- I tried all 12 basic sandwiches available at my local Subway and ranked them.
- The steak-and-cheese sandwich didn’t taste as good as it looked.
- But the meatball sub, a childhood favorite of mine, didn’t disappoint.
Subway may not occupy the same cultural space as other giants like McDonald’s, but it’s actually the largest fast-food chain in the world with over 40,000 locations.
Despite my qualms about the chain’s hard-to-miss bread smell and the highly debated cold-cut combo (completely turkey-based), I set out to try and rank all 12 sandwich offerings at my local Subway.
The ranking relied on two factors: first impression (does it look like a sandwich?) and a taste test (does it taste like a sandwich?).
Unless otherwise noted, I tried each sandwich on 6-inch Italian bread with provolone cheese, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, onion, tomato, and iceberg lettuce for continuity,
Note: This ranking includes all of the predesigned sandwiches that were available at one US Subway location.
I was skeptical of the tuna sandwich, and it didn’t do much to sway me
First impression: “It’s just turkey,” I try to convince myself as I stare at the cold sandwich — one of two I didn’t get toasted because hot tuna just feels weird. I skipped vinegar, too.
Usually, I like mayo in my tuna salad, but I didn’t trust them to mix it right.
Taste test: It tasted like chicken salad with fish-flavor extract thrown in, there’s no better description.
Still, I can’t think of a worse place to get a tuna sandwich. Tuna should be served at home and prepared by one’s own hand. It’s too sensitive to trust someone else with it.
I was excited to try the steak-and-cheese sub, but it wasn’t as good as it looked
First impression: I have high hopes for this sandwich.
The chipotle mayo, which I was told is the requisite condiment, smells nice.
The peppers and onions should be an excellent addition, though I’d prefer them to be sautéed.
This is the only sandwich I didn’t get lettuce and tomato on because there weren’t any in the picture.
Taste test: What a strange combination of flavors.
The mayo had a weird spice, like they found a single chipotle and tossed it in a pot of mayonnaise. I also didn’t expect the vegetable crunch to throw me off, but it did.
This tasted like a sad cheesesteak. If I was from Philly, I’d say, “Throw that hoagie down the shore and hit up the Wawa instead.”
The sweet-onion chicken-teriyaki sandwich didn’t wow me with its flavors
First impression: I don’t really know what to make of it.
Lettuce and tomato were in the picture, so that’s what I got. Having a few veggies never hurt anyone.
At home, under the non-Subway lights, it looks a little weirder. I asked the sandwich artisan which dressing pairs best with the teriyaki, and she told me to go with the sweet onion.
Taste test: The teriyaki flavor, which I expected to be overpowering, was quite subtle. At points, it even got lost amid the provolone and sweet onion.
This was a fine sandwich, but the flavors didn’t quite mesh. It just lacked the oomph of a truly delicious sub.
I went for every topping available on the veggie delight
First impression: In a moment of ineptitude, I walked home with a veggie sandwich that was just onion, tomato, and iceberg lettuce. I was about to bite in when I realized I could have gotten all of the toppings.
I sat back for a moment, simultaneously chiding my ineptitude and congratulating my genius.
The next day I went back to Subway and placed the order. “I’d like all the toppings,” I said, barely containing the joy.
The man didn’t even flinch. His fingers moved across the buffet table like a hacker in a movie. I’d expected him to hand me a trophy engraved with, “Most hilarious Subway order ever.”
I questioned my sense of humor as he wrapped up my sandwich without missing a beat.
I walked home thinking about how black olives are one of the few foods I genuinely can’t stand, and now I’d be eating them in the name of some failed joke.
The sub was filled mostly with peppers, including sweet and jalapeño, resting on the lettuce, spinach, cucumber, and tomato. It is indeed a salad on bread.
Taste test: This was a good sandwich, and as hilarious as I thought it was for me to get all of the toppings, I think they worked together.
I didn’t see a point in toasting a sandwich with only vegetables on it, so I left it cold.
One bite was filled with hot peppers, then sweet peppers, tomato, and cucumber cooled things down in the next. Underneath everything was delicious spinach (my preferred sandwich green).
