4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Ida's Deli: Lebanese surprise in the giant black building

Ida's got a big following for her hot beef melts

Walking past that big black glass building at 7th and B in the financial district. 

Thing I notice is the single table and chair under the tree outside that slope-glass frontage. Gets me curious. 

None

So I haul inside into the giant lobby. On the right is this sprawling deli. It's all blond wood tables and chairs, plus comfy corporate lounge chairs. 

Usually these delis turn me off in their predictability. But something, maybe the smells, maybe the roll-down butcher's paper where they have written the specials for the day, and crossed off the soups as they run out, tweeks my curiosity. Some original thinking goin' on here. 

So I stop for just a coffee. Then, as I'm getting it, these hot cheesy, beefy smells start crossing my nose. Oh Lord. Have to stop. 

None

Sam the sandwich-maker says it's the beef pepper melt. He points to the giant wall menu. "Hot roast beef smothered in melted cheddar and diced peperoncinis served hot on a toasted baguette with lettuce, tomato and mayo."

Cost's $5.95. While I'm waiting I notice this giant salad bar for $5.99 per pound. Little sign says "Please put dressing, oil and vinegar before weighing."

But I'm glad I went for the beef pepper melt. First rule: ya gotta eat it, like, right now, when the melted cheddar's still oozing its hot yellow lava down over the meat. So lush. Combines well with the crispy baguette. Total lunch for six buckeroos. 

Turns out there is a real Ida. She's out talking to customers. Says this used to be Organics to Go before she took over a couple of years back. She says they came (down from Washington state), opened up seven places in office towers like this, all at once, delivering the organic revolution to downtown. But downtown wasn't ready. "Too specialized, too expensive, servings too small," she says. 

She is from a Lebanese restaurant family. "I grew up under the table," she says. Her parents ran a Denny's and a Bob's Big Boy. "I love doing this. The thing is, even when corporate chiefs come down from the tower, once they're eating food they're like kids again. They forget the tensions upstairs for a moment."

The one Lebanese dish they have is the mujadara ($3.45 and $5.95). "It's a poor people's dish back in Lebanon," she says. "It's lentils and rice topped with our salsa. Here it's a bit of a luxury."

They're open for breakfast and lunch till 3:30. 

Next time, if it's sunny, I'm taking the line outside table among the ferns.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

As recall race heats up, candidates choose their mascots

Political Animals
Next Article

San Diego live jazz bounces back

Madison on Park, Panama 66, Queen Bee's, Westgate Hotel, Athenaeum

Walking past that big black glass building at 7th and B in the financial district. 

Thing I notice is the single table and chair under the tree outside that slope-glass frontage. Gets me curious. 

None

So I haul inside into the giant lobby. On the right is this sprawling deli. It's all blond wood tables and chairs, plus comfy corporate lounge chairs. 

Usually these delis turn me off in their predictability. But something, maybe the smells, maybe the roll-down butcher's paper where they have written the specials for the day, and crossed off the soups as they run out, tweeks my curiosity. Some original thinking goin' on here. 

So I stop for just a coffee. Then, as I'm getting it, these hot cheesy, beefy smells start crossing my nose. Oh Lord. Have to stop. 

None

Sam the sandwich-maker says it's the beef pepper melt. He points to the giant wall menu. "Hot roast beef smothered in melted cheddar and diced peperoncinis served hot on a toasted baguette with lettuce, tomato and mayo."

Cost's $5.95. While I'm waiting I notice this giant salad bar for $5.99 per pound. Little sign says "Please put dressing, oil and vinegar before weighing."

But I'm glad I went for the beef pepper melt. First rule: ya gotta eat it, like, right now, when the melted cheddar's still oozing its hot yellow lava down over the meat. So lush. Combines well with the crispy baguette. Total lunch for six buckeroos. 

Turns out there is a real Ida. She's out talking to customers. Says this used to be Organics to Go before she took over a couple of years back. She says they came (down from Washington state), opened up seven places in office towers like this, all at once, delivering the organic revolution to downtown. But downtown wasn't ready. "Too specialized, too expensive, servings too small," she says. 

She is from a Lebanese restaurant family. "I grew up under the table," she says. Her parents ran a Denny's and a Bob's Big Boy. "I love doing this. The thing is, even when corporate chiefs come down from the tower, once they're eating food they're like kids again. They forget the tensions upstairs for a moment."

The one Lebanese dish they have is the mujadara ($3.45 and $5.95). "It's a poor people's dish back in Lebanon," she says. "It's lentils and rice topped with our salsa. Here it's a bit of a luxury."

They're open for breakfast and lunch till 3:30. 

Next time, if it's sunny, I'm taking the line outside table among the ferns.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close