Subway’s November line of sandwiches claims to be “the hottest they’ve ever offered,” and they’re doing it with the help of everyone’s favorite trendy condiment, Sriracha.  For the uninitiated, Sriracha is a Vietnamese hot sauce, made primarily from chili peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt. It’s used both as a general term for the style of sauce, as well as the product name for the brand sold by Huy Fong Foods in the United States (this will be important later). Sriracha’s appeal is split; detractors characterize it as little more than a fancy ketchup or hot sauce, but the faithful apply it to everything from burgers to eggs to macaroni and cheese. I’ve had the sauce once or twice, but I was interested to see how the Subway sandwich handled it. And to be honest, my opinion is less important than the answer to this question: How much, dear reader, do YOU like Sriracha?

I have to give it to them, though, it IS a clever use of a buzzword. Reminds me of the glory days of "chipotle" stuff.

I have to give it to them, though, it IS a clever use of a buzzword. Reminds me of the glory days of “chipotle” stuff.

Hopefully, the answer was “a lot,” because this sandwich is all about it. Remember how I said that Sriracha is both the general type of sauce and the brand that everyone buys? I’m not positive, but it seems like the sauce on the sandwich is the former, rather than the latter. For one thing, it’s a “creamy Sriracha,” with a lighter color and thicker consistency than the usual Huy Fong version. This alone leads me to believe Subway developed it in-house, as well as the fact that it’s really spicy. I had mine with pepper jack cheese, green and banana peppers, tomatoes, and onions, which didn’t help the spice any. I’ve always preferred spicy foods with a primary flavor to those that are just hot for hot’s sake. It’s a reason I’ve never really gotten on board with Buffalo Chicken. While the Huy Fong Sriracha we know and love works well for me, this just doesn’t. It’s too hot, without a clear peppery taste to make the burning worthwhile. If I were to do it again, I’d definitely cut it with ranch or mayonnaise to cool it down a little bit.

The Sriracha Chicken Melt is around $6 for a six inch sub, which is all I could take of it, honestly. I’ve never been a fan of vinegar-based heat, and that’s really the main thing this has going for it. I’d be really interested in a Subway take on a Bahn Mi, or some other Vietnamese-influenced sandwich idea, but this just feels like they’re trading in on a popular name. But hey, if you like hot stuff, or you looooove Sriracha, maybe you should check it out. Just make sure to grab a drink or something too, you’re gonna need it.

Subway has increasingly taken the focus away from their Footlong of the Month offer by selecting subs which are either comparatively standard (this month’s Bacon, Egg and Cheese) or eye-openingly strange (last month’s Jalepeno Tuna Salad).  At the same time, they’ve been pushing themed groups of subs for full price.  This month’s theme is healthy chicken stuff.  They’re promoting the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (which is always a pretty good bet), and a new BBQ pulled-chicken sandwich.

All that lettuce, who needs it? No one, that's who.

The marketing on a BBQ chicken sandwich as a healthy option seems kind of off to me.  I can appreciate that chicken as a meat is generally healthier than beef or pork, but to me, taking a BBQ pulled meat and loading it up with lettuce and other veggies is counter-intuitive.  I feel like if you’re going to eat healthy, you’re not going to eat a BBQ sandwich.  I’ve had this sub twice, and both times I’ve added onions and a couple of tomatoes, but that’s it.  The BBQ chicken is decent.  Chicken doesn’t separate quite as nicely as pork in a situation like this, but the meat still ended up with a nice flavor and consistency.  I’ve tried it with Pepper Jack and Monterrey Cheddar cheeses, both of which work well, depending on the level of heat you’re looking for.  I love onions with sweet or tangy flavors, although I could take or leave the tomatoes.

All in all, it’s a pretty good Subway sub.  Nothing earthshaking, but worth trying if you like chicken and BBQ sauce (and if you don’t, sorry there’s not quite as much here for you on Sandwichtalk).  The Smokehouse BBQ Chicken sub runs for about $4.50 for a 6-inch and closer to $7 for a footlong.  Try it, but ditch the lettuce.

Subway has been running a scheme this month.  They’ve introduced their “Italian Collection,” a line of subs featuring combinations of pepperoni and marinara sauce.  These subs are a bit more expensive, running in the $6-7 range for a footlong. To make them seem a bit more like a bargain, Subway has decided to nuke their footlong of the month deal by offering the truly inexplicable Jalapeno Tuna Salad sub, which I will not be trying.  Well played, Subway, well played.

