Pros: good meats and veggies, a low fat fast food, Subway Club and other good deals
Cons: bread is dry and sometimes stale, nothing you can't fix yourself, mediocre taste
Meet Mr. Lardbutt
The past few years I've been an expert on bad foods. I became very well acquainted with restaurants like Chili's, Applebee's, Pizzeria Uno, and many other sit-down restaurants. I had everything from burgers to fish & chips to nachos. These trips to eat out probably contributed greatly to my large potbelly. Now I'm on a diet. It's a version of the Weightwatcher's winning points diet. I've never been to a Weightwatchers meeting, but I have all the information from my wife when she used to go many many years ago. The diet, without going into the details, emphasizes eating foods with low fat, low calories and high fiber. There is an equation that totals up a point value for a serving of food based on these three categories. Despite being good on the diet, I still wanted to eat out every once in a while. Luckily, I found Subway.
What Subway Offers For Dieters Like Myself
Subway is a dieter's McDonalds. Subway is well known for Jared (you can't write a Subway review without mentioning Jared) who lost over a hundred pounds on a diet where he frequented Subway. I don't disbelieve his story. Looking at the nutritional information on these subs leads me to believe that one could include regular trips to Subway as part of their diet. Even someone who weighs as little as 125 lbs can still eat regular meals at Subway without starving themselves the rest of the day.
Subway offers 7 different sandwiches for 6 grams of fat or less. These sandwiches are 6" long and mostly have deli meat in them like turkey, ham, roast beef, etc ... As someone who's on the winning points diet, I'm not so concerned about the grams of fat more than I am about the calories. After all, it's worse to eat something that's 350 calories and 0 grams of fat than something with 150 calories and 12 grams of fat ... at least as far as this diet goes. The calorie values are pretty good as well. Most sandwiches fall in around 220 calories. Add in cheese and you have a sandwich that takes up a fifth to a quarter of your daily points allowance. For a fat man like me, I can have a foot long sub of the same type and still only take up half of my daily points. That usually keeps me going all day. In addition to these sandwiches, you have 3 more sandwiches from their "Subway Select" menu that also are less than 6 grams of fat. There's nothing new here except that they add in a special sauce to the sandwich that adds a very low calorie value. So these sandwiches have slightly more calories than the original 7, however they are still around 250 calories in general. Finally, you can add these new sauces (red wine vinaigrette, sweet onion teriyaki, honey mustard) to any existing sandwich so that you can create a much larger variety in their low fat low calorie sandwiches.
There are generally 4 types of bread that dieters will want to pay attention to. These are white, wheat, Italian, and hearty Italian (has a rougher surface than regular Italian). These breads offer the best calorie/fat/dietary fiber ratio than any of the others. It also further adds to the different combinations of sandwiches dieters have at their disposal.
In addition to these sandwiches, Subway offers other meal alternatives for dieters. They have deli sandwiches, which are a smaller alternative to the 6" subs. These are served on a round roll (bulky, Kaiser, etc...) and generally are even healthier than the subs themselves. There are also 7 different salads that have less than 6 grams of fat. They types of salads mirror that of the 6" subs (veggie delight, turkey, ham, etc ...). The calorie value for the salads run roughly around 120 calories and are a good way to get a good meal without consuming too many calories and fat.
Finally, if dieters want to go with a meal deal they aren't out of luck. They can choose between many different kinds of WOW chips or baked chips; including Ruffles, Doritos, and different flavors of Lay's potato chips. This is a nice touch. However, one thing that disturbed me is that besides water, their only diet soft drink was diet Pepsi. Now, I don't mind Diet Pepsi, but it gets old after a while. Sometimes I really get sick of it. There are 6 different kinds of drinks besides Diet Pepsi that all aren't diet. They could have been a little better about this considering they thought of everything else.
What Else Is There For Non-Dieters
It also occurred to me that there are people out there who couldn't care less about how healthy their meals are. Subway has many different sandwiches that aren't all that healthy either. My personal favorite is the meatball sub. They also offer such fad sandwiches like the Steak and Cheese. Subway also has a good Southwest Turkey Bacon sandwich as well as a great Dijon Horseradish Melt as well.
