Find the creme of the crusts at these neighborhood delis
PETE'S DELI & CAFE
Pac Heights, Shmac Heights. For reasons unknown, Pete's always gets listed as a Pac Heights place, although it's hard to imagine that Heightsters really want to claim this downscale section of Diviz as their own. But Pete's has occupied the space for 41 years, becoming something of a working stiff's icon in the process. (With Kaiser and UCSF-Mount Zion as neighbors, it's not uncommon to be waiting in line behind the person who squeezed your nuts or pancaked your bosoms for a mammogram 10 minutes earlier.) With good reason: Pete's is the kind of true-blue sandwich joint that salt-of-the-earth types revel in. No figgy marmalade or goat cheese with arugula here — just recognizable meats and cheeses, customized to your biases. Pete also roasts a turkey every day and carves it warm — what's more true-blue than that?
1661 Divisadero. (415) 931-4800
ALAMO SQUARE MARKET AND DELI
Talk about obscure locations, Alamo Square Deli isn't even on Alamo Square, and isn't even on a corner. Set in the garage level of a house on Scott Street, Alamo Deli is the quintessential, Cheers-style neighborhood bar substitution: the guys who work there know everyone who comes in, what their sandwich is, and how they like it. All the sandwiches are good, but the real artistry of the place resides in Alamo's signature rock star tribute sandwiches. Two deserving of honorable mentions: the Green Monster (pesto, feta, roasted pepper) and Zibbity Bop (turkey, avocado, pepper Jack).
353 Scott. (415) 861-7120
Courtney's is the perfect waystation for those times when you can't quite face walking four more blocks to the Castro District or just want to escape to Corona Heights. Courtney's doesn't make its sandwiches to order, but that's no cause for demerits. Because let's face it, waiting — even for minutes — is overrated. By 9 a.m., the up-and-at-'em staff has its sandwich act together. Quick sellouts include the chicken on crusty baguette, the peanut butter and jelly on cinnamon bread, and the turkey. If you're the type who shuns premade sandwiches for fear of icky, drippy mayonnaise, don't worry: Courtney's makes no-mayo versions of most of its sandwiches. Courtney's gets bonus points for fresh-squeezed juices and liverwurst sammies.