The Yellow Submarine: Reviews

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Steak SandwichHome Cut FriesItalian Combo Submarine
Steak Sandwich with Homemade Hot Sauce, Hand-Cut Fries, Italian Combo Submarine

Nancy McGee
Name: Nancy
Occupation: Health Care Consultant
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The Yellow Submarine
Reviewed The Yellow Submarine: Wednesday February 20, 2008

Our party of five quickly found street parking for two cars in the neighborhood without meters. Orders were taken by two extremely cute older ladies behind the counter. We ordered five medium-sized sandwiches: two steak with all of the fixings and homemade hot sauce, one veal piccata, and two meatball sandwiches. We shared one order of fries. All of the sandwiches come on large cut Italian bread that is made by a small bakery in downtown San Francisco. The bread is cut, cheese is placed on the bread, and then it is toasted in Yellow Submarine's ovens to a warm, toasty perfection. This is no Quizno's toasting on a conveyor belt, this is real-deal toasting in an oven. The meat for the steak sandwiches was grilled on the grill with onions. Once the bread is sufficiently toasted, the grilled meat is placed on the sandwich, and then the fixings (lettuce, mustard, mayo, pickles, and don't forget the homemade hot sauce!) are applied. The sandwich is served in a plastic basket. The meatball sandwich and veal sandwiches were prepared similarly. Fries are cut like large potato chips and are delicious when they are just out of the frying basket.


One of the best things about Yellow Submarine sandwiches is the delicious contrast between the hot meat, crusty toasted bread, and cold fixings. The sandwich does not fall apart or turn into a drippy mess. Instead, it is sandwich perfection -- the ultimate comfort food! The meatball sandwich had generous sized meatballs that did not fall apart or fall out of the sandwich. Instead, they squished nicely in the bread and every bite included a bit of the meatball. Similarly, the veal was also well done. The medium is the best size to order, it will leave you completely full. However, if you are feeling particularly Neanderthal, live it up and order the large!

The location is in a very pleasant neighborhood right next to Golden Gate Park, making Yellow Sub an excellent picnic choice for a lunch in the park. In addition, it is a neighborhood institution run by a very nice family. The mom typically makes the sandwiches while her sons help work the grill and run the cash register. As customers arrive in the small kitchen area, she takes orders and memorizes them as more and more customers arrive. Yellow Sub is definitely not a fancy place, it's a neighborhood hang out that provides generously sized sandwiches for a little over $5. There is no publicly available bathroom at Yellow Sub.

If you want excellent comfort food at a reasonable price in a great neighborhood -- go to Yellow Sub!

Jamie Kutch
Name: Jamie
Occupation: Winemaker
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The Slanted Door
Reviewed The Yellow Submarine: Friday February 15, 2008

Like a true submarine, the beginning of my adventure to this Boston style sandwich joint began with pressure. Pressure to find a parking spot that is! Be prepared to circle the block several times, as this establishment is basically on a residential street. To get down to it: while the sandwiches are quickly prepared, the atmosphere is unique, and the eats are cheap. Overall, I left slightly disappointed.

Let me get through some more positives, though, first. I am a stickler for cleanliness at eateries that serve sandwiches and have a grill, and I was glad to see that there was no concern, as this place was spotless. To add to the experience, the kitchen was tended by two older women who look as though they may have opened the eatery circa 1970s (I can’t remember the exact date, though it’s been around). While service doesn’t come with a big smile, they mean business, and business is getting sandwiches made quickly. One thing for sure about the women is that they certainly give the place character, as does the primitive cartoon menu, circa 1977. It was fun to observe over one's meal. As for seating, there is a side room off the ordering counter, and the tables and layout remind me of a pizza parlor. Casual and simple.

Speaking of simple, unfortunately that about sums up my experience with the two sandwiches I tried. Steak and Cheese, plus an Italian Combo. I should give full disclosure in that I spent thirty years in NY and twelve of those in NYC, so my standards are lofty. To top it off, I have been to sandwich joints in Boston a few dozen times and in my opinion, the Yellow Submarine wouldn’t survive in either city. The quality just wasn’t there. It started off on the wrong foot when I watched my sandwich meat being weighed. Another pet peeve was observing the Italian meats coming out of the fridge already cut. How can meat stay fresh pre-cut? I miss the days of observing the meat being freshly cut as the sandwich is prepared. This leads to the quality of the meat, which I felt was sub-par. To be sure, I tried some of the Italian meat alone, without bread etc. It just wasn’t good quality. To go further, where’s the beef? My sandwich meat was less than 1/2 an inch thick. Finally, the bread, while toasted, it was about as bland as you can get. The ladies were also as tight as a submarine's living quarters with their tomatoes and pickles. On a final note, I will give high ratings to the french fries. They were cut for a T-Rex, they are so BIG! I can’t fathom where they get the potatoes for the fries. Not cut in the traditional style, more in the cut of a flat potatoes chip, they were delicious.

If I lived a block or two away, I would drop in perhaps every other month, as it was easy and quick, but unfortunately I would never drive across town again for I felt the Submarine was taking on water.

