How's a sandwich spot to stand out in a city where you can find one on almost any block? Aaron London seems to have cracked the code.
London, owner of the lauded veggie-centric restaurant, AL's Place, is taking the basic daytime diet of sandos, salads, and sides from mundane to must-have at his new AL's Deli, on the corner of 18th and Guerrero in the Mission.
After a few successful years in upscale dining, the restaurateur—whose initials are A.L., get it?—is mixing it up with a fast-casual spot blending Californian ingredients into Jewish deli classics and some Israeli street food for no-rules, good, affordable food.
Diving into London's menu, you'll find a bit of everything: shawarma spiced chicken, smokey brisket, crunchy falafel, and a mix of roasted eggplant and cauliflower, all of which can become pita sandwiches or bountiful green salads. There's a menu section dedicated to "crispy, crunchy things" (all of which you must order) like herby fries, stuffed potato latkes, and corn dog bites with a twist. Chicken soup, small salads, and hummus round out the offering.
The ideas and flavors stem from London's childhood, when smoked meats and deli runs permeated his time spent between Montreal and Sonoma. "I miss foods from the East Coast deli of my youth, and fell in love with the dishes I had while traveling thought Israel. It didn't feel right to me to do a restaurant that tried to be authentically either, but I became really excited about the prospect of making one restaurant that drew from both."
Still not getting it? Think Souvla, only more interesting, with lots of toppings, condiments, and sides that will keep you trying different combinations with every visit.
The space is also delightfully cheery, with two-story windows streaming natural light and decor in shades of baby pink and blue, some leafy plants, teal tile work, and light-hearted bubbly light fixtures. AL's Deli gets bonus points for proximity to Dolores Park.