Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Manager Blanca Hernandez serves up the 12-inch meatball sub.
Hoagies, Sandwiches, Etc.
Super Sub 12-inch $6.75
Hoagie Special 6-inch $3.75
Italian Rocket 6-inch $3.25
Polish sausage 12-inch $6.75
Size Matters

A little place in the Hospital District delivers hearty hoagies, sandwiches, etc.


Hoagies, Sandwiches, Etc.

1500 W Magnolia Av, FW. 817-877-0817. Mon-Thu 10am-6:30pm, Fri 10am-2:30pm, Sat 11am-2:30pm. Free deliveries in Hospital District.

You’d think that getting a good submarine sandwich would be one of the simplest of life’s eating essentials. Really, how complicated can it be? Good bread, spicy lunch meats shaved thin, with flavorful, smoky cheeses and some salad dressing to meld everything together.

Whether you call it a sub or a grinder or a hoagie or a po’ boy, a good sandwich that takes two hands and repeated napkin swipes is what lunch should be all about on most days. A football game on tv and a hoagie in hand is a classic combo. So is the 2 a.m. sub, designed to sop up all that beer.

Life is seldom simple, however, and, as it turns out, neither is getting a good sub in Fort Worth. There are two problems. First, Texas has never really embraced this East Coast deli tradition, which is often based in Italian and Jewish immigrant neighborhoods. The state has put the emphasis instead on great barbecue. Secondly, chains like Subway, Blimpie’s, and Quizno’s have taken over every little strip mall and gas station in this town, providing sandwiches that are somewhat bland, seldom bad — and never great.

So finding an inexpensive little joint that offers high-quality hoagies in enough variety — and that isn’t manned by teen-agers with plastic gloves — is tough here. There is one respectable candidate, however. Hoagies, Sandwiches, Etc., in the Hospital District, doesn’t match up to the sub places I remember in Philly and Boston, but it’s at least half a stack of cold cuts above Subway and its ilk.

Inside are seven tables with a view of a kitchen that’s clean but a little disorganized. The ceiling tiles undulate above, lots of plants add a little charm, and in the corner the staffers’ kids are huddled around a tv. In other words, not much different from home.

So, what’s good here?

Let’s start with what’s not: the salads. They’re not awful, but hey, this is a meat place. Don’t bother.

Next — the bread, the real reason that the food here works so well. They don’t make it on site, and owner Heidi Li won’t tell who she’s buying it from. A good sub roll has to be chewy enough to keep your mouth occupied while you’re pushing through the meats and cheeses but not so chewy that your dentures come undone. (Big shout-out to all of our older readers.) If the bread is too soft and mushy, the meats and dressings fall all over the place. The bread at Hoagies is just firm enough, chewy but not tough, and has a wonderful flavor. Which means that, despite the aforementioned meat mandate, the veggie subs are contenders.

Another reason to like Hoagies is the variety of their sandwiches. The cold subs range from pretty good to top-notch. And it’s not just the ingredients that provide the variety, it’s size. The restaurant offers most sandwiches as 4-, 6-, or 12-inchers. This is great for folks who base their order not only on the emptiness of their stomachs but also the thinness of their wallets. A four-incher runs about $2, while 12-inchers are between $6 and $7. All are served with mayo, creamy Italian dressing, lettuce (real leaves, not shredded), sliced tomatoes, pickles, and red onions. The 12-inch Super Sub (roast beef, ham, turkey, salami, Swiss, and American cheese) was packed with enough good stuff to make it a two-hander. The Italian Rocket (ham, salami, and Swiss) was a simpler, less meaty version of the Super Sub. Unfortunately, Hoagies uses shredded instead of sliced cheese, making the sandwich even messier than necessary. And some of the cold sandwiches would have benefited from a spicier dressing. Still — minor flaws.

None of the cold subs are Hoagies’ piece de resistance, however. That would be found in the short list of hot sandwiches. Not the meatball sub — pretty good but could have been spicier. Not the Polish sausage — OK, but it’s hard to find a butcher here who makes real kielbasa. Nope, the top of the food chain at Hoagies is the cheesesteak.

Most places in and around Fort Worth-Dallas think cheesesteak is made from those frozen, processed beef items found in massive supermarkets. A real cheese steak, however, comprises thinly sliced sirloin fried up on the grill and layered with cheese, onions, and maybe mushrooms. Hoagies’ cheesesteak isn’t as good as Pat’s in Philly, but it is better than anything around here. The meat is fresh and juicy, the onions sautéed to order, and the cheese nicely melted.

So, simple food, well done, that doesn’t set you back the price of a Cowboys’ ticket. In fact, you may be able to convince the kids to move over and let you watch the game on tv.

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