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Monday, July 25, 2005

Sandwich Week: Monday

It's sandwich week here at Bacon Press and how exciting is that?

Yeah, I thought you would think so.

As you know from a previous post, I have no shortage of love for the almighty sandwich, as provincial and proletarian as it seems. Scoff if you want, but not all sandwiches are created equal, and this week I'm going to try and find you some of the best.

However, there is a caveat: most of these sandwiches will be found in a small area of San Francisco, and while I know how limiting that is, my lunch break is only 1 hour long. Since I work near North Beach and Chinatown, that is where we are headed to.

Today, let's head over to, where else, Columbus Avenue where it's hotdogs or Bust. More precisely, we're heading to Buster's.

I've been going to Buster's off and on for the last year, mostly for their hotdogs. Even though they've let it be known that they're a cheesesteak shop, I've never found their cheesesteaks to be worth my time or hard-earned dollars.

Buster's use to make a great Polish dog, with sauerkraut, mustard, and onions. I say use because, in the last 6 months, Buster's has undergone a change. Gone are the Polish dogs. They've expanded their counter space, revamped the menu, and now seem to focus on selling the cheesesteaks. In fact, the last time I was in and asked for a hotdog, the guy said "hotdog?", as if I was speaking another language.

"Yeah. Hogdog, with everything on it".

Perhaps it was due to Van Halen's "Jump" playing loudly on the house speakers that caused the communication gap. Perhaps if I would've said "Yoooowww, Hawwt Dawwg, baby!", it would've been easily translated.

One of the reasons I like Buster's is that for the most part, no matter who has worked behind the counter, they all seem to be friendly. Scatterbrained at times, but friendly.

I also, usually, like the counter space at Buster's that faces Columbus, because it's like sitting on the sidewalk (the windows are usually open) without "sitting on the sidewalk", which I sometimes find annoying when trying to get my grub on. I say "usually" because, last time, I found myself sitting underneath the stereo speakers, which were blasting "Bad To The Bone" and "Hotel California" into my otherwise hotdog-focused frame-of-mind.

Until recently, I never would've mentioned the hotdogs at Buster's because, while they were decent, they were pretty uneventful. You know, same old bun, same old toppings; nothing special.

After the facelift, the hotdogs have improved significantly. Now they use big chucks of sourdough bread for the bun. The onions (often) are grilled. The time before last, my hotdog, in addition to being grilled and topped with freshly grilled onions, had heaps of sauerkraut, thick slices of tomatoes, relish, and mayo, mustard, and ketchup. The dogs, though buried underneath the toppings, are thick and meaty with a good crisp skin that snaps as your teeth sink through them.

But while the dogs have improved, the service is still somewhat unfocused. Today I waited 20 minutes for (1) hotdog!

Why? Because the guy forgot about my order.

But wait! Here's the catch. I was the only person in the whole joint for at least 15 minutes!

And it's not like I just sat in some hidden corner. I did get up twice to get their attention, and each time it seemed like they were busy doing something.

Anyway, once he realized his mistake, the cook sincerely apologized and comped me a basket of fries and a Coke. Not that I needed the extra calories, because the hotdog sandwiches are huge! Unfortunately, this hotdog wasn't as nice as the last, primarily because he rushed through the order. The onions weren't grilled and the tomatoes were in chunks. It was pretty sloppy looking, as you see below.

Like I said, you can barely see the dog. But it's there. Trust me.

Despite the unfocused service and the inconsistency of the orders, Buster's hotdog is a tasty value at only $3.20 and can easily be split between two people. The hotdog is served hot, piled on with whatever you want, and is made to order.

From there it can get tricky, but hey, this place is called Buster's not Chez Oui Oui.

Hotdog / $3.20
366 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco



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