This is probably the only vegetable-based sandwich I’ve ever eaten because I’d rather just eat salads. The bread totally counteracts any nutrients from the vegetables in my mind.
My Black Forest ham sub was salty but good
First impression: This looks quite good.
For some reason, I didn’t get tomato, so I took a piece from another sandwich to even things out. I also got the basics here, lettuce and onion with mustard.
I am expecting a saltier, full-bodied flavor than regular-old ham.
Taste test: It was definitely salty and had a decent bounce, which you want in all processed meats.
Frankly, I couldn’t taste a difference between this one and the regular ham. Still, there’s a smooth combination with the cheese that was surprisingly good.
But this wasn’t very good ham — more salt than meat — and as a self-proclaimed ham fiend, this didn’t quite cut it.
The traditional ham didn’t taste much different than the Black Forest variety
First impression: From what I can tell, there is minimal (if any) difference between the Black Forest and traditional ham, except maybe a slight color variation.
Taste test: I started to wonder if the worker gave me the right sandwich. I thought I knew my hams.
I tasted nothing. I felt nothing. I looked at the two ham sandwiches and wondered which was which.
I wasn’t blown away by the Italian B.M.T., but its 3 meats bumped it higher on the ranking
First impression: I was happy to see that this multi-meat sandwich had Genoa salami, spicy pepperoni, and Black Forest ham.
I’d been a bit worried that, like the cold-cut combo I’d heard about, it would be three varieties of processed turkey.
Taste test: This was a well-rounded sandwich, though the meats weren’t great.
The salami was a little weird — spicy, but in the blandest way — and the ham got lost at sea.
This was a simple sandwich. It’s so high on the list because, for me, more meats always beat fewer meats.
Subway’s oven-roasted chicken sandwich was well-balanced
First impression: This looks quite delicious and simple. I’m pretty stoked about it.
Taste test: All of the ingredients worked together here to create something nice.
It showcased the main draw of Subway sandwiches: You could get it anywhere else, but it has a baseline quality with no surprises.
The chicken was quite moist, which is not something you can say for all of Subway’s meats, and it went really well with the basic toppings.
I was pretty excited to try the classic turkey sub, and it didn’t disappoint
First impression: After hearing so much about Subway’s other turkey-based meats, I was excited to finally try the real stuff.
Taste test: This was unquestionably the best meat. The others felt like cheap imitations of the real thing.
The way it mixed with the melty cheese on the sub was also pretty perfect.
I recreated the classic Subway melt from memory since it wasn’t on the menu
First impression: This wasn’t on the menu at my Subway, but I know it’s a classic, so I made it myself by ordering turkey, ham, and bacon.
The bacon was a dollar extra, which I’m not sure will be worth it, but I sprung for it anyway.
Taste test: It turns out the bacon was the secret to this sandwich. It added a pure sodium flavor that lifted the other meats up into a delightful combination.
I was impressed by the chicken-and-bacon ranch melt
First impression: I’m a little dubious about this because it’s one of the few sandwiches that I haven’t really eaten.
Out of the Subway lighting, I became even more dubious. There’s just so much sauce.
Taste test: I was wrong, this was a delicious sandwich.
I forgot the golden rule: It’s impossible to go wrong with turkey, bacon, and ranch.
The lettuce, tomato, and onion added a succulent backdrop, and it fits the paradigm of simplicity.
The meatball marinara sub was the best of the bunch, despite its too-sweet sauce
First impression: Who doesn’t love meatballs?
This is the Subway sandwich I first fell in love with. I ate it every day one summer when I was a kid.
Sure, it doesn’t always look fabulous when you pull it out of the bag, but it’s my favorite.
Taste test: It tasted just the way I remember.
The tomato sauce was too sweet, but it was a small price to pay. It’s like they just dumped a bunch of sugar into a tomato purée and sprinkled a little onion, garlic, and basil on top.
Even with that in mind, it’s impossible to screw up a meatball sandwich. This is the ultimate sub.