What's good at Subway?
June 17, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

A Subway franchise has opened right across the hall from my office. I haven't been to a Subway in years, and am not a huge fan, but the convenience and cost angles are compelling. So what do I get?

I don't particularly want a series of sub-optimal experiments, so I'm turning to you. Help me optimize my Subway experience!
posted by MrMoonPie to Food & Drink (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I get whatever's on sale, then customize. For me, Subway is a salad disguised as a sandwich.
posted by theora55 at 8:33 AM on June 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

It is possible to have a healthy-ish experience at Subway.

My standard is a turkey/cheese sub. I particularly like wheat honey oat bread, spinach and avocado (although some places actually cut an avocado and some may have some kind of liquidy-squirt out of the tube type avocado - ew - which is when I pass!)

The sweet onion topping is VERY good, along with the oil/vinegar, salt/pepper. Make sure to request oregano as well, adds a nice touch to deli sandwiches (I've actually started adding it to my deli sandwiches I make at home and it does add a nice flavor). Obviously, some of the sandwich is more healthy than other bits.

And don't know if you are a tea drinker, but I am always disappointed in their tea, both sweet and unsweetened.
posted by foxhat10 at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2014

I have a Subway that is in the middle of a long drive back from MA to VT and am always trying to eat something there that is borderline healthy. I like their meatball subs but they are not healthy particularly and are incredibly sloppy. My usual is grilled chicken on flatbread with bacon and mozzarella, with green peppers & chipotle sauce. Grilled so the cheese melts & everything is borderline warm. They've got a decent nutrition section on their website so if you're concerned about salt or fat or calories, it's a good place to eat where you can actually figure some of that stuff out. From a value perspective getting whatever's on special or one of their $5 footlong things is a good way to get basically two sandwiches for $5. Not worth it if the place is packed because the whole assembly line ordering can be a hassle but especially if you can call in an order or if you eat at off times.
posted by jessamyn at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2014

I'm partial to the sweet onion chicken teriyaki. I get it almost every single time and have for years. While the calorie count is low, it is high in sugar.
posted by megancita at 8:39 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

They do a daily 6" special thing for the protein choice. When I go to Subway, I get whatever the cheap thing of the day is. They have spinach. They generally only put the corporate-approved number of 3 spinaches on your sandwich, but if you smile nicely and say, oh, actually, could you please just put a little bit more spinach on? they will top you off.

I always get the sweet onion sauce instead of mayo or whatever. It's pretty good.

There are certainly worse places than Subway.

Also, protip: if you go to the website on the bottom of your receipt and take the survey, you get a code for a free cookie. This is printed on every receipt. If you're good about keeping track of your receipts and doing the survey, you can ride the free cookie train for your entire Subway-eating tenure.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 AM on June 17, 2014 [16 favorites]

I don't like the sandwiches but those cookies have something addictive in them.
posted by ostro at 8:44 AM on June 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Turkey Bacon Avocado - add ranch sauce and maybe salt - the avocado isn't always available and it is a spread, not slices.
Skip the iceberg lettuce and get spinach - but be sure to add some sauce
I agree that the sweet onion sauce is the best one, fat free but high in sugar.

I usually get the flatbread, but they have to toast it with the meat/cheese then, or at least they say you really should toast it. This results in a less bready sandwich and I like that, but ymmv. If you don't like bread at all, you can have any sandwich made as a salad, but it will take longer as they chop some of the things up.

corporate-approved number of 3 spinaches
I thought that was olives? I always get a large handful of spinach.
posted by soelo at 8:48 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't like the special of the day (frequently I don't), my favorite choices are: turkey breast, or Italian BMT (salami, pepperoni, and ham) loaded with pretty much every vegetable on offer. I keep to the cold cuts. For whatever reason, the other stuff usually does not seem appetizing to me and it is not as good a background to add ALL THE VEGETABLES.

I get vinegar and oil and salt and pepper for seasoning. Much better than mayo.

