Ike’s Place – San Francisco
The trip that my husband and I took to San Francisco over New Year’s kind of came about at the last minute. We hadn’t planned on going anywhere for New Year’s, especially since we had long planned to go to Portland over Christmas. But when a rather affordable opportunity presented itself to hit up the City by the Bay for a few days of R&R right before the beginning of a very busy stretch at work for my husband, we decided to take it. I had casually mentioned to a co-worker of mine that I would be up in San Francisco for a few days and that I was looking for some good places to eat while I was in town. Seeing as she had recently graduated from UC Berkeley, just across the Bay, I figured she might have some familiarity with the city that I didn’t have. Sure enough, I talked about the fact that I wanted to make a stop at Bi-Rite Creamery on this trip to San Francisco as it had been on my list of places to try for a while, when she mentioned the name of a popular sandwich shop in the same neighborhood that she thought I might be interested in. She talked about how this place was really well known, so much so that there is often a line out the door and down the block to get your hands on a sandwich. She mentioned that she’d actually eaten there and really enjoyed the sandwiches, but warned me that they were rather large, and that was part of their appeal for most people. As soon as she mentioned sandwich shop, I knew I’d be able to convince my husband to give it a try because all we were looking for was a nice casual place for lunch – nothing fancy or outrageous as we were already going to have enough of that during the rest of our trip in San Francisco.
Ike’s Place is the name of the sandwich shop. Named after the owner, Ike Shehadeh, Ike’s Place opened its doors in the Bay Area in 2007 on Halloween Day. Today, the sandwich shop has grown so popular that there are 11 total stores in the Bay Area, one in Los Angeles and 2 more in Arizona. With bread that’s baked to order, including their famous “Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce” that is baked into every loaf as well as spread onto every loaf after it comes out of the toaster, Ike’s wide variety of sandwiches, customizable the way you want it, have become legendary.
We were lucky that the day we arrived to Ike’s Place in the Mission District, it was still early, and therefore there was no line. Yet. However, by the time we left the store with our order in hand, there were at least 3-5 other parties in the store ordering and waiting for their food. This is the type of place where you come in, place your order, your sandwiches are made fresh and bagged up for you, and you’re sent on your way to enjoy your meal. There are no tables or indoor or outdoor seating here. So we took our brown bag of sandwiches and headed over to the nearby Mission Dolores Park with its fantastic views out towards San Francisco and the Bay.
To go with our sandwiches, my husband wanted to try one of Ike’s Place’s own branded soda’s, the cinnamon toast soda. Personally, I didn’t think that sounded that great as a drink. Sure, it’s might be a fine cereal, but cinnamon in my soda, or any drink for that matter, doesn’t seem like it would taste appealing. And in the end, my husband agreed as he only drink about a quarter of the bottle before he couldn’t stand it any more. I gave it a bit of a sip, and sure enough, the taste of the drink wasn’t very appealing at all. It didn’t really taste like cinnamon toast, or cinnamon anything, I’m actually not sure what it tasted like, other than it didn’t taste like anything good.
One of the things that Ike’s Place is known for are sandwiches with unique and unusual names. In their San Francisco stores, many of the sandwiches are named after famous San Francisco sports stars such as the Matt Cain, the Madison Bumgarner, or the Ronnie Lott. Other sandwiches are named after famous celebrities or characters, such as the Jessica Rabbit, the Heath Ledger, or the Little Mermaid.
For my sandwich, I ordered what was called the Damon Bruce. The sandwich is made with beer battered onion rings, provolone cheese, steak sauce and thinly sliced ribeye. Most sandwiches also come with lettuce and tomato, if you want it, and of course Ike’s famous dirty sauce. You also get a choice of bread for the sandwich: Dutch crunch, French, SF sourdough, and whole wheat. And finally, unless you request differently, every sandwich is made hot by running through a toaster to toast the bread and melt the cheese. As advertised, the sandwiches are huge. As hungry as I might have been, that sandwich was too big for me. The taste was great though. The sliced ribeye with the steak sauce and the onion rings was a good combination. However, it’s really Ike’s dirty sauce that adds that extra oomph to the sandwich and gives it a bit of added tangy flavor. It happened to be a bit of a chilly afternoon at Mission Dolores Park when we sat down to eat our sandwiches, and I was grateful that the sandwiches were made hot as it really hit the spot. And the bread, that amazing Dutch crunch bread was fantastic.
My husband ordered a sandwich called Change. The Change is made with bbq sauce, beer battered onion rings, Gouda cheese and thinly sliced ribeye. To make his sandwich even better, my husband wanted to add mozzarella sticks. Unfortunately, after ordering the sandwich, it turns out that the last of the beer battered onion rings were being used in my sandwich, the Damon Bruce. Oops! So my husband had to forgo the onion rings in his sandwich, but at least the mozzarella sticks made up for it. He also opted to have his sandwich made on the Dutch Crunch bread, though he wanted his sandwich without all of the standard additions of lettuce and tomato. Without the tomato and the lettuce, his sandwich looked paltry compared to mine that felt like it was bursting at the seams. I don’t know if my husband was hungrier than I was, or he enjoyed his sandwich more than I did, but he polished off his whole sandwich before I was even halfway done with mine. However, when I asked him what he thought of Ike’s his comment was, “a sandwich is a sandwich,” which he still contends today. However, he did say that he thought that the Dutch Crunch bread was “awesome – really good.” I think we both agreed that the bread makes the sandwich.
While Ike’s Place may not have completely blown my husband and I out of the water, we weren’t exactly looking for a 5-star meal that day for lunch. My coworker’s recommendation of a hearty sandwich shop within blocks of my ultimate destination and close by to the beautiful Mission Dolores Park was exactly what we were seeking. I recently read that Mission Dolores Park was named one of the top 10 spots in the world to enjoy a picnic, and that’s what we did that day. Ike’s Place sandwiches in hand, we headed to Mission Dolores Park and enjoyed ourselves a picnic lunch with fabulous views of San Francisco. In that respect, Ike’s Place hit the spot perfectly.