In the Inner Sunset, before you get to the busy intersection at Irving Street and Ninth Avenue and all that exists in the great beyond after that, you can find an old-school sandwich shop that seems to be from another time — and frankly, from another city completely.
The Yellow Submarine is between Sixth and Seventh avenues, and makes some of the best Boston-style hoagies in the Bay Area. Having opened in 1971 and been taken over by current owner Juliet Naser in 1975, it has a legacy few other neighborhood sandwich shops can claim. Its yellow exterior and large maroon awning welcome you to a space that looks like it hasn’t changed much since opening almost 50 years ago.
Immediately to the right is a counter with a large, flat grill behind it. Straight ahead is the register below a massive menu of simple sandwiches made with cold cuts, meatball or veal parmesan, and steak with cheese. To the left of the register, the restaurant opens up to a small dining area that reminds me of all the little sandwich places in the North End of Boston, where the goombahs and hoods congregate while the rest of the world is at work. There’s an old mural painted on the back wall that doubles as a menu, and considering the sandwiches are priced at $2.25, it’s been there for quite some time.
The present-day sandwiches are priced at $7.99 for a medium and $10.59 for a large — and that large is about the size of a construction worker’s forearm. The steak-and-cheese is the most popular option, stuffed with sliced meat that has been grilled with peppers and onions and loaded with “the works” (pickles, tomatoes, lettuces, onions, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, hot sauce, mustard, and a choice of American, Swiss, or provolone cheese).
All the sandwiches are prepared on a freshly baked loaf of sourdough, soft on the inside with a perfectly toasted crust. When it comes to subs, I’m more of a traditionalist, so it’s almost impossible to veer away from the Italian combo with its layers upon layers of thin, salty, processed meats piled high with crunchy veggies and oozing with condiments. Although they will insist that you toast your cold-cut sandwich, I recommend standing your ground. (You can take the boy out of Boston, but when you try and toast the Boston boy’s salami, we are going to have a problem.)
A little oasis like the Yellow Submarine is the perfect refuge for any Northeasterner who needs a little break from tacos and poke bowls every once in a while. But no matter where you’re from, sometimes you just need a good sandwich.
The Yellow Submarine, 503 Irving St., 415-681-5652, no website.