Pretty sure jalapenos and tuna salad is that thing that Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love.

The Chicken Pizziola includes chopped chicken breast, pepperoni, marinara sauce, and cheese.  Mozzarella would’ve been great, but since my Subway doesn’t offer it I went with American.  I also added banana peppers, which as I may have mentioned before can turn a good sub into a great one.  Here, they just helped the sub go from mediocre to decent.  I wanted this sandwich to be good.  I love chicken, and I love pepperoni. But they didn’t come together in a way that tasted real at all.  The sub was a little dry, which may have been my fault for not asking they include more marinara.  I think this sub in theory could work well, but it’d require more of a vision behind the counter than Subway can provide (maybe Quiznos?).

The Chicken Pizziola runs for around $7.  It’s not terrible, and if you really like chicken and pepperoni on a sub you could check it out, but the $5 meatball sub is a much better use of the marinara sauce.  I can’t speak for the rest of the Collection, but it seems to me like a great Italian sub was there on the menu all along.

I was gonna write a review of Subway’s Footlong of the Month for October, but it turns out they’re hosting Anytober, which means that almost  every sub they offer is $5 for a footlong.  This is a great deal no matter how you slice it, and you should consider most of my previous Subway reviews to be in full effect.  However, I’d like to focus on one of Subway’s newest subs, the Oven Crisp Chicken.

The Oven Crisp Chicken is perplexing.  The chicken in question is a breaded chicken patty (or two, if you get the footlong) which is posited as a healthier alternative to fast food chicken.  I don’t claim to be an expert on nutritional values, but a quick look shows that it’s not actually very healthy at all.  It’s odd that Subway feels the need to compete so explicitly with McDonald’s style chains, considering that their $5 footlongs were what changed the game in the first place.  But regardless on my reservations regarding the concept, I decided to try the Oven Crisp.

My Oven Crisp Chicken sub included tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and Sweet Onion dressing, which is the permutation recommended by promotional images.  It was actually pretty good.  I’m never crazy about Subway’s lettuce, but I got a small enough amount of it that it didn’t detract from the sandwich overall.  The cucumbers were a refreshing flavor which worked well with the chicken, which was tasty but of uncertain quality.  I didn’t dissect it to be sure, but it didn’t taste or feel like all white breast meat or anything.  I don’t have any issue with the super processed chicken of most fast food companies, but Subway seems like they’d have higher standards.  Anyway, what really made the sub was the Sweet Onion dressing.  It’s pretty forgiving, and with an already decent recipe to work with it really shines.

All in all, the Oven Crisp Chicken was a pretty delicious sub.  I always prefer larger cuts of meat on Subway subs, like chopped chicken or steak, because I think other chains do deli style cold cuts better.  This didn’t disappoint, and I’d recommend picking up the footlong for $5, it’s a great meal.

Another month, another Subway Featured $5 Footlong.  August’s offering, much to my chagrin, is the Buffalo Chicken sub.  I’ve never been a fan of Buffalo sauce.  It’s spicy without enough of a flavor, and it tastes like vinegar to me (and not in the good “Salt and Vinegar Chips” way).  But I missed last month’s sub, so I figured I owed you guys this one.  I made it my mission to create a Buffalo Chicken sub I could actually enjoy, using the ingredients available to me.  Let’s see how I did!

Apropo of nothing, but doesn't Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol look great? If there's one thing Tom Cruise is good at, it's shooting guns and jumping off of stuff.

I began by adding Monterrey Cheddar cheese, to lessen the bite a bit.  I had it toasted, then applied tomatoes and Ranch dressing.  (Until Subway starts offering real leaves of Romaine lettuce, as opposed to the napkin-like shredded Iceberg they currently use, I won’t be adding lettuce anytime soon.)  It actually ended up being pretty decent.  While Bleu Cheese dressing is really the ideal counterpoint to Buffalo sauce, Ranch is a passable alternative,and the tomatoes added a bit of variety without adding heat, the way the recommended green peppers could’ve.  If I were to do it again, I might add mayo, onions or a stronger cheese, but I enjoyed it as it was.

Being a Featured sub, it’s $5 for a foot-long sub, which if I haven’t mentioned before is a really good deal.  If you like Buffalo Chicken, you’ll probably like this sandwich.  If you don’t, you can try a similar strategy to what I did, or you can skip it altogether.

