Miami's Best Sub Shops: Footballs, Shacks, Three Brothers, and Hungry Bears

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Miami native Chelsea Antoun has an important task this afternoon. She must get lunch for the office. Along with her pocketbook, she is armed with a long list of requests for toppings. There's lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, green peppers, sweet peppers, hold the mayo; olives, lettuce, pickles, mayo, mustard, oil and vinegar; cucumbers, spinach, mayo, dash of salt and pepper. Where is Chelsea going?

Chances are she is headed to one of the following ten sandwich utopias to buy one of dozens of types of submarine sandwiches for each co-worker. Subs are named for their resemblance to a weapon of war, but the true origin of the term used to describe these sandwiches is not clear. Bostonians -- or Massholes, as New Yorkers like to call them -- claim it originated in a restaurant in Scollay Square that used the subs to feed scores of Navy servicemen stationed at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Others suggest the technique was brought to the United States by Italian immigrant Dominic Conti, who owned a grocery store in Paterson, New Jersey, also known as the armpit of America. Still others call them "hoagies," after Hog Island in Philadelphia; "po'boys," after those who could afford them in New Orleans; or "heroes," originating from a large Italian-American population in Portland, Maine.

Though the true origin of the term submarine sandwich is under dispute, its status as a staple of the American diet is without question. Seemingly every neighborhood in Miami and across the nation has a store or restaurant that specializes in serving the legendary sandwich. It wasn't easy, but Short Order narrowed it down to a list of ten places in the Magic City that serve the best heroes, hoagies, and subs in town.

10. 3 Brothers Subs
There are few better lunch options in North Miami than 3 Brothers Subs, and judging by the line that forms during lunchtime, everyone knows it. You can make your own six-inch Lil Bro ($4.44), nine-inch Middle Bro ($6.66), or 12-inch Big Bro ($8.88) or order one of a dozen specialty subs that range from $4.44 for the Little Rascal (egg knot roll with a choice of meat, cheese, and toppings) to $9.99 for the Ultimate Big Brother (turkey, roast pork, roast beef, and Swiss cheese). Short Order's favorites are the Knuckleheads (pictured) -- two egg knot rolls with slow-cooked pot roast, sautéed onions, and peppers -- which come with a specialty dip.

9. Sub Serious
The name says it all; these people are serious about their subs. They have every deli meat and every topping you could ever ask for. Bologna to capicola, mushrooms to sweet peppers -- at lower prices than pretty much any of the other places in this countdown ($3.69 to $6.69). You can also get a burger sub ($3.99 small, $4.99 large) or chicken breast sub. The pinnacle is the Bomb burger ($5.99, $6.99), topped with mushrooms, bacon, green peppers, onions, and cheese. Customers love the fact that they can order online and have their personal, signature sub ready when they get there.

8. Paul's Sub Shop
In a world (well, North Miami Beach) littered with Quiznos and Subway locations, it's refreshing that a neighborhood place such as Paul's can thrive. It charges a bit more ($5,99 to $11.99) than the chain joints nearby, but it makes up for it with portion and flavor. Every slice is freshly cut in front of you, which gets tedious during busy lunch hours, but makes for an obvious difference in taste. You have to sneak out of work just to make it while the place is open, though. Paul's closes earlier (5 p.m.) than any other place on this list.

7. Good Times Subs
Opened by best friends Philip Woerner and Mario Bojorquez, Good Times Subs makes sandwiches that taste like one guy is always trying to impress the other. The menu includes selections -- such as chicken Cordon Bleu ($5.80, $7.25) and churrasco steak ($6.90, $8.35) sandwiches -- that have quickly made Good Times a Palmetto Bay favorite. The generous portions and dedication to service keep customers coming back. Besides cold, hot, steak, and chicken subs that range from $4.30 to $8.35, Good Times offers salads ($4.75 to $6.80) to limit the menu and keep all the ingredients fresh.

6. Football Sandwich Shop
Football Sandwich Shop's self-professed claim to fame is the Zonker -- the shop's version of a ham and salami sandwich packed with lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo and served with a pickle spear. Meat combinations on the specialty sandwich menu border on the insane. The Triple Play ($8.49) features pastrami, salami, corned beef, Swiss cheese, tomato, and Thousand Island dressing. The Grand Salami takes the Triple Play and throws in a full serving of ham.

5. La Baguette
La Baguette has carved out its own piece of the gourmet-sandwich market with what could become an iconic location in late-night eating just off the Calle Ocho exit of I-95. The story behind its resemblance to La Sandwicherie is in the past, and La Baguette has gained its own loyal following in the wake. It's the only place on this list open 24 hours, so you have plenty of time to douse your sandwich in as much homemade house French vinaigrette as you like.

4. 1909 Cafe
The bottom line is that good, high-quality ingredients make better sandwiches. 1909 Cafe's owners don't buy mayo in huge tubs; they make their own in house. The same is true with nearly every spread they use, from sun-dried tomato paste to house vinaigrette. Their fresh-baked crunchy baguettes, wheat baguettes, and tortilla wraps are favorites among Coral Gables locals. Vegetarian sandwiches -- such as the baked, breaded eggplant with sun-dried tomato spread, and portobello mushrooms infused with garlic-parsley sauce -- will make you wonder why you ever ate meat. The best part: Dogs are welcomed, as evidenced by signs reading, "All Dogs Welcomed, All Kids Must Be on a Leash."

3. Hungry Bear Sub Shop
Located across the street from Miami Dade College, Hungry Bear Sub Shop has been craved by college students and South Miami locals for more than 20 years. Just a counter and a row of seats, the first of two locations has spawned a loyal following with a genuine homemade taste in every sub. The teriyaki chicken ($5.99, $6.99) is arguably the best teriyaki sandwich in Miami, and the honey-mustard chicken ($5.99, $6.99) holds just as much weight among its counterparts. Not too pricey, perhaps 50 cents or so more than you would expect ($4.25 to $7.55), but still very reasonable for a heap of fresh-cut meats and toppings.

2. The Daily Creative Food Co.
When Adam Meltzer opened the Daily Creative Food Co. in 2005, the surrounding area on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 20th Street was not what it is today. "There were vacant buildings and just a bunch of empty construction sites," Meltzer says. "It just was not pedestrian-friendly, especially at night." The Daily and other similar gourmet establishments helped revitalize the area, spurring economic growth and a sense of safety and security. The Daily's sandwiches are themed after local newspapers, and the wraps after Miami neighborhoods. The Biscayne Times tuna salad ($8.25) is the most popular item on the menu -- served with hummus, cucumber, arugula, roasted red peppers, and sprouts. The Wynwood Asian chicken wrap ($8.25) is a close second and gets its signature taste from the spicy Thai peanut sauce.

1. La Sandwicherie
When you tell your friends that La Sandwicherie is the best sandwich they ever had, they might not believe you. That is, until they try the combination of deli meat, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, olives, onions, hot peppers, homemade French vinaigrette, and little pickles called cornichons imported from France. The fresh mozzarella, cornichons, and vinaigrette really make the sandwich stand out among even the best on this list. Many other people have tried copying the technique, even in their own homes, but end up going right back to the 22-hour South Beach staple that has been serving the club crowd since 1989.

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