Triad Sub Review: Penn Station Subs

March 17, 2007

I’m starting a new set of posts on a subject that is near and dear to my stomach, submarine sandwiches. Some call them hoagies, some grinders but most people call them subs. Ever since I moved to the Triad in 1994 I’ve been looking for somewhere that offered sub sandwiches at least as good or better than the place I fell in love with them – Dibella’s Old Fashion Subs in Rochester NY. In over 10 years of looking around the Triad, nothing has even come close. So to try and help my fellow denizens, I’m going to review sub sandwiches from various eateries around the Triad. The first in the series is a new place that just opened off of 68 called Penn Station East Coast Subs.

The Location

The Penn Station restaurant I visited is located off of highway 68 in High Point, NC near the Deep River shopping center. Its currently only one of two shops open in a new plaza so traffic to and from the restaurant was no problem. The restaurant itself is quite small with tables lining one side and a few booths in the rear. This makes moving around inside Penn Station rather cramped with no real places to wait if you have placed a “to go” order. The number of subs to choose from was rather small, so I ordered the signature “Philly Cheese Steak” sub as well as a standard 10″ Italian as a good baseline for the review.

The Food

The heart of any great sub is its bread. You can usually tell how good a sandwich is going to be by the freshness of the hoagie roll it comes on. Since you can’t specify a type of bread with your order, you have to hope the standard white roll is good. Penn Station’s bread was fresh and crunchy, but not something you’d write home about.

The meats on the Italian sub were hearty and flavorful. The sub itself was packed with ingredients, although way too many onions for my liking, but good overall. The oil and spices used brought out the nice flavors one would expect from an Italian sub and didn’t make the bread soggy or overly greasy.

Since the cheese steak sandwich is the selection that the chain is supposedly famous for, I also ordered a regular 10″ cheese steak with no extras such as mayo, mustard or (eegad) pizza sauce. The result was adequate, but not overly wonderful. A bit greasy and heavy on banana peppers, I’m sure that true Philly residents would balk at the notion of this hoagie being a real “Cheese steak” sandwich. If I returned to Penn Station again, I would like to try their Reuben or Artichoke subs just to see how the less popular subs stack up. Their french fries were nothing spectacular, although the fresh squeezed lemonade was indeed quite good. Not too sweet and not too tart.

The Wrap Up

Overall my visit to Penn Station East Coast Subs was enjoyable. I got in and out with my food in a timely manor. The staff was courteous and the subs themselves were better than average. The price of each 10″ sub was $6.49, which is about what I would expect to pay. On the downside, the food selection is rather small, and the dining area is tiny and cramped. Lastly, although I noted that the restaurant received a 96.5 health rating as of February 2007, I did see some troublesome spots both in front of and behind the counter. Spilled drinks, unclean trash areas and several messes in the kitchen didn’t inspire my appetite as I was leaving.

All things being equal, I would return to Penn Station again and try some of their other subs and I would definitely recommend them over Quizno’s almost any day of the week. Perhaps my largest disappointment was the lack of “true” sub-type sandwiches. Most were the toasted, heated, types of gourmet sandwiches that seem to have taken over today’s sub shops. Even the Italian sub I ordered came toasted, and while not really a bad thing, it made Penn Station seem like just another Quizno’s. My search for the perfect Triad sub continues…

What about you? Have a special place in the Triad that you think serves up the best subs in town? Post them in the comments thread and point me in their direction. I just might review them here!


10 Responses to “Triad Sub Review: Penn Station Subs”

  1. Firecracker Says:

    I completely agree with the “sub-scale” you have developed for your reviews! As a Rochester (RIT) grad, I’m also a devotee of Dibella’s superior subs! I’ll always remember enjoying those college days, swigging a cold [yes, in the original *glass*] bottle of Coke, and savoring any of the sub-sandwiches from the menu. I even got to meet John Dibella and his wife a few times and remember when she decided to start offering her homemade cookies as the only dessert option at the sandwich counter. Ah, good times…

  2. Ged Says:

    Wow! I didn’t know you had met Mr. Dibella himself! How cool is that?

