Full disclosure: I’ve often been curious, but had never had a famed New York City bodega bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich, known in local parlance as a “BEC.” I stumbled upon Newkirk’s one morning getting a supplemental Covid-19 vaccine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and to my chagrin learned that they’d been open for four years. FOUR YEARS! That’s four years of my life not having had this deliciously iconic sandwich, and all its cousins, for breakfast. Well, no more.
My first foray into this land of melty goodness was the aforementioned BEC, the classic bacon, egg and American cheese on a perfectly squishy, poppy-seed roll.
Now I know what all the fuss is about. It’s a perfect amalgamation of salty, cheesy, crunch, pillowy, and warmth, the flavors and textures in perfect balance with each other. The over-medium egg was still a little jammy, adding to the oozy allure. I could have had it with ketchup, but I opted for one of their hot sauces (the orange one, habanero; but fear not, this is the mildest habanero hot sauce you’ll ever encounter.) This is how a day in the Mission should start.
Next, I tried the HEC:
Ham, egg and cheese. Does it taste like a McMuffin? Just a little, but the ham is sliced thin and adds silkiness, in contrast with the solid disk of Canadian bacon in Mickey D’s famous bfast sandwich. But the flavors are very similar, so if you want the taste of a McMuffin without lining the pockets of corporate America, get one of these instead. This time I tried the jalapeno salsa, and while it was just as heat-less as the habanero, it had better flavor.
Next up, venturing out of the breakfast arena for a moment, the Italian:
All the usual suspects: Salami, smoked ham, provolone, shredded iceberg, tomato, banana peppers, sliced red onion, avocado, olive oil and vinegar, and oregano, on a French roll. What a fresh delight! Seriously one of the better Italian deli sandwiches I’ve had in a while. One hundred percent would get this again.
Back to the breakfast menu, I next had an SEC …
Pork sausage patty, fried egg, and cheese. Another winner, perhaps the second favorite of the gooey “ECs” so far. The pork was fatty goodness, and again, these flavors just go so well together.
I had to try the PEC …
While this was every bit as satisfying in terms of lusciousness, the pastrami was maybe just a tad too salty for me.
But for my final entry on this journey to the East Coast, and back into the lunch realm (although you can get any of the sandwiches at any time of day), I went ahead and tried the Bronx pastrami:
This time, the pastrami fared much better with the fresh and crunchy coleslaw, providing a beautiful, messy mouthful that I’m really not sure I wouldn’t try again. You’d better check it out yourself.
Other notable sandwiches available: Turkey, BLT, cheesesteak, an Impossible Meatsteak …. And, perhaps, the two most intriguing to me: the decadent Horse on the Roof (ribeye with two eggs/two different cheeses sandwich, and the hash brown sandwich (two eggs, bacon, and YES, hash browns INSIDE THE SANDWICH. Such debauchery!) Newkirk’s also offers two other veggie sandwiches, a spicy BBQ chicken, a couple of salads I’ve yet to try, and carrot/ginger soup.
They sell juices, sodas, Ritual Coffee, and beer. All your breakfast and lunchtime needs in one place. I’d love it if they’d open up for dinner … let’s see if we can make them even busier! So, stop on by. You’ll know it by the big white plaster of Paris horse on the roof.
(What is up with that horse, anyway?? According to owner Ryan Newkirk Blumenthal, and as reported by Mission Local in 2017, NADA. He just likes horses.)
1002 Potrero Ave.