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Beach Hut Deli & Ryan Bros Deli: Bob Hope statue, soup, sandwich

A great place to come if you’re, say, writing your Great American Novel

Tribute to Bob Hope, near Beach Hut.
Tribute to Bob Hope, near Beach Hut.

Goodness gracious. It’s Bob Hope, the stand-up icon from WWII. His voice echoes around the waterfront. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen… My grandfather was a famous naval hero […] You may have read about him: Admiral Tuna, Chicken of the Sea.” Laughs crackle out from the past. I’m standing among Bob’s “audience” of World War II soldiers, sailors and nurses on the waterfront, just across from the USS Midway. Okay, these are life-size bronze sculptures, forever stading not far from the famous victory sculpture, “The Kiss.”

Place

Beach Hut Deli & Ryan Bros Deli

900 Bayfront Court #104, San Diego

This is so cool, but the sea breezes are giving me a hunger. The Fish Market is right next to us, but cost-wise? Nuh-uh. I notice that Cafe 41 (named after the Midway’s number) is open on the old carrier’s afterdeck. That’d be perfect. But the volunteer at the gangplank tells me, “You’ve got to buy a $26 ticket to get on the ship to access the cafe.” Great. So I head back to the Embarcadero and start looking for good, cheapish fodder. Carnitas Snack Shack has good, cheapish fodder, but it’s basically a bar, and I don’t want be tempted this early in the afternoon. I head up past these brand-new buildings that house mega-expensive places like Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Their steaks? They can cost $100.

It is the savory marinade, cream cheese, and peperoncinis that make this a winner.

But hark! What spotteth I here? A familiar sign:. Ryan Brothers Coffee, direct from Barrio Logan! Another sign above the same place says “Beach Hut Deli. Since 1981.” Which is pretty old for around here. Weirdly, the place is in this über-modern building. Like above the entrance leading back towards Pacific Highway, an artist has created sexy wavy shapes that move as you do. It’s almost poetic. Plus, they’ve planted instant full-grown Canary Island palms around the cafe, and two giant yellow umbrellas on the patio. But you can still see through them to the masts of the Star of India sailing ship, among other silhouettes. So it’s pretty cool. Problem? I’m pretty sure we’re gonna hit a financial wall here too. But what da heck. Give it a try.

Inside’s all surfboards and palapas. Cool, actually. The palapas cut down on the corporate feeling of the place. First thing I see menu-wise is the offer of soups. Creamy tomato, clam chowder, turkey lasagna, and creamy chicken poblano soup — and only $5.50 each! That’s it. Whatever else, I’m starting off with a soup. Partly because chill-wise, anywhere in the shade, you still feel a little of Jack Frost. Something warm in the belly will do a world of good. But which? I like the color of the tomato, but also the thought of a nice thick chowder, and hey, the poblano’s nutritious combo of chicken and corn and black beans sounds way good. But in the end, it has to be the “creamy tomato with cream, garlic, Parmesan cheese.”

Kayleigh brings my tomato soup and Cali Cheese Steak.

“You can get a soup and a half sandwich if you like,” says the gal, Kayleigh.

“I really am hungry,” I say.

“Well, it really is filling,” she says. And the sandwich list provides quite a choice. Couple dozen. More. I whittle it down to the “Pig Kahuna,” (pulled pork, BBQ sauce, Tabasco, cheddar and pineapple on a toasted French roll); or the “Cali Cheese Steak,” basically roast beef, a savory marinade, plus — and here’s what attracted me — cream cheese and peperoncinis, those sweet, tangy, only slightly hot peppers they call “sweet Italian peppers.” I chose right. It may be just because I am totally starving, but this combo flavor of the steak bits and peperoncini, rounded out by the cream cheese and the toasted French roll, is da best. Umami! I also get a lemonade ($2.75), which does an excellent mouth-refreshing job.

Actually, I’m getting an increasing respect for the humble sandwich itself, now that the world is letting it loose on all the new flavors that have come to town. How could Lord John Montague, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, know what he was starting when he asked his butler to jam some roast beef between roughcut bread slices so he could eat with his hands while playing cards at the gaming table, back in 1762? Whatever, I consider this a deal at $14.25 for the soup, the cheese steak sandwich, and the lemonade, here, on the touristy waterfront. So, okay, I discover this deli is part of a mega-franchise operation, 40-plus outlets, nearly all in California. But hey, they still make good food at a really reasonable rate.

