There may not be a more aptly named restaurant in the area than Franco’s Mini Deli. The establishment is truly small, but it manages to fit a lot of good food and quality deli options into a cozy space.
The food options at Franco’s are fairly standard: turkey melts, hot pastrami sandwiches, and various salads make up most of the menu. While one melt from one deli may not be too different from that offered at another, it’s often the ingredients that make the difference, and Franco’s is no exception.
The veggie cool deli sandwich is a good marker of the quality of Franco’s ingredients. A straightforward sandwich that is exactly what it sounds like, the small deli turns out a big veggie sandwich crammed with avocado, cucumber, bell peppers, lettuce, onion, and tomato between huge chunks of wheat bread with a spicy mustard spread on them.
Everything from the tomato, to the avocado, and even the mustard taste fresh and delicious. It’s a generous sandwich, which is perhaps the only bad thing about it. The slides of bread that hold the ingredients are a little too large and dry, taking away from the overall freshness of the meal. Taking off the top chunk of bread and eating the sandwich open-faced is a good way to go for those who don’t want a meal that’s overly bready.
Fortunately sandwiches at Franco’s come with a decent portion of spring greens covered in a light vinaigrette dressing, which can help balance out the dry bread. The whole thing runs a little less than $10, which is a little pricy compared to other sandwich shops in the area, but Franco’s has some elements which make up for it’s slightly higher cost.
A free cup of coffee with any meal certainly makes the deal a little sweeter for customers, and it’s made even better by the fact that the coffee is actually pretty good. It’s not the slow drip quality that one might find at Kaleidoscope Coffee, but it’s easily better than what’s offered at any Starbucks.
The ambiance of Franco’s Mini Deli also make the sandwich shop worth a visit. The space is undoubtedly tiny, but along the walls of the interior are a number of wooden bookshelves stuffed with everything from photography books, to fiction, to history. Guests are encouraged to grab a book or two to flip through as they eat their meals or wait for them to be prepared.
And though the space is a little too cramped to enjoy a meal inside of, Franco’s has a modern outdoor area with ample seating. It’s easy to imagine indulging on a lengthy lunch break there with a sandwich and a glass of wine while flipping through one of their books.
Even though the outdoor seating area is nice, it might be easier to for the typical patron to take a meal to-go, especially considering the wet weather that’s been hanging over the area recently.
Franco’s Mini Deli may sit in an unconventional space, but it makes the most of it. For those craving a tasty sandwich, it’s a good choice.
Franco’s Mini Deli
11100 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
Tel. (510) 552-8653
Monday - Friday: 8 am to 5:30 pm
Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm
View their Yelp page here.