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Feb 22, 2007 08:22 AM

Subs in Somerville / Cambridge

Any favorites? I'm talking about simple casual sub joints like Leone's on Broadway, not sit down restaurants. Non-sub sandwiches are ok too, I'm just interested in a good counter service place (even take-out only) where you can get a really good sandwich.

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    1. re: finlero

      One place I did not mention in that thread, but have been scoping out is Two Dad's Sub Shop on Cross St. I had been there under previous ownership and the new owners seem to be doing a pretty good job. I had a really satisfying and totally greasy steak bomb (they are one of the places that make it with salami). The grill guy must have spent a 1/2 hour dicing and scrambling the steak. They also have some of the least expensive fried clam prices around, but not certain how much seafood business and haven't tried it for the team (the original owners offered lobster rolls and the whole shebang). They have slightly weird hours, which has limited my chowing and also make it difficult to do a Louie's run (when they open up for the season) combined with a visit there, but it totally fits what the OP is looking for.

      There also is a recent Roast Beef Sandwich thread that has some suggestions. Several folks have been happy with Skampa that I suggested.

      If you go to lower broadway in Somerville you can do a taqueria crawl, most of them offering tortas (Montecristo, Taco Loco, Los Paisanos is Guatamalan but still has tortas think its still open, we lost Tapatio for now to fire). Also could try a brazilian x-tudo or x-frango at Pastelaria Vitoria. Also J+J's on Washington is great for a beef prego or bifana, but has a full sub menu (counter service for subs only, regular menu in the "dining room")

      The Il Panino Express in Cambridge has some excellent offerings, but +/- bread, not quite takeout only though. Lastly you could always try the Portuguese Man-o-War sub at the Snack Bar.

      1. re: itaunas

        Didn't see this place mentioned in the above thread, either, but I really like the subs at the Half Shell, on Mass Ave. just south of Porter Square in Cambridge. For me, the sub roll makes the difference between them and a lot of places: fresh, with a slightly crusty outside and bread that's not too hard, not too soft.

        1. re: bachslunch

          Strongly second the Half Shell and Il Panino Express suggestions. Stay away from Three Aces, which I once saw recommended on this board.

          1. re: a_and_w

            the menu has a chicken gyro sub. has anybody tried this?

            three aces is a joke. it stays in business because 2,000 law students have no close alternative.

            1. re: fenian

              so i tried this chicken gyro sub. it wasn't a chicken gyro at all, it was chicken kebab, but it was solid.

        2. re: itaunas

          Hey itaunus- tried my first prego at J&J's today. Thank you thank you for mentioning it. All I can say is WOW -- garlicky to the max, tender flavorful beef and lettuce, tomato, onions and peppers on a roll. What else is in that marinade? It's delicious!

          Also got a chicken croquette which I didn't love but I can see the point of ... it's very filling (shredded chicken held together with cream cheese?) for $1.50.

          My whole lunch cost $4.50 and the dining room was full at about 1:30 with very happy patrons. As mentioned above, I took my sub to go because it's counter service for subs only.

          Great recommendation, thanks again!

          1. re: yumyum

            Glad it worked out!

            The marinade would definately include garlic and salt, some portugese paprika (colorau), wine or vinegar... and then could include bay leaves, black pepper, piri piri pepper, some olive oil and so on in that order. I think J&J's does it on the charbroiler which is nicer than other places in town and they get it nice and spicy, without too much paprika.

            The actual name is "prego no pao" which might lead you to an actual recipe. But you are probably better searching on "portuguese marinade" or "vinha-d'alhos" (as in carne vinha-d'alhos) and modifying the ingredients to your liking.

            Colorau is very earthy and stronger than some paprika's. Portuguese olive oil also has a strong flavor, while the portuguese wines used to marinate would be on the lighter side. Fernandes or Courthouse on Cambridge st are probably the better sources for ingredients (including the portuguese equivalent of "italian seasoning") and would probably give you a recipe, but Market Basket also has everything in the Goncalves brand. And always look in the plastic trash buckets at Courthouse for olives and portuguese hot peppers!

            From what I recall J&J's offers Brazilian coxinhas (what you had) and Kibbe, along with Portuguese bolinhas de bacalhau (salt cod cakes) and rissois de camarao (fried pastries with shrimp paste). They and Casal bakery really bomb on the Brazilian ones, although there is a Portuguese social club which made an excellent Kibbe for a while. I have done well with the Rissois de camarao there, but we specifically ordered 6 and had them fried to order. I think just about everybody in town (I believe including O'Cantinho) uses frozen rissois and you would be lucky to find a shrimp. In any case, try to order something that isn't in the case and have it fried and stick to the Portuguese pastries.

