Long before the word sandwich became synonymous with Ike’s, there was another place that was famous for the everyman’s fare in the neighbourhood bordering upper Market Street. That place is the M & L Market.
It would be a lie as well as being incredibly pointless to say that what is produced at Ike’s is anything short of delicious, but with its inevitable popularity have come the crowds and the wait. Given this has become a daily reality, it might serve your angry stomach to make tracks over to its homey forbearer.
Whereas the variety and nuance of ingredients may not be as vast as Ike’s, the family that runs M & L has been making sandwiches to order for decades and handles the process with the care that you see in delis of a certain age. That is the real draw here- its a solid sort of place. That and their pastrami has a sort of micro-cultus around the crossroads of Church and Market- people get kind of weird about it.
Ordering can be the tricky part, though. A lot of people seem to get it wrong. The women behind the counter don’t appear to mind though; they show newcomers the ropes and treat everyone as if they had been coming in for years.
Also bear in mind that what they deem to be a half sandwich could be more commonly described as a whole, which is an added incentive for your billfold. Quite a few come in under five for the half.
The only downside can be their hours, which are a little odd at 11:30 am- 4:00 p.m. Wed – Sat. Who knows, though- what with the daily bottleneck on Sixteenth Street these days, maybe the hours will broaden due to a lunchtime renaissance.
M & L Market
691 14th Street (btw Market & Landers)
[Castro/ Mission Dolores]
photos by Maggie U. and Don O. on yelp.