Ike’s Place, San Francisco
No, I haven’t forgotten to post the picture for this one. Tonight, we actually have our first review that will not have a picture, because my Dec. 2009 visit to Ike’s Place predates when I began taking pictures of the places I visited. So I’ll try to describe things as best as I can without the use of visual aids.
Luckily, Ike’s Place is so creative that this is probably the best place to have to do one without photos if I must. Those of you who read my Voodoo Doughnut review know that in addition to wonderful doughnuts, it’s just as famous for its creative names that it bestows upon said doughnuts.
What it is to breakfast, Ike’s Place is to lunch. Owner Ike Shehadeh has come up with no fewer than 83 sandwiches that dot the Ike’s Place menu, and that doesn’t include discontinued sandwiches or sandwiches that are only available to Ike’s fans that sign up via e-mail or social media for the restaurant’s alerts. All sandwiches are available on your choice of freshly baked French, sourdough, wheat or Dutch crunch bread, and all sandwiches come toasted with lettuce, tomato and Dirty Sauce. If you want, you can add onions, pickles, banana peppers and mustard for free.
Plus, every sandwich has some kind of creative name, with the majority of the names having something to do with San Francisco, although that’s by no means required. Here’s a sampling of what you can find on Ike’s menu:
Menage a Trois: Halal chicken, honey, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar
Nacho Girl: Wild salmon burger, mushrooms, avocado, havarti
Paul Reubens: Pastrami, coleslaw, French dressing, Swiss
Peg Bundy: Breaded eggplant, French dressing, avocado, cheddar
Lincecum: Ham, turkey, bacon, avocado, havarti
Tom Brady: Vegan breaded chicken, garlic and herb sauce, mushrooms, avocado, cheddar
Kryptonite: Roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, salami, turkey, bacon, ham, mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, avocado, pesto, pepper jack (basically, just about every ingredient on Ike’s menu)
OK, if you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’re wondering exactly what is Dirty Sauce? Quite simply, Dirty Sauce is the condiment that takes Ike’s from being good to amazing. Dirty Sauce is Ike Shehadeh’s garlic mayonnaise, with several secret spices for a simply fantastic taste. Ike is so passionate about his Dirty Sauce that if you can’t find a good reason to withhold it, such as an allergy, he won’t take requests to hold it.
Before any ingredients touch the sandwich, Ike’s spreads the Dirty Sauce onto the bread and bakes it into the bread, giving the sandwich the distinct flavor of the Dirty Sauce in every bite. The sandwich is then toasted again once the ingredients are all loaded onto the bread, resulting in hot and fresh deliciousness that simply has to be tried to be believed.
On my visit, I went with the SF Giants, an incredible combination of turkey, bacon, mushrooms, Swiss and avocado. Quite honestly, it might very well be the best sandwich I’ve ever had. When combined with the Dirty Sauce throughout the sandwich, a bunch of things I already like become perfection.
Ike’s is so incredible that it’s won numerous awards in the short time it’s been open and has become an indelible part of San Francisco and the Bay Area in just a couple years. When you manage to do that, it’s because of one reason: you’re really, really good at what you do.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner. Ike’s is open between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Wait during my visit: Oh boy. Ike’s is the reason that San Franciscans need more than an hour for lunch. The line almost stretched to the end of the street, and Ike’s location (at the time) on 16th Street is on a pretty long street. I waited approximately two hours for my sandwich. That I’m still giving this a high review speaks to just how good Ike’s creations are.
The good news is that Ike’s does allow you to call in your orders, and if you do, you can pick up your sandwich without having to wait in line. I highly recommend doing this. Even better, if you’re not sure you can make it to Ike’s by 7 p.m. and you call your order in, Ike’s will hold your sandwich for up to an hour after its doors close so you can pick it up.
Location: You can find Ike’s at 3489 16th Street, a new location across the street from the original Ike’s. Ike’s also operates a secondary location on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto.
Parking: Good luck. It’s San Francisco, which means parking will be both costly and a nightmare. There are meters available, but they will cost you a few dollars for your wait. I would recommend finding a transit option of some kind. You can take BART to the Mission/16th Street stop, which would give you a half-mile walk to Ike’s. Not ideal, but at least you don’t have to find parking.
Cost: Average. Ike’s sandwiches tend to cost roughly $10, which can be more or less depending on what you order.
Seating arrangement: There are no seats. Ike’s was simply a take-away stand when I visited.
Website: Ike’s Place. Ike’s offers a great website, allowing its patrons to rate their sandwiches and listing the ratings of each. It’s a great feature.
Signature items: Sandwiches, Dirty Sauce