Not The Same Hum Drumm
Golda Meir, the former Prime Minister of Israel, was once quoted as saying there "were no such things as Palestinians".
Obviously she never set foot in a San Francisco convenience store.
Every immigrant group to the United States seems to have a certain industry or small business that, by and large, they seem to dominate. For Indians and Pakistanis, it's computers. For the Chinese, it's restaurants and nail salons. For the Irish, it's construction.
And for the Palestinians, it's convenience stores.
Some of these stores, like the one on my block, are real pits. Mine happens to be vice central; a one-stop shop for cheap liquor, porn mags, cigarettes, rolling papers, crack pipes (the ginseng tonics), and oh, how about throwing in a pair of cheap sunglasses in case you need to rob the other liquor store down the street.
Some, especially the ones next to or near hotels, are more upscale - read: rip off. A place where a bottle of vodka that normally costs $8 sells for $16. Often they'll have a deli counter, but unless this store is in a neighborhood that has a high percentage of lunch-takers, you'd be endangering your LGI by eating there.
But then there are the real standouts. Ones where, yes, you can buy cigarettes and booze, and even a condom for the hooker you're taking back to your room, but also get really good Middle Eastern food.
And that's where I'm going for lunch today.
It's a long and boring story how I discovered that Drumm Liquor sold excellent falafel sandwiches ($5.80), so I won't go there. But let's just say that I've been to Truly Med and I've been to Baladie.
Drumm Liquor gives both of those two highly-rated joints a run for their money. What makes the sandwich good is all about the falafel. Is it dry or moist? Does it have flavor other than just being ground up chick peas (garbanzo beans)?
Drumm Liquor's falafels are consistently good and that's what makes me go "alll-la-la-la-la!" whenever I bite into one. That's me ululating, in case you're wondering.
Of course, it depends on who makes your sandwich, since there always seems to be someone new there, no doubt bouncing back and forth from store to store or wherever those guys disappear to. So the ratio of hot sauce to tahini to cucumber to warmness of the falafels can be off, but it never disappoints.
The falafel sandwiches come with previously fried falafel "balls" that they heat up in a microwave while slathering tahini on a long piece of flat bread. On top of that, they add fresh tomatoes, lettuce, diced cucumbers, and a spicy red hot sauce. Once the microwave buzzer goes off, they stick the hot falafels in the sandwich and roll it up and send you on your way.
While you are walking happily back to your job or hotel room, you pass a line of folks still waiting for falafels and shawarmas at the Oasis Grill, which is a few doors down from Drumm Liquor.
At this moment, you say to yourself "suckers", and then go about your business.
Near the corner of Drumm and Market Street, Financial District