Back to Features

14-sandwich salute

And why I'll never do this again

Meconi’s Submarine Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

In a state of psychosis, I e-mailed everyone in my address book and asked each person to send me his or her top recommendation for the best sandwich in the South Sound. I told them I would eat every suggestion and then pick the best 14 on the list - ranking them in order. I also promised to purchase and deliver the top recommendation to the person who nominated it.

Interested in thoroughness, I figured my e-mail blast sampling would weed out hundreds of crappy sandwiches I'd have to eat on my own to find a decent list of the best. It worked. But I still had to eat a forest of lettuce, a stockyard of meat, and enough mayo to clog the arteries of everyone in my address book to get to the finish line.

For 12 weeks I visited dozens of recommendations. Or, in other words, I bit off more than I could possibly chew. Yes, I successfully picked the best 14 sandwiches (as promised), but at the same time, the quest managed to turn me off the things for possibly the rest of my life. With every sandwich came bagged chips and sometimes a sour pickle. The ones I ate in my car typically left stains on my pants. Some counter service folk reminded me of the soup Nazi while others sent me on my way with wrong orders. Sandwiches are also not diet food.

It's no way to make a living. But without further ado, working my way to No. 1, here are the 14 best sandwiches nominated in the South Sound by people I know:

No. 14: Best Burger's Fish Sandwich
7714 Custer Rd., Lakewood

Maybe not the "best" burger, but this drive-up shack turns out a pretty decent one. The fish sandwich ranks a cut above other fast-food fish, too - fried golden brown on a sesame seed bun with tartar sauce and lettuce.

No. 13: Joeseppi's George & Jack Hot Italian Sub
2207 N. Pearl, Tacoma

Everyone knows Joe Stortini, and to my pleasure, I discovered that he's still greeting diners who enter his restaurant as if he knows them. In his deli, the crew turns out an Italian sub with hearty meat and cheese plus fresh veggies.

No. 12: Panera Bread's Tuna Salad
Multiple locations

Although a chain, I still find redeeming value in Panera because it seems to take some care in preparing its sandwiches. The tuna salad is a hearty production at a reasonable price with chunk meat and, of course, excellent bread.

No. 11: Moon Rise Café's Monte Cristo
6020 Main St. SW, Lakewood

Just try finding a seat at lunchtime - this little café packs them in during the lunch hour. You'll likely get called "sweetie" or something from the staff. The Monte Cristo features a thick cocoon of egg-dipped bread sheltering deli meats and cheese inside. Traditional jam for dipping is accompanied with ranch dressing - hmmm.

MSM Deli’s Mike’s Deluxe. Staff photo

No. 10: MSM Deli's Turkey-Bacon
2220 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

A wide hoagie, thick and chewy, serves as the perfect platform for turkey and bacon, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts wrapped in thick butcher's paper (which works nicely as a place mat).

No. 9: The Swiss' Swiss Dip
1904 S. Jefferson, Tacoma

The atmosphere at this Tacoma pioneer alehouse is funky, active and rustic - the perfect place for a Tacoman hungry for lunch. The Swiss Dip is herb bread with roast beef, grilled green peppers and onions with Swiss cheese (of course) and au jus. Nice!

No. 8: Meconi's Submarine Sandwich
5225A Lacey Blvd., Lacey

I remember digging the old subs at K-mart when I was a kid, but those days are long over. Meconi's sub certainly weighs in as a formidable sandwich featuring loads of salami and cappicola with Italian oil and oregano on chewy bread. The cuts of meat are sensational.

No. 7: MSM Deli's Mike's Deluxe
2220 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

A second one on the list from MSM (something must be going right there). This sandwich combines ham, turkey and roast beef with crisp lettuce and tomatoes plus cheese, mustard, and mayo to equal a sandwich that takes a big appetite to finish. I love MSM's soft bread.

No. 6: Spud's Pizza Parlor's Canadian Bacon Sandwich
7025 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

This bad boy reminds me of the warm bologna sandwiches I made as a kid. While the bread is toasting, I would put the bologna on the outside of the toaster to warm it up - pissed my mom off something terrible. With quality chewy bread to start, the Canadian bacon, lettuce and sprouts share space with a gob of pizza cheese.

No. 5: Pacific Grill's BLT
1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

I couldn't resist piping in with my favorite South Sound sandwich - and yes, I get to rank it high because I have complete control of the keyboard. Served on toasted, rustic bread, it's packed with apple-smoked Wisconsin bacon, lettuce and tomato with mayo. What makes this BLT work is chewiness coupled with strong smoky meat and fresh tomato flavors. It's hearty yet not overly filling.

No. 4: Marlene's Market & Deli's Chicken Salad
2951 S. 38th St., Tacoma

I am not afraid of my wife, but she's absolutely right - Marlene's chicken salad deserves the No. 4 spot. Free range chicken carefully folded into mayo (or vegan mayo if you prefer) with crisp organic sprouts and small shredded veggies and served on healthy spelt bread, this sandwich not only tastes good, it makes you feel good. The tuna is equally good.

No. 3: Doyle's Cheesy British
208 St. Helens, Tacoma

Who doesn't love a cheesy British? Doyle's makes an excellent one with ham, turkey, and roast beef with Swiss and cheddar cheeses, lettuce, and tomato on crusty bread that should define the category for sandwich bread. Slightly chewy, mostly crunchy but not flakey - only a Guinness could top it.

No. 2: MSM Deli's Hot Reuben
2220 Sixth Ave., Tacoma

Maybe not number one, but MSM Deli certainly contributed more sandwiches to this list than any other sandwich maker. Over and over folks wrote in raving about this rough-around-the-edges deli and market at the top of Sixth Avenue's restaurant and shop row. The Reuben is served with dark rye bread, a light corned beef, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, tomatoes, lettuce and Swiss cheese. Heaven!

No. 1: Meconi's Philly Cheese
5225A Lacey Blvd., Lacey

I tip my hat to the good folks at this popular sub shop. Although a bit crammed inside, the sandwiches it turns out are big in flavor and homemade love. The Philly cheese features sliced steak, grilled green peppers, onions and mushrooms topped with mozzarella. Stacked, rich in beef flavors and hot to handle, hands down, this is the South Sound's best sandwich.

Read next close


Feel the nausea

comments powered by Disqus