724 El Camino Real
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Guest post by Ikai Lan
Just south of San Francisco, San Bruno is a quaint community of artists and musicians brimming with culture.
Kidding – it’s San Bruno. It’s not a bad place – YouTube is headquartered there, and it’s a stone’s throw away from San Francisco International Airport – but let’s be fair: San Bruno’s two greatest accomplishments are the Tanforan Shopping Center and not having been assimilated by Colma (1,500 above ground, 1.5 million underground – I’m not making this up, folks). Real estate prices are actually reasonable considering San Bruno is served by both BART and Caltrain. You can buy a condo for a fraction of the price of anywhere in San Francisco, but get to the financial district in the time it takes to pretend to listen to half of an episode of “This American Life.” And of course, there’s Little Lucca’s Sandwich shop.
Little Lucca’s isn’t impressive looking. The store looks like a farmhouse took a shat on a mobile home. Looks lie, however, and much like Philip Seymour Hoffman, there’s much, much goodness down this rabbit hole. Go to Little Lucca’s on a weekend afternoon, and you’ll see a line of folks queuing up outside. There’s a set of functional but, ahem, “Spartan” benches and picnic tables set up alongside the main store and in the yard, and hanging across from the main entrance is a sign that says, “Super Sandwiches”. Go inside, and you’ll see an enormous menu with more options than Lebron James as an unrestricted free agent. Each sandwiches comes with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, pickles, and most importantly, the Little Lucca’s garlic spread. There are posted signs for “specials” and “new sandwiches”, but it is this writer’s experience that these offerings are as new to the wall as that tired looking stripper is new to dancing for money at Spearmint Rhino’s.
Your correspondent took his female companion to this place for a late lunch. She took one look at the specials and settled on the beef brisket BBQ sandwich, while I mulled over too much choice, changing my sandwich selection about six times in line before I even had a chance to order, settling on the Lucca’s Ultimate Club. Twenty dollars later, we walked out to the yard with two drinks and two gigantic sandwiches. “It’s huge”, yipped the female companion. “How am I supposed to put this in my mouth?” Your correspondent dropped several “that’s what she said”s and may have also made a reference or two to his man parts, because, well, he is mature. We unwrapped the sandwiches and realized that we really didn’t know how to eat these things. The best strategy we came up with was to bite the top half of a sandwich, followed by biting the bottom half, but this had the unfortunate side effect of what I like to call “sandwich face”, where we’d have pieces of lettuce or cheese or mayo on our faces at any given time. We didn’t care. We wolfed down these delicious sandwiches, moaning with pleasure as the combination of meat, garlic sauce and Dutch Crunch created a flavor explosion in our mouths. I may also have lactated slightly. We didn’t finish them, which should be a testament to how titanic these beasts were, as I am considered by some to be a Takeru Kobayashi type. Overall, a great, albeit messy situation, not unlike how your parents made you.
Little Lucca’s is great for drawing comparisons against Ike’s Place in the City. Logistics-wise, Ike’s is in the Castro, has a difficult parking situation and curb seating. Like, you’re sitting on the street. Sandwiches from Ike’s Place, while also delicious, feel more greasy, likely a result of the Dirty Sauce. Ike’s sandwiches are also a bit more creative, doing some amazing things with vegan only ingredients and different combinations of strange ingredients. I almost want to say that Little Lucca’s is Ike’s blue collar brother: the ingredients are more basic, with the more exotic sandwich components being hot links, for instance. No matter which place you go to, you’re going to be in for an excruciating wait, but it’s well worth the payoff.