Deli discovery

Alpaca Bob’s is a must-visit on Chico’s sandwich trail

Two adventures in sandwiches: (foreground) Ooh La La (roast beef, cheddar, mayo, mustard, french fried onions with au jus) and The Pope’s Hat.

Two adventures in sandwiches: (foreground) Ooh La La (roast beef, cheddar, mayo, mustard, french fried onions with au jus) and The Pope’s Hat.

Photo by Ken Smith

Alpaca Bob’s Sandwich Adventures
672 Mangrove Ave.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

In the not-too-distant past, my intermittent cravings for an exceptionally delicious deli sandwich would sometimes signal the beginning of a great trek. My two longtime favorite sandwich destinations—Spiteri’s Delicatessen and Fast Eddie’s—are located on the northeast side of Chico, separated from where I live and work by many miles and Highway 99, and it was impossible to undertake such a pilgrimage in the span of a reasonable lunch break.

That all changed a while ago, when I first sat down at Alpaca Bob’s Sandwich Adventures and bit into a Black Forest Bumble Bee ($7.95), the deli’s take on a classic ham and cheddar, accentuated with honey mustard and red onion. My dining companion had a Chico Chill ($9.45) with turkey, avocado, bacon and cream cheese. We traded halves, soaked in the atmosphere, had a delightful conversation with the effervescent Liz Guillaume (who co-owns the establishment with husband Mark) and her capable crew, and I left determined to return soon.

I did, and have continued to do so often. Alpaca Bob’s, which celebrates its third anniversary this month, is centrally located in the Park Plaza Shopping Center (a few doors away from Safeway on Mangrove Avenue). The menu features sandwiches, served on a choice of rolls, ranging from simple (like the aforementioned Bumble Bee) to spectacular (e.g., a Not So Po Boy with shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, cashews, bell peppers and the deli’s own tangy Louisiana Lightning Sauce).

The deli offers one of its 19 signature sandwiches up as a Daily Deal, which means you get a full-size sandwich, chips and a drink for $8. They also have a small selection of standards (chicken, egg or tuna salad on sliced bread) for $7.

I’ve sampled no fewer than a half-dozen sandwiches there and am eager to try them all, though I usually get hung up on my first favorite, a hot version of The Pope’s Hat (prosciutto, salami, mortadella, turkey, provolone, Swiss cheese and Italian dressing for $9.45). I may have a new favorite now, though, after recently trying one of their weekly specials, Kiss Me Like You Swiss Me (hot ham and cheese on mild rye garnished with chopped green olives). Though not on the regular menu and no longer a featured special, the staff continues to make them upon request.

Alpaca Bob’s hot dog menu is equally as expansive as its sandwich menu, and features wieners, hot links and Polish sausages with a wide range of toppings. There’s even some international flair thrown in, like the Thai Dog (with sriracha and onions, $4.35) and the Sonora Dog (classic toppings plus bacon and avocado served on a tortilla, $5.35). While the hot dogs are tasty, the sandwiches are exceptional and make for a far more filling meal.

Even during the lunch rush, service at Alpaca Bob’s remains fast and friendly. The atmosphere is comfortable and inviting, if a bit kitschy. This kitsch is of the deliberate variety, however, and enhanced with accents like outdoor sandwich boards featuring flow charts to help customers decide what to order, a joke of the day and pun-heavy novelty signs covering one whole wall (“Spooning leads to forking, so please use condiments,” one reads).

I still make the trip, on occasion, to visit my old favorites. But Alpaca Bob’s definitely makes a quick and satisfying sandwich adventure far less arduous.