Give In to a Spicy Italiano

I know that part of my job as a parent is to set up some sort of chore chart and give my kids allowance for diligently checking off their tasks for the week. Well, despite endless attempts of, uh, considering to try to think about making a chore chart (much less enforce one), my kids just don’t live in this sort of world. That makes earned money a little harder to come by. Fortunately for my 10 year old, his friends organized a car wash during a playdate and he came home this weekend with 40 bucks in hand. (SF livin’, right?) Turns out it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

The following day, the kid decides he has to have a pastrami sandwich from the Submarine Center at precisely 3:55 pm. Not only is this only 2 hours before dinner, but our friends from out of town are due to arrive any minute and on top of all that, we have a full fridge of perfectly tasty food. So my answer is an emphatic “NO”.

Fifteen minutes go by, my friends still haven’t arrived and my son has not stopped talking about how good this sandwich with extra pickles, no tomatoes and melted provolone is going to taste. I start arguing that you can’t have a hot pastrami with provolone, because everyone knows that it’s calling out for Swiss. That’s when I know he’s inevitably going to win. But on principle, I don’t cave that easily. “Fine,” I say, “If you really want that bastardized Pastrami sandwich (though I don’t say bastardized, because I still have some sort of self control), you can pay for it yourself.” He pulls out a $20 and we’re in business.

The point is that the Submarine Center has that kind of effect on you. This tiny shop pumps out hundreds of sandwiches every day that would have Joey Tribbiani falling to his knees. These are real deal Jersey-style subs with Italian dressing, meat piled high and crusty bread that holds in the juices just right. While I don’t remember my hometown hole-in-the-wall scooping out ripe avocado as a turkey topper, I’m sure they’d approve. On the flip side, the Atomic, Italiano or Meatball marinara are ideal for those living in West Portal (or anywhere in the 7 mile radius) that crave no-fuss, old-school awesomeness.

At a few minutes past 4 on Labor Day Sunday, I was able to walk right up to the counter, grab the goods and go, but that is a highly unusual situation. With 2-3 guys (and sometimes mom) powering the line, this place runs like a machine, but it does have it’s limits. Every sandwich is made to order (thus explaining the weak decision of pairing provolone and pastrami, but that’s a 10 year old for you) and baked crisp, which can take a little while. From about 11:30-1:30, weekdays and weekends alike, be prepared for a bit of a wait. Of course, you can call in your order and breeze through to the pick up line if you time it right. Either way, whether or not you’re as budget savvy as a 10 year old with a couple of crisp $20s burning a hole in your pocket, that’s a small price to pay for a sandwich so right.

Submarine Center 820 Ulloa St, San Francisco, CA 94127 (415) 564-1455

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