I Like Ike’s

If you live in the city, you likely have an opinion about Ike’s Place, the little sandwich shop that could. Ike’s has a massive following — so massive, in fact, that it was forced out of its former location because neighbors complained about the shop’s disruptiveness. (You can read the full story here.) Relocated, the shop is once again fully operational and just as popular as ever.

Confession: I’m an Ike’s novice. Prior to the shop’s shutdown, I’d only had one sandwich, and I don’t even remember which sandwich I got. (THE HORROR.) The situation followed thusly: I was at a pal’s house, drinkin’ some wine, listening to some tunes, and my pal’s bf got us all sammies from Ike’s. I had turkey, I think, but by the time I got around to eating, I was famished, and any evidence of sandwich artistry was lost on me. Bummer.

This weekend, I had the chance to (re)introduce myself to Ike’s craveworthy fare. Friday, Aurora and I met up for a late lunch in Dolores Park. I’d leisurely frittered away the morning, eating some pie, listening to some Joan Jett, sipping coffee in the comfort of my bed; after some consideration, I headed to the Castro for a real meal.

I can confirm that the lines at Ike’s are just as bad as their reputation. I arrived at quarter of two and waited almost 20 minutes to place my order. Absurd, right? I won’t argue: the wait time bordered on ridiculous. BUT, glass half full, I had plenty of time to study the menu, whose funnily named creations are heavy on the halal chicken, light on salami. I’ve been in a holiday sort of mood, so I chose the Going Home For Thanksgiving: turkey, cranberry sauce, havarti, sriacha, and dirty sauce, all on a Dutch Crunch roll. (I opted for lettuce & tomato, too. Gotta get those greens in somehow, ja?) My sammie came with a free bag of chips (jalapeno chips, mofos!) and a caramel apple pop (which I dared not eat, lest it strip my teeth of their enamel).

Ike’s doesn’t have a dining room, but no matter: Dolores Park is a few blocks away, and Aurora and I turned our lunch into a Picnic Lunch of Awesomeness. Using our paper bags as plates and our napkins as napkins, we chowed. Oh, how we chowed. Ike’s subs are high-commitment: they’re huge, they’re messy, and they won’t last until the next meal (due to Intense Bread Soakage). I made it through half of the Thanksgiving, discarding the remainder.

Oh, but if I could have finished the other half. Dutch Crunch is my sandwich bread of choice, and Ike’s variety — chewy inside, crusty atop — didn’t disappoint. The sriacha/cranberry sauce combo is ingenious; alone, each element would have been boooooring; together, the sauces merged into a spicy-sweet uebercondiment. The havarti? Didn’t notice it.

My sandwich experience in San Francisco is fairly limited. I get Freddie’s from time to time, and stop off at Subway more often than I’d care to admit. (Yes: I realize that Subway’s sandwiches are more representational than nutritional. Touche!) Realize, then, when I say that Ike’s offers some of the finest sandwiches around, that I’m operating within an extremely limited context. Independent of the sandwiches I’ve eaten here, Ike’s is solid. Among the sandwiches I’ve had, Ike’s is solid. It’s a solid, standard, messy sub. JUST DO IT.

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