How Does It All Taste?
So now that you have a good idea what Subway has to offer. How does it all taste? Also, how does it compare to places like D'Angelo's, Quizno's, and Togo's?
First off, let's start with the good. The veggies are excellent. I typically am not a huge fan of veggies, but there are tons to choose from including black olives, cucumbers, and even hot peppers. All of the vegetables are fresh tasting and are very good. Nothing fancy, you're going to get iceberg lettuce, but based on all the Subway's I've been to, you're almost guaranteed fresh veggies. The sauces also are very good. You can add a lot to a sandwich just by asking for some mayonnaise, or one of their low fat, low calorie sauces.
The meats are ok. They do the job, but there's nothing special about them. They're about the same as what you'd get from the sliced meat department of your local grocery store.
The bread is where everything goes downhill. The bread is typically very dry and stale tasting. Even though, it's baked fresh everyday and sometimes you can even get it fresh out of the oven, it's still dry and brittle. I attribute this to their commitment to a low fat low calorie bread. This will typically make the bread dry and brittle. Even though I understand this, it still kind of ruins the experience for me. The bread makes me think to myself, "why don't I just make these things at home?" It would be nice to put together a research team to try and make some low fat low calorie bread that's soft and chewy. There are small bags of Doritos that are 90 calories and 1 gram of fat, why can't they do this with bread? For non-dieters, this alone will probably be a good reason not to ever set foot in a Subway.
Compared to the popular sub chains, Subway doesn't have much beyond it's dietary options. The taste is sub par compared to other restaurants. Only the vegetables can hold up in terms of taste. Up until just a few months ago, Subway didn't offer much in the way of a unique taste. Now they have their new Subway Select menu and their own brand of sauces. These sauces still aren't on par with the other restaurants. They are good, and you'll have trouble replicating the taste at home now, but you can come pretty close. Besides, I like creating new sandwiches at home.
One aspect that I forgot to mention was the pricing. For a sandwich that isn't much better than what you can get at home, $3 is a little too much to ask for a 6" sub. The pricing doesn't make up for the lack of taste. If anything, it makes you want to save your money and make your own subs. There is some relief to this. Subway generally is very welcome to special deals and promotions. First off, they have their Subway club card. Each 6" sub is worth one stamp (12" subs are worth 2) where once you've obtained 8 stamps it's worth a 6" sub with the purchase of a medium drink (roughly $1.20, but it's free refills if you eat there). It's not much, but if you eat there often, it's something that will definitely add up. Also, many stores will post coupons for a dollar off a certain type of sub. Where I live, these are very common and can really be nice. Finally, some individual stores have special deals for certain days. For instance, the one closest to me has a special promotion on Tuesdays where any foot long sub under $5 is $3.79. Also on Sundays, 3-foot long subs of any type are $12.99. Even though the coupons and special promotions are incompatible (you couldn't use a coupon on these days), you can still get the stamps. Add it all up and the cost isn't all that bad. The catch is that it's more beneficial for the people who eat at Subway often.
Finally, the customer service is ok. Expect the typical from Subway employees. Some are good, other are bad and just don't care. It's a mixed bag. The major issue you have to pay attention to is that they assemble your sandwich in front of you. This is where I frequently run into problems. I've seen employees sneeze and cough on my sandwich, blow their nose and go right back without washing their hands and many other unsanitary activities. Another pet peeve of mine is employees who just don't care. Just the other month I ran into someone who was just flinging veggies into my sandwich to the point where I just wanted to walk out. This should be more understandable because you'll typically get high school or college aged kids working here. This was the case in my situation. Still, it's a little more sensitive than at other places. The advantage is, you can actually see when they're being unsanitary. Where as at McDonalds or other restaurants, you can't see them make your food.
All in all, Subway isn't that bad. Not the best by all means, and certainly not for everyone. However, it does offer a haven for those dieters who feel shut out of dining out.