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California Bucket List

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Family-friendlyL.A. County

Honor thy Godmother, the signature sandwich at Bay Cities deli in Santa Monica

The Godmother, with the works (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
The Godmother, with the works (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

Why: For lunch, I give you the Godmother. Squeeze it, chomp it, then absent-mindedly swipe your mouth with your sleeve. Some sandwiches you consume. Others consume you.

What:  As with all great sandwiches, you realize you’re onto something special by the crackle the bread makes when you grab it. The Godmother fits in your hand like a football – you could probably throw a spiral with it.

Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery makes its own bread, which is what it's all about. On a good day, they serve 4,000 or so sandwiches.

 (Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

Indeed, the menu goes on and on. (Nine kinds of turkey sandwich?) Hot sandwich hits include the meatball and pot roast. Vegetarians, consider the eggplant parmesan.

There’s nothing easy about this place. The store is located on a clangy stretch of Lincoln Boulevard, and you can only enter the parking lot when you’re heading north. There is free parking for two dozen cars. After that, good luck.

But there are reasons the lot is full and lines at the deli counter can run 45 minutes or more. First of all, it’s more than a deli; Bay Cities is a specialty Italian grocery. In New York or Philly, it wouldn’t be such a novelty. But here….

And, really, it’s all about the Godmother. Get it with the works, and peppers, mild or hot. Grab a root beer and a spot at a concrete table outside. If the place is really packed, pick up a Godmother from the bin of pre-made sandwiches on the counter.

Regulars also know to preorder online (about 40 minutes ahead) and pick up at the separate takeout spot in the back corner.

Some meals are worth the fuss. This is one of them.

Where: 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, 16 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. 

How much: Large Godmother, with the works, $9.70. Cash and debit only. Closed Mondays.

Info: Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery 

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