This rapidly expanding Bay Area chain of sandwich shops got its start in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, and its devoted following has multiplied phenomenally in the seven years of its existence, enough to support 13 stores in all. I was glad to bypass the legendary lines at the original location and accepted a friend’s invitation to check out the Danville store.
Bright with thick block lettering and a quirky sense of humor, the store’s sleek design is enough on its own to appeal to broad, modern-day, American eatery sensibilities. Who wouldn’t want to try a sandwich called Love Triangle or Reading Rainbow? A good portion of the sandwiches are also named after celebrities and famous characters. The vast array of options on the menu at the Danville location—
–is dwarfed by the options shown in their online menu. It might be an overwhelming number of choices, but I like not having to compile my own sandwich ingredient list, and Ike’s has nearly any combination you want covered. That includes sandwiches stuffed with jalapeno poppers! Vegans and vegetarians also have a bevy of options, and lettuce, tomato, and onion are givens.
Friend #2 cleansing his palate before the meal.
Every sandwich comes with Ike’s signature dirty sauce, which tasted to me like a creamy horseradish sauce…but really, really light on the horseradish, which made it very good. The interwebs tell me that it’s actually a garlic and herb sauce, but I’d swear there’s a little horseradish hiding in their somewhere. The sauce is grilled into the bread and also added to the ingredient pile—some sandwiches even come extra dirty. The messier a sandwich, the more likely I am to love it, so I thought those methods were fantastic.
Read more →
This place has a cult of appreciators for their breakfast sandwiches, which is why my visiting NC foodie friends insisted we check it out. It’s open only for breakfast and lunch and is located right off the fork between 29th and 23rd leading into Alameda.
It is a simple fact of life that egg-and-cheeses are heaven on earth, and Kefa’s workers know how to offer them proper tribute. They take their preparations seriously, which results in a longer wait than you might expect for an egg-and-cheese. English muffins are toasted to a deep crisp, and the cheese is broiled to the point that it gets a plasticine outer shell. Note: that is not a complaint. True egg-and-cheeses bear both those marks of quality.
I went for the basic egg, bacon, and cheese.
Top marks for the English muffin’s burnt edges, the cheese’s flavor and texture, and the sheer volume of egg, but my bacon was definitely burnt. As someone who microwaves her bacon because she hates it undercooked, that’s saying something. The bacon was rather salty as well.
Read more →
I’d been watching the Coming Soon! sign for this coffee shop with interest since I moved to Hayward in August. Downtown Hayward has few coffee options aside from the usual chain suspects. Though I enjoy both Snappy’s Café and the Bistro for my caffeine needs, Snappy’s is pretty small and the Bistro is more of a bar and music venue than a spot suitable for working. Sometimes, I just need that coffee shop escape from the home office.
Éko, which will have been open about a month at the time of this post, fits that bill. The contemporary atmosphere is appealing, especially the mod, black, circle chairs. Those are mixed in with marble tables, bursts of marsh green fabric along the booth row, and rust red and white walls. Excepting the fixed sunburst mirror and white decorative lamps in the alcove, the shop is decorated with local artwork.
But atmosphere is only half the battle, and at a coffee shop, the coffee itself is of primary importance. Éko uses Mr. Espresso beans, which is based in Alameda and roasts its coffee over oak wood. You can taste that oak, whether having the coffee steeped through French press, pour-over, or cold brew. The baristas haven’t quite mastered all those techniques yet, but they’re getting there.
I’ve had both a pour-over and a café au lait thus far and enjoyed the smoky and woodsy qualities they imparted. Those elements particularly shined in the pour-over; I’m still not entirely sure the café au lait’s milk wasn’t burnt, but I pretended otherwise and was perfectly happy with the drink. My husband had no complaints with his cappuccino.
Read more →