I’m at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches in Burbank, and I’m sad. Directly in front of me is the number 63, named the Hella Fat Bastard. I can’t remember if I told the man behind the counter, “Give me the Fat Bastard” or “I’ll have the 63.” There isn’t really a dignified way to order the sandwich, a beast filled with ham, bacon, mozzarella sticks, American cheese and something called dirty sauce.
At Ike’s, I feel like I probably could have walked up to the counter and said the words, “I deserve this,” and they would have brought me the corresponding sandwich.
There is nothing, and I repeat nothing acceptable about putting mozzarella sticks in between bread. It is the height of gimmickry. It’s a novelty act that belongs in hell with food challenges and gold leaf burgers.
Staring at this sandwich, I feel bad. For a second, I wonder if I’ll be spending the rest of my life alone. I bite down into the Bastard, and I am certain I will be. The sweaty ham and lukewarm, microwaved cheese sticks do their best to ruin my optimistic worldview.
“How long can we keep eating like this?” I think. I’m now spiraling. This sandwich immediately makes me feel ashamed to be eating meat, fearful of climate change, and angry with the choices we let ourselves make. But also, and I really need you to hear this, it tasted good.
Ike’s answers the question, “Hey how come Jim Rome doesn’t have a sandwich named after him?” Numbered 65, the Jim Rome at Ike’s has turkey, red pesto, cheddar and avocado.
Also, on the menu you’ll find the Ménage a Trois (halal chicken and three different cheeses), The Kevin Bacon (Do I need to tell you that’s a BLT?), and the Hugh Hefner (roast beef and turkey).
There are over 55 Ike’s locations, and each have a rotating menu. Look at their website — you’ll see iconic sandwiches like the Hot Momma Huda and the That’s Hella True. There are fun and flavorful ideas at work like mango habanero sauce, wasabi honey mustard and orange glaze, but the menu reads like it was found from a time capsule in 2003. I shouldn’t have to say “I want the M.I.L.F.” whenever I’m hungry.
I will say that the staff is on point — they work hard, are polite, and go above and beyond to satisfy everybody at the restaurant. They’ve been trained well. The food even tastes fine; that’s not the rub.
But succinctly, my issue is this: Customers are starting to demand responsibility and awareness from their food. More and more we’re hearing that the way we consume meat isn’t sustainable. For me, change starts with having deep reverence for the animal that died. I’m not even vegan, but I don’t think that combining ham and cheese sticks into a sandwich is respect for the animal. Food novelty is running out of time. We need to be better.
If this all reads as pretentious to you, you’re not wrong. I will say that if you’re looking for a sandwich, you can certainly do a lot worse than Ike’s. But, that’s also the point — I don’t know if that’s good enough anymore.