I secretly want to be Dagwood Bumpstead. Seriously — he sleeps on the couch, he’s got those crazy-ass bangs that stand up seemingly without product or any other help, and he makes the most juicily extravagant sandwiches that are only complete when they’ve been crowned with a pimento-stuffed olive wearing a toothpick as a hatpin.

Sandwiches are my comfort food. Yes, I love the banks of thick mashed potatoes with gilded rivulets of burnished butter running down their carbilicious sides, and I frequently want to rub myself down with the Stouffer’s mac and cheese, but there’s just something about the sandwiches. They’re sort of snacky yet they’re also a meal. They can have layer upon layer of flavors — a little chewy meat here, some tangy pickle there…oops, there’s a sexy smidge of thyme mayo up top, contrasting fiercely with those clean, crunchy greens! — and if they are made right, each bite is more interesting than the last.

As a kid I was totally addicted to grilled cheese sandwiches and didn’t eat much else, but as an adult I’ve managed to broaden my sandwich horizons. In Cambridge, Mass, we had several favorite sandwich places to visit. Darwin’s stacked their sandwiches thick and high and named them for the neighborhood streets (I usually went in for The Longfellow with ham, sliced apple, aged cheddar, lettuce, and tomato). Montrose Spa held my attention with their crispy grilled Cubanos, and a dreamy chicken sandwich called The Lady Grey that saturated tissue-thin slices of chicken breast with a creamy cucumber-dill dressing. When I got a craving (and I always got a craving when on a Television Without Pity deadline, or when it was late at night, or the middle of the day…or the morning…or an o’clock), I knew I had about two dozen sandwiches to choose from.

Replacing those sacred sandwiches has been an uphill battle since we moved to the Bay Area. I mean, there’s great food, like, EVERYWHERE, but I have yet to find a neighborhood spot that can fill the stomach-growling gap of those sandwiches. I am, however, making great strides and I have recently made a point of stumbling repeatedly upon Arlequin To Go in Hayes Valley. Connected to both Absinthe Brasserie and Bar and Arlequin Wine Merchant, Arlequin To Go is a wonderfully warm little cafe that plates tasty mediterranean fare in the form of salads, sugar-crusted baked goods, and sandwiches. The roasted turkey sandwich with corn and tomato chutney is a winner, but I’m currently trading off addictions with the grilled pear, bacon, and white cheddar, and the grilled chicken breast with a glossy spiced onion compote, fresh greens, and aioli on focaccia.

You can take your minted lentil-quinoa salad and freshly built sandwiches home, (which is personally my choice because I get a hedonistic thrill out of unwrapping food that is all white-paper-packages-tied-up-with-string) or bare your skin and soul in the sun-soaked and surprisingly large patio out back.

Well played, Arlequin. Well, played.

Arlequin to Go
384B Hayes Street (at Gough)
San Francisco, CA 94102

Monday-Friday 8am-7pm
Saturday 9am-7pm
Sunday 9am-6pm

Earl of Sandwich 2 March,2006Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Amy Sherman

    The grilled cheese, pear and bacon from Arlequin is about the most decadent sandwich around. I also love the legendary roast pork sandwich from Saigon Sandwich.

  • Anne

    Chicken gruyere from Oakville Grocery… grilled chicken, balsamic onions, gruyere, all toasty and decadent. Yum.

  • jeanne

    Working in the Civic Center area I have to say that eating at this jewel of a spot transports me to Paris. It’s good work day therapy!

  • Sister of Ace

    I recently discovered Cafe Clem in Berkeley. I mean, they have chocolate sandwiches (les Croques Sandwiches – Le Chocolate). Mmmmmm. But there are savory wonders for the non-chocolate obsessed. Just had to share :).

  • belsum

    Mmm, sandwiches. I’m right there with yeh, keckler. Love ’em. Last night’s dinner? Grilled ham, cheese, and asparagus. It’s my favorite use for leftover asparagus.


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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