Sand Box Club at Backyard Kitchen
One look will tell you that the Sand Box Club ($8.50) is not a traditional club sandwich, and one taste will tell you that you don’t care. Because while turkey can be bland, this high pile of smoked bird is exceptionally flavorful. Its distinctive smokiness is emphasized by a restrained layer of chipotle aioli that’s swiped on either side of the bun. The thick-cut Schmitz Ranch bacon is cooked to order for the sandwich, and while any bacon is welcome on my sandwiches, this is particularly smoky, porky, and all around awesome. Just when things seem to be getting too rich, a thin layer of green apples adds crunch and acidity.
The Turkey Delight at Petite Deli
The Turkey Delight ($5.70) plays on a familiar theme: a large pile of sliced turkey is topped with provolone, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, cranberry sauce and avocado. Wait. Avocado? On my Thanksgiving-sandwich? Don’t worry, this isn’t an example of California’s tendency to throw avocados onto everything between sliced bread. The sharp provolone melts into the creamy avocado, creating a soft, gooey layer that is the perfect foil for the tangy cranberry sauce. In addition, the owner’s special blend of Dijon and honey mustards strikes the right balance of spicy and sweet and the dutch crunch rolls are always toasted to perfection. You’ll be glad this warm, comforting, and well executed sandwich is available year-round.
Petite Deli: 752 Columbus Ave San Francisco, CA 94133 (map); 415-398-1682
Turkey Sandwich at Blue Barn Gourmet
Simple and classic, this sandwich ($8.50) is a combination of juicy roasted turkey breast, goat cheese, pesto aioli, and crisp watercress. The combination of aioli and goat cheese is straight-up addictive and the tomatoes must be freshly dried because juice bursts out in every bite. All of these elements would make for a good sandwich, but the ciabatta roll with its crackly, floury exterior makes it excellent.
Going Home For Thanksgiving at Ike's Place
Ike's Place is known for their slightly crazy yet insanely delicious sandwiches (er, stuffed jalapeno poppers on roast beef, any one?). The Going Home For Thanksgiving ($8.98) doesn’t disappoint, taking the traditional turkey-cranberry sauce combo and adding Sriracha and havarti cheese. Sriracha's heat definitely shines through, creating a spicy-sweet layer that’s only somewhat tempered by mayo. When topped with a layer of melted havarti cheese and thick cut turkey, the sandwich becomes a messy yet awesome flavor bomb.
The Pepper Mill at The Boy's Deli
The Pepper Mill ($7.49) is a great spicy sandwich that has flavor not just numb-your-tongue heat. The main component is a thick layer of pepper turkey that’s topped with thin rounds of pepper salami. Turkey and salami are a great meat duo, but the hit of earthy black pepper makes the flavors pop. Spicy mayo adds another layer of heat as do pickled pepperoncini. Paper thin slices of onion, shredded lettuce, and tomato are optional, but add a welcome freshness.
Boy’s Deli: 2222 Polk Street, San Francisco, California 94190 (map);
The Turkey Club at Le Petit's Kitchen
Le Petit's Kitchen is a nondescript sandwich shop that could easily pass as your run-of-the-mill lunch spot. Until you look at the menu, that is, and see broadcast across the top in all CAPs: WE BAKE OUR OWN SOURDOUGH. Well, those are magic words to any San Franciscans eyes. On bread this fresh and this good, you really can't go wrong when it comes to a sandwich's insides. But we were particularly delighted with the Turkey Club ($6.95) which is piled high with turkey, shredded lettuce, and tomato. The bacon is fried to order, adding a wonderfully chewy, smokey kick. Fresh-baked sourdough and hot-out-of-the-pan bacon? Touche, Tenderloin. Touche.
Le Petit's Kitchen: 265 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco CA 94102 (map); 415-355-9404
Turkey and Egg at Giordano Bros.
It doesn't seem quite right that a sandwich with french fries (on it) could possibly taste fresh, maybe even light. But somehow, the Pittsburgh transplants behind North Beach staple Giordano Bros. manage to make it work.
Really, the secret of this sandwich is in the coleslaw: a crunchy, peppery, vinegar doused mix that would be insulted if compared to its mayo-laden cousins. The smoked turkey ($6.75) packs excellent flavor while nicely complementing the slaw; top it with an egg (for 50 cents extra) and you'll get an extra dose of richness without making the sandwich too busy.
Giordano Bros: 303 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco CA 94133 (map); 413-397-2767