Chinese Sub Shop: A Memphis Rite Of Passage
One of the earliest posts on this blog (way back in 2010) was about The Chinese Sub Shop (alternately known as the Sub Wash Pub or Super Submarine Sandwich Shop). At the time, it was located in a dimly lit spot on Highland.
In late 2013, the Chinese Sub Shop found a new home in the former Captain D’s on Summer Avenue. I’ve been several times since then and it’s a cleaner and brighter place than the original location, but it still has the same quirky feel and immaculate sandwiches. If you haven’t been to the new location, or haven’t been at all, here’s what to expect.
First, make sure you bring cash, because the Chinese Sub Shop is cash only. When you walk in, get in line to order at the counter. Lines are long at peak times, but move quickly.
I’m assuming you’re going to order a sandwich. Why wouldn’t you? People love the Chinese Sub Shop because of the perfect, lightly sweet bread, the magical tangy oil, whatever meats make you happy, and the mustard-soaked shredded lettuce and tomato. You always get a bag of chips with your sandwich purchase, and they have fountain sodas.
You’ll have a few options when you order at the counter. You’ll be asked if you want hard bread or soft bread; the latter just means less toasted. There are a handful of different meat combos, with different cold cuts, roast beef, chicken, or pastrami. You can get 8″ or footlong, hence the slogan “Where A Foot Is A Feast”.
If you get everything on your sandwich (you don’t have to) you’ll get meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, Italian dressing (more like oil), mayo, salt, mustard, and cheese that they say is Swiss. I’m not sure. It reminds me more of Provel, but it’s all so good I’ve never worried too much about it.
The service is polite enough, but it’s all business. These folks are a well-oiled sandwich machine for sure. You’ll get a number after you order and pay (again, it’s cash only) which will then be called out after a few minutes. Grab your own chips and drink, and take that sandwich in its lovely little basket to one of the tables or booths and go to town. The Chinese Sub Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
I’ve never ordered any actual Chinese food there except the occasional eggroll. If you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on their offerings besides sandwiches.
One of the things that made me love the original Chinese Sub Shop location was the kitschy decor – fake flowers, strange 70s-inspired lamps, a sign featuring a grinning woman holding a ridiculously huge sub, and plastic tablecloths.
The new location has the same great sign, and the lighting fixtures are either the same or nearly identical to the old ones. The fake flowers didn’t make it over from Highland, sadly. But it’s hard to be sad when you’re eating Chinese Sub Shop. It just is.
Super Submarine Sandwich Shop aka Chinese Sub Shop
3316 Summer Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38122