheese, and a hefty scoop of olive salad, all served on a sesame-seeded roll also called a muffuletta and about the size of a Frisbee. Though no one is quite sure who invented it, Central Grocery in the French Quarter stakes the claim, and most people accept that.
A half sandwich will handily feed two people; my family of four used to order a whole one to eat on the Moonwalk by the Mississippi River. It's one of my favorite sandwiches ever and definitely one of my most sentimental. The most magical thing about a muffuletta is that, unlike most sandwiches, it actually improves over time. Here's how.
It's hard for an expensive sandwich to win me over. With so many cheap, delicious, and giant sammies available (banh mi comes to mind, as does the Honey Baked Ham store by my house), a sandwich over $8 better be transcendent. So when 'Wichcraft, the upscale NYC sandwich shop founded by Sisha Ortuzar and Tom Colicchio (of Craft and "Top Chef" fame), opened in San Francisco, I was prepared to hate it.
Admittedly, the first sandwich I tried (chicken salad) was somewhat disappointing. Not bad, but not transcendent. Then I tried again with something totally far-out: the
I won't be satisfied with my food photography skills until I can take a mouth-watering picture of a cheesesteak. Because let's face it: some of the most delicious (often big and messy) sandwiches look absolutely icky in photos. Hence, Disgusting But Delicious, where I pay tribute to great but grody-looking sammies. For instance, this egg sandwich at Sparky's 24-Hour Diner in San Francisco.
Served on wonderfully greasy wheat bread, this eggy mess came with tomato, cheese, and two fistfuls of sauteed onions. I also asked for avocado, which turned out to be more like guacamole. But after too many Manhattans at Martuni's, it was the perfect dinner. And that's not even the grossest photo.
Though I am constantly seeking out and creating strange and exciting new sandwiches, I have a confession to make. I pretty much eat the same turkey sandwich for lunch every day. I don't have to think about it, and it's delicious, and it's something to look forward to in the middle of the work day.
I bring the ingredients to the office and assemble them on site. It's a very simple yet comforting combination of texture, flavor, and temperature. I start with a slice of wheat bread, spread with mustard and topped with turkey. On top of the turkey, I put sliced cucumber and cheddar, swiss, or provolone cheese (depending on the week), then I put that and the other slice of bread in the toaster oven for a few minutes, until it's melted and toasted. Then, lettuce, the crucial addition of sprouts, and a bit more mustard on top. Delicious. Click through the photo gallery for a tribute to my daily turkey.