A note from Darlene: Paul loves subs. His favorite sub place is Nevada-based Port of Subs. This is his post on Firehouse Subs.
If there’s one thing San Diego isn’t lacking, it’s sandwich chains. We have more than enough mom & pop taco shops, too… but you can’t swing a
dead cat fish burrito without hitting a Submarina, Jersey Mike’s, Capriotti’s, Quiznos, Grab N Go Subs, Rubicon, Gourmet Bagger, Port of Subs (North County only, sadly) or a Subway. Now we can add Florida-based Firehouse Subs to the landscape.
Firehouse Subs on Midway (in the same shopping cluster as Vons and 24 Hr. Fitness) has been open since December, so it’s not especially “new” here. Its unfortunate placement and diminuative signage are a couple reasons why I haven’t noticed it before now.
The first thing you notice about Firehouse Subs upon entering the shop is their attention to “keeping the theme.” Short of claxons going off and a dalmatian greeting you at the door, you’d think you were in a fire station. And that’s the exact point— Firehouse Subs bonds with the local first-responders wherever they set up shop. In San Diego’s case, that includes the Harbor Police (they have a large mural of San Diego’s waterfront skyline in the dining area). Firemen gear and historic photos adorn the walls and everything is spic and span, shiny and tidy. But this is a restaurant, after all. Let’s get to the food.
Firehouse Subs have an extensive menu of hot subs, including their 10 most-popular signature sandwiches. Some of these include the New York Steamer Sub (corned beef brisket), the Turkey Bacon Ranch and the Engineer Sub (turkey, swiss and sautéed mushrooms). Prices for sandwiches range from $5.89 to $6.29 (sub only), or a combo with a drink and chips for $8.28-$8.68. Their sandwich ingredients are listed on the board, but they’re merely suggestions. I was encouraged to add or remove items. I tried their Firehouse Steak & Cheese (with mushrooms, peppers and onions on the side) and the Firehouse Meatball. Firehouse Subs is also the only national chain with a Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine in every store. I tried their exclusive Cherry Lime-Ade following the directions posted by the soda machine.
The steak, mushroom and cheese sandwich arrived hot on white artisian bread, roughly 8″ long, cut in half. Sure enough, the onions and peppers were on the side, next to a pickle spear. The sandwich was tremendous. The steak was excellent quality and sliced nearly deli thin, the provolone was melted just right. It was warm but not hot. The roll was the right texture and was toasted on the inside.
The meatball sub was probably a full 25% larger than the steak and cheese. It was exactly as advertised — tender, marinara-covered meatballs and melted provolone wedged into a soft split-top roll. It was also served warm so I could dig in immediately. They don’t skimp on ingredients, either. My first bite started with meatball and the last bite ended with meatball.
Besides sandwiches, they also serve salad and an award-winning chili (served mild so you can go to town on their myriad hot sauces). Their chip selection is robust and they have cookies and brownies at the counter.
While eating, you might notice people dropping change into some empty pickle buckets on the counter. Firehouse Subs gives back to the community via their Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, where donations (via these pickle buckets, tip jars or by “rounding up” your order) go to help emergency service personnel and first-responders with equipment, preparedness education to the public and other programs.
There are three locations in San Diego County (the other two in Encinitas and Oceanside), with imminent plans to expand into Orange and Los Angeles counties.
A side note: I met the manager of the Midway location, Charlie and he seemed to know most every customer by name. He takes pride in his shop and its community involvement and it shows in his — and his customers’ — enthusiasm. It also dawned on me that they’re located just a two-minute walk from San Diego Fire Department Station 20. Clever!
3625 Midway Dr.
San Diego, CA 92110
*The meal is courtesy of Firehouse Subs. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.