SF Weekly food critic Matthew Stafford haunts corner markets in the Mission this week, only not for the reasons you'd think. Instead of showing up to score Snus and St. Ides (or shall we say, just to score Snus and St. Ides), Stafford's on the hunt for sandwiches -- good freakin' sandwiches, no less. Turns out the Great Recession has been good for more than just draining 401(k)s and giving millions of the laid off the ability to blow entire afternoons in the consumption of online porn. It's also made culinary destinations of some formerly funky deli counters. Stafford checks in on Pal's Takeaway inside Tony's Market, Rhea's Deli and Grocery, and Mission Burger at Duc Loi Market -- loci of deliciousness that, in any normal economy, might have been standalone places. Follow Stafford on his quest for takeout deliciousness later today at SFWeekly.com. Need something to tide you over? Get a free sample in SFoodie's extended excerpt (after the jump).
One of the most intriguing developments is the culinary ascension of the corner-market deli counter. Traditionally, the San Francisco corner store has been a place to satisfy that late-night craving for Entenmann's crumb cake while the attendant deli counter -- a Formica-fronted display case glittering with presliced turkey loaf and yesterday's potato salad -- has been the hungry singleton's court of last resort. But over the past several months, some of these tucked-away sub shops have been transformed into bastions of singular (if deceptively modest) cutting-edge organic-sustainable pan-Asian pan-Latin California cuisine. Here you're as likely to find carrot-chipotle crema and pineapple-spiced free-range pork on your sandwich as mayo, mustard, and iceberg lettuce.