Ultra-modern facade outside Beach Hut makes reasonable prices inside surprising.

As I finish up, I take in the sounds of the waterfront. Tugs and ferries giving bossy little toots, trains letting loose haunting warnings from the Santa Fe Depot, and just behind us, gulls in a squawking fight over somebody’s sandwich. But it’s all in a context of quiet. No traffic sounds. Amazing. Come summer, this is going to be packed, for sure. But still a great place to come if you’re, say, writing your Great American Novel. It’s that quiet.

I decide to go back and take one more walk among those happy guys and gals, the full-of-life bronze statues laughing at Bob Hope’s one-liners. Statues, are usually serious affairs. Here, the metal men and women are happy. By the time I get back there, Bob’s recorded voice is saying “Last night I had a swell time. I slept right in the barracks with the boys. You know what barracks are, don’t you? Two thousand cots separated by individual crap games.” A bunch of ladies, visiting from Vietnam, pose for photos with their arms around “the boys and girls” statues. I think these men and women from “the greatest generation” would be happy for the company.

  • The Place: Beach Hut Deli & Ryan Bros Deli, 900 Bayfront Court #104, Lane Field, 619-501-3551
  • Hours: 9am-9pm daily
  • Prices: Sunrise sandwich (ham, turkey, Swiss and bacon), $10.95; large: $14.95; X-large, $18.50; Surfin Cow (beef) sandwich, $12.95, $18.50, $22.95; Cali Cheese Steak (roast beef, cream cheese, peperoncini), $12.50, $16.95, $19.95, half sandwich, $6; Pig Kahuna (pulled pork, BBQ sauce, Tabasco, cheddar, pineapple, $11.50; Spicolli (turkey, cheddar, bacon), $10.95
  • Buses: 901; 923, 992; All downtown buses on Broadway
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 1st Avenue and Broadway (901); North Harbor Drive and Broadway (923, 992);
  • Coronado Ferry: Broadway Pier
  • Trolleys: Blue Line, Green Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: Santa Fe Depot
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Tribute to Bob Hope, near Beach Hut.
Tribute to Bob Hope, near Beach Hut.

Goodness gracious. It’s Bob Hope, the stand-up icon from WWII. His voice echoes around the waterfront. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen… My grandfather was a famous naval hero […] You may have read about him: Admiral Tuna, Chicken of the Sea.” Laughs crackle out from the past. I’m standing among Bob’s “audience” of World War II soldiers, sailors and nurses on the waterfront, just across from the USS Midway. Okay, these are life-size bronze sculptures, forever stading not far from the famous victory sculpture, “The Kiss.”

Place

Beach Hut Deli & Ryan Bros Deli

900 Bayfront Court #104, San Diego

This is so cool, but the sea breezes are giving me a hunger. The Fish Market is right next to us, but cost-wise? Nuh-uh. I notice that Cafe 41 (named after the Midway’s number) is open on the old carrier’s afterdeck. That’d be perfect. But the volunteer at the gangplank tells me, “You’ve got to buy a $26 ticket to get on the ship to access the cafe.” Great. So I head back to the Embarcadero and start looking for good, cheapish fodder. Carnitas Snack Shack has good, cheapish fodder, but it’s basically a bar, and I don’t want be tempted this early in the afternoon. I head up past these brand-new buildings that house mega-expensive places like Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Their steaks? They can cost $100.

It is the savory marinade, cream cheese, and peperoncinis that make this a winner.

But hark! What spotteth I here? A familiar sign:. Ryan Brothers Coffee, direct from Barrio Logan! Another sign above the same place says “Beach Hut Deli. Since 1981.” Which is pretty old for around here. Weirdly, the place is in this über-modern building. Like above the entrance leading back towards Pacific Highway, an artist has created sexy wavy shapes that move as you do. It’s almost poetic. Plus, they’ve planted instant full-grown Canary Island palms around the cafe, and two giant yellow umbrellas on the patio. But you can still see through them to the masts of the Star of India sailing ship, among other silhouettes. So it’s pretty cool. Problem? I’m pretty sure we’re gonna hit a financial wall here too. But what da heck. Give it a try.