If you're planning to eat, say, half of a footlong later, don't get it toasted. It'll keep better cold.

If you're good about keeping track of your receipts and doing the survey, you can ride the free cookie train for your entire Subway-eating tenure.


posted by grouse at 8:49 AM on June 17, 2014

At Subway, a "toasted" sandwich always tastes much better to me than a non-toasted sandwich.

I usually get a spicy italian or a turkey/swiss, then add a bunch of veges and oregano. If I'm eating in store, I also add oil/vinegar.
posted by rakaidan at 8:49 AM on June 17, 2014

I always get a veggie sub and pile on the veggies. I try to get the bread with the most fiber, can't remember it off the top of my head. I'm a fan of spicy stuff so I get pepper jack cheese and jalapenos. I usually get a tiny bit of the lite mayo, but I've also done the oil/vinegar as well as ranch.

It pretty much ends up as a salad on bread.
posted by kathrynm at 8:49 AM on June 17, 2014

They do a nice chopped salad. Order the baby spinach rather than the nasty lettuce shreds, topped with with roast chicken. Load up on veggies - banana peppers, onions and black olives are usually quite nice, the tomatoes and shredded lettuce aren't, and get a look at the bell pepper to make sure it's fresh before ordering. Sliced jalapeño if the banana peppers aren't enough heat. I skip the cheese, but the shredded cheddar is ideal for this.

I usually get a little oil and vinegar as the dressing - tell them to go very easy on the dressing or they'll drown it. They're usually a little better judging how much of the bottled dressing to put on.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:51 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like turkey with jalapenos and brown mustard. My best pro tip: If you're getting any sauce (mayo, mustard, sweet onion, whatever), and you only want a normal amount, ask for "a little bit of" or "just a little". They'll put one single thick line down the sub instead of the normal 4-5 heavy passes.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:52 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Italian BMT
Trivia: "The acronym B.M.T® stands for Biggest, Meatiest, and Tastiest. In the early days of SUBWAY® restaurants, it was a promotion that was based on the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit system in New York City that went along with the subway theme."
posted by soelo at 8:52 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Healthy? Six inch subway club on either honey oat or flatbread, no cheese, yellow mustard, lotsa veg, S&P, oregano.

Delicious? Footlong toasted double meat Italian BMT with bacon, little bit of lettuce, green peppers, olives, extra onions, orange cheddar, regular mayo. Extra napkins, too (you'll see why when you pick it up to eat).

Avoid? The "avocado", the chunks of chicken, the cookies, the meatballs.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:52 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some franchises, but not all, have a veggie patty that's pretty good.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:54 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, the ham and sliced turkey go well on the salads, too. Anything you can put on the sandwich, can go on a salad - they'll chop it up with this special salad-chopping bowl when they put the salad together.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:55 AM on June 17, 2014

Subway's chopped salad is the best fast food salad for the price, I think, because you can customize it based on what you like and what looks fresh that day.

You base the salad off of a sandwich type; they give you the meat and cheese but no bread. I like the Italian BMT with oil and vinegar and parmesan, or the chicken bacon ranch which makes sense as a salad.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:55 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I go there when the foot-longs are on sale. My favorite is the veggie delite on Italian Herbs and Cheese bread, toasted with swiss cheese, then lettuce, and then a ton of baby spinach. Like, I just keep saying "more spinach" when they ask what else I want on it. Then green peppers, black olives, and jalapeños.
posted by planetesimal at 8:55 AM on June 17, 2014

Subway cookies are the shit.

Also, the bread recipe changes seem to have eliminated or at least cut down the weird odor that used to creep me out.
posted by mullacc at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2014

As a vegetarian, I can confirm that the veggie patty is pretty decent, but also that whenever I order it toasted, it always ends up half-cold. So, I have them pre-toast it for 30 secs, and then toast the whole sandwich once it's been put together, which works out pretty well.

Also, nthing the sweet onion sauce.
posted by littlegreen at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2014

I've got a few Subway tips.

