Freddie's Sandwiches is tucked away on a quiet corner downhill from North Beach and uphill from Fisherman's Wharf. You'd think the location would be challenging, but owner Ed Sweileh has the solution: straightforward deli sandwiches made to order to precise standards. It has worked out, as Freddie's sign proclaims "since 1926."
Sweileh hasn't been at 300 Francisco (at Stockton) quite so long, though: Half-Lebanese and half-Jordanian, he moved here from Amman 25 years ago. In 85 years, he is only the third owner; founder Freddie Braja ran it until the 1970s. Sweileh says when he took over, "you had two choices: a ham and cheese, or a cheese and ham."
Sweileh has expanded the menu to include 28 sandwiches. But the aesthetic is not modern. In fact, it is delightfully retro. These are classic deli sandwiches, served by size of bread: small (6-inch), which we find sufficient; large (8-inch), half loaf (12-inch), and whole loaf (25-inch). The small Italian combo ($5.95) is a good deal: dry salame, ham, salame cotto, pressed ham, and cheese. We most liked prosciutto ($6.95) with provolone ($0.40 extra for two slices). When we ordered pastrami ($6.45), we learned you can also get your sandwiches hot. All sandwiches come on your choice of nine breads, with mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions.
It's not exactly fair to call it a neighborhood hangout; Sweileh cares what kind of bread you want, but doesn't ask after the health of your significant other. His relations with most of his regulars are to the point: People come in, they order a sandwich, wait while it's made, and go.
Sweileh works the counter himself. "I love it," he says. "There's no other place I'd rather be."