Saturday at the Bay
75 degrees on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
After years of hearing accolades from Max and Margaux (who puts it on the same level of greatness as In-N-Out), I tried Bay Cities Deli. Known for the best sandwiches in LA (why is it so hard to get a really good sandwich here), Bay Cities easily earned its title.
The place was crazy, crowded inside and out. The deli case that runs the length of one side of the building is packed full of meats, cheeses and salads (pasta, potato, chicken, etc.). There are at least eight servers behind the counter and at least triple that amount in line, hungarily awaiting their food. After taking a number, a no bullshit employee manages the line on the ordering side, sending sandwich-only orders to the fax counter/mini deli on the other side of the building. Missing the weekday orders from Sony Music, MTV, Fox Sports and countless post-production houses in the area, the fax counter is free to alleviate the line at the main counter.
A man next to me starts ordering a highly specialized sandwich from an annoyed deli clerk about five feet in front of him. Two rows of glass separate the sandwich-maker and taker, but the intricacy of the order (no mayo, extra mustard, no pickles) puts them a hundred yards apart.
As instructed, I order a large Godmother (genoa salami, mortadella
coppacola, ham, prosciutto, provolone) with the works (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing & hot pepper salad) which arrives in seconds in its shoe-sized glory. Scrawled on top is $8, which by the size alone is well worth the price.
In line as I wait to pay the guy in front of me comments on how my sandwich is much bigger than his. I chalk it up to the ease of my order compared to the picky eater who ordered before me- I was rewarded for being quick and easy and my prize was the sandwich.
Outside under strong sunlight, I faced Lincoln Blvd watching weekend warriors on Harleys and hipsters in Hybrids. Birds fearlessly share tables with patrons, eagerly awaiting dropped crumbs. They wouldn't find many around my table.
A sandwich is only as good as its weakest part, and the Godmother is made up of the finest produced and prepared elements. The warm, crunchy, tightly-pressed bread is the anchor of the sandwich. Rich with flavor and texture, it surrounds fresh meat and well-chopped vegetables.
The shiny yellow drips of mustard/mayo/oil remind me of Giamellas, a sub place I loved as a kid. Bay Cities immediately blows it away with their delicious pickles, thin bread and unprocessed meat.
If Bay Cities Deli was three separate stores: sandwich shop, Joans-esque upscale deli/caterer and high-end supermarket, it could fill a space the size of Whole Foods and give them a run for their money. However, tightly-packed as a full service deli, Bay Cities makes a killing at its Westside location.