Skip to main content
Food & Drink

Hot bread, cold meat: The city’s best Italian sub is a study in contrasts

A sleeper sandwich emerges from an unlikely location. Plus: Powerfully delicious Indonesian fare, and a love marriage between Sinaloan and Chinese food.

Italian sandwich at Newkirk's deli
The Italian sandwich at Newkirk’s is a thing of beauty. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

This is All Things Consumed, a weekly column by The Standard’s eater-at-large, Omar Mamoon, featuring three great dishes he’s eaten and one drink he’s stoked on.

The Italian at Newkirk's

Come for the breakfast sandwiches, stay for the Italian. Newkirk's, the East Coast-style deli located directly across from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, routinely has doctors and nurses lining up for its egg sandwiches—specimens that are as New York City bodega as it gets in SF. I normally get the BEC, a perfect trifecta of crispy-salty-smoky bacon, a fried egg and melty American cheese squished between a soft poppyseed-studded Kaiser roll. But on a recent afternoon, I opted for the best of its lunchtime sandwiches.

A solid sandwich is all about ratios, and Newkirk’s gets the balance of its Italian right. Between a fresh-baked Raymond’s sourdough French roll slathered with mayo are salty slices of salami and spicy soppressata, smoky layers of ham and mild mortadella (the superior luncheon meat), along with a restrained amount of pickles and sliced tomatoes. This is topped by just enough crunchy iceberg lettuce drizzled with olive oil and vinegar, dusted with dried oregano and topped with the faintest touch of thinly sliced red onions and a sharp provolone. I love the contrast of the hot bread and the cold deli meat. Goldilocks-approved, they're not too big, not too small. They're just right.

💰 $16
📍1002 Potrero Ave., San Francisco

Beef Rendang in a bowl at Rasa Rasa Kitchen

“Rasa rasa” roughly translates to “tasty tasty”—a sentiment I can get behind when it comes to the restaurant opened by Joe Sutikno-Sharp, a photographer who hails from Indonesia, and his business partner Peggy Tang. The two have been serving up Indonesian home cooking from the Rasa Rasa food truck for the last four years at Parklab Gardens, but in March, they took the brick-and-mortar leap to a corner storefront in the Mission. 

Rica Rica an Indonesian dish at Rasa Rasa
The aromatic and rich pork belly rica-rica is a winner at Rasa Rasa. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

I recommend bringing a crew to share the family-style fare. These are dishes you won’t easily find in the city, like the gado gado (raw vegetables and a garlicky peanut dressing) and rica-rica, which originated in Manado, the capital of the North Sulawesi province. For the latter, chunks of pork belly are braised in a bumbu (a spice paste) made of shallots, bird's eye chili, lemongrass, galangal, makrut lime leaf, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Though it’s rich, Sutikno-Sharp made sure it’s not as spicy as the mouth-on-fire versions he had back home. Perhaps the most memorable dish, however, is the beef rendang, another rib-sticking dish served inside a hefty Boudin sourdough bread bowl, a cheeky nod to old-school San Francisco.

💰 $20
📍 2200 Bryant St., San Francisco

Grilled ‘carne salseada’ at Loló

Loló has long been one of my favorite Mexican restaurants for its clever cocktails, crispy-creamy fried avocado tacos and funky-cool vibe. But though it’s been going strong for 17 years, it’s ever-evolving with new things to try—and, in this case, a taste of immigration history.

Chef-owner Jorge Martínez and his wife, Lorena Zertuche, who also own restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, are often the main sources of Lolo’s creativity. But their business partner Juan Carlos Ruelas is now coming up with his own ideas, including a dish he had growing up in Sinaloa, Mexico, where there’s a sizable Chinese population that has influenced a style of food Ruelas calls “Chinaloa.”

The grilled carne salseada, an example of Chinaloa cuisine at Lolo in the Mission District.
The grilled carne salseada, an example of Chinaloa cuisine, is now being served up at Loló. | Source: Omar Mamoon for The Standard

Chinaloa cuisine is exemplified by Ruelas’ grilled carne salseada, grilled strips of flank steak that are then wok-tossed with onions, yellow peppers, green onion and a sharp and spicy sauce made from soy, lime and butter fortified with dried chiltepín peppers. You’re going to want the accompanying Mexican rice, but also be sure to ask for a side of tortillas so you can assemble some tacos.

💰 $21
📍 974 Valencia St., San Francisco

A drink I’m loving: Golden Blend by 3 Fonteinen

Beer nerds get worked up over the simplest things—like the sight of the dark green beer bottle with a big three on the label—the telltale logo of the legendary 3 Fonteinen, a Belgian brewery founded in 1887 that specializes in lambic. I recently spotted some bottles of its Golden Blend at Gus’s and had to get my hands on them. This isn’t the sweet raspberry stuff often associated with lambics, but rather a gueuze, a dryer, more cidery style of brew. This specific bottle features a blend of three different aged barrels of lambics—the result is a dark amber-colored beer with tiny bubbles, a dry, musty aroma and a sharp taste with a slightly bitter, sour and nutty finish.

💰 $30 (12.7 fluid ounces)
📍 Available at Gus’s Community Market, 2111 Harrison St., San Francisco

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco-based writer and cookie dough professional. Find him on Instagram.