Carrie Scott
Name: Carrie
Occupation: Marketing Director
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Cyrus
Reviewed The Yellow Submarine: Sunday February 10, 2008

Yellow Submarine is located at 6th and Irving, a fun, thriving part of San Francisco’s avenues. The parking is scarce because there are sooo many great restaurants, shops, and coffee houses over there. It’s best to head off of Irving up into the hills a bit (Parnassus and beyond) to park. Otherwise, take MUNI, a bike, or just walk, and save yourself the headache.

My boyfriend and I headed out to the Yellow Submarine for lunch on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and were nervous when we saw a line. Luckily, the folks congregating outside the front door had already ordered and were just waiting for their sandwiches to be made. Phew.

We walked inside and saw that the grill, cashier, fridge, etc. were all nestled into a roughly 300 square foot space. Three jovial men behind the counter (brothers perhaps?) ran the joint with aplomb (clearly born from having run a successful business for thirty-three years! Note: They didn’t look old enough to have been there that long, but kudos to them!) All busy with various tasks -- one cooking up a storm, one taking food orders, and one popping in and out of the back on various assignments -- they kept things moving like a well-oiled machine. The fellow behind the grill was very easy going, and when I mentioned this was a first time for me, he was incredibly patient with my onslaught of questions.

I asked if all the sandwiches were cold or hot or if there was a combination of offerings and he said that all the sandwiches were prepared hot. (The menu on the wall didn’t specify, so that was helpful to know.) After a minute of hemming and hawing over what I should order, I went with a longtime favorite, the Italian combination. My boyfriend ordered the Italian Sausage, because he had it in his head that it would taste like his favorite Italian Sausage sandwich from a spiffy little place in Novato called Italian Delight! Never order something hoping it will taste like a favorite because you will invariably be disappointed. And he was. Poor guy. (He ended up eating half of mine because it was DELISH!)

After we placed the order for two medium sandwiches (the bread is baked daily for the shop, but it’s not made on the premises) we also added some fries and root beers (they also had Corona!) to the tab to experience the full "flavor."

We took a seat in the adjoining room (at least twice the size of the first room with approximately ten tables in there) and we noticed straight away that the area was clean and didn’t smell like anything (cleaning agents, food, or otherwise), which was a relief. The tables were wiped down, the chairs were clean, and the premises felt cared for. There wasn’t a bathroom, however, which can be a good and bad thing. Bad if you have to go, but good if you don’t want to deal with that added foot traffic while you’re consuming your sub!

We sat with our root beers and continued to monitor the throng of visitors that kept this joint hoppin’ on a lazy Sunday. Old, young, working and non-workin, it was clearly a local's favorite. In fact, while we were waiting for our sandwiches we overheard a “regular” complimenting the fellas on their glowing review in the Sunday Chronicle. Nice work guys!

Our subs arrived and they looked great. Big, beefy-looking sandwiches served piping hot in baskets. Our fries were in their own basket on the side. Mmm. They smelled good and we wasted no time digging in. (I had intentionally skipped breakfast so I would be good and hungry). Mine was quite good. The bread was fresh -- soft on the inside and crisped on the outside from having been lightly toasted. The sandwich contents had been grilled -- the salamis complemented by peppers, onions, and “the works” (lettuce, spices, vinegar, mayo, etc.). I could see right away that the medium was going to be more than enough food (I could only eat half), and I filled up a bit on the AWESOME home cut fries, sliced thin and fried on the spot for freshness. (They weren’t too crispy and I like them on the softer side. My boyfriend did say that they could have been crispier, though.)

Unfortunately, my boyfriend didn’t love his Italian Sausage sandwich. Again, he had very high hopes that it would taste like this other sandwich that he clearly once had a love affair with and thus, Yellow Sub’s version fell a bit short. No peppers or cheese, just sausage and tomato (that admittedly burst onto my shirt when I took a bite of his sandie). Ah well, can’t win ‘em all.

That said, I will point out that I don’t eat sandwiches that often, but of any sandwich I’ve ever had, Michael’s Sourdough on Digital Drive in Novato is a standout. They do bake their bread on the premises, and the ingredients are incredibly fresh and flavorful. It’s hard to compare other sandwiches to those; just thinking about them makes me hungry again!

But the price was certainly right for the fare. The sandwiches, drinks, and fries came in around $18, and we left a few bucks in the tip jar.

This spot is definitely a favorite among students and locals who are looking for a fast, cheap eat. You can take the sandwiches to go or eat there, which was quite pleasant actually.

At the end of our meal I asked if there was somewhere to wash up and because there wasn’t, the guys were nice enough to give me a wet paper towel with a spot of soap on it! I very much appreciated that because I had to shop Irving after the meal! (Wishbone on the corner of 7th and Irving is fabu.)


Net net: I think if you’re in the mood for a big, filling sub you’ll be quite pleased with Yellow Submarine. It is FAR better than Subway, Quizno’s, or any other “chain sub shop” advertised in the area.