Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Where to 'wich in San Francisco

Mortadella and Salami Classic from The Sandwich Shop

Some days, nothing will satisfy like a sandwich. I think it's sort of like beans and rice, a perfect combination of protein and starch. It's savory in nature, with complex salt flavors and lubricating condiments and a mixture of textures that is deeply satisfying. In my view, San Francisco does not provide this staple of the American diet as readily as some other cities and regions, but that is not to say we don't have our gems. There is a particular school of sandwich craft that I celebrate in, as of this past lunch, two locations: The cheap hero or sub. To rate highly in this genre of lunch foods, a cheap hero must be presented with a variety of choices in meats, cheeses, condiments (go jalapeno over pepperoncini) and salads (of the egg, tuna and chicken group). It must be made to order, by someone who enjoys doing it, not on a bogus Dutch crunch roll, and hover somewhere around 5 bucks. It must be enormous.

Previously I have found a couple places satisfactory and most frequently have chosen Mae's or M and L market in the Castro (691 14th Street). It's been there forever and is run by 3 generations of women, each with their own character and style. It's only open during the week and only for lunch, but I think it sets the bar for this town. You'll get more meat on your sandwich than you'll expect so consider their half sandwich option if you're not a power eater (it's not really half a sandwich, just half as thick). Be sure to order your bread selection first as the young woman, who cranks out most of the sandwiches, is a little particular about how you order. You must order your bread first. If you're nice, you'll get a cookie as you check out.

Today's lunchtime venture was over in Dogpatch at a sandwich joint called, positively and seriously: The Sandwich Shop (635 19th Street). Only its humble reality and monster sandwiches could justify that name, but they pull it off nicely. It's just a lunch counter and one nice lady making the sandwiches while her man runs the till smiles encouragingly as you try to decipher their so-simple-I-can't-quite-figure-it-out menu. I had the mortadella/salami classic and Vadan (my brother) had the pastrami (cold!). Our friend, Bill, had the tuna salad and we were all impressed. Good meat/condiment/bread ratio and serious weight for your $5. Check it out when you're looking for some straight ahead, old-school eats. -Sirr Less

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