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I might get my Hound card taken away, but I had an amazing sandwich


at the Subway in Acton next to the Bueno Y Sano. Thought I should chime in given the longstanding thread about Acton-Concord having no good restaurants.

I think this Subway is a separate, non-franchise one. The menu was huge. Service was exceptional, dining area was clean. I had a meatball sub with an onion sauce, black olives, and lettuce, plus some savory tomato sauce. And I gotta admit: It tasted luscious. And it cost $3.99 for a half.

Also overheard another customer mentioning their housemade desserts. Not sure if this is true or not, but it sounded like he was saying the owner's mom bakes them each day.

Can't believe I'm shillin' for Subway, but it was an unusually delicious sandwich in a barren corner of the world.

  1. Interesting

    Most franchise places have pretty strict rules about "how things work."

    Personally, I think Subway is disgusting but the idea that a franchisee breaks the mold is great.

    25 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      I've absolutely never had anything from a Subway that I would ever eat again and have sworn off the chain after my last bag of suck.

      Cool to hear someone is breaking the mold.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        SG, I'm with you. Disgusting corporate swill is not a part of my regular or even infrequent diet. Mold can be bad or good depending what you compare it with. I just read somewhere very recently that there are about 40 thousand Subways worldwide in over 120 countries, scary how far the American crap cheap food mentality has spread.

        1. re: Ora Moose

          I see nothing disgusting about (a) meat (b) bread (c) fresh vegetables, or see why any of those things should be considered "crap" or compared to mold.

          Yes, Subways are franchises and their meat/bread are mass produced for their stores. No, they aren't 'deli quality'. But c'mon. At its core, it's a great option compared to fast food burgers/fries.

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Isn't that what's in fast food burgers too??? If you dont care about quality and want to just break everything down to main elements of meat/bread/veggies..

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              I dunno, I say this as someone who really doesn't mind most fast food options but I'm always disappointed when I've had subway

              1. re: jgg13

                Yah the post Subway "gosh I wish I hadn't eaten that" feeling.

              2. re: Boston_Otter

                I'm sorry but Subway was good 10 years ago but now it's disgusting.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  I know it's difficult to stop generalizing. Subways in the burbs where word of mouth can make or break, and the kid behind the counter could be related to the police chief, are often pretty good. So either take a trip to acton or just take the op's word.

                  1. re: libertywharf

                    you are totally missing my point. I dont care who the kid is or where the location is. The meatballs and the sauce and the bread dough, all come from the same place, made by the same people. It is the subway (and most franchises) rules, it is right on their website. It is like saying one mcdonalds makes a better .99 cheeseburger than another. Sure maybe you can hit one when its hotter or something but the meat, bread, etc all come from the same mcds supply chain.

                    1. re: hargau

                      I'm amazed at the number of people here who don't seem to understand that the point of a fast food chain restaurant is that the food is the same no matter where you go.

                      1. re: hargau

                        The fact is this: Subway shops have a ton of leeway in how they run their franchises. Many are sloppy and gross. But I've been to individual local shops that take a lot of care and pride in their product, and that extra care and time really, really makes a difference in the end product.

                        The OP says they had a great sandwich in an unexpected place, and that's what Chowhound is all about. Claiming they must be mistaken or insinuating that other people here didn't eat the good food they claimed to have eaten is not good board behavior.

                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                            I don't understand how the product can be any better or worse. The overall experience? Sure. A chain like this can vary in terms of cleanliness or friendliness or how fast you get your meal.

                            But it's not like anyone is doing any cooking in these places. How can the product be any different?

                            1. re: LeoLioness

                              The chowder at legal's isn't made at each location and often days before it's served to the customer. If you want to start dissecting rests, you're going to be disappointed a lot.
                              To the poster who asked that I name the good subways, the op gave the location of her subway, start there and let us know what you thought.

                            2. re: Boston_Otter

                              I think the second paragraph of BostonOtter's comment really says it all.
                              I don't like Subway..I've never liked it. I don't even like the smell when you walk into a Subway...however..you never know when you might find yourself with someone who loves Subway and enjoys their food. In this case..it's nice to have an objective recommendation for something to try.

                              As to the comments about chains all being exactly the same..the quality and experience can vary greatly from location to location.