    On a seperate note, some people who will remain nameless have recently had brand new Dibella’s Subs go up not 10 minutes from their home in Ohio. I can only hope that the expanding franchise that is the finest sub shop in the country can find its way down here to the Triad. In the meantime I’ll keep searching…

  3. […] and co-worker Gedeon Maheux reviews Penn Station Subs, a local sub shop in High Point and […]

  4. hugh Says:

    Penn Station was a nice change from subway and Quizos but after the 4th or 5th time the novelty wore off, and the plain-Jane aspect of their subs become evident.

    The only place I have never been disappointed with a Sub is at Giacomo’s, either High Point Road or New Garden Road. When I was kid I lived in NJ for a couple of years. There was an Italian family that ran a deli store in my neighborhood which they lived above. The meatball sandwiches there were beyond belief and have been the standard I’ve sought after ever since, only I never found it again; That is, until I had Giacomo’s Meatball Parmesan sub–Killer! By far the the best meatball sub in NC.

    His other subs are excellent also. The fresh baked bread has the perfect crunch to the crust.

  5. […] before Hugh recommended Giacomo’s in the comments of the Penn Station review, I had wanted to try their subs for some time. I visited the High Point Road location when I first […]

  6. Mike Says:

    I found the Penn Station subs in Greensboro and High Point to be awesome. They aren’t trying to be old style delis. What they are is fresh grilled samdmiches that go through a pizza oven, baking the bread perfectly. The one thing you have to try is the freshly cut french fries. The best in NC, hands down

    My favorize sub is the chicken terriaki, with the club a close second. They do have some unique things such as the artichoke sub.

    All and all excellent and fresh squeezed lemodade to boot!

  7. Ged Says:

    Sounds like I’ll have to give Penn Station another go and try the subs you mentioned. I have to say I didn’t think their fries were all that good, but it could be because I got them to go instead of eating in. The lemonade was great (as I said in the review), and overall they were okay. Just not the true “NY Deli” kinds of subs I’m reviewing here. For the toasted sandwiches they offer, they are a cut above Quiznos for sure.

  8. Dave Seah Says:

    Hey Ged!

    I’m thinking of doing a similar tasting experiment here in New England. I too have missed Dibella’s terribly. A few questions to help me calibrate my taste buds:

    1. Are you using italian subs as your benchmark sub?

    2. Which subs at Blimpie’s, Subway, and Dibellas would you recommend? How about fixings?

    These reviews rock…well done!

  9. Ged Says:


    Yes, I always order an Italian sub from the place I review, or the closest approximation if they don’t specifically have an “Italian”. I usually try to order one other as well, something different to get a feel for different flavors.

    Subway’s “best” sub, and I use that loosely, is the cold cut combo I think. Our Blimpie closed here two years ago, so I’m not sure which sub of theirs you would want to review.

    Dibellas best sub, without a doubt, is the Godfather. Pure sub nirvana from start to finish :-)

    Keep me posted, would love to read some sub reviews from you. I got the idea from you in the first place, with that post you did about the deli :-D

  10. Robbie Says:

    While I have not had the opportunity to try your top rated sub shop, I dont claim that we have the most spectacular sandiwiches in the world. However I will say that being the general manager of my penn station here in Columbus Ohio on the Ohio State University Campus, Our subs that my store produce look first of all WAY better than the image of the italian that is portrayed. I think you obviously had just a less than okay visit to that location. I strive on excellence in appearance and taste and hope that you wont allow that to deter you from trying Penn Station again, our as you state small menu selection is well worth it and unique. Broaden your horizons and try the Cordon Bleu and the Artichoke also… As for the fries, With a little vinegar they are great.. Ask for some seasoning to be put on them when they are done… its great! Glad you like us overall!!

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