Lunch Lady

Sandbox Bakery does lunch as well as it does breakfast

When you've nailed breakfast out of the gate, lunch is the next logical step.

So Mutsumi Takehara, owner of Sandbox Bakery in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood, launched a collection of inspired sandwiches and salads.

Takehara's pastries, including her negi-miso rolls and yuzu-sage buns, are already legendary.

Her lunch program should also achieve such a lauded status.

Every day around 11 a.m., a handful of sandwiches (about $6) begin trickling onto the glass counter. Some are precise renditions of delicatessen staples: Chicken salad is jeweled with cranberries and stuffed into an oat-walnut torpedo roll with mixed greens.

Others take a cue from Takehara's maverick pastries, dipping into a flavor palette far beyond that of the classic lunchbox. Shredded pork is saturated with the warmth of achiote and loaded into a challah bun. Two circular rice patties supplant bread in a burger of marinated tofu and pickled carrots.

The salads ($3.50 each, or 3 for $9) ring with Japanese influence. A favorite recent example: hijiki with edamame and shredded carrots, the seaweed's brininess a murmur of the sea high on Bernal Heights.

Each lunch is so ingenious, we wonder what would happen if Sandbox tackled dinner.

Sandbox Bakery, 833 Cortland Ave.; 415-642-8580 or sandboxbakery.com