Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review: JewBoy Sub Shop
Remembrance of subs past
Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, Fri., Feb. 18, 2022
What is the difference between a deli and a sub shop? You can get cold cuts and sandwiches and various sides at a deli; the same can be said of a sub shop. But JewBoy Sub Shop, Mo Pittle's Allandale restaurant, transcends the sandwich shop distinction: It's nostalgic while also offering the opportunity to make carb-based core memories.
Opened in March 2021, JewBoy Sub Shop is the little sibling to Pittle's first venture, JewBoy Burgers. Modeled after the East Coast delis Pittle, an El Paso native, visited during childhood summers, JewBoy Sub Shop features a small but mighty roster of sandwiches hot and cold that marry Pittle's Jewish heritage with his border upbringing. On the hot side, there are two melts, three cheesesteaks, and four "parms," with each category riffing on its tropes.
From the "melt" portion of the menu, we tried the Deep End Dip, a classic French dip with thinly sliced sirloin and grilled onions served on a soft hoagie bun with a beefy, concentrated jus alongside. It was fine and a serviceable option for those who crave a French dip but aren't willing to leave the (relative) city center or to pay north of $20 for one elsewhere.
The "Phillies" were more decisively delicious, with the Southside carne asada ordered "border style" (with Hatch green chile and pepperjack cheese) coming hot and flavorful, despite the rib-eye being a bit chewy. The Puff's Pastrami was my favorite among all the sandwiches I tried; the pastrami, smoked in house by Pittle, was smoky and briny, with the Dijon and Swiss adding mellow and tart notes to the expansive flavor profile.
The parm sandwiches yielded a split decision, with the Bad Boy Shrimp Po Boy (puzzlingly not a parm sandwich, but let's not split hairs) serving spicy sass along with cooling, crisp coleslaw. Meanwhile, the Chutzpah Chicken Schnitzel drowned its chicken in thick and overbearing marinara for an overall heavy effect. I left that meal feeling serious dinner FOMO, as everyone else had really loved their sandwiches.
Elsewhere on the menu, the Deviled Egg Salad sandwich desperately wanted some salt and acid – in the form of a nice, crisp dill pickle, perhaps? The house-made potato chips are thick and hardy, very lightly salted (or perhaps not even salted at all), and served with a choice of two dipping sauces; I recommend the schmutz, which lends a creamy barbecue flavor, and the sour cream and onion. The Screamin' Mimi's matzo ball soup is simple and comforting, with a large, not-too-dense matzo ball hulking in its compostable cup, bathed in a light, soothing broth perfect for a chilly winter afternoon.
While the subs are the headliners, I must call out the fried mushrooms. There's a special place in my heart for battered and deep-fried mushrooms, as they take me back to my undergrad years at UT and late-night study-break snacks at Players. The fried mushrooms at JewBoy double down on those beloved mounds of deep-fried umami in that these are actually delicious, with flavorful, perfectly crisp breading that holds up to a dunk in house-made ranch dressing.
And here's where JewBoy transcends its own self-styled identity as a sub shop, because it's not just hearty hot and cold deli fare. It's also a bar with (silent) televisions tuned to sports channels (which makes sense because previous tenants in this space were bars, including pandemic casualty Pour House Pub), and a neighborhood hangout where you can linger over brunch on the patio.
In fact, one of my favorite meals at JewBoy Sub Shop was a Sunday morning brunch. Because my dining companions don't care for très leches or French toast, I was forced to attack the très leches challah French toast on my own, and I wasn't mad about it. The dish consists of three large slabs of challah soaked in a creamy custard and grilled crisp. The custard-to-surface-area proportion was perfect, resulting in a beautiful marriage of textures. It was served with a cup of brown sugar syrup studded with raisins, and I appreciated being able to control whether to add syrup and how much. But the universal favorite at our table, aside from the 25-cent coffee, was the latke, egg, and cheese sandwich served on a toasty bolillo roll. It was huge, delicious, and an excellent value for eight bucks.
The vibe at JewBoy Sub Shop is generally chill, with friendly staff and large pitchers swelling with a rainbow assortment of saltwater taffy. The manager explained that the open-access taffy was a feature of the delis Pittle visited as a kid, so they import giant bags of the stuff from New Jersey to re-create that experience.
It's these little moments of lagniappe that underscore the emotional component of revisiting the food of your youth: Working on a chewy piece of taffy or popping a hot, crisp mushroom in your mouth is about so much more than just fueling your body. It's about connecting the past and the present and savoring the pleasures of both. It's a heavy lift for a sub shop, and it's not without a few misses, but JewBoy has certainly captured the essence of the phenomenon.
JewBoy Sub Shop6701 Burnet Rd., Ste. A-3