Not just another sandwich…another GOOD sandwich: The Firehouse Subs Story

The recent opening of Firehouse Subs over on 41st Street just west of the river, got me thinking: How much access to sliced deli meat sandwiches do I really need? We already have a bajillion options for quick, submarine-style lunches. Some of them are even good! So why bother with another, unfamiliar one? I mean, other than the whole feed-the-food-blog-beast thing?

Well, I’ve disclosed this before, but I’m a sucker for subs. I love them. And there are clearly places that make a way better sandwich than some, and I can recognize that. But I even like the bad ones, and you need to know this ahead of time, just so we’re all eating from the same bowl of chili, you know?

That said, after two trips to Firehouse, I’m a fan. I’m even willing to overlook how much of a bummer the location is. Heading west on 41st, it’s very easy to pull into, though the strip mall parking lot is often nearly full. It’s trying to head back into town, after your meal, that is nearly impossible. Derek Zoolander has a better chance of turning left than you do out of this lot. But I said I was willing to overlook it, right? Right.

And it’s because the bread is fantastic. Somehow light and substantive at the same time, able to hold the mounds of meat, cheese, vegetables and sauce firmly, and not be overly chewy. And a nice, warm toast is put on it. Firehouse toasts their bread separately from the steamed cheese and meat to avoid sogginess and/or char. It’s really quite good. And when you start with a base that solid, you’re well on your way to a great sandwich.

The menu, and really everything, at Firehouse Subs is thematic. The chain is known to be “Started by Firemen,” and sandwiches like the Hook & Ladder Sub (smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham and melted Monterey Jack), or ordering your sandwich “Fully Involved” (loaded with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a dill spear on the side) pays homage to that history.

I’ve tried three of the subs, two of which I recommend. My favorite of the three was the New York Steamer Sub (top, left). A lover of cured meats, the corned beef brisket and pastrami hit me just right. They might be onto something with that steaming thing. Add in the melted provolone, mustard, mayo and Italian dressing, and this sandwich was gone quickly.

I also liked the Club on a Sub (top, right), which is the same sandwich as the Hook & Ladder Sub (which one of the workers told me was their most popular sub), but with crispy bacon added. Seriously? Who are these people who are looking at two identical sandwiches, except one has bacon added, and picking the one without the deliciousness added? I don’t know them, and I don’t want to. Anyway, this was again a good sub, and this time I added some hot sauce, which is a good time to tell you they have about 50 different hot sauces for you to choose from. So, yeah, bonus.

I accidentally tried the Firehouse Steak and Cheese when one of the servers called out “Cory,” I raised my hand, realized what was set in front was not what I ordered, but didn’t want to make a big deal out of it since it was packed, and decided just to dig in and try it. Turns out there was another Cory in the building, and I had just noshed half of his sandwich. Whoops. Either way, this one I’d pass on, but only because I think the other newbie in town, PepperJax Grill, does a better job with the cheese steak sandwich.

They’ve got a Coke Freestyle machine, so that’s cool, and the service really was great. Both in helping new people with the menu and ordering, to the speed of delivery and cleanup. And those pickle spears were crisp, great.

With so many options for sandwich shops, many of them closer to my home/work, I’m not sure how often I’ll make it out to Firehouse Subs. But writing this, and looking back on the awesome bread has me thinking it will be sooner than later.

Have you been to Firehouse Subs? What did you think? What makes a good sandwich? All very important questions. Hit me up below, and thanks for reading.