I recently went looking for Philly steak sandwiches (read the story here) and kept finding sandwich shops that don't make the cheese-laden steak bombs. Although they were sans steak, I stumbled on two institutions that I really should have had on my radar before now - Viafores in Fircrest and Hal of a Sub in downtown Tacoma. What I found were two neat sandwich shops that made my food in under five minutes. Hellloooo, half-hour lunch break, I found you a partner. Read on.
Viafore's Italian DelicatessanWhere: 604 Regents Blvd., Fircrest, 253-564-2228Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday and MondayNote: This deli is cash only
This is much more than a sandwich shop, it's a deli and grocery store with an impressive display case of grab-and-go housemade pastas and sauces. Head to the display case for a grab-and-go dinner you can heat at home and you'll find pastas in all shapes and sizes. There's homemade meatballs ($8.95 a bag), foil trays of layered lasagna ($8.95), stuffed cheese shells ($8.35), white clam sauce, red clam sauce or alfredo sauce ($4.89 each). Stuffed manicotti ($8.95) and homemade cheese ravioli, too ($5.95).
At lunch, I appreciate that Viafore's will have you in and out in under 10 minutes. Sandwiches come with a choice of soup or salad. On a recent visit, I stuck with the Viafore Special ($6.95), a sandwich on a French roll piled with what looked like at least four kinds of cured meats (the menu lists salami, sausage and pepperoni), mozzarella, a swipe of mayo and mustard and finished with tomatoes, leaf lettuce and slices of pepperoncini peppers. I ordered mine with chicken soup - tortellini floating in a light chicken broth. A meatball sandwich ($6.95) showcased housemade meatballs with a tender bite and a punchy marinara with peppers and onions. The warmed bread tasted a touch dry, as if it had taken a trip in the microwave. I'd return again and again for the simple, yet tasty, pasta salad that came on the side, dressed with an Italian vinaigrette.
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Hal of a SubWhere: 901 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253-272-2933Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday
I've cruised by the downtown Tacoma sandwich shop with the smirk-worthy name more evenings than I care to remember. Hal of a Sub is not a place for dinner, though, it closes daily at 3 p.m. But I was determined to return for lunch after hearing from a reader that it's on her regular rotation for downtown dining. While Hal of a Sub may not seem all that remarkable and has a somewhat gritty atmosphere, it's reliably good and fast - two things that can elevate a sandwich shop into my regular lunch rotation.
I ordered pastrami and was expecting the processed stuff for the $4.99 pricetag, but was pleased to find decent pastrami with a slight chewy tug and a strong beefy flavor - a decent pastrami for that price. Want it grilled? No problem, just ask. Condiments and veggies were generous - Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce, red onions and tomato slices. Watch the menu for the daily soup offering and they also have a selection of salads.