Our journey starts in the middle of the 18th century. John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, is sitting at a poker table and calls for his servants to bring him sliced meat between two pieces of bread. And so, the sandwich was born.
Now, more than 250 years later, the sandwich is being taken to new heights in a small sandwich shop on Stanford campus called “Ike’s Place”. The original “Ike’s Place” was opened in 2007 in San Francisco’s Castro district by Ike Shehadeh and the opened in the summer of 2010.
Ike’s is famous for its outlandish sandwich menu and the long lines that lead up to the counter. With 183 unique sandwiches, boasting crazy names such as “Hot Momma Huda” and “[Name of Girl I’m Dating]”, Ike’s is not your average sandwich shop.
I started off my tour of Ike’s lineup with the “Matt Cain”. The fresh-baked french bread was slathered with a flavorful horseradish, chipotle mayo that Ike calls “Godfather Sauce”. The sauce complemented the combination of roast beef, turkey and salami perfectly. The high quality of meats and the freshness of the vegetable toppings blended seamlessly to make this sandwich a real homerun.
Next, I dove into the “Spiffy Tiffy”. Mouth watering from the smell of a fresh basil pesto, I tore off the two layers of butcher paper to uncover a colorful chicken sandwich bursting with flavor. The crunchy sourdough bread is baked with Ike’s signature “Dirty Sauce”: a zesty garlic mayo that matches up well with the fresh pesto. Crunchy lettuce and ripe tomatoes offer a change in consistency and appetizingly bright contrast in color. Although the chicken was a little dry, the creamy avocado and the gooey pepper jack and provolone cheeses make the “Spiffy Tiffy” a winner.
For the last stop on my trip of Ike’s food I ordered the “Say Hey”. At first glance, I noticed that the pastrami was very fatty. Slightly deterred, I bit into the big sandwich expectantly. The combination of Ike’s “Famous Dutch Crunch” with the “Dirty Spread” is unreal. It’s like using garlic bread in a sandwich. Despite its fattiness, the pastrami had fantastic savory pepper flavors and underscored the bite of the garlic spread. But, like most Americans, I went for the bacon. The crunchy bacon gave the sandwich a warm smoky undertone and made the “Say Hey” bloom into a more complete flavor.
Sitting in the modern, free-seating sandwich shop, I couldn’t help but appreciate what I had just eaten. A sandwich starts with the bread and Ike’s has everything I could want. Fresh, crunchy, flavorful. Quality meats are coupled with fresh toppings, making every sandwich restaurant caliber. To top it off, Ike’s signature sauces give each sandwich a unique and unparalleled flavor explosion.
“Ike’s Place” serves Palo Alto’s Best Sandwich and it is deserving of the title. Make sure you bring napkins!