• Morgan Katz

This Sandwich Shop Will Forever Have My Heart

Just 20 miles north of San Diego sits La Jolla Shores, a little beach town my family started visiting when I was eight years old. Those two weeks were the highlight of my summer, how could they not when I spent my days at an Australian surf camp and my nights with our family friends trying new foods? But soon enough schedules got busier, summer vacations were harder to coordinate, and our trips became more infrequent. Growing older and having my own responsibilities kept me away from my little slice of heaven for FIVE years. (I know, tragic.) One of my favorite spots was Cheese Shop, and last week I returned, and it was just as good as I remembered.

Opening in 1972, this deli-turned-sandwich-shop holds a very special place in my heart. These sandwiches are what I grew up eating on the beach for lunch almost every day. It was the perfect meal to restore the energy expended swimming and surfing, and gave the parents some much-needed sustenance to support the day drinking.

Cheese Shop sandwiches are hefty (I usually can’t take down more than half a sandwich in one sitting), so the family would decide as a group what to order so we could all share. Normally, I support this tactic, but when it comes to Cheese Shop, mamma gets her own, aka the turkey, jack, and avocado. Pretty self-explanatory, the sandwich is made on sourdough with generous swipes of mayo on each slice, followed by whole grain mustard, lettuce, tomato, chunks of avocado, thickly sliced turkey and jack cheese, and finished with a dusting of black pepper. It’s not a complicated sandwich by any means. These guys just know what they’re doing and know that quality ingredients, and proper ratios, are essential to executing a sandwich that will reside permanently in the memory of your tastebuds.

The roast pork was the other sandwich in the family rotation, and is still just as good. The tenderloin is seasoned with a combination of spices, roasted in-house, and layered on sourdough along with lettuce, tomato, melted jack cheese, mayo, and homemade honey mustard. The thinly sliced meat is full of flavor, the cheese effortlessly pairs with the pork, and the honey mustard adds an element of sweetness that brings the whole sandwich together. I don’t typically opt for pork when it comes to my sandwiches but I make an exception for this bad boy.

Lunchtime was not complete without the famous Cheese Shop oatmeal cookies. If the right amount of cookies weren’t ordered (and by “right amount” I mean at least two per person), the family vacation quickly took a turn for the worse. These cookies aren’t like your standard oatmeal cookies. They’re gluten-free, chewy in the middle with crunchy edges, caramel in color and flavor, and so good. Despite my best efforts, I’ve been unsuccessful in charming the owner into giving me the top-secret recipe, which has led to aggressive recipe testing that ultimately ends with a frustrated Morgan sadly eating dozens of cookies that don’t make the cut. But I’m still determined to figure it out. In the meantime, I’ll be relying on the beauty that is cross-country shipping for the moments when I need my fix.

Five years was definitely too much time apart from my beloved summertime getaway. I don’t know when I’ll be back next but until then, I’ll be dreaming of Cheese Shop.

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