A loud-mouthed regular was in front of me at the counter, raving to his friend about the best sandwich in San Diego—the Dapper Dipper. Piles of sliced prime rib, he said, are tender and juicy after a plunge in au jus—melted, stringy cheese and a slathering of horseradish mayo completing the deal.
He sat down and, within 10 minutes, finished the gargantuan sandwich that packs a half-pound of pink meat, and, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, he proceeded to wash it all down with the au jus that remained in the cup. In his defense, it’s served in a stout coffee mug with a handle and all, but, still, I had to blink. Twice.
All of Rubicon Deli’s (3715 India St., Mission Hills) sandwiches come on a fresh-baked loaf, or you can request it served in a bowl, as a wrap or “scooped”—that is, with the bread hollowed out. There’s pesto bread, Dutch Crunch, bleu cheese, garlic cheese, wheat (for wussies) and even gluten-free rosemary focaccia, but my favorite is the jalapeño jack. It’s decadent and cheesy-hot with peppers that are still moist, and stellar with the Dipper’s juices that soak, but don’t sog, the sandwich.
A friend and I split half a Spicy Tuna ($6.99) and half of the Dapper Dipper ($7.25). Whole sandwiches cost roughly $3 more and are simply huge. If you have to return to work after lunch, plan on unbuttoning your slacks, or go halfsies and try out one of the deli’s homemade soups, salads or an acai bowl in the “Half n’ Half” combo ($9.25).
The spicy tuna doesn’t skimp on heat. Next time, I might hold the habanero mustard. Relief came from creamy slices of avocado that made me think of a spicy sushi roll served between buns.
True to the au jus guzzler’s word, Rubicon’s take on the French dip is dope. It’s perhaps the deli’s most simple statement—thinly sliced prime rib, Swiss and creamy horseradish. Sub cheddar for extra bite, and ask for a side of the white stuff. You’ll want more for spreading.
Co-owned by three self-described sandwich snobs—Oliver Lang, Antonio Carasali and Evan Corsiglia—whose first location thrives on in Mission Beach, Rubicon San Diego is a tribute to Corsiglia’s mom’s 20-year sandwich business in Lake Tahoe. She developed all the recipes, from the bread right down to sauces; these homemade touches, Lang says, assure that once you’ve eaten a Rubicon sandwich, there’s no going back.
The perfect pairing is true vintage soda by Boylan Bottling Company (established 1890). There’s just a couple of places in town that serve the natural sodas, and here there are five taps of the stuff; black cherry is rich and to-die-for, and refreshing ginger ale will tickle your nose. Generously priced at $1.85 a pop (free refills), the fountain is hard to pass up, but if you do, there are cold pressed juices, Kombucha and more to make up for it.
All-hours (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.), affordable grub is what this block desperately needed. Stay tuned for additional breakfast sandwiches. Local beers will hit taps soon, and the upstairs outdoor patio looks forward to summertime.