Food Porn: DeFranko’s Subs

I’m no Trooper York (who is?) but even in my current ascetic state, I do occasionally indulge. And, of course, when I do, we’re not talking a Big Mac or a footlong from the Subway. No.

No, no.

I prefer to patronize local establishments. While some are quite bad, the good ones are gems: Not much more expensive (if at all) than a fast food place and in the category of real food that doesn’t make you feel bad after you eat it.

The sub sandwich and I have a long history, it being one of the food we’d go out to eat for when I was a kid. (We almost never went out to eat; remember those days?) They were, of course, way too strong for my palette–capicola, or even just a regular Italian salami–but I’d power through.

Finding a good, big sandwich isn’t that hard, but finding a good Italian is very difficult. And what’s more, even if the insides of the sandwich are Boar’s Head, a lot of sandwich shops will stuff them into a crappy roll.

Enough talk, let me show you a picture:
This is from DeFranko’s in Van Nuys. It’s a little shack a block south of the Flyaway. Piles o’ meat topped with diced pickles, tomatoes and onions, stuffed into a roll baked that morning at the owner’s bakery. They default to a hard, chewy roll, but you can get a soft one, too, and whole wheat until they run out.

A lot of my pals love the pastrami, and I do, too, but it’s a lot (even for me). Plus, I can get a good pastrami a lot of places. The meatball subs are great and I’ve been known to just have a cheese sub (when I’m off meat) which is almost as good as one of the more traditional offerings.

Right now they’re selling fresh basil plants on the counter, but you never know what you’ll find there, except you know it’ll be fresh (like a fresh baked brownie or cookie).

The people are friendly, fast and hyper-competent. It’s actually a marvel to watch one of these things put together–but don’t blink. Even so, they can get behind during the lunch hour when the line often goes out the door. I’ve waited 20 minutes or more for a sandwich. It is so worth it. You might get it fast, but it ain’t fast food. (So if you’re in a hurry call ahead.)

My mom’s been buying subs there since the ‘70s. I hope my kids are buying subs there in the 2030s.

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