Is it just me, or is Lee's Deli Horrible?
You think its a New York style salad bar/ lunch place. But it is just bad. What do others think? They have multiple downtown locations.
I don't think Lee's ever pretended to be anything more than an affordable, locally based sandwich place. Its chief attraction is that it serves the most underrated coffee in the Bay Area, Peerless (which beat the pants off of Starbucks and about a dozen other competitors a few years ago in a Chronicle blind taste test).
I don't think it aspires or pretends to be a New York deli/salad bar. I actually find the hot pastrami sandwich to be good enough to tide me over at an affordable price.
As a buddy of mine said the other day after we left with our $5 sandwich, chips and drink, "it's so fast, cheap and the sandwich is so big....what a genius concept!". The one that I find more annoying is Max's. Was it EVER any good?
More importantly, where is a good NY-style deli that you can rely on in SOMA?
Even more importantly, where is "a good NY-style deli that you can rely on" anywhere in the Bayarea? Okay, some don't mind, even like, Sauls....and the others? There used to be a place that was pretty good around San Rafael (on the way to Inverness on or near SFDrake) - Brothers? Don't know if it even exists anymore. But for an LA girl, there's mighty slim pickins.
Btw, somebody mentioned that Lee's bakes its own turkey. For you Oaklanders, Fat Cat Cafe (I think that's the name) on Telegraph near 17th, bakes its own turkey as well and even ASKS IF YOU WANT DARK MEAT MIXED WITH THE WHITE MEAT!! Whoa! You have to ask them to go light on the dressing or skip the mustard - they mix mustard and mayo together for the turkey sand.
They briefly tried out dark meat turkey at Lee's, but it didn't catch on. By the time I wanted some and went in, it had already been discontinued.
I am partial to their chopped olives on sandwiches. I believe it's just chopped up canned black olives in mayo, god help me. Good with cream cheese and pickles and pepperoncini.
I don't like Specialty's because if I'm getting a sandwich and going back to work, it means I'm eating at my desk. Specialty's sandwich middles slide out of the bread, making me want a bib.
I agree with Tatum -- as long as you stick to the basics you can do pretty well there. I almost always get the same thing: roast beef on whole wheat (with cream cheese, red onions and sprouts -- cringe if you must). The roast beef is "real," reasonable quality and a generous portion. The sandwich is made to order by people who are willing and able to do it exactly the way you ask. One of the sandwich-makers at the Lee's closest to my office even remembers my weird sandwich order. For $4.10 you really can't complain.
I think its like many Bay Area lunch places, you can order wisely and get a great deal or you can imagine every is great and get a really suckie meal.
On the few occasions I don't bring my own lunch and actually leave my building for lunch, I'll occasionally get food there -- but I go there for very specific things. My local Lee's is right next door to Specialties which I think is the worst food around, yet people from my office get stuff special ordered from that crap-hole!
My Embarcadero Rules
1. Lee's is for yourself, not a business lunch.
2. Never force Specialties on anyone.
3. Never buy birthday "treats" from Miette