                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                I think the OP has to try the meatball subs at one or two other random Subways to see if the Acton version is superior. Maybe the OP has simply discovered s/he likes Subway meatball subs.
                                But a non-franchise Subway? Hard to believe corporate would allow such a place to exist.

                                1. re: katzzz

                                  My point exactly..
                                  and no it does not exist

                              2. re: hargau

                                Yes, I understand about the meatballs. My point is some franchises do things better like tossing all the meats at the end of the day where some hang on to them.
                                You seem fixed on not budging but again, take the trip to acton if you want to imply that the op doesn't have a clue.

                                1. re: libertywharf

                                  New definition of "chowish"... anything that can be eaten that isn't past its expiration date.. nice...

                                  I am fixed on a few things 1) They all have the same meat, bread, sauce. 2) This IS part of the main franchise. 3) Maybe the op just happens to like subway meatball subs.. doesnt mean this one is different. 4) There are some very good places to get a sub, a few in walking distances of this location.

                                  I think i will take a trip to acton, just to try the delicious homemade desserts that i read about.. i am curious to see.

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    Once again, to be clear:
                                    - Having the same meat, bread, and sauce delivered to the store does not mean that the customer gets exactly the same end product when they buy a sub. If it's been cooked well, it's fresh -- then you're getting decent meatballs on fresh bread with decent sauce. It's a little insulting to keep insisting that the OP didn't eat a decent sandwich.

                                    - It doesn't matter if it's 'part of the franchise'. Subway franchises have tons of leeway in how they run their place. I've had all sorts of interesting subs that are unique to individual franchises, as well as unique toppings, unique sauces, and even unique breads. So if the OP went to an above-average Subway, I tend to believe them.

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      Agreed; and I agree even the taste of coffee at McDonalds varies from store to store. Some brew it stronger than others. Even I know Subway started popping up in college campuses and they sell honey buns at the one I went to.

                                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                                        The idea that you insist that they are actually "cooking" decent meatballs and sauce at subway is insulting.. It is no different than if i tried to convince you that the mcdonalds near me cooks a decent hamburger, actually mcdonalds does more cooking to their hamburgers than subway to the meatballs. You like subway, that is fine. But dont try to make it out to be something it is not.

                                        My simple question to the op was if they had ever had one of the meatball subs at a different subway.. Maybe they just happen to like subway meatball subs.. nothing wrong with that, but doesnt mean they are different here or they are not part of the franchise, which is absurd.

                                2. re: libertywharf

                                  Can you specify which of these suburban locations fall into this category and elaborate on what makes them better? Does being related to the police chief make one better at microwaving meatballs?

                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                    The subway meatballs aren't microwaved. I doubt that you'll even find a microwave in most subways. So much for your knowledge.

                      2. I never even noticed there was a subway there.. I hate subway so much that i dont even see them anymore. I hate everything about the place! I checked the corporate subway site and that one is on there as part of the same franchise and all. If i was in that area and wanted a sandwich i would have traveled about the same distance the opposite direction and gone to T.C Landos... They make awesome subs.. Amazing steak and cheese and chicken subs, many types to choose from. Yes meatball too (although i have not tried it).. Same franchise as Carls in Waltham that so many rave about.. http://thecheesesteakguys.com/landos/
                        You can also get a pretty good (but pricey) sandwich at Idylwilde farm not too far away from there. If in the mood for fish, Twin Seafood in Acton is not far from there either and makes great stuff.
                        Perhaps the memory of how horrible Bueno Y Sano is, made your subway taste better! :)

                        1. Quite the contrary...you get an endorsement on your Hound card for finding good chow in a place most would ignore. Nothing could be more Chowish than posting about the one Subway that serves great food.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                            This is an interesting opinion but I don't think I agree with it.

                            I think one thing to wonder is what, exactly, "finding good chow" means here. It's quite a stretch to imagine that OP has stumbled upon some sort of hyper-unique rebel-Subway. That would indeed be quite interesting. But the odds overwhelmingly suggest that she has discovered that she enjoys Subway, and this is totally unremarkable. It's rather like discovering that you find television enjoyable. Millions of people find Subway tasty. It's highly unlikely that this is anything other than just a well-run outfit.