Subway has recently announced a new initiative to offer avocado as an option for all sandwiches for a limited time.  They mention a couple of sandwiches they feel it goes particularly well with, but I was in the mood for bacon and eggs, so I threw it on the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on Flatbread.

They actually scoop and spread it with an ice cream scoop. I can't decide if this is awesome or disgusting.

In addition to the bacon and eggs, I added some Monterey Cheddar cheese.  The thing to remember about the avocado is that it isn’t guacamole.  It’s thicker, without the spices and other ingredients.  I thought it might be a lot to take, so I added some ranch dressing to cut it.  That ended up being a good choice.  I’m a big avocado fan, but it can be kind of thick and overpowering.  Ideally, I’d like about a 6″ sub’s worth of avocado spread over a footlong, but I doubt they offer that.  All in all, the avocado was an interesting addition, but I can’t see myself adding it again, at least not to this sandwich.

Adding avocado costs an extra 50 cents on a 6″ sub, and an extra $1 on footlongs.  You definitely get your money’s worth, but unless it’s a sandwich that will probably benefit from a big injection of avocado (say, the Chipotle Chicken and Cheese) you may not want to risk it.

Another month, another Subway featured $5 footlong.  I’ve been impressed with the variety of the specials, everything from breakfast subs to meat-heavy meals to lighter fare.  This month’s sub is the Chipotle Chicken and Cheese, which as the name suggests is a chicken sub with Subway’s Chipotle Southwest sauce.  They’re not new ingredients, but it’s a new combination, and the idea of combining flavors is really what I’ll be discussing.

DAMN, that is a good picture of a sandwich!!!

The Chipotle Chicken & Cheese is usually shown with green peppers and red onions on their flatbread, which gives it a kind of “Mexican fajita” air.  I got mine with pepper jack cheese to go along with that theme.  The chicken and chipotle sauce combo was very good, and I could see what they were trying for with this sandwich.  However, the red onions were pretty strong, and they overpowered a lot of the other elements.  Pepper jack cheese was also a little strong for the sandwich. 

The Chipotle Chicken and Cheese is a good idea for a sandwich, but it needs some personal tweaking.  I’d recommend going easy on the red onions, if not eliminating them all together, and trying other options, like banana peppers or cheddar cheese.  It’s a good $5 footlong, maybe even as good as the Meatball Pepperoni, but you need to think outside of the suggested ingredients to really make it great.

This May, Subway has selected their Orchard Chicken Salad sub to be the latest $5 Footlong of the month.  The timing of this one is interesting, because Arby’s just added a Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad sandwich to their Market Fresh menu.  I thought it would be an interesting, unique idea to review them side by side and see which one is better.  Then I visited Arby’s Facebook page and saw that they had the same idea.

They even made a graphic for it. Sirs, I am outdone!!

 Still, I doubt any of their Facebook fans have the dedication to sandwich quality I’ve demonstrated, so hopefully this becomes the definitive review of the two.  These sandwiches are a bit outside of the usual fare I cover here on Sandwichtalk (for more on my usual fare, type “bacon” or “BBQ” into the search field on the right and see what comes up).  I’ll admit that the combination of fruit and mayonnaise is kind of a turnoff for me on a conceptual level, but I can get past it.  I’ll be comparing the two in a couple different categories, so let’s get started!

The Arby's Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad Sandwich

First, and most importantly, I’ll begin with taste.  Both salads were made up of pretty similar ingredients, including chicken, apples, and celery, mixed with mayonnaise.  The Arby’s version, which I had in the Whole Wheat Wrap iteration, includes grapes, pecans, and leaf lettuce, which is actually really nice.  It tasted alright, although the celery was cut a bit thick and it threw the texture off.  The Subway recipe, on the other hand, included raisins and cranberries, and I got mine on Italian bread with lettuce, although I removed most of it halfway through.  The celery was cut thinner, which was nice, but the real win here were the cranberries, which added an interesting kick.  The pecans were a nice touch on the Arby’s side, but not enough to win.  Walnuts would’ve been better.

