Having to be gluten-free and choosing to eat only plant-based foods, I thought I would never get to have another yummy deli sandwich again. Did you know some places offer lettuce as bread…. really people? Is that truly and equal substitution? Not in my humble opinion. So why should I waste my time and money eating a barely half-ok sandwich? Well this was the case until I decided to once again listen to one of the most intelligent people I know, I little bro!
Tired of going to the same places by our home, I went for a sandwich shop recommended (more like strongly urged- hehe) by my brother. He had visited the an Ike's Place the San Fransisco and could not stop raving about it. I was thinking it would probably not be as good as the one we have in Santa Rosa. Well, you know, the city has a great deal more vegans, hence the better food selection. Nevertheless, I decided to check out the website, and low and behold, they DID actually have vegan options here too! We grabbed our keys and headed for this joint.
It was funny, because it is located practically across the street from the yummy all vegan restaurant we have here called Gaia’s Garden. We parked and entered the little standalone building. I was surprised at the look of the place when we walked in. It had almost an industrial set-up.
A giant open kitchen where you can see your sandwiches being made and a cashier in the front, menu on the wall, drinks from a machine or bottled from the fridge both of which you select yourself. We stood to the side and gawked at the long amazing menu.
They have a whole veggie section that can also be made vegan! Oh, it was mouthwatering to read. Then I thought “oh crap, the bread!”. I scanned the menu, and to my delight and surprise, they had bread, gluten-free bread! After a while of allowing people to go ahead of us in line as we pondered our options, we finally made a decision, grabbed a couple of drinks from the fridge and got in line.
Once we got to the cashier, Talia, I informed her I wanted vegan and gluten-free. She told me my sandwich choice had some gluten in it. Oh no! Now I had to pick again? She noticed I seemed weary and smiled and told me she was a vegan too and would help me find something good. I almost jumped over the counter and hugged her! Always great to meet more vegans, especially in unexpected places! I asked her if she could just pick me out a sandwich, which she did. We added some chips to our order, paid, and got a receipt.
When you are hungry, waiting for food to be ready seems like an eternity. And so did this! In actuality, our sandwiches were ready pretty quickly. We took our tray when our name was called and headed outside. Though there was only one table inside, there were many outside. We found a shady spot to eat.
My sandwich was the “Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian” and Talia subbed the pesto (not vegan) and the provolone for avocado and vegan cheese. Jay got the “Natalie Wood”. I took a bite and thought “Whaaaaaa? Can’t be, I will try another bite…. oh Lordy!!!” Geez Louise, it was delicious!!
I was a little kid again, with my grandpa in that ol’ timie deli he used to take us to. Every bite took me closer to my childhood. I was in complete disbelief!
I usually save half of whatever I order out to take home as I am too full to finish it.
NOT. THIS. TIME.
The whole sandwich was gone! Jay really loved his sandwich too- even said it was as good if not better than the famous Butcher's Son in Berkeley! Now that is true praise! Oh geez, I could tell we would be spending much time at this place. Even the chips were tasty. And wait!?! Did I tell you about my favorite part? Well yes, Talia was instrumental in making our day, helpful, knowledgeable, very friendly! But it was the bread! The Bread!! Talia told me the bread was from our very own local Mariposa in Oakland! Yes!!! It was straight French baguette. At least the closest anyone has ever gotten it gluten-free and vegan! Of course I will be ordering bread from them asap...will let you know how that goes soon.
And you know what? A few days later, we went back! I got my sandwich card punched again and ordered several sandwiches to go this time.
This time I choose the one with eggplant in it, though Talia did say there was a bit of gluten in it, I risked it and picked it anyway. Jay got the Shark one, and we also got the same sandwiches as last time (for, you know, later). We arrived home, and dived into our sandwiches. And you know what? It was just as good as eating it there.
Again, everything tasty and great, I loved my eggplant one the best by far! Later that night we broke into the last of the sandwiches, and you no what? They were all soggy and lame. Ya, don’t save them or put them in the fridge. Eat them whilst they are hot for sure, or the fridge kills their magic.
So, there it is, under our very noses for so long. I can't believe we did not find this gem sooner. Not only is this place extremely clean and tidy, all the kids there do a phenomenal job, it fact, I’m pretty sure they are due for a raise! Or at the very, very least, some big tips!
So, run, don’t walk, to the best sandwich shop in all of Wine Country! And if you think, by some miracle, you have an even better sandwich shop, let us know, but it's doubtful. I have eaten in so many spots in our little county. I don't bother writing about the ones that are just ok, or even suck (oh yes there are those too). I prefer to show you places where you will be happy spending your money. And Ike's Place is most definitely at the top of that list.
Whether you are in Wine Country, East Bay, or San Francisco, there’s an Ike's Place near you- enjoy!!!