                            On the subject of bravely discovering quality in a "place most would ignore," I think this smacks of a humorous sort of elitism. Most people don't ignore Subway. It's true that most self-styled "hounds" ignore Subway, but the idea of a food snob walking into a fast food restaurant and discovering that it's actually tasty is so obviously comical that I'd guess Saturday Night Live did this exact skit years ago. My god -- you mean to tell me that some of the lurches and lowlifes eating at Subway aren't there just to blindly stuff their yawning gullets? Someone get Jane Goodall on the phone!

                            If you're looking for something interesting to eat and are faced with five restaurants you've never been to, one of which is a Subway, you've chosen poorly if you choose the Subway. The chances of finding something interesting there are essentially zero; fast food is supposed to be an extremely low-risk option, and the industry strives to eliminate variability. If you walk into a Subway with an open mind, you've either never been in a Subway or you're naive. The third option, of course, is that you might actually like Subway. But this, I think, is unworthy of discussion.

                            1. re: FinnFPM

                              How about if you've been to all five restaurants and choose the subway? Is that still a poor decision by your standard? I see people who eat at chowhound approved rests and still go to subway.

                              1. re: libertywharf

                                If you've eaten at all 5 restaurants and you judge Subway to be your best option, then that is by no means a poor choice in my book. Having eaten at all of the restaurants would mean you have a lot of strong priors upon which to base your decision, and it'd just come down to personal preference. That's fine.

                                Basically in that situation, you have a lot of experience to draw on. But in the other (you have not been to any of them), then the only real information you have is that if you choose Subway, you are almost certainly going to get the same meal you could get at any one of their thousands of locations. So that is your worst option if you're trying to maximize your "hounding" so to speak. If you're just trying to grab a quick bite, that's a different story, but this is about trying to get stamps on your "Hound" card.

                                1. re: FinnFPM

                                  You have a lot to say about something "unworthy of discussion". I never got the hound card when I signed up. I thought that the site was for people to share experiences on places to eat.

                                  1. re: libertywharf

                                    If you're feeling standoffish about the Hound card metaphor, take it up with Swank.

                              2. re: FinnFPM

                                Pretty funny post - that's a great skit idea.

                                I get that you're skeptical, but if someone finds a mythical Subway that's serving unique chow, I want to hear about it and I take it at face value. Then it's up to others (or me) to confirm or debunk based on actual data and not necessarily predisposed notions and conjecture.

                                Many years ago, I stopped at a Taco Bell in Hagerstown, MD and had soft tacos that had beautiful, fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro - totally unlike anything I had at any other Taco Hell. As a hound, if I found out that this particular TB used local produce and operated outside the standard dev of TH nationwide, I think it's appropriate to post.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  I am still waiting to hear back from the OP as to if this is a better subway than others. We must know, have they tried the meatball sub at any other subway before... How can you say it is better than other ones unless you have eaten ones that were not good. Of course if you had eaten ones at other subways that were not good, why on earth would you have ordered it at another subway?? You likely wouldnt.. So if they have never had one before, maybe they have just discovered that they actually like subway meatball subs and there is nothing special about the one at this particular location. (that buys all the precooked ingredients from the same place as all the other locations)

                                  I am still going by the theory that the site and memory of how awful Bueno Y Sano is, had something to do with it!

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    I must admit, whether or not a poster has enough hound cred to judge a subway sub is not something I thought I'd see here :)

                                  2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                    This might no longer be true but at least as of ~20 years ago there were two levels of TB franchises, I forget the terms but one was more independent than the other. The more indie ones were given a lot more latitude although I believe they were supposed to only use normal TB ingredients.

                                    There was one of these near where I went to college and we'd go out of our way to go to that one as they'd have fan favorite items looooooong after they'd disappeared from the other TBs.

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      Interesting....had no idea....but that has no place on this board. ;-)

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        The things one learns on alt.food.taco-bell in the halcyon days of usenet

                                    2. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      I certainly agree that such a Subway would be worthy of mention. But we disagree on whether or not we have "actual data." We do have data, and lots of it. We've all eaten at Subway. We have lots of data on Subway!

                                      To say that we cannot make an educated guess about the probability that this Subway is really special is just wrong. We may absolutely differ on our estimates. You seem to afford OP a much greater benefit of the doubt than I do, and that's fine. It's not that we don't know anything. It's really that we are weighting what we do know differently.

                                2. Luscious?

                                  I suppose I used to like slices from Little Steve's when I was drunk.

