It’s not fine cuisine, but then, when can you ever say as much about the humble sandwich? Even at its most ambitious heights, fully stacked with the utmost care, it’s still a bread-bound vehicle for gooey, drippy, sloppy savories that otherwise defy handheld consumption. Sometimes it feels silly to order a sandwich when eating out, for the simplicity of this basic premise, but certain eateries do it right. Ike’s has been a bay area cult classic for many years, winning advocates of both carnivorous creations and meatless monsters. Offering a generous selection of vegan options, with endless opportunities for customization, it’s hard to resist the lure of this diverse selection when passing by one of the numerous outposts. Dozens, if not hundreds, of combinations are possible, even if not listed on local menus. After a few birthday freebies and random indulgences, I do have a few recommendations to make.
First of all, across the board, ALWAYS ask for dutch crunch bread. No excuses, no questions; Nothing else will suffice. Ask for pickles on the side to prevent a briny blowout. Specify “vegan” even when ordering something with “vegan” in the title, because not everyone gets the message behind the counter. Beyond that, as a general rule for life in general, add avocado whenever possible.
Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian: Grilled mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, pesto, and cheese.
Tom Brady: Avocado, cheddar, garlic and herb sauce, mushrooms, vegan breaded chicken.
Meatless Mike: Marinara, pepper jack, vegan meatballs.
XXX-Tina: Vegan breaded chicken, buffalo wing sauce, cheese.
Zenobia (SF Exclusive): Sriracha, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, vegan steak.
For a place where the stated goal is to “make sandwiches as unique as the individual ordering,” Ike’s stays true to that mission, from top to bottom bun.