The search for the ultimate sandwich in San Francisco
October 18, 2018
The perfect sandwich is, at its foundation, a balance of ratios. Too much meat? No good. Bread not thick enough? You basically have a salad on your hands. And me personally? I’m hard to impress.
Let me introduce DeliBoard, a San Francisco sando shop. Tucked into a small corner on Folsom Street, the restaurant is free of signage and full of customers. In fact, full to the point that it’s hard to tell the line to order from the pickup line; it’s a struggle to reach the counter. But once you’ve ventured through the shop’s wide door under its hideous brown and red lintel, through the tides of hangry customers and up to the fartoo-casual cashier, the menu makes it seem worth the odyssey.
It’s clear by the menus stapled on top of menus that DeliBoard’s offerings are constantly in flux, meeting the creative benchmarks set by founder Adam Mesnick—the self-proclaimed “Chairman of ‘The Board.’”
All with their own distinct names—Carzle, D. Rubin, Tenenbaum, etc.—these sandwiches look dangerously appetizing. For someone who adores adventurous and wellselected ingredients, the fillings seem perfect…almost too perfect. Romanian pastrami, corned beef, pepperoncini blends and cherry pepper. Sign me up.
My friend Will and I landed on the Carzle, the D. Rubin and two glass-bottled mexicokes. Here came the first nagging issue. Two sandos and two sodas. How much would that run you anywhere else? 20 bucks? 27 maybe? Well it’ll cost you $46.66 at DeliBoard.
I begrudgingly offered up my debit card which happily handed over about half of the contents of my checking account. I defeatedly grabbed the cokes and we locked down a table that had just opened up.
Sitting for the first time since we got there, the ambience set in. The manufactured “authenticity” of the whole place, the deliberately vandalized chairs and the musk of the shifty-eyed, parentally funded patrons of the deli. It smelled like gentrification and crystal deodorant—not a great mix with deli meat.
Above the door was the word “Cleveland” emblazoned in red, hand-painted wooden letters. It seemed odd with no greater context. I had read earlier that week on their website that DeliBoard had “midwestern roots,” but little else other than the bold declaration of “Cleveland!” suggested that connection.
Then came the food. Everything seemed just right. Well-sized, well-filled, fragrant sandwiches with a perfect form factor. They sat in the hand comfortably and held together nicely.
But one nagging question remained for me. The weakling question of “Hey, do you use any nuts or nut oils? Any worry of cross contamination?” Yeah, that question— the one that makes any outing for food uncomfortable for literally anyone else at the table.
And of course, it turned out that there was an issue. Peanut oil was used to make their fries. Politely, but a little passively, the cashier let me know that there really shouldn’t be an issue. Even though I hadn’t ordered the fries I had my concerns like, you know, not wanting to die and that. So, as I was waiting to use the restroom, I asked a server about the likelihood of me dying, to which he responded “I don’t know, man. Things fly through the air sometimes. I mean it might happen.” Nice.
In the end, the only thing I really tasted from DeliBoard was the mexicoke—which was good obviously, but a little bittersweet. Will was satisfied with his Carzle, though. Every single bite he took was accompanied by some clear indication of his enjoyment and then a sarcastic proclamation of “Oh dude you’re not missing anything—this is absolutely terrible.” Even my sandwich was met with a similar reception when I brought it to a friend back on campus.
As I watched Will wolf down his roll, I felt a little defeated. Two hours roundtrip plus a near $50 check seemed a little steep to just be dismissed with “I don’t know, man.” In some sense that’s the most emblematic part of the whole experience. At its core, DeliBoard seems a little superficial. The quirk of its interior design, its overlyrelaxed, millennial vibe and interesting offerings are overpowered by the holier-thanthou attitude of the staff and the apparent lack of care for what they do and the people they serve.
I didn’t get a single bite, but my metric still holds true. A good sandwich is all about its ratios. Maybe the same goes for the restaurant it comes from. DeliBoard has a good start—it just needs to find its balance.
Contact Noah Sonnenburg at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.