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Monday, February 14, 2011

When is a Sandwich Worth a 2 Hour Drive?

2413 S Walker Ave
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 832-8660
THE VIBE:  Neighborhood Market near the Beach
THE COST:  Cheap

Does good food have to cost a lot?  I mean, seriously, let's pretend that the entire US became this huge hippie commune and you could have a steak, or a lobster, or a sandwich for the same price.  I know, you're thinking the steak or lobster is the ticket, but here's where I prove you wrong.

Now before we get to the sandwich, the day before I was treated to a really expensive dinner at Island Prime in San Diego, one of the Cohn restaurants on Harbor Island.  A view to die for and a $40 a la carte steak, I was expecting a worthy competitor to Fleming's Steakhouse or Ruth's Chris but dammit if it wasn't even as good as a $6 steak from Stater Bros cooked by me on my BBQ.  It was tough, it was under-seasoned, and the waiter was a college kid who knew nothing about wine.

I know it looks delicious, but it was tough and underseasoned.  Meh.
After that disappointing meal, I was ready for something fantastic.  I was in San Pedro last week - don't ask - and a buddy started telling about this oddball of a place called The Busy Bee that used to be a neighborhood mom and pop market but now just sells sandwiches.  The rest of the store has chips.  That's it. Sandwiches and chips. Bars on the doors, a line when you walk in, this was definitely Anthony Bourdain territory.

We each ordered a sandwich for around $6.50 and headed out to the beach down the street.  Now I don't know nothing about San Pedro so was pleasantly surprised to see the view.  Want to see it?
OK, screw the view.  Where's the sandwich????

 The sandwich, I want to see the sandwich!!  You have to wait.  Subway Sandwiches is like Internet Porn, no substance, no style. This is like '70's porn where you have to wait a few minutes before you get to the action.   Hey, anyone have a VHS machine I can borrow?  Just kidding.  OK, you've waited long enough.  Let's unwrap this baby!

Man, this is a MESS!  It's the roasted pork sandwich, tasting a bit like Chinese pork smothered in sauce.  It was good, but not worth a 2 hour drive.  Let's move on to the next one.
Oh man, this is the real deal!  The pastrami was first drenched in a sauce to heat it up and then tossed like a wet porn star on the bun, making it a bit like a French dip.  Tons of meat, spiced perfectly, this the sort of sandwich you dream about.  Really, really good!  Ready for the money shot?
There you go.  And you should go to Busy Bee Market the next time you're around San Pedro or Long Beach.  They prove that good food doesn't have to cost a lot, the entire lunch costing less than the tip we left for the night before. Skip out early from that boring business meeting and go taste some real food.  Get the pastrami!


Anonymous said...

Wally - I might be biased (having grown up in Pedro and all) but Busy Bee is definitely the real deal.

For your readers: it's really hard to rank the sandwiches, but my three favorites are that killer pastrami above, the beef dip and cheese (add avocado - you won't regret it), and the barbecue chicken. I've never been to a place that does any of those three better.

Local Wally said...

When a sandwich is better than a $40 rib eye steak, you know it's good. This should be on everyone's Food Bucket List.