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The Ideal Sandwich: Lucca Deli in the Marina

I love flavor in food, but ultimately, I am all about keeping things simple. More often than not, I will note great flavors in one dish, but then be overwhelmed by the use of too many flavors, all combating one another with no real winner.

Best Sandwich in San Francisco: Lucca Deli
Two sandwiches from Lucca Deli for lunch

One of my favorite foods is a good sandwich.

I’ve been to many of the fancy sandwich places, and it’s always a hit or miss.

I’d heard of Lucca Deli for awhile now, but given my avoidance of all things in the Marina, I had never visited before. They have been at this location since 1929, a visit to Lucca Deli was way overdue.

One Monday, I was craving something simple and clean, and a sandwich popped into my head. I searched for Lucca Deli and was delighted to find that they had a website with an online ordering system

Immediately, we started to scour the menu. We decided upon one Italian Combo Sandwich, and I custom-ordered my sandwich which would consist of beef tongue, porchetta, all the dressings except pickles and peppers — skip the cheese, though I did consider the Gouda for a moment. I also opted out of the special sauce as I’m not big on sauces in my sandwich, and stuck to just mayo and mustard. 

I always custom-order my sandwiches, and this may be why there are some delis I just don’t like…..because they can’t get my order right. It’s a special order–it ain’t neurosurgery.

Lucca Deli has a wide array of bread choices — and most impressive was their availability of Acme Bread in the extraordinary lineup.  Thought I am for anything out of Acme, I decided to try one of their own freshly baked breads and opted for the Extra Sour Sourdough.

Within 10 minutes, we received a call back to confirm the online order, and were told that it’d be ready within 15 minutes.  Mr. K drove over to pick up the order, and as promised, it was ready despite the busy lunch hour of over ten people waiting.  Note to my readers: USE THE ONLINE ORDERING SYSTEM! What arrived at home was a sight to behold.

Best Sandwich in San Francisco: Lucca Deli
Beef tongue and porchetta sandwich – no cheese!

First off, the order was exactly as requested. Second, it was considerably large; I knew I’d at least be full, if not stuffed to the gills. Third, the appearance and aroma of the sandwich brought one word to mind:  FRESH.  From the bread to the meats to the vegetables, this sandwich was fresh, fresh, fresh. I was absolutely ecstatic to take a bite of it, but not until I took some photos, of course.

Best Sandwich in San Francisco: Lucca Deli
“The Italian” by Lucca Deli
Best Sandwich in San Francisco: Lucca Deli
Closeup of my Tongue and Porchetta Sandwich

Both sandwiches were truly delicious. 

Using submarine breads is really not my ideal sandwich but this bread was very fresh, and perfectly hard on the outside while soft enough on the inside that your palate wasn’t thrashed to pieces by the end of your meal. Ideally, the only thing I could ding this sandwich for, and this is purely my own preference, is that I prefer actual lettuce over the greens they had in this sandwich; it lends a bit more “crisp”, but I really didn’t mind much.

Best Sandwich in San Francisco: Lucca Deli
Look at that beauty!

Most impressive was the meat. 

Deli-cut meat that was full of flavor, but the two meats played together like lifelong partners.  Kudos to me, I guess, for combining the right meats, but once I saw beef tongue, I could not think of anything else, and then the right suitor to this delicacy seemed like the porky porchetta.  The combination simply worked.

And just like that, Lucca Deli propelled itself into the realm of possibly the best sandwich shop in San Francisco.

Lucca Deli is located at 2120 Chestnut Ave between Pierce and Steiner. While my experience solely covers the sandwich portion of the business, Lucca Deli also makes their own pastas and offers all of their deli meats for sale. Given the peek I had into their meats, I’d highly suggest you try it if deli meats are your thing. 

Generally speaking, people seem to like the handmade pastas that Lucca Deli offers, but all seem to complain and/or agree that it’s entirely too expensive.  My take on this is that if you can do better – make it yourself and stop complaining, or just pay the amount due and enjoy the great pasta.

I, for one, will be going back for more sandwiches.  My interest has been piqued, and if/when I purchase the pasta and test it out in my kitchen, you can rest assured that you will be getting a step-by-step photo blog of how it all went down.

Grace Keh

Managing Editor

Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.

  1. I forgot to tell you about Dan's Special here. It's a poor boy type sandwich served on a whole round sourdough loaf with everything. But you can order a half loaf if you want. A half will serve three people. :-)

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San Francisco Food® has been providing trusted restaurant reviews and recipes since 2009, led by food author Grace Keh & read by food lovers worldwide.


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