I love Ike's Place so much that I could start a 'Wich of the Week spinoff devoted solely to sandwiches from Ike's. I was hesitant to write about my new favorite sandwich place in San Francisco, since the lines are long enough already. But keeping the enormous, palate-entertaining creations to myself wouldn't be in the spirit of sandwich love.
Opened a year ago, Ike's is a tiny storefront in the Castro neighborhood, barely big enough to accommodate its sizable staff — making sandwiches this well is no easy task — and massive menu of 50-plus sandwiches with playful names like Nacho Boy (hot roast beef, mushrooms, avocado, and swiss) and the Paul Reubens (a take on the Reuben with poppy-seed coleslaw). Priced between $7 and $9, these are some of the largest sandwiches I've ever eaten; if I have one for lunch, I'm hardly hungry for dinner. But that's not even a taste of why I like Ike's. To count the ways, read more.
I have sampled several sandwiches from Ike's, all of which come with lettuce, tomato, and onions. My favorite so far is We're Just Friends, which features shredded chicken cooked in a sweet orange glaze, contrasted with avocado and pepperjack. On my most recent trip, I tried the similar but not quite as transcendent That's Too Bad (above), with chicken, spicy lime fajita sauce, mushrooms, and pepperjack, as well as today's featured sandwich, the Ex-Boyfriend, with salami, bacon, avocado, and cheddar. I've whipped up a recipe below, but first, here's are five reasons that Ike's is awesome.
- The rolls — your choice of French, sourdough, wheat, or Dutch crunch — aren't baked until you order your sandwich, so they are fresh beyond belief.
- Before baking, the rolls are spread with "dirty sauce," a homemade garlic and herb aioli. It's very subtle but adds a perfect little kick.
- The ingredients are first-rate. The shredded chicken is so moist, I could eat a plate of it, and the avocados are always perfectly ripe.
- The French fries are to die for. They're medium-cut but with a crust like curly fries that tastes vaguely of chipotle.
- The staff is super nice. Clearly they care a lot about sandwiches, so they are happy to help you make a decision about which of the sandwiches suits you best.
For a sandwich lover like myself, Ike's is something of an obsession. But I'll try to refrain from letting it take over 'Wich of the Week. I haven't quite figured out how Ike's makes its sammies (for instance, does it put them back in the oven after assembling them?) but here's an approximation of the Ex-Boyfriend to try at home.
1 Dutch crunch or French roll Makes one sandwich.
2 tablespoons of garlic aioli
2-3 slices of cheddar cheese
Thinly sliced red onion, to taste
1/4 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded
1/2 avocado, sliced
3 slices of tomato, thinly sliced
8 slices of high-quality salami
6 strips of bacon, cooked
1 Dutch crunch or French roll
Makes one sandwich.