Sunday June 13: 1034 Arrow Hwy b, San Dimas
Another return visit! Though this one held a little less excitement than going back to Bánh Mì My-Tho. Papa’s Best is a sandwich place we ate at … wait … wait … just checking Google … because who doesn’t want technology to know more about us than us … March 5, 2017, apparently, and, no, we hadn’t gone back. But here we are, Summer of Sandwich, so Papa’s Best: The Return to: And More, which we weren’t entirely bummed about because after all, Papa’s sports a five-star rating on Yelp (!) based on 720 reviews (!).
- Because according to Google,
- and according to Yelp,
- and according to—welp,
- I don’t have a brain
Oops, glitch. Let’s just say that according to us: Papa’s is actually sort of charming. I arrived a little after eleven a.m., post-tennis, and two groups were sitting outside at tables, chatting and eating sandwiches. One table was great: at their meal’s end, one woman very conscientiously asked the others how they felt about the quality of the sandwiches, and then they talked about the pros and cons of Subway, and one man told a story about how he never ate a Big Mac until he was in Germany in his twenties and didn’t know how to ask for a plain burger in German so he just bit the burger bullet and was like, wow, Big Macs! All this took place not in a cozy neighborhood deli but a tiny little strip mall next to a Walgreen’s—all the more impressive.
Clearly some people love Papa’s, and it does have the feel of a beloved neighborhood place. We think the sandwiches at Papa’s are fine, is as far as we’ll go. We got two: first up, the Veggie on wheat ($5.75), which was stuffed with spinach, lettuce, tomato, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, pickles, olives, pepperoncini, provolone, jalapenos, a cilantro jalapeno spread AND garlic aioli. Guess what it tastes like? A so-so salad on indifferent and far too easily sogged bread. Was it better than a Subway sandwich? Probably?
Papa’s pride, though, is their pulled pork, so sayeth the counter workers. Our second sandwich was a somewhat new special, the Via Verde, named after a local road (which should be sort of mandated by every sandwich shop, right? Unified Sandwich Theory© alert: ALL SANDWICH NAMES SHOULD BE LOCALLY THEMED). The Via Verde ($7.75) features slow-cooked pork, garlic aioli, provolone, salsa verde, tomato, onion, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and jalapeno sauce. This came on white—which while not special was a vastly superior delivery system to the wheat, as it seemed actually baked (chewy/firm exterior).
Here a quick note on bread: both of these sandwiches came on submarine rolls…and both sandwiches were clearly one half of a larger submarine roll. As Papa’s cut both of our sandwiches (or half-loafs) in half, it means that one half (quarter loaf) of each of our sandwiches has two open ends—which means we bid you adieu, toppings, as you keep falling out the back. Come on. I mean, if you’re a sandwich shop, why not just get/bake bread that fits the size of your sandwiches? This is a small but meaningful issue. But: Care. Make it work well.
Finally to the general flavors of the sandwiches: both sort of melded into an overall flavor, meaning individual ingredients are mostly lost. For the salad sub, meh. Trying to highlight a particularly good spread and cheese or avocado would be a better route. For the Via Verde, the pulled pork (very flavorful, very, very salty) was certainly highlighted, and was quite nicely complemented by its supporting cast. We couldn’t distinguish (visually or through taste) any salsa verde or jalapeno sauce, but the overall flavor was whole and fulfilling. Will we go back any time soon? Hey, Google….
- Overall Balance/Taste: +1 point
- Quality of Ingredients: 0
- Bread: -1
- Integrity: -1
- X-factor: neighborhood feel: +1
Overall: 0 points, or your standard PB&J