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Pastrami Takes You to Your Happy Place, Classic Italian Sub's Pesto Mayo Makes the Sandwich

Restaurant: Coronado's Subs
Location: 2762 W. 12600 S., Riverton (Map)
Price Range: $.99-$7.99
A- — See Foodie Report

There used to be a Quizno's in Riverton I frequented, then it vanished, like so many of them have recently, to be replaced by a new, single-location sub shop, Coronado's
Subs. Since it is my mission to try every sandwich place I find, naturally, I had no choice. I had to go. And it was well worth it.

nside, the décor was cool — a lot of wood-patterned panels, and seafaring items, like a clock inside a pegged wheel that I imagined coming from one of the great ships Coronado traveled in across the Atlantic. There are tables, both standard and raised, ringed by tall stools. Where Quizno's lines the counter with their chip racks and a glass-front deli, the wood-patterned counter now feels like something in the captain's quarters on that ship. It spoke to me.

The menu board has a variety of sandwiches, more than a lot of similar restaurants and, like Quiznos, they specialize in hot sandwiches. But that is where the similarities end. The meats and cheeses at Coronados are heated in individual steamers, not run through an oven. And it makes for very moist and satisfying fare.

Although they had not been open long, about half the tables were full, and a few more were in need of wiping down. That would likely improve, the longer they were open. The menu board is dominated by their Hot Specialty Subs, which include a Veggie Sub, a Meatball Sub, Buffalo Chicken Club, the Club Sub, and more. There are a lot of combinations with turkey. I was alarmed to see that there was no pastrami and, when I reached the front of the line, I said so. The girl at the register smile and pointed to another sign, smaller and to one side, which was just labeled Hot Subs. It listed Pastrami, a Smoked Brisket Sub, and others, devoid of cute little names like Admiral Pete's Sub or the Captain's Sub. But I went to that smaller, less-conspicuous listing and went with the Pastrami. The board said it came with provolone cheese and loaded (tomato, lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard). I went with that, enthused that the small was an eight-inch sandwich, and the girl very brightly said, "If you make it a combo, you get a free cookie." Her enthusiasm was obvious, as well as that she felt a certain pride in where she worked. Well, with salesmanship like that, I was sold. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that their chip rack (display only, they bring you your chips) had Tim's jalapeno. So I went with that, paid my bill, left my name, then went over to the beverage bar. Immediately, I noticed that they offered Orange Crush soda. You don't see that enough, in my opinion, so I went with it. Then I sat at one of the raised tables and waited.

While waiting, I watched the employees preparing sandwiches, compiling the meat-and-cheese combinations, placing them on sheets of wax paper and laying them down in the steamers. They lifted the lids in a cloud of steam, then take out the hot good stuff and finish building the sub. Pretty quickly, someone called my name, and brought out my food in a plastic-wire basket with a black-and-white checkered piece of wax paper laid inside.

First words out of my mouth: "Oh, yeah. That's the good stuff!"

The bread had beautiful color but, even more striking, was that the type of pastrami was what had made a fan of me when I got my first food job at Blimpie when I was 15. I had never been a fan of pastrami till then. And, every time I find a place with that type of pastrami, it just finds a warm place in my heart. It's still beef, but the curing process makes it taste almost pork.

First words out of my mouth after the first bite: "That's what I'm talking about!"

Just as I had expected, the pork-like flavor was there, and the provolone cheese was nice, not so much overpowering like a Swiss cheese sometimes does, while still giving it that cheesy richness. The lettuce was finely shredded, the tomato slices meaty (they have even been Romas), and the mayo and mustard made for a very nice blend of flavors.

The jalapeno potato chips were great (my favority flavor), the Orange Crush was excellent, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had baked the cookies themselves. Mine was chocolate chip with what looks like bits of toffee chips. It made for a very nice finish to a very satisfying lunch.

Last words out of my mouth before leaving: "I'm definitely coming back here."

On my second visit, I decided that I would hit that Hot Speciality Sub. There are a lot of combinations with turkey, but I'm not a big fan of sandwiches with it (I like it in slabs, with stuffing and mashed potatoes). I was tempted to try the Philly Steak and Cheese Sub after my revelation at the Philadelphian, but I love a good Italian. The menu described the Coronado's Classic Italian Sub as coming with Genoa salami, pepperoni, black forest ham, melted provolone, Italian dressing and Italian seasonings, loaded and with pesto mayo. Wow. I was a little disappointed that it didn't include prosciutto or capicola, but that pesto mayo was certainly intriguing. So I went with that, asked them to hold the mustard and onions, and made it a combo. (This time, there was a sign on the counter declaring that a free cookie comes with every combo.) I was also starved, so I went with the 12-incher.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and the place was very busy, leaving few options to sit, other than the same tall table where I had the time before. But, unlike before, every table was clean. So, as I anticipated, they were getting the hang of it.

While waiting, I did not watch the employees preparing sandwiches, this time, because they had installed two flat-screen TVs. Both had the sound turned off, with subtitles, and I got to sit and watch a rerun of the Next Iron Chef until someone called my name with my food. It was a little slower than last time, although the TV helped me make it through, and he brought out my food in half of a styrofoam clamshell with a black-and-white checkered piece of wax paper laid inside.

First words out of my mouth: "Wow. That's just pretty."

The bread had beautiful color, and the melted cheese was sprinkled with what looked like oregano, and was just bursting at the seams with lettuce and tomato. I was a little put off by the half-clam shell at first, but then thought that it helped avoid some crowding problems because it had more surface space. (Last time, there had been mayo on the outside of my bag of chips.) So I decided that I did like the idea, and could appreciate the creativity.

First words out of my mouth after the first bite: "Hmm. Good. But something's missing."

The flavors were nice, with plenty of thinly sliced black forest ham. But something was missing. I love yellow pepperocinis on my sandwiches, so I went up and asked if they had any, then got a little souffle cup full. That helped, but I still felt like there was something amiss. Finally, I realized that I wanted a little more Italian in the Italian sub. I think that, if it had a little less ham and sliced capicola was added, it would have really been awesome. And I can say that with confidence because, every time I got a bite where that pesto mayo jumped out, it was unlike any other Italian sub out there.

I finished and definitely had that life-is-good feeling that comes from a full stomach.

Last words out of my mouth before leaving: "What a great place!" Foodie Report

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     food·ie (fd)
     noun. Slang.  A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.