            1. re: itaunas

              Thanks for the additional tutelage -- the marinade had a bright orange/red color to it and just a little spicy kick but not too much. Couldn't taste any wine but the garlic smells soooo good while they grill it, I kept hoping that whatever they were making was for ME, and it was!

              They had salt cod cakes, some pastries described in English only as "shrimp" and the chicken all warm and ready to go in the container on the counter. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, because I would have been happy with just the sandwich.

              The young woman who took my order was very nice -- asked me what I wanted on the prego and when it was clear I didn't really know, I said "whatever makes it really good?" and she just smiled and said "everything". Yep. Everything.

          2. re: itaunas

            I've walked by "Two Dads" a few times and wondered. I'll have to check them out.

            What do you like at Louie's? Do you eat there or just get ice cream? That East Broadway stretch is my neighborhood (tho I'm new, moved here from New Mexico last summer). I had ice cream at Louie's a few times last summer but wasn't too impressed.

            The taqueria crawl is ok, though as someone who has lived in San Francisco and New Mexico, there's nothing on that stretch I love. Tapatio, which burned, was my favorite. Only went to Los Paisanos once but thought it was really bad at the time. Taco Loco is ok, Montecristo does some good plates, but the "Sanitation - D" decal on the door makes things less appetizing.

            I'm not a big sub eater, but I'm trying them more often to get into what seems to be a native Bostonian food. Theres some good ones! Vinnie's and Leone's are the two I've been to more than once. I'll make a point to check out J&J's, and Two Dads - thanks for the tips.

            1. re: andytee

              Do yourself a favor and check out Tacos Lupita, close to Porter Square in Somerville. No, they are not as good as you'll find in California, but they're awfully good. My favorite Mexican food cooked by Mexicans (as opposed to lots of Salvadoran joints around) is Taqueria la Mexicana in Union Square, not far from J&J in Somerville.

              I've not been that impressed with the tacos in your hood (which kinda neighbors my hood) but have heard good things about heaping plates of breakfast fare (someone help me out, platos mountanas? Something that sounds like "mountain of food")

              1. re: yumyum

                Oh, I have been to Lupita's, for sure.. Just didn't want to take the thread too far off topic. They are the best I have had yet in Boston. Not more than "passable" compared to my favorites in CA, but good enough to reccomend. I've been to La Mexicana, too, which I like better than the Salvadorean joints on my block, but not by much. I hear El Pelon is really good, thats next on my list.

                And, yep, the Salvadorean joints do plates much better. When I look around, its mostly the white folks ordering tacos and burritos. Havent had breakfast there yet, but carne asada and such have done me well.

                1. re: yumyum

                  I have this board and yumyum's constant posting on Tacos Lupita to thank for finding this gem. The carnitas torta is quite tasty.

                  1. re: gini

                    Oh god. I really am johnny one-note, huh? I prefer the carne asada torta myself. But you guys probably know that.

                    The chorus: "Yes, we know it already. We know it."

                    1. re: yumyum

                      No, No, No, I love it. Everybody else is getting really annoyed, though.

                      Every time you post about it, we're reminded how damn tasty that place is. This coming from the Gargoyle's one-note herself.

                      1. re: gini

                        This is the last I'll say on the topic (for a few days) but my new dream sandwich is the marinated garlicky beef from J&J replacing the steak on the carne asada torta so you get the melty beans, big chunks of avocado, and jalapeno peppers in a toasted torta roll. Put a fork in me, I'm done.

            1. re: andytee

              Well, that's primarily a Somerville thread; some people may want to drop some Cambridge knowledge...

            2. BFP and I became very fond of the subs at Mona Lisa on Cambridge Street in Cambridge (in between Darwin's and Skenderian Apothecary.) Very good old-school Italian cold-cut subs. Sadly, they seem to have dropped the really excellent near-baguette bread that they formerly used in favor of a pretty ordinary sub roll, but the sandwiches themselves are still really tasty.

              1. One other place to check out in Somerville is City Slickers on Somerville Ave. They've redone the place and the interior is quite nice, but the food is the main draw. I tried the cuban (just okay) but am meaning to go back to try the pulled pork. The menu is on foodler, if you want to take a closer look.

                1. Kendall House of Pizza on 3rd St in Cambridge might do the trick, they'll ask if you want your sub toasted in the pizza oven which is a nice option. They have gyros, too, which is sometimes just what you're in the mood for. Their other restaurant, DesFina's, is across the street for when you want greek food in a sit-down environment.