Comparable in many circles to Liverpudlians suggesting The Beatles may have been overrated, a Santa Monican speaking ill of Bay Cities is pretty much sacrilegious. You just don't do it. You may think it, you may even whisper it to your tight-lipped dog, but you DO NOT SAY IT ALOUD.
Bay Cities is a great deli and market. I love the fucking place. They offer some wonderful Italian delicacies. A glorious deli salad display. They make a transcendent chicken parmesan sandwich. Their "special" Mac & Cheese is the city's best according to LA Weekly. But, we're on the Internet here, we're allowed to actually tell the truth, so let's admit it: Bay Cities has flaws. For one, the majority of their sandwiches come with the same deli meat Ralph's sells. Sure, they serve extraordinary bread, but shouldn't a great sandwich shop offer greatness outside and inside? Another myth we need to put to rest: Bay Cities' meatball sandwich is better than the competition. This is utter fiction, my friends. Like Andrew Bynum, the Bay Cities meatball sandwich surrounds itself with talent and thus finds itself considered superior to its actual talents. Once again, nothing can be that bad nestled between two slices of BC bread, but I often find their meatballs overcooked and rather bland.
On the other hand, Melrose's All About the Bread sells what I consider to be the city's best meatball sandwich. I don't think you know how hard it is for me to admit that. I loathed ABTB when it first opened. A shitty Bay Cities knock-off, I shouted (to myself). Then I gave the meatball sub a try. Not bad, I thought. Then I gave it a second try. Pretty solid. I still wasn't convinced though. That was about the time All About the Bread owner Albert Mizrahi decided -- despite recently having been named one of the city's best by LA Magazine -- to re-do the meatball recipe and make the sandwich even better. That's exactly what he did. Ever since, I can't get enough of this amazing meatball sub. Soft and garlicky meatballs and, unlike Bay Cities, always consistent. Add a few slices of provolone, a much softer bread and a side of sweet, less generic-tasting tomato sauce and you've got a winner.
In no way am I saying ABTB as a whole is better than Bay Cities. It isn't. On their non-hot sandwiches they also use Ralph's-available deli meat, which is a total bummer. But, in the meatball sandwich department, it tops its more coastal counterpart. It also has one other thing BC doesn't: The Coke Freestyle machine, which is straight up bad ass because sometimes a gentleman feels like a half orange, half raspberry-flavored Coke Zero. And when that gentleman has that feeling, that gentleman deserves a half orange, half-raspberry Coke Zero!
All About the Bread
7111 Melrose Avenue, LA