* The Spicy Italian is a better deal than the BMT. The BMT contains one portion of ham, one portion of salami and one portion of pepperoni, and the Spicy Italian contains two portions of salami and two portions of pepperoni. More cold cuts = more better.

* Ask for the "sweet peppers". They're pickled bell peppers, not spicy. They taste better than the ordinary pickles.

* There are corporate-mandated quantities for the vegetables, especially the expensive ones like olives, but just ask for more if you don't think you've gotten your fair share.

* For optimal structural integrity, ask for sauces and liquid ingredients before the lettuce.

* Ask for vinegar and oil, in that order, for best saturation. If the oil is applied first, the vinegar just runs off.

* One cycle of the toaster often isn't enough to heat your sub thoroughly, especially with denser ingredients like grilled chicken. You can ask for your sub "extra toasted," and they'll put it through twice.

* For breakfast, you can ask for either "yellow egg" or "white egg." Both come in the form of a precooked patty. If you're not scared of this (I'm not), the best breakfast sandwich is yellow egg, bacon and cheddar jack, on flatbread, extra toasted, with chipotle sauce, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and black olives.

* It was a sad day when the Hearty Italian bread was taken off the menu.

* Subway ostensibly sells soup, but I have never, not even once, seen someone order it.

(Source: I'm fat, and I eat at Subway a lot.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:07 AM on June 17, 2014 [11 favorites]

i haven't eaten at subway since jimmy john's started delivering to my work area but i used to eat there frequently and in college, my roommate worked there and i ate there probably once a day because it was free.

a lot of these tips are helpful but it really depends on your particular franchise. saying "a little bit" about a sauce to my closest subway, for example, gives you tiny little droplets of sauce (which... what?). some franchises are strict about toppings, others don't care and will load you up. if you're in a strict subway, be friendly and ask for more. some franchises have different toppings and cheeses available (my closest work subway has provolone, my home subway has pepper jack!) so you may have to experiment with what you have.

also don't get a cookie. especially not a peanut butter cookie. it will haunt your dreams.
posted by kerning at 9:19 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I used to get the roasted chicken breast, but it isn't an actual chicken breast - it is chicken meat pressed together. Which is fine, but the texture started bothering me a few years ago.

What I really like is the Subway Melt - turkey, bacon, with cheese melted on top. Yum!

I also have really been going for the steak. Back when I worked at a Subway many many years ago, the steak came with little chopped bits of green pepper and onion in it. But the Subways near me now don't. So I get the steak with onions and green peppers and cheese melted on top BEFORE they put on the rest of the toppings.

I also really like to get a big spinach chopped salad with steak, onions, green peppers, tomato, cucumber, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper. Yum yum yum!
posted by jillithd at 9:37 AM on June 17, 2014

The breakfast cheesesteak muffin is good - I get it without cheese, add jalapenos, toasted. It's not a ton of food though.
You'll never get enough olives, no mater how nicely you ask.
We call it Breadway.
I don't especially mean to knock it, but it's always been a suboptimal experience for me - it's usually fine and I'll do it if it's convenient but I've never said oh man, I'm so glad I got Subway/I'm really craving X from Subway.
posted by mrs. taters at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I too find that Subway artists can be a tad too liberal with the sauces, which for me is dijon mustard. Too many watery-eyed up-the-nose burns later, I came up with a very specific request:

"May I have just one line of [sauce of choice]?"

Throw in a Subway-artist-squeezing-on-just-one-line-of-sauce charade, and you should be good.

Of course, as with the type of sauce, you can customize how many lines of sauce you want.

My sammie of choice: turkey breast, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, pickles, banana peppers, dijon mustard. YUM! I love Subway!
posted by sweetpotato at 9:44 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tend to get either a 6-inch Italian BMT or cold-cut sub (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, maybe mayo/maybe vinegar & oil).