                                  1. I've never had any problem with Subway as a chain, and just roll my eyes at people who complain about the supposed "Subway Stench" or that they have "fake meat", etc etc.

                                    Subway franchises seem to have an unexpected flexibility, and I've definitely had some above-average experiences at them. The location near me used to serve a Chicken Tikka sub and was run by an awesome guy named Sunny who'd examine the ingredients and make sure everything was top-notch.

                                    When I went to college, the Subway near campus had a vegan black bean sub that was pretty killer, and they featured a dozen hot sauces to douse your sub in; eating a 6" with the hottest one got your name on an engraved plaque on the Wall of Flame.

                                    1. Does this location have that gross fake bread/sweet smell wafting out of the shop? I stopped in a Subway last week to get a bottle of water at the attached mini-mart and thought I would get sick. The odor was on par with Yankee Candle or Lush in terms of Strong and Bad.

                                      1. Subway's are owned by individuals and have tough corporate inspectors who routinely pop in and stay for hours.
                                        The bread is cooked daily as well as the cookies, the smell is real and many like it.
                                        The meatball subs are very good.
                                        You can't beat the price especially when you factor in the reward card.
                                        Whether chowhounds like subway or not, the franchises are very successful and most of them are very clean.

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: libertywharf

                                          Taco Bell is also very successful and I'm sure really cheap. If that's the standard of quality, we're all in trouble.

                                          1. re: libertywharf

                                            Olive Garden always has a line and great prices too.. I wouldnt eat there if paid!

                                            1. re: hargau

                                              ...I would probably eat there if paid. Just in case any lurkers out there are interested in paying someone to eat at Olive Garden. Holler.

                                              1. re: hargau

                                                Depends how much time you have on your hands and how much you want to spend. For lunch under 15 minutes, the right subway can be just fine. There are also a few olive gardens out there that aren't bad either.

                                                1. re: libertywharf

                                                  ROFL. Sorry, no...all Olive Garden's suck. I'd rather skip a meal.

                                                  1. re: Gabatta

                                                    I think you're missing the op's point. She didn't say all subways are great. Rather she named a specific location which gives all doubters the chance to take a ride and give it their once over. For five or six bucks plus possibly a tip, it's really hard to find fault with much.

                                                    1. re: libertywharf

                                                      A tip? At Subway? I live in Canada. A footlong sub at Subway can run me nearly $10 with tax. Unless I have no pockets in which to place the change from my $10 dollar bill, I'll be taking my change, thanks! An experience at Subway here can be most frustrating. Ask for onions, pickles, jalapenos or olives and you might get your sub coated in them. Ask for spinach and you're lucky to get 7 or 8 leaves. It's just one of those things. When the tomatoes are white with wooden cores, the server is suddenly feeling generous and gives more than you could possibly want. When the tomatoes are red and ripe, the server is overtaken by stinginess, offering only a couple of slices. Obviously, this is not consistent across the board, but I guess that's my point. It's impossible to make a blanket statement that Subway franchises are clean, well run and consistent. I've ordered a footlong meatball sub and received 7 or 8 meatballs, but other times, received 10. Some places drain the meatballs from the sauce while others pile on both sauce and meatballs, making a sloppy, but tastier sandwich. I've had two subs with avocado from two different franchises. At one, they used a small ice cream scoop, similar to one they'd use for tuna salad. At the other, the avocado puree was in a squeezee bag. Needless to say, the quantities at each place were quite different.

                                                      I can believe that one local Subway outlet can make a much better composed sandwich than another, if the owner/manager demands consistency when training staff, but the more likely scenario is that the OP's "luscious" sandwich was either a one-off stroke of luck, or the work of one single talented server. I have definitely had pretty good subs, or I'd never return. I have also experienced terrible subs, either made by idiots, unreasonably frugal franchise owners or newbies that mean well, but have no concept of the soft sub bun's threshold for wet toppings. If you're eating in your car, that's a recipe for disaster. Consistency would be great. At least I could be sure that a tablespoon of mayo is a tablespoon, and not a quarter of a cup.

                                                      1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                        I am also going to venture to say that they are not making the meatballs or the sauce at the subway. So it would be the corporate supplier that supplies them all either canned or frozen. The bread is made from the same corporate dough at all locations. So it is difficult for me to imagine what one location could possibly do with the same ingredients other than give 1-2 +/- meatballs or various levels of the same sauce.

