Ike's Love and Sandwiches
2487 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782
It seems that all of a sudden restaurants from other regions of the country have been opening up in OC. We are now home to the Midwest favorite, Steak and Shake, (yuck), Portillo's, (delicious), and Raising Cane's, (I could take it or leave it) among others. It didn't use to be this way. It used to be that if you wanted to try let's say, Five Guys, you had to travel to the East Coast. Now at last count, there are 11 in OC so you can see for yourself if this chain truly is the In-N-Out of the east.
It's another import that has brought us out on this early evening, Ike's Love and Sandwiches. Ike's comes to us from the Castro District in San Fransisco, where on most days there's a long line of customers from the time they open until they close. They even had to reduce their hours at one point to keep their neighbors from revolting against this suddenly expanding chain of sandwich shops. There are now 36 places where you can get one of Ike's sandwiches, including three spots in OC, including this location at The District at Tustin Legacy.
Ike's menu is a little intimidating for first timers like myself. There are close to 50 sandwiches named after celebrities and San Francisco pro sports players. As if that's not enough, there are also some secret menu items, and each location of this sandwich chain has its own special menu items tailored towards its clientele. With so many options, I was really nervous about making the wrong choice, so I decided to try two sandwiches, and take half home for lunch the next day.
Ike's is situated in the old Capriotti's location at the ever changing District at Tustin Legacy shopping complex. They have been here for almost a year now, and have gotten plenty of love from Yelp, with a four and a half star rating with over 150 reviews. Ike's is a quick service restaurant, as you order at the register and your sandwiches are made in full view of customers. The space is dominated by large logos featuring Ike Shehadeh, founder of this concept and of course, a good portion of another wall is used to feature all the numerous sandwiches offered here. Let's see what we ended up getting off this humungous menu.
Katie will start us off with her sandwich pick, the Backstabber ($9.99). This sandwich utilizes diced up, tender halal chicken as its base, and then tops it with Caesar dressing, marinated artichoke hearts, and a blanket of provolone. Katie got this on their famous Dutch crunch bread, which is dense, yet doughy at the same time and has a distinctive cracked crust topping it, which yields a slight sweetness to it. Really good bread. Katie loved the chicken here, which she claimed was very flavorful and went well with the Caesar dressing. She could see herself getting this sandwich again. Katie also got a bag of Zapp's Cajun Dill chips and was pretty happy with them. The dill really came through and made this into a pickle in potato chip form. I look forward to trying more flavors from this Louisiana chip company in the future.
The first of my two sandwiches was this Paul Reubens ($9.99). This take on a Reuben sandwich has pastrami as a base and then dresses up the sandwich with some french dressing, poppy seed coleslaw, and Swiss cheese. I liked this sandwich but was not in love with it. I got this with their sourdough bread, which went well here, but I would probably get their Dutch crunch bread next time. I'd also ask for extra french dressing, as they applied it pretty lightly, and I like my sandwich condiments to stand out a bit more. A decent Rubenesque sandwich, but I'd probably get something else next time.
I ordered this sandwich by mistake. I had meant to get the John Wayne but for some reason when I was ordering, the Bruce Wayne ($9.99) slipped out of my mouth instead. So, instead of the steak and American cheese that comes on the John Wayne, I got the roast beef, swiss, and steak sauce that came with this sandwich. This was an okay sandwich, but what made it for me was the Dutch crunch bread. Other than the bread it was a little boring. Too much lettuce, the swiss cheese really got lost here, and steak sauce is not really my favorite. The serving size of the roast beef was a little on the skimpy side, so I'd ask for double meat next time.
Alright, Ike's did not really impress me too much with this visit, but with so many sandwiches available, and enough ingredients to come up with over 400 sandwich combinations, I still feel like there's hope for me that I could come up with a really great sandwich at Ike's. I'm glad that Ike's is one of the many imports to have opened up in OC recently. Not only do I look forward to finding my favorite sandwich here soon, it also saves us some airfare miles going up to San Fran to try them out.
Out of five cable cars, (because of the ties that this restaurant has to San Francisco), five being best to zero being worst, Ike's Love and Sandwiches gets 2.5 cable cars.
For more information about Ike's Love and Sandwiches, head to their website here: http://ilikeikesplace.com/