November 20, 2002



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cheap eats
by Dan Leone

The hours

I WAS OUT in the chicken coop shoveling up a rainy week's worth of moldy chicken shit when I got to thinking about my old ex-landlordladyperson, how bummed he must be that Proposition R went down. Poor landlords. It must suck owning property in San Francisco.

But, hey, we've all got our crosses to bear. Except for me and Jesus, Him because He already bore His, and Me because I get to write about food instead of politics.

Say, did you catch Merle Haggard at the Masonic? If you missed it, man, you missed it. It was the rockingest concert I've seen since Merle Haggard at Wherever-that-place-was-he-played-last-time.

Everybody sing: "Walking on the fighting side of me" / something about "our fighting men," something about "some squirrelly guy" and "free."

However it goes, I like that song, and I love how all the humorless S.F. personal computers in the audience go, "Ssssssss" when he sings it.

Beforehand we ate at Victor's Pizza, but I think I might've already wrote about that place 9 or 10 years ago. So the next day I was going to go review Just for You, my favorite Bay Area breakfast place now that Ann's and Roscoe's are out of the picture.

I know what you're thinking: "But you already reviewed Just for You even less than 9 or 10 years ago." Yeah, well, there's a ton of truth to that, but what you may not know is that Just for You moved to a new location since then.


So, what if they lost some recipes in transition, or forgot the longaniza? What if the atmosphere's entirely different, or the prices? Truth is, when you're talking about a place like Just for You, I'll find any excuse to review it again. They could change their hours, for example, and I'll consider that just cause for a rereview.

Speaking of which, they changed their hours. They were closed at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon when me and Crawdad rolled up to the new location, 22nd Street at 3rd Street, admittedly a little late for breakfast – but they used to stay open until five on weekends, didn't they?

Plan B was to drive all the way home and eat dollar-sushi in Sebastopol, but we'd need something to tide us over for the trip, and that's where Fat comes in. Kitty-corner from the Dogpatch Saloon, there's a big sign says, "Fat's Famous Deli Hot Dog Sandwich Espresso," or "Fat's Famous Hot Dog Sandwich Espresso Deli" – or any number of other ways you may choose to read it. The important thing is that, even though Fat's closes at three on Saturdays, they were open. At 3:30. Go figure.

And, to make matters more mysterious, "Fat" himself turns out to be a skinny Asian guy. At least I like to think it was "Fat" himself taking our money and making our sandwiches.

I got a "poor boy" ($4.65), although I'm not sure what made it a "poor boy" as opposed to, say, a "sandwich." A poor boy (or po'boy) is basically a sandwich on French bread in New Orleans. Usually when you find po'boys outside of Louisiana they are made with fried oysters or fried fishes or something that's going to make you think about Louisiana.

Fat's "poor boy" has salami, ham, Swiss, and American cheese, dressed with pickles, tomato, lettuce, and onion. Mustard and mayo, if you want. The bread, the meat, the cheese – everything's toasted, which is nice.

Same with Crawdad's roast turkey "sandwich" ($4.99). She loved it. She was also impressed with Fat's Popsicle selection, and had one for dessert. I had a Mars bar. There's a freezer full of frozen stuff, and there's a big glass display case full of candy bars and gum and Rolaids. They also sell cigarettes.

What else you can eat besides sandwiches and "poor boys" is hot dogs, chili dogs, cheeseburgers, meatball sandwiches, bagels, teriyaki, and breakfast croissant sandwiches. Oh, and they have soups of the days, not to mention Maruchan "Instant Lunch" soups at the tea and coffee station.

Soda-pops, chips, Gatorade, basket of hard-boiled eggs on the counter ... Are you getting a feel for the place? It's a lunch joint, a sandwich place, a working-man's deli. The name itself should tell you everything you need to know: Fat's Famous Deli Sandwich Espresso Hot Dog.

The eating area has a hospital cafeteria feel to it, crammed with tables with space-age baby blue chairs, a TV (not on), and a couple of big living-room nature paintings. There's a big American flag pushpinned to one of those cubicle-style partition boards next to the cigarettes.

Merle'd like that.

Fat's Famous Deli. 2505 3rd St. (at 22nd St.), S.F. (415) 282-2229. Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Takeout available. Beer. Discover, MasterCard, Visa. Wheelchair accessible.

Dan Leone is the author of Eat This, San Francisco (Sasquatch Books), a collection of Cheap Eats restaurant reviews, and The Meaning of Lunch (Mammoth Books).