Sunday, September 15, 2013


Sometimes you can live in a town for a long time (15 years) and seemingly never get to or even know about small restaurants that have been around for ages. Miller's East Coast Deli is one of those kind of places. A long time stalwart along the ever changing corridor known as Polk Street. It's an eclectic little street that starts at the Asian Art Museum, melds into a portion of the Tenderloin, leveling out a to a neighborhood in transition before finally ending in full blown Marina people land somewhere past Broadway.


Miller's occupies the nether land that seems like it might have once been grungy but has now cleaned itself a bit. I'd passed this place a number of times, always with the thought in the back of my mind, "I should really try it out." I finally had that chance when some friends of ours moved into a place about a block away, so I made plans to meet up and eat up.

A long narrow space with the kitchen up front and a number of tables in the back to sit for service. It looks like it's just a to go place from the front so the seating in back is like a hidden secret, so now you know. The take-out counter was bustling and later, most of the tables did fill up, so it's not a total secret. The menu is huge, like 5 legal size pages of stuff to choose from. Breakfast lunch and dinner they got you covered. It think it took us about 15 minutes to just go through everything and try to decide on something. I'm a big fan of choices, but sometimes you get what you wish for and it can be overwhelming. To pare it down, they are a deli pushing their East Coast sensibilities so I figured I needed to get one of the sandwiches and chose the 9 ounce hot beef brisket (sandwiches also come in a smaller 6 ounce) on rye with a side of slaw.

Piled high and deep with brisket that was sliced then, tender, juicy and warm, the sandwich was a hand and mouthful. I had it on light rye with with works--lettuce, tomato, mayo, purple onion and deli mustard. The rye was soft and fresh without the hard edges and without being overwhelmed with rye flavor. yes you can see a number of seeds in the photo but it wasn't bitter or off-putting. It was everything an East Coast deli sandwich should be. I'm glad I went with my instincts in getting a sandwich at a deli, always go with what a place is known for, there's a reason for that. At $9.99 a pop it's a pretty hefty sandwich and does come with a choice of side and a pickle. My side choice was cole slaw and well, this was a misstep. The slaw tasted old, it was on the side of being almost sour, rancid tasting and the cabbage was no longer crunchy but wilted--I would say it was on its last legs but really the legs had already broken and it wasn't good. I should have gone with the potato salad--I'll remember that for next time. Fortunately, I got a side of beer battered onion rings also....

This was actually HALF an order, so I can only imagine what a full order would look like. For $2.99 they were hot out of the fryer and lightly sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. Yeah, they probably were not house made but they were still good and crunchy and made me forget about the icky slaw.  

We weren't done yet. Because they have big sign in their window promoting their hand tossed brick oven pizza I got a sausage mushroom one of those also....

They have one size which can serve 2 people or 1 really hungry person. It's a thin crust style very similar to what Amici's does. Something I should have realized as I would have asked for light crust, which means don't burn it. Sadly this was not only mostly black on the bottom but it was so thin and the sausage so greasy it got soft and wet burnt dough is not all that appetizing. Too bad, it look good but didn't hold up, literally, to a taste test. I'm sure there are fans of this type of pizza out there but not me. I feel there are too many other places in this town to get some really, really good pizza and this just isn't it. Needless to say I didn't finish this, I actually got it in a box to go and eventually passed it off to a homeless person who still wanted it even after I told them about the burnt bottom. I offered money instead but they took the food, which was kind of a first in San Francisco as they usually prefer the money so they can get what they want, which I totally understand. 

Needless to say, Miller's East Coast Deli is a hit or miss affair. I wouldn't necessarily call it a hidden gem but it you want some old school East Coast deli sandwich it is a safe bet to go with what they do best--that and the potato salad. Besides if you are still hungry after that you can always walk the block down to Bob's Donuts to satisfy your sweet tooth....

though choose carefully here, some are better than others, unless of course you are drunk then it's all AMAZING!

Miller's East Coast Deli on Urbanspoon

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