And I'll admit it, no matter how crazy it sounds: their personal-size pizza is not bad at all.
posted by easily confused at 9:52 AM on June 17, 2014

the avocado isn't always available and it is a spread, not slices

I think this depends on where you are. In Southern California, I've never seen anything but real avocados, sliced onto the sandwich when I order it. I have encountered the spread in the south, and I just don't order avocado in those places.
posted by primethyme at 9:55 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

6-inch black forest ham (on special), pepperjack cheese, toasted. With cucumbers, spinach, red onion, black olives, banana peppers, mayo, sweet onion sauce, and "a little" brown mustard. $3.30 with tax, which is outstanding. Sandwich itself is fine, but I think I'll keep bringing lunch from home when practical. And no cookie survey on the receipt!

Thanks, AskMetafilter!
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:10 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used to work at Subway! The cookies are superb.

I think the Subway Melt is really underrated. It's turkey, ham and bacon. You can get it toasted, or not (if not, the bacon is microwaved).

Popular subs include: Cold Cut Trio, Steak, Sweet Onion Teriyaki, BMT and Roasted Chicken.

I would recommend against the Rib sub, the Tuna sub and the Seafood sub (all for reasons of grossness).

For ease of eating, ask them to go light on the lettuce.
posted by cranberrymonger at 10:14 AM on June 17, 2014

Here's a fun off-beat Subway tip. Try to go through the entire ordering experience without saying "um." Not even once. It's surprisingly hard.
posted by mullacc at 10:33 AM on June 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

The tuna is freakin delicious but it's TERRIBLE for you.

Whatever protein I get I usually get it toasted and then topped with a lot of veggies and a little ranch dressing.
posted by radioamy at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2014

Has anyone noticed the "off" odor of the lettuce at Subway? I have started leaving that off of my fave, the Italian BMT.
posted by harrietthespy at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2014

WebMD has an opinion.
posted by LonnieK at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2014

And no cookie survey on the receipt!

Oh no! Are you sure it's not on the back? Sometimes it's on the back. Cookie survey link (but you need your receipt).
posted by phunniemee at 11:33 AM on June 17, 2014

Don't get lettuce or tomatoes. I have no idea why, but those are almost always the worst-looking veggies in the place.

(My usual is a veggie delite on wheat (occasionally honey oat), pepper jack, everything except lettuce and tomato (they'll often ask if I want banana peppers or spinach or avocado or something--I always do), plus sriracha, or Buffalo sauce, or chipotle sauce.)
posted by box at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2014

The tuna is freakin delicious

As the kid with foreign parents and the weird school lunches Subway's tuna makes me feel like the kid who got a normal sandwich and a pudding cup. It's a kind of comfort food I lump together with Ravioli-Os and American cheese.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:18 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I always have ham on wheat with all the salads and no dressing, it's super tasty and pretty healthy - basically a salad in a bun.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:05 PM on June 17, 2014

Yeah I'm addicted to tuna on honey oat, lettuce, onion, pickle, cuke, salt, pepp, sometimes peppers, and olives. But it may indeed be nostalgia that makes it taste good, since I've been eating this combo for years now. My husband prefers the spicy Italian but even he agrees the tuna has something. I assume it's ungodly amounts of mayo, but hey! At least there are veggies!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:17 PM on June 17, 2014

(If you're reading this question, you might find this list of Subway Breads and Toppings interesting. I'm not that crazy about Subway, but now I totally feel like I'm missing out on Roasted Garlic bread and Baja sauce.)
posted by box at 6:36 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Late followup--

I've discovered the magic of online ordering. The thing I hate most about Subway is the pressure--there are people in line behind me, hungry people, and I'm standing there dithering about banana peppers vs. green peppers vs. jalapenos. How am I supposed to have an optimal dining experience under these circumstances? Online ordering! I can specify what toppings, how much of each condiment, etc., pay by credit card, then skip the (sometimes long) line and grab my sandwich. Heaven, or as close as I can get on the basement level of my building.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you ask them, they will put the mayo & mustard on the bread. :)
posted by luckynerd at 10:55 AM on January 12, 2015

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