bummer sandwich

submarine center, ulloa & west portal, san francisco
There's a pretty strict rule regarding negative reviews here at bxb, which is that we don't write them.  Everyone has different things that they like, and talking trash about someone's hard work never appealed to me.  So far, in the year and a half that this blog has been going, following this rule hasn't been difficult.  Sure, I've had a few disappointing sandwiches, but nothing so awful I wasn't willing to give the sandwich makers the benefit of the doubt.  So it's not lightly that I say that Submarine Center sucks and that no one should eat there. But-
Submarine Center sucks and no one should eat there!  God, what a bunch of jerks these guys were.  Els and I made a special trek out to West Portal yesterday, because we'd heard so many good things about Submarine Center and wanted to try it out.  When we arrived, the line stretched from the counter in the front of the long, narrow shop, out to the front door.  Looking over the enjoyably old-fashioned menu, we decided to try their home-roasted turkey on one sandwich, and pastrami on the other.  We reached the counter and placed our order, and then followed the couple that had ordered ahead of us to a second line leading to the cashier.  While it seemed like this line wasn't very formal- some people moved up to the front of the line when their order was called- we nevertheless waited patiently for our turn to pay.  When we reached the front of the second line, the man at the cashier gazed vacantly at me as I tried to explain what I was paying for.  I told him what we had ordered, asked for a potato salad, and pointed to the sandwiches on the counter that Els and I had been watching from the line.  "We ordered two sandwiches.... I think those ones are ours" I said, indicating the wrapped sandwiches.  At this point the man who made the sandwiches glared at us and asked, voice dripping with hostility, "You mean the ones I've been calling for the last ten minutes?"  I should point out that A) I wasn't talking to the sandwich maker, I was talking to the guy at the register, and B) I wasn't complaining, nor did I have any kind of attitude or frustration in my voice; I was just trying to communicate to the cashier which sandwiches I was paying for.  So the guy making sandwiches went out of his way to give us shit, for no reason.  I can understand that maybe there is a system at Submarine Center for paying for your sandwiches as they are called, but there's nothing to communicate this system to the customers, and neither Els nor I heard him calling our orders (we were standing in line basically in front of him, and he certainly didn't make any effort to make eye contact or communicate directly with us).  And we weren't complaining about how long the order had taken or anything else; we simply waited to order sandwiches, ordered, waited to pay for the sandwiches, and then got a load of this guy's shitty attitude for no reason.  By the way, I work a service job and have to put up with needy and rude customers all day, so don't think I don't know what it feels like to have to deal with a high volume of demanding customers.  In fact, I go out of my way to be polite to people working service jobs because I know that some customers can be a handful.  So in this case, the sandwich maker was being an asshole to us simply because he was an asshole and apparently it's totally OK to treat customers that way at Submarine Center.
Now I know that, if you are like me, you are thinking "So you had a crappy experience but what about the SANDWICH".  The sandwich was boring and plain and devoid of anything noteworthy.  The bread was dry and flavorless, the turkey was forgettable, the "secret sauce" tasted like the Submarine Sauce you can buy at Safeway (which in turn tastes more or less like Italian dressing).  If Submarine Center had charm I would have given the sandwich credit for being just an old-fashioned sub from a unpretentious sandwich vendor, but do you want to put up with people giving you shit just so that you can buy a bland sub?  I don't.  Els and I had made plans to come back and try out different subs while we were waiting to pay, but after experiencing their terrible brand of customer service, why would I ever go out of my way to go back to this place?

Oh yeah their potato salad sucked too.  Screw this place.


  1. sandwich drama! good thing it's way out there. i wouldn't have gone either way!

  2. Give this place another try- it truly is amazing and with all the times I've been there, not once have the employees been rude. Everyone can have an off day

  3. yeah.... this place gets a lot of praise on the internet, and I definitely get the impression that for a lot of people, its a favorite. but frankly I've been to so many great sandwich shops around the city, why would I want to return to one that was such a negative experience? I'm sad that I didn't experience what other people are experiencing about this place, but I don't really feel a desire to go back. Maybe someday...