Inside’s all surfboards and palapas. Cool, actually. The palapas cut down on the corporate feeling of the place. First thing I see menu-wise is the offer of soups. Creamy tomato, clam chowder, turkey lasagna, and creamy chicken poblano soup — and only $5.50 each! That’s it. Whatever else, I’m starting off with a soup. Partly because chill-wise, anywhere in the shade, you still feel a little of Jack Frost. Something warm in the belly will do a world of good. But which? I like the color of the tomato, but also the thought of a nice thick chowder, and hey, the poblano’s nutritious combo of chicken and corn and black beans sounds way good. But in the end, it has to be the “creamy tomato with cream, garlic, Parmesan cheese.”

Kayleigh brings my tomato soup and Cali Cheese Steak.

“You can get a soup and a half sandwich if you like,” says the gal, Kayleigh.

“I really am hungry,” I say.

“Well, it really is filling,” she says. And the sandwich list provides quite a choice. Couple dozen. More. I whittle it down to the “Pig Kahuna,” (pulled pork, BBQ sauce, Tabasco, cheddar and pineapple on a toasted French roll); or the “Cali Cheese Steak,” basically roast beef, a savory marinade, plus — and here’s what attracted me — cream cheese and peperoncinis, those sweet, tangy, only slightly hot peppers they call “sweet Italian peppers.” I chose right. It may be just because I am totally starving, but this combo flavor of the steak bits and peperoncini, rounded out by the cream cheese and the toasted French roll, is da best. Umami! I also get a lemonade ($2.75), which does an excellent mouth-refreshing job.

Actually, I’m getting an increasing respect for the humble sandwich itself, now that the world is letting it loose on all the new flavors that have come to town. How could Lord John Montague, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, know what he was starting when he asked his butler to jam some roast beef between roughcut bread slices so he could eat with his hands while playing cards at the gaming table, back in 1762? Whatever, I consider this a deal at $14.25 for the soup, the cheese steak sandwich, and the lemonade, here, on the touristy waterfront. So, okay, I discover this deli is part of a mega-franchise operation, 40-plus outlets, nearly all in California. But hey, they still make good food at a really reasonable rate.

Ultra-modern facade outside Beach Hut makes reasonable prices inside surprising.

As I finish up, I take in the sounds of the waterfront. Tugs and ferries giving bossy little toots, trains letting loose haunting warnings from the Santa Fe Depot, and just behind us, gulls in a squawking fight over somebody’s sandwich. But it’s all in a context of quiet. No traffic sounds. Amazing. Come summer, this is going to be packed, for sure. But still a great place to come if you’re, say, writing your Great American Novel. It’s that quiet.

I decide to go back and take one more walk among those happy guys and gals, the full-of-life bronze statues laughing at Bob Hope’s one-liners. Statues, are usually serious affairs. Here, the metal men and women are happy. By the time I get back there, Bob’s recorded voice is saying “Last night I had a swell time. I slept right in the barracks with the boys. You know what barracks are, don’t you? Two thousand cots separated by individual crap games.” A bunch of ladies, visiting from Vietnam, pose for photos with their arms around “the boys and girls” statues. I think these men and women from “the greatest generation” would be happy for the company.

  • The Place: Beach Hut Deli & Ryan Bros Deli, 900 Bayfront Court #104, Lane Field, 619-501-3551
  • Hours: 9am-9pm daily
  • Prices: Sunrise sandwich (ham, turkey, Swiss and bacon), $10.95; large: $14.95; X-large, $18.50; Surfin Cow (beef) sandwich, $12.95, $18.50, $22.95; Cali Cheese Steak (roast beef, cream cheese, peperoncini), $12.50, $16.95, $19.95, half sandwich, $6; Pig Kahuna (pulled pork, BBQ sauce, Tabasco, cheddar, pineapple, $11.50; Spicolli (turkey, cheddar, bacon), $10.95
  • Buses: 901; 923, 992; All downtown buses on Broadway
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 1st Avenue and Broadway (901); North Harbor Drive and Broadway (923, 992);
  • Coronado Ferry: Broadway Pier
  • Trolleys: Blue Line, Green Line
  • Nearest Trolley Stop: Santa Fe Depot
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