Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.
The Truck: Kinder's Truck
The Cuisine: BBQ meats on deli style sandwiches
Specialty Items: BBQ sauces, ball tip steak
Worth the Wait in Line? At peak lunch time, a total seven minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.
One thing I've tried hard to do is avoid writing about the food trucks that are part of a much bigger chain of restaurants, since it feels contrarian to the kind of street cuisine I'm seeking out. For example, I might enjoy the breakfast sandwiches from the Melt restaurants, but you probably won't see their truck showing up in this column.
Of course, the second you make a personal rule you'll find a reason to break it. Kinder's, the meat market and deli that started in San Pablo in 1946 that now counts 16 brick-and-mortar locations around the Bay Area and beyond, are all far enough away from San Francisco that unless you regularly trekked out to the deep East Bay, you might not know about them. Combine that with a truck that makes regular appearances in the city and the popularity of the sandwiches, and I knew there was no way I could ignore it.
See also: BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwich at Mayo & Mustard
What put Kinder's on the map is the Kinder's Ball Tip Steak Sandwich ($8, smoked ball tip steak, mayo, lettuce, tomato, Kinder's Mild BBQ Sauce), a solid sandwich that on the food truck scene seems remarkable for its quiet simplicity -- no extreme sauces, fillings, or frills. The ball tip is a cut from the loin section of a cow, known as a good economical cut for grilling, and in their care, the meat ends up extremely tender with just enough smoke to let you know how it was cooked, but not so much that it dominates.
It is a modest sandwich, a good sandwich, and the kind of sandwich your grandparents probably enjoyed. In other words, old school. The most flair it gets is the side of the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce, and while it might not have the overall crave-appeal of Mayo & Mustard's tri-tip sandwich, I'm not sure I would want it any more dressed up. The fanatical fat-salt war of escalation that dude-food has brought in the last few years has done little to prove that more is better. We'll be happy that a few kept the torch lit on the simple dishes.