White tablecloth dining is a lovely thing, but sometimes all you want is a really great sandwich. Fortunately, the Bay Area boasts some stellar lunch spots, including these three standouts -- a firehouse-themed sub joint in Fremont, a classic deli in Martinez and an ode to Los Angeles street fare in the Creek.

310 Eatery

Address: 1633 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; until midnight Fridays-Saturdays; until 5 p.m. Sundays

Sandwich tab: $25.78 for two sandwiches, house fries and drinks

The Rampart, a bacon wrapped hotdog smothered with chili and cheese is served in a basket at 310 Eatery on Bonanza Street in Walnut Creek, Calif., on
The Rampart, a bacon wrapped hotdog smothered with chili and cheese is served in a basket at 310 Eatery on Bonanza Street in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group) ( SUSAN TRIPP POLLARD )

Baseball isn't the only thing Los Angeles and San Francisco compete over. Both cities want California's culinary trophy, and while we were ready to snub a downtown Walnut Creek eatery specializing in Los Angeles street food -- how dare they flaunt that area code? -- we have to admit, the food is pretty good. Better than good, actually.

The Westside Classic ($9) is the stuff of Yelp poetry: Drippy, hot pastrami stuffed into a Dutch crunch roll dipped in au jus (Angelenos say it's reminiscent of The Hat's early days). It's our new, favorite late-night eat in town. The B/B Blend ($9), a flavorful burger crafted from beef and bacon, is equally epic, especially since they serve it on an English muffin that absorbs the juices. Clever -- and lower carb than a bun.


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The Crispy Chicken Temescal ($9), a nod to Bakesale Betty, wasn't as impressive, but that could be psychological. Had they not said they were paying homage to the wildly popular Oakland spot, I might not have had Betty's unparalleled fried chicken nor her jalapeno-spiked slaw on the brain. This version was just breaded and pan-fried, like the schnitzel I make at home. The slaw was average, too.

Next time we'll try Enter the "Belly-rito" ($8), a slow-braised, pork belly burrito stuffed with sweet pickled veggies, or The Melrose ($8), a grilled eggplant and portobello sandwich that seems to be almost as popular as The Rampart ($7), a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with chili and cheese. Actually, maybe we'll save the latter for a ballgame.

Overall, 310 is definitely a hot spot for good eats right now. The staff is incredibly warm and accommodating and the menu goes far beyond sandwiches. Roasted duck and pineapple fried rice, anyone?

-- J. Yadegaran

Firehouse Subs

Address: 43344 Boscell Road, Fremont

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; until 10 p.m. Fridays- Saturdays

Sandwich tab: $24.58 for two sandwiches, a bowl of chili, chips and drinks

At Firehouse Subs, they take their concept seriously.

Settling in at our table in the Fremont outpost of this sandwich chain, we admired the firehouse-themed decor: red walls, Dalmatian spots dotted on tabletops and plenty of Fremont Fire Department gear. Donation boxes by the register collect funds for local firefighters.

The menu offers all sorts of ways to bring the heat, from the Firehouse Chili ($3.89), with jalapeno for extra kick, to the Sweet 'N' Spicy add-on for the Firehouse Meatball sub ($6.79), which, as promised, added an extra burst of sweetness and flame to the already-zesty marinara and flavorful meatballs. If you really want to dance with danger, head over to their hot sauce bar and sprinkle on some Tabasco, Sriracha or the really hot stuff.

The Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket ($7.19) had tender, delicious beef that was juicy without being fatty. Despite some typically messy sandwich types, Firehouse's soft, house-made sandwich rolls held together well, preventing even this notoriously untidy diner from making a five-alarm disaster zone of his shirt.

There are East Coast classics -- the New York Steamer Sub ($6.79), with corned beef, pastrami, melted provolone, and Italian dressing, for example -- and more modern West Coast fare, including a Turkey Bacon Ranch ($6.79), with sharp cheddar and peppercorn ranch.

Diners can also get traditional hot subs (Honey Ham, Pastrami, Roast Beef, Veggie, $6.19-$6.79) and cold subs like Tuna Salad and White Chicken Salad ($6.79). Ask for your sandwich "Fully Involved," and you'll get mayo, deli mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a kosher dill pickle spear on the side.

It's a delicious, affordable alternative to both pricey local delis and boring fast-food chains.

-- Daniel Jimenez

Luigi's Deli and Market

Address: 537 Main St., Martinez

Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Sandwich tab: $29.46 for two sandwiches, a salad and drinks

About five years ago, Luigi Daberdaku transformed his 99 cent store into what is now the most popular deli in Martinez. As a first-time customer, it was hard to pinpoint what led to his rapid success. Was it the food (Boar's Head meats and hand-delivered Semifreddi's bread)? The great wall of old-fashioned sodas that snakes along the side of the deli and features 400 bottles ($1.99 each), from Taylor's Tonics to Jones Soda Co. to DRY soda? Or was it Daberdaku himself, a warm, generous Albanian who seems to know every customer by name?

The fact that they were out of bacon and mortadella by 1 p.m. clued us in that all three have played a starring role in the deli's success. We started with the most popular hot sandwich, the No. 11, Luigi's Pastrami, which was served on a fresh sourdough roll with Dijon mustard, thick, crunchy pickles, Swiss cheese and a generous heap of warm pastrami. Loved it.

The No. 8, Luigi's Spicy Chicken was another winner: Buffalo chicken with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, pepperoncini and a smoky-spicy mayo that elevated the sandwich from "yum" to "holy yum." Next time, we'll go all-out Italian with the No. 1, a sourdough roll stuffed with salami, coppa, mortadella, provolone and roasted red peppers.

As for price, Daberdaku keeps it simple. Sandwiches (10 cold options and seven hot) are $7.99, and combo meals (which include a drink and chips or a side salad) are $9.99. You can also build your own sandwich, of course, on breads that range from ciabatta to seeded sourdough, choosing from four kinds of ham and four kinds of salami.

In the mood for a salad? You'll have five options ($6.99 each), including a generous Cobb and a Black and Blue with tri-tip, blue cheese and blue cheese dressing. There are four pastas ($7.99 each), too.

But, if you're going to make the trip, we vote you stick to the bold sandwiches and delightfully unique sodas. Try the Taylor's Tonics Chai Cola.

-- J. Yadegaran