                                                        From the subway website: "13. Why do I have to order my supplies from your vendor?

                                                        We require all franchisees to order food from an approved food distributor. This ensures that all SUBWAY® restaurants have the best quality food while allowing maximum savings. SUBWAY® has an Independent Purchasing Cooperative (IPC). IPC is a franchisee-owned and operated purchasing cooperative that negotiates the lowest costs for goods and services while maintaining quality, standards and ensuring the best value for SUBWAY® franchisees."

                                                        I am curious if the OP has had the subway meatball sub at other subways?? Maybe they like all the subway meatball subs?

                                                        1. re: hargau

                                                          Yeah, that's what I was thinking. If you like Subway's meatball sub then that's what you like (Egg McMuffin forever over here, so I'm not exactly judging).

                                                          But it's not like someone's nonna is making the meatballs or the counter person added a touch more oregano in the sauce. Nothing is being cooked on the premises.

                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                            exactly. IF the op had said " i have eaten many subway meatball subs and they taste like Franco American, but this one tasted like my italian grandma made it" then i would say hmmm, but still not see how that could happen with the same sourced precooked ingredients.

                                                            Mind you i am not judging either, i like a Filet O Fish a few times a year!

                                                        2. re: 1sweetpea

                                                          I stopped eating subway when the white sub roll turned into a sweet fluffy hotdog roll, but the thing I liked about subway is that they made the sandwich in front of you - so you could say - "more of that/less of that" while they were making it.

                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                            Sweetpea: again, the post is directed at one subway in acton, ma. which is far away from Canada and its inflation.

                                                    2. re: hargau

                                                      just curious if you actually ever ate at one and what was so bad that you had?

                                                      1. re: chompie

                                                        Chompie, yes i have several times. I have tried most of their cold cuts unfortunately.. (cause others with me found them to also be "luscious"...) I have also tried their meatballs.. I find their coldcuts to be low quality (and mostly turkey based), i dont like their breads.... The point is that within 3 miles of the location stated, there are at least 7-8 places that will make a much better sandwich, with better ingredients.

                                                    3. re: libertywharf

                                                      Really? The "It's successful, so it must be doing something right" argument? On Chowhound?



                                                    4. Blech - this must be quite an outlier in the chain - I hope they never get caught and corrected for their customers' sake

                                                      I am still never setting foot in Subway again after 3 attempts in 3 different states out of desperation / hunger while traveling that ended in throwing away most of the food except for the bag of chips

                                                      Now - I usually cross the street to minimize that foul odor (bread? baking) that is apparently to some people what the taste of cilantro is to me (wonderful) but not others...I find it far more offensive than Olive Garden (I have eaten there twice in my life and can imagine a third time at some point in some remote mall parking lot where Subway and Burger King are the only other options).

                                                      1. Ironically, there is excellent, Hound-worthy, brick oven pizza right next door at Sorrento's. Thin crust with a bit of char, sweet but not cloying sauce, light cheese. A wide variety of traditional and specialty pies. Worth a drive.

                                                        They also have a full selection of subs. Have not tried them, but I'd expect them to be excellent as well.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: PeterHG

                                                            Sorrento's is pretty good. Best pizza I've come across in the area.

                                                          2. You never know where you will find some very tasty food, I discovered the bean burritos from Market Basket to be quite fantastic. They are pre-made in house and I take it home and heat it for 20 minutes, fantastic! Almost always available at the Salem, MA location.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: drewinmrblhd

                                                              Good to know for a work lunch option, drew. Thanks! Are they in the cold case near the salads and such?

                                                            2. This is the funnest thread since that dude hated on Strip-T's a while back.

                                                              1. Oh my. That's all I can say to this.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. Let me put it this way--the worst meal I had on a two-week trip to Ireland back in 1995 was at a Subway. Think about that for a second.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: hiddenboston

                                                                    Went to a Subway in Ireland, Why?

                                                                    1. re: treb

                                                                      I was (literally) getting sick of the bad food from the pubs, so I went to a Subway and soon realized that maybe the pub food wasn't so bad after all. I think Guinness may have played a factor in my decision-making as well, though I don't remember.

                                                                  2. Folks, not surprisingly, this thread got a little testy, as well as pretty off-topic (and then the off-topic sub-threads also got a little testy). We're going to lock it now.