Let’s be perfectly frank: You need to come hungry, because this sandwich is going to be big. It’s probably going to be meaty too, though there is always the requisite sop to vegetarians lurking about the menu board at places like High Street Deli. This corner sandwich shop is located in San Luis Obispo, California, a town almost smack between Los Angeles and San Francisco along Route 101. It’s a town worthy of a visit for a multitude of reasons, but we’ll have time to discuss but a single important one.
Authenticity at first sight
It’s just another beautiful weather day in San Luis Obispo, where even in July, daytime temperatures hover around 23 C (73 F). The lightly-trafficked street is perfect for outdoor sandwiching, and also makes for easy parking, though the shop is also walkable from either the center of town or the train station in around fifteen minutes. The façade speaks of an age before chain restaurant dominance of the “fast casual” marketplace. You have every right to be excited already.
Love at first bite
We’re going to fast forward to The Moment. Behold the Hot Pastrami, seconds before first bite. The lean pastrami is topped with melted Swiss cheese, underpinned with pepperoncini sidled up into a delicious dressing, with tomatoes and ever-so-slightly vinegary greens providing the necessary consistency and flavor balance. It being California, sourdough bread (in this case, toasted) is a born natural for this medley.
For purists, the Hot Pastrami and other sandwiches on offer may tiptoe to the edge of being over-gussied, but trust me when I say they do not fall victim. Instead they beam forth with a flavorful, juicy goodness that makes you think there could be nothing better. Except for maybe a beer to accompany.
Yes, a beer, but what varietal will you be enjoying today?
Once upon a time, a beer meant a lager. In much of the world – especially in Asia – this is still generally the case. But in California, recent trends have propelled the IPA (India Pale Ale), and for the more intrepid, the double IPA, into the foreground of beer connoisseurship. With all these IPAs, it’s easy to overlook the amber ales, stouts, and so on, but give pause on a nice warm day and consider a Hefeweizen, which is less fiery than the IPA and pairs delightfully with High Street Deli’s sandwiches. A nice Anchor Steam, a beer from San Francisco that is primarily only available in Northern California, also plays nicely well-constructed sandwiches.
There is madness, and there is a method
Between the glass display case and menu board you will find a stack of sandwich order sheets. Grab one, select your sandwich, and then make additions or subtractions to the default sandwich build as suits your fancy. Be sure to write your name at bottom, lest your sandwich become an orphan. You may wish to supplant your order with a side of potato salad (the extra small size should be more than enough) or a giant dill pickle. Place your filled-in order form in the provided receptacle, and when your name is called, head to the register to pay.
High Street Deli offers honest food with well thought-out flavor combinations, all served up in generous portions, for around 10 USD (more if you get imbibing). When the weather’s right, all this with a seat outside makes for nothing finer.
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