One thing I love about San Francisco: despite our tendency to name neighborhoods every few blocks (the Tendernob, Lower Pac Heights, Nopa), we've christened miles of the city with just one name — the Richmond — which gives me license to group together these three delicious Richmond district sandwiches.
First up: Lou's Sandwiches Cafe, a Yelp favorite with a line out the door. I ordered a veggie sandwich with avocado, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, cucumber, and swiss cheese, with the promising inclusion of "Lou's special sauce."
The special sauce lived up to its name on this excellently crafted sandwich. Served on my favorite type of wheat roll, which is criminally hard to find, the sammie held together heartily even with so many delicate ingredients.
The next time I found myself eating sandwiches in the Richmond, I discovered two more exceptional eats, at Blue Danube Coffee House. We went halfsies with two veggie options (what can I say? I'm on an avocado kick) that were both delicious.
The first bore resemblance to my Lou's order, but rather than special sauce, it offered a brilliant combination: hummus drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I don't know why I never thought to do that, but now I'm sold. Perfectly toasted bread and cheddar cheese also won me over.
The caprese sandwich, fixed up yummily with olive tapenade and basil, bested most mozzarella sandwiches I've eaten. That's mostly because the focaccia was outstanding: not too doughy or too oil-y, making for a very well-balanced stack of flavors. I might order this one again just for the bread, but the ratio of ingredients was also delish.
Ann Arbor's famed ZIngerman's Deli is known for its corned beef sandwiches, but it's also not shy when it comes to packing on farmers market fresh veggies.
This recipe, dubbed Rodger's Big Picnic, comes from my trusty Roadfood Sandwiches cookbook, which describes this sandwich as Zingerman's ode to Michigan produce and particularly asparagus.
Putting this recipe together, I worried it would be too dull. The mushrooms are just broiled, not marinated, and the sandwich is adorned with nothing but sharp cheddar and Dijon mustard.
But with perfectly cooked, totally fresh produce, two ingredients are all you need. The sandwich was unexpectedly graceful, simple yet full-bodied, and hard to put down. Get the recipe now.
I am powerless to shiny new food products at Trader Joe's. So when I recently spotted a melange of grilled eggplant and zucchini in the frozen food aisle, I bought a bag without any idea how I'd use it.
One night, an ideal sandwich came together. Happily burdened with leftover pistachio-infused goat cheese from some yummy stuffed dates I made, I dreamed up another Trader Joe's sandwich special.
I heated the grilled eggplant and zucchini, which even from freezer to microwave tasted deliciously chargrilled. Then, I lightly toasted a Trader Joe's whole wheat pita and spread on TJ's black olive tapenade.
After stuffing the pockets with the grilled veggies and spinach, I slathered on some goat cheese and melted it slightly in the oven. The resulting Mediterranean-flavored pocket was warm, hearty, and worth repeating.
Sometimes it pays to be a punctuation snob. When I first saw the awning for "John's Burgers Taco's Sandwiches," on San Francisco's dingy 6th Street, I assumed it was a serendipitously funny apostrophe error, that the owners actually meant "Burgers, Tacos, Sandwiches." My delight and curiosity led me to Taco's Sandwiches, a surprisingly impressive sandwich shop actually owned by a man named Taco. Click through for the whole story.
A good sandwich can't fix everything, but it certainly helps. Recently, during a tough day at the office, I decided to ditch my lunch from home and treat myself. Glancing at the menu for The Golden West, the warm mushroom sandwich with pine nuts and goat cheese called out to me. The home-baked bread alone would be the perfect comfort food.
Garnished with basil, this shroom sammie is similar to the last sandwich I had at Golden West, but better. It's on the menu this week, too, if you want to taste it for yourself. Oddly, last time I sought out a mood-lifting sandwich, it also featured mushrooms. Just a coincidence, I swear.
I'm back, ladies and gentlemen, and so is Ike's! After a brief blogging hiatus to tie the knot with my sandwich-loving mate, I availed myself of the newly reopened Ike's Place, serving lunch Monday through Friday at Lime, the nightclubby Castro brunch spot. Though I heard that some customers had to wait a while to get phone orders filled, I had no trouble: we called at 12:30 to pick up sammies at 1 p.m. and enjoyed them in the Jetsons-like space of Lime. Emphasis on "enjoyed" — hello old friend!
If you had told me in high school that some days I'd relish sitting in the sun, eating a wrap filled with nothing but grilled vegetables, I would have looked at you quizzically and returned to my Velveeta Shells & Cheese. I ate vegetables out of obligation, but it wasn't until moving to San Francisco that I realized vegetables could be utterly delicious.
I recently ventured to the aptly named Herbivore, which seemed a good place for someone craving a sandwich but also veggies. The simple char-grilled vegetable wrap with creamy pesto spread hit the spot. The wrap actually had flavor, which isn't always a guarantee, and the grilling brought out a bounty of tastes in the ultra-fresg broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, and more. I'm a bit hesitant to call a wrap a sandwich, but I still think it qualifies; do you?
Sometimes, when I'm in a bad mood, all it takes is a good sandwich to make me feel better. (In extreme cases, I turn to the PMS muffin 'wich.) Often, this sandwich needs to be obtained right away, but sadly, my neighborhood is lacking in sandwich destinations, especially compared to my old place right next door to Estela's.
In search of a mood lifter, I recently turned to the Bean Bag Coffee House, which I've lived within a mile radius of for like five years and never been to. I ordered the grilled portobello mushroom sandwich, expecting it to be mediocre. It was actually quite lovely! The perfectly marinated mushrooms came with tomatoes, caramelized onions, spinach, roasted red peppers, and gorgonzola cheese, all warm and melty. See even more mouth-watering pics.
Oh how I miss living right next door to Estela's. Now my giant veggie sandwiches are few and far between. Thankfully I got my fix for lunch on Saturday. Andrew got pastrami, which was better after he warmed it in the oven.
I got the smoked gouda veggie sandwich. They gave me the wrong bread; I wanted sliced wheat. But this roll, despite being enormous, was a fresh and fine substitute. As usual, the filling was a rainbow of perfectly ripe produce. Yum.
My mom is quite the jetsetter lately, most recently in New York City for the holiday season. At the seemingly unassuming Nice Matin, she had what looks to be an outstanding grilled-bread sandwich with roasted eggplant and goat cheese.
I love how it's positioned on the plate alongside the side salad of arugula, tomatoes, olives, and fennel with a citrus vinaigrette. Also, she notes, "in the background, butter WITH olive oil." Wow.
Got your own surprising sandwich to share? Email your photos to email@example.com, along with a description of what's on your sandwich.