7862 Warner Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
One of the few good things about the last year is that there has been much less traffic on our freeways. Trips that used to take me up to an hour or more, now take me only 45 minutes or less most of the time. This has allowed me to try some places that I have put off just because I didn't want to sit in stop and go traffic. This means more trips past Irvine, and more specifically to this review, a visit to Huntington Beach, and a spot that has definitely peaked my interest from their delicious-looking Instagram page, Subculture Sandwiches.
I did a little deep dive into the history of Subculture, and this is what I came up with. Pre-2013 this location used to be known as Mr. Pickles, which is a sandwich chain based out of Northern California. In 2013, looking to get out from under the franchise and doing things the way he wanted, the owner changed the name of his sandwich shop to Meat Headz. This name lasted until late in 2014, when they had to change their name again, this time due to a legal issue with that name. It's been Subculture since 2015.
In those six years since they have amassed a huge following. On Yelp they possess a four-and-a-half star rating with close to 2,000 reviews, an almost unbelievable rating when you consider that most people post to Yelp just to air their grievances. Speaking of Yelp, back in 2015 they were named one of the top 100 restaurants in America by that review website. More recently, Subculture was also mentioned as having one of the top ten sandwiches in OC by the Orange County Register.
Needless to say, I was very excited to give Subculture a try. I had read all the warnings on their IG stories about long waits during peak meal times, so Katie and I decided to avoid their crazy lunchtime rush, and order online at half-past one on a recent Saturday. With the lighter traffic up to Huntington Beach from South OC, we had it planned out perfectly to leave twenty-five minutes before our quoted pickup time.
The timing was perfect. As we parked out in front of their storefront, I got a text that our order was ready. Pick up was easy-peasy, as I got our bag and was headed back down Warner Avenue towards the freeway in no time. After a few pictures to document our meal, we were enjoying our late lunch on our couch within 50 minutes of ordering. Not bad, so let's see if all the love for Subculture is indeed not just hype.
The sandwich menu at Subculture features 13 sandwiches, plus a build-your-own version. I knew I'd be having two sandwiches this afternoon, but the decision on what two was tough. True to form though, if I see a Cuban sandwich on a menu, there's a 95 percent chance I'm going to try it. As you can see from above, I could not resist the allure of the Cubano ($11.95). This version is pretty true to a traditional version, with a few tweaks. The first, of course, is the bread, which is their very popular dutch crunch bread. This crisped, dense bread handles the insides of the sandwiches with ease, with a tinge of sweetness and crunch in each bite. The roasted pork, ham, mustard, swiss cheese, pickles, and garlic spread creates one of the most balanced sandwiches you can get. There's sweet, creamy, savory, tanginess, and sour in each bite. This version rivals my favorite at nearby Desimone's Deli, which I did not expect to be writing before consuming this one.
So I had one sandwich left to order, and 12 to pick from their menu. I did a little research of their Yelp page and went with the one that I felt was the most popular, the Culture Club ($14.95). This is basically a club sandwich with turkey, ham, bacon, melted cheddar cheese, avocado, red onion, and pow sauce, which I'd describe as a creamy chipotle ranch mixture. This was one of the better sandwiches I've had in a long while. It tasted like a better made, with better ingredients