Hot meat and a toasted sesame seed roll make this sandwich go.
I can't say how long the misspelling painted on the side of Ponderosa Market has been making me wonder, but it does claim the place has been serving hot subs to Barrio Logan since 1984. Specifically, during that time it's been "Home of the famus [sic] hot pastrami."
1897 National Avenue, San Diego
Can it be called a typo if it's hand-painted? I do wonder about that, but if I'm being honest, I didn't spot the error the first several times I drove past. Instead, my mind hung up on the words "hot pastrami." Any place purporting to have a hot pastrami of any notoriety will get my business, if only to challenge the claim.
Grab a seat among the snack foods
The small deli counter sits inside a corner convenience store where National Avenue crosses Cesar E. Chavez Parkway. I ordered my food to go, but there are a few small dining tables available if you don't mind the snacks and candy ambiance. Despite crowded conditions behind the counter, the deli manages to serve a long list of hot sandwiches from meatball to chicken parm. There are also salads, pastas, burritos, and multiple daily soups.
A corner store and deli in Barrio Logan
But I focused on the outside wall's recommendation and kept my eye on the pastrami. They told me they source it from New York, which I found promising. Also a good look: when I ordered, they didn't slice thin sheets of pastrami off a hunk of deli meat. Instead, my sandwich maker grabbed fistfuls from a heating pan filled with thick shavings of warm, sufficiently fatty cured beef.
Even a misspelled mural attracts attention.
It's $6.75 for a 7-inch hot pastrami, $8.75 for a 10-inch — in either case served on a sesame seed crusted, locally baked roll, topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickles, and melted blend of American and provolone cheeses. I went with the smaller sub, and within a couple bites regretted not getting the 10-inch.
While I'd have liked a more generous portion of meat in my sub, when don't I? The amount provided proved enough to satisfy with each juicy, peppery bite. Everything, from the roll's toasty crunch to the sandwich's warm, cheesy center, made me happy. Considering its convenience and price, I'd even say this sandwich deserves to be painted on the wall outside. Even if it comprises the dullest, most poorly spelled mural in Barrio Logan.