In the town where I was born…
Lived a man who sailed to sea…
And he told us of his life…
In the land of submarines…
- The Beatles: Yellow Submarine
The phantasmagorical 1966 Beatles song Yellow Submarine may or may not have been the inspiration for Albuquerque’s venerable Yeller Sub, but one thing’s for certain. Since it launched in 1979, the Yeller Sub has been the Duke City’s land of oversized sub and torpedo sandwiches. Long-time residents will remember that the Yeller Sub was first located on Juan Tabo not too far from Manzano High School. Today it resides in the Louisiana Plaza Shopping Center off Montgomery. Its current corner storefront has remained a popular dining destination for more than two decades.
The restaurant’s familiar marquee includes a cartoonish Beatles style yellow submarine sliced in half with piled high sandwich ingredients forming the “body” of the submarine. Original Beatles “action figures” (my Star Wars loving friend Ken gets upset if they’re called figurines or dolls), some featuring the famous yellow submarine, can be seen on the counters. Many of them were gifts from faithful customers and remain in their original wrapped boxes.
In many ways, Yeller Sub is the antithesis of the ubiquitous sub sandwich chain leader. All sandwiches are made-to-order. They’re not crafted from hermetically sealed packages of pre-wrapped and carefully measured portion sizes of meats with mountains of shredded lettuce forming most of the sandwich’s filler. All sandwiches are made on Yeller Sub’s housemade fresh-baked French or whole wheat rolls. Available in six- and twelve-inch sizes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that each is longer than advertised.
Throughout the fruited plain, sandwiches crafted from long rolls of Italian or French breads split lengthwise and stuffed with meats, cheeses, vegetables, sauces and seasonings are known by many names, most based on regional variations. There are submarine sandwiches, hero sandwiches, Italian sandwiches, hoagies, grinders, torpedoes, subs and more. Yeller Sub offers both subs and torpedoes and though they’re crafted from the same breads, they’re not synonymous.
Torpedoes, which can be served cold or hot, are garnished with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, onions and Yeller Sub’s own special blend of Italian dressing which is made daily. There are eleven sandwiches on the torpedoes menu and nine sandwiches on the subs menu. Subs, designed to be served hot, are crafted without garnish though garnishes are available for an additional charge. Yeller Sub also offers a variety of extra toppings such as green chile, mushrooms, jalapeños, grilled onions, omelet-style eggs, sliced cucumbers and more.
The Yeller Sub menu isn’t limited to sandwiches. In fact, one of the best reasons to visit is for ice cream and desserts featuring Dreyer’s grand ice cream. All ice cream scoops are generously portioned to a full quarter-pound per scoop. Banana splits–three scoops of your favorite flavors–easily serve two. Other dessert options include a banana royale, shakes and malts and a “fudge-nutty” brownie sundae. My favorite Yeller Sub sweet treat, when it’s available, is a double-scoop waffle cone with Whoppers malted milk balls. It’s terrific!
Side orders include seasoned criss-cut fries, onion rings, macaroni salad, potato salad, fresh baked cookies and more. The onion rings are excellent. They’re crispy, crunchy, and breaded just right to a light gold hue. When you bite through the crunchy breading, an intact sweet, juicy onion greets you. Four salads are also available including a tossed vegetable salad with no meats. Yeller Sub also offers party trays and party subs, each serving approximately five to six guests per foot. Box lunches can also be requested.
August 31, 2012: The meatball sub is special–a generous portion of housemade meatballs smothered in Marinara sauce and topped with melted Provolone cheese. The meatballs include just enough filler to bind them together so that what you’re tasting is very well seasoned and utterly delicious meatballs. The Marinara sauce is also nicely seasoned. One of the first things you’ll notice about the bread at Yeller sub is how chewy (a sign of just how fresh it is), moist and delicious it is. It’s a better bread than you’ll find at Dion’s.
Since leaving Boston in 1979, it’s been my one of life’s quests to find a pastrami sandwich and a tuna sub to compare with those with which I fell in love in the east coast. Finding an outstanding tuna sub is the greater challenge of the two since there’s no way you’ll ever find fresh, out-of-the-boat tuna anywhere near Albuquerque. Yeller Sub’s tuna torpedo didn’t give me much hope that I’d find a good tuna sandwich there because one of its components is eggs (along with mayonnaise, celery, pickles and spices topped with a garnish of onions, tomatoes and lettuce). The tuna torpedo, it turns out, is a terrific sandwich, albeit not as engorged with fresh tuna as at my favorite Boston haunts. It’s not only “good for New Mexico;” it’s just plain good!
Most sandwich shops seem to have a specialty sandwich crafted from an assortment of different meats, a combo sandwich so to speak. Yeller Sub’s “combination” torpedo is the Super Yeller Torpedo, a skyscraper high amalgam of ham, coto salami, bologna and American cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Italian dressing. The only other topping which could possibly make this sandwich any better is green chile, a “hot” variety with a great flavor. The green chile is an excellent foil for the tangy-sweet Italian dressing. Kudos to Yeller Sub for recognizing that some people actually love bologna, a “Rodney Dangerfield” type ingredient not often offered in sandwich shops.
16 February 2013: It’s been pretty well established in recent years that New Mexico’s foray into the nationwide discussion as to the best burgers in the fruited plain stops and ends with the green chile cheeseburger. Enterprising restaurateurs throughout the Land of Enchantment have created their own unique takes on this ubiquitous classic, most commonly replacing burger buns with tortillas or sopaipillas. At the Yeller Sub, you won’t find tortillas or sopaipillas, but you will find a burger on a sub sandwich bun. You’ll want green chile on the Burger Torpedo and you’ll want the full twelve-inch size (which is closer to 15 inches than it is to 12). The Burger Torpedo is made from 100% ground patties made on-site to fit the sandwich rolls. It’s topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and the special Italian dressing which prevents a tangy counterpoint to the piquancy of the green chile.
Even the most ardent of Arby’s aficionados will find Yeller Sub’s Roast Beef Torpedo several orders of magnitude better than the chain sandwich shop’s mediocre offering. Yeller Sub adorns this torpedo with thin slices of top-round roast beef cooked medium well then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and the signature Italian dressing. Order the foot long and you’ll have half a sandwich left over for later. The roast beef torpedo is as good cold as it is warm.
The Yeller Sub is staffed with an enthusiastic and friendly crew who will make you feel like a welcome guest. From providing sandwich recommendations to refilling your drinks, they’re as attentive a staff as you’ll find at a five-star restaurant. The wonderful staff is just another reason Yeller Sub truly is the land of submarines in Albuquerque.
The Yeller Sub
7200 Montgomery Blvd, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 16 February 2013
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Onion Rings, Super Yeller Torpedo, Tuna Torpedo, Meatball Sub, Burger Torpedo, Whopper Malted Milk Balls Ice Cream on a Waffle Cone, Chocolate Malt