Scoop SF: Say Cheese
San Francisco is not a sandwich town. Yes, we have Ike’s, but one famous sandwich store does not make for an entire lunch culture. I’d venture to say that your average sandwich in San Francisco is just that, average. As someone who likes sandwiches and springs for one at least two or three times a week for lunch, San Francisco has not lived up to my expectations. However, I do have a few places where I like to go for sandwiches.
One of those places is Say Cheese, a cheese shop and deli in Cole Valley. Say Cheese is a neighborhood shop and when I was there, the folks at the counter greeted customers by name. From their cheese list and from the types of meats that they have, I’m fairly confident that Say Cheese is one of the best dedicated cheese shops you’ll find in San Francisco. As for sandwiches, they have around a dozen listed on a menu and you can also order any kind of custom sandwich you like, priced based on the type of meat or cheese you select. They are a small and selective food shop which means that their bread is fresh and their meats are top quality, but they may run out of things like their house-made roast beef or certain types of bread once it gets to be later in the day. This actually is a good thing because it means that their food is fresh and produced on a small scale.
I ordered a turkey sandwich. (I asked for roast beef, but they were sold out!) For my turkey sandwich, I requested swiss cheese, pickles, arugula, and mayonnaise on ciabatta bread. The turkey was sliced fresh right before my sandwich was made and the slices were very thin, while the portion of turkey was generous. Having freshly sliced deli meats makes a big difference in a sandwich. What often I don’t like about cold cuts is that they are slimy when they are pre-sliced or packaged. When you have turkey straight off the meat-slicer, the texture and flavor tend to be better.
The sandwich cost around $8.50, which is reasonable considering that a turkey sandwich somewhere like Subway or Quiznos can easily ring up to the same price. If you are going there for the first time, I’d recommend trying one of their signature sandwiches. Options for signature sandwiches include tandoori chicken, prosciutto caprese, smoked salmon, hummus, and goat’s cheese—among others. Say Cheese is on Cole at Carl, right where the N Judah Muni stops. I enjoyed my custom sandwich, which I carried out in a paper bag and ate on Caltrain, as I headed down the Peninsula.
Say Cheese does not have seating, although there is a bench in front of the store window if you would like to perch there. Around the corner, the Richard Gamble Memorial Park has benches and picnic tables if you want to sit outside, provided the fog isn’t too heavy. If you need cheese and charcuterie for a party, Say Cheese is a great place to build a platter. It’s a small enough place where you could go in and ask a lot of questions if you aren’t already knowledgeable about cheese. They also have a selection of wines and small snack foods like chips, nuts, and gourmet chocolate. Say Cheese might have me convinced that there is still hope for a sandwich San Francisco!