On Friday, the newest branch of the Ike’s sandwich phenomenon opened in Salinas. Yes, Salinas! And unlike the other locations that were eagerly anticipated by Ike’s fans and disciples (such as the soon-to-open Santa Rosa shop, http://www.biteclubeats.com/2012/02/i... ), this one was a stealth opening. No pre-opening hype, no advertising, nothing on the website, just a surprise announcement of the opening by founder Ike Shehadeh on FB and Twitter.
I learned of it this morning via an email announcement distributed by Ike that was forwarded to me by a shy ‘hound. Admittedly incredulous, I had to head over to see with my own eyes. Tucked into the parking lot shared with Walmart, this sign pointed the way to Ike’s Lair.
At 1:45pm, there was a short line to order and folks kept streaming in as word of mouth spread and others announced themselves as repeat customers in this short time. While I had to wait, this was nowhere near the crowds at the other Ike’s locations.
Ike’s online menu has more than 200 items and all are available in Salinas. Plus, some with localized names not found online, such as “Steinbeck” vegan turkey and melted brie, that might be new creations.
Staff were handing out cards for the Leapset mobile app (or http://www.leapset.com/order/ ) to order online and avoid the wait. However, checking both right now, Salinas has not yet been added to the options.
Here’s the menu displayed in Salinas of the most popular items, available with and without meat.
I ordered a half-size #18, Matt Cain, $5.95 – roast beef, turkey, salami, godfather sauce, provolone on a Dutch crunch roll with lettuce and tomatoes. Additions that are free on request include red onions, pickles, banana peppers, jalapenos, or mustard. Like all of Ike’s sandwiches, Dirty Sauce is spread on the bread before heating to soak in.
Soon my name was called to pick-up my sandwich. Matt Cain was wrapped up in two layers of paper, absolutely necessary to contain the melted cheese and oozing sauce, yet still soaked through splotching the paper bag. The Dutch crunch bread from Raymond’s Bakery is a bit firmer and denser than others, the better to contain Ike’s sloppy style of sandwich and not fall apart. The sauces are what make an Ike’s creation and the only reason to eat them, as the meats are not high quality. This sandwich had much less filling than typical, probably a quality control problem as Ike’s is typically bigger than this with more lettuce and a whole lot more meat. The cold cuts were only one layer of each, plus they were distributed unevenly, pushed toward the side shown in this photo, and nothing from the middle to the other end. I had to open up mine and redistribute them to have something in each bite.
For comparison, here are some “idealized” photos of Ike’s most popular sandwiches, published this week in The Bold Italic. My Matt Cain looked pretty different from this example.
As I’ve posted before, I’m not a fan of Ike’s, falling in with those who call it “Quizno’s with a wait”.
Instead of waiting in lines, I prefer to direct that time into hunting for spots yet undiscovered by the masses. And in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, I have many choices of spots that make better sandwiches with far less hassle.
However, today I learned that Ike’s has continued to expand the vegetarian and vegan side of the menu. Since I don’t care for the meats used here, but find the bread and Dirty Sauce to my liking, I expect to return to the Salinas Ike’s Lair try some things from the veggie menu. But I’ll hold back until the crew get more practice in assembling sandwiches and online ordering is available to avoid the lines.
1822 N. Main St.
Salinas, CA 93906
Note that Ike’s is located at the corner of Boronda Road and San Juan Grade Road. The main entrance to the shopping center is three blocks away on North Main Street. Easy freeway access from 101, exit Boronda Road and drive east three or so blocks toward Walmart and Jack in the Box.
Ike’s Lair is the name used by franchisees vs. Ike’s Place, the name of the original. The next closest Ike’s is in Santa Clara.