Winner: Subway

Subway Orchard Chicken Salad Sandwich

Next up is nutrition.  I don’t usually cover nutrition info on Sandwichtalk, because my assumption is that you understand that eating at a fast food restaurant is by definition not going to be as good for you as a home cooked meal or eating at a nicer, more upscale venue.  However, given that the main thrust of these sandwiches is as a light, healthy alternative to mainstream fast food, I thought it was worth a look.  According to Subway’s website, the Orchard Chicken Salad contains 370 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 560 mg of sodium.  Compare that to the Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad, which according to Arby’s contains 630 calories, 41 grams of fat, and 1020 mg of sodium as a wrap, and 840 calories, 44 grams of fat, and 1220 mg of sodium on the honey wheat bread.  Neither seems like an ideal choice for a diet, but Subway is the clear victor here.

Winner: Subway

Arby's Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad Wrap (this is the version I had)

 Finally, we have value in terms of price.  This one is a bit more complicated.  Arby’s is offering a free sandwich with purchase of a drink via a coupon on their Facebook page.  If you use this coupon, Arby’s is far and away a better deal, since a drink is only about a dollar and a half.  Without the coupon, the Arby’s sandwich is about $4.79 for the sandwich and $6 for the combo, which includes fries and a drink.  For just the sandwich alone, Subway is a much better deal, being a footlong.  However, if you want a meal, and I would suggest getting one since both sandwiches aren’t hugely filling, Arby’s is probably a better bet, since Subway combos will run up to around $10.

Winner: Arby’s

Given the nutritional facts and all around taste, I have to give the title of Best Fruity Chicken Salad Sandwich Special to Subway.  Both have their pros and cons and neither is quite what I want (hint- cranberries and pecans would be an amazing combination), but I’d eat the Orchard Chicken Salad again much sooner than I’d have the Grilled Chicken and Pecan Salad.  If you disagree, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!!

P.S.  No matter who you side with, be sure to vote on the Arby’s Facebook page.  They’re donating $1 for every vote to the charity No Kid Hungry, so that’s pretty cool.

Sandwich giant Subway is adding a new sub each month to their fabled $5 Footlong line.  The new sub is available for $5 for a month, and then changed out for a different option, ensuring I’ll have work to do for a while.  The first offering is the Meatball Pepperoni, a variation on Subway’s popular Meatball Marinara.

A guy walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm. He says,"I'd like a beer, and one for the road."

The Meatball Pepperoni is a pretty good sandwich, as Subway sandwiches go.  I’ve always found the cheese options at Subway to be a little lacking, which is strange given how much effort they put into giving you choices elsewhere.  For a meatball sub, I’d go with a mozzarella, or maybe a parmesan, but neither of these cheeses are offered.  I settled on Monterey cheddar, since it’s not too strong and it’s shredded.  The pepperoni was decent, but not hugely noticeable.  There’s not a lot to set this apart from the regular Meatball Marinara sub, which is also a $5 Footlong.  However, if pepperoni is really your thing, then I guess I’d recommend it.  Personally, I’d much rather have a limited time Meatball sub with something like mozzarella cheese or mushrooms.

Sandwich heavyweight Subway has recently launched their newest special, a pastrami sub.  For those of you who, like me, had no idea what exactly pastrami is, here’s a crash course.  Pastrami is a deli meat generally, but not always, made from beef.  It’s brined, seasoned, smoked and steamed, and ends up looking a bit like bacon and tasting a bit like corned beef (both good things).  It’s often served on rye, sometimes with coleslaw in a variant of a Reuben.  However, since Subway didn’t outfit their restaurants with coleslaw, Russian dressing, and rye bread, I decided to fill my Big Hot Pastrami out West Coast-style, with pickles and mustard.

Both Big and Hot!!

I loved this sandwich.  They heaped on the pastrami, which had a nice, distinct flavor and seemed to be pretty high-quality (although since this is my first pastrami experience, I have no idea if it tasted how it’s supposed to).  The pickles and mustard added some kick and offset the peppery taste of the meat nicely, and the provolone cheese I selected was subtle enough to let the rest of the sub work.  I wouldn’t recommend a stronger cheese like cheddar on this, keep it light.

The Big Hot Pastrami was a delicious sub and a nice change of pace from the usual “chicken breast with a new dressing” specials Subway usually puts out.  As a specialty sub, it’s going to cost a bit more, with a 6″ setting me back $5.  I’d still wholeheartedly recommend this sub, pick it up while you can.

EDIT: This post has gotten a number of comments, which of course I’m thrilled about.  I do want to make sure everyone reading understands that this is an independent review.  I am not affiliated with Subway.  This is not an online survey, nor do I have any information on an online survey for patrons who have enjoyed the Big Hot Pastrami.  I hope that clears up any confusion.