You may have noticed I'm a fan of sandwiches. I've probably spent more time waiting in line for sandwiches more than anything else (and I'm really impatient.) But this place wins me over a little more than anywhere else I've been.
For one, in a city where restaurants come and go, Submarine Center is a place that's stood the test of time, perhaps even growing in popularity, as it nears its third decade at the mouth of the West Portal Muni station. Second, it's a family-run place that consistantly serves sandwiches that are honest, sincere and downright delicious. No fancy names, secret sauces or 2-pound 15-ingredient behemoths here.
But for me, mostly I like going here because it takes me back to my junior high days, when my best friend I. and I used to walk here after school. We'd laugh and talk about our day over sandwiches before I would jump on the Muni traveling inbound and she would ride the one heading outbound.
We were kind of an odd pair. We met in the schoolyard in 2nd grade where she was the cool, tough girl that everyone wanted on their team, and I was a sissy girly-girl that never got picked for anything. Somehow she befriended me (I never quite figured out why) and I was always a little bit in awe of her. I admired her spunk, her spirit, and her strength.
It was usually pastrami for her and either turkey or the mini sub for me when we both had money. Some days we had to make due and share. I'm happy to say that years later, the sandwiches amazingly still taste the same. They come in three sizes: mini, center and super. Like I said, it's nothing fancy. And anyone can toast their sandwiches.
But somehow their freshly sliced meats, savory melty cheese, crisp lettuce & tomato, and creamy smear of mustard and mayo all ends up coming together perfectly in your mouth. Factor in light, toasty bread and the slight tang of dressing and you have something really special. Something that you'll think about and can't wait to have again and again. (And it's not just me, over 600 Yelpers give this place 4 1/2 stars.)
It's been many many moons since junior high, and I still come here often. I love that the same kind, curly-haired gentleman is still there behind the counter. But on this sunny Saturday, I wanted to come here because I wanted to think of my best friend. Life can take twists and turns, and if you're lucky enough, you'll have that one person who can help make that ride just a little bit smoother. And she's my person. I'm still in awe of you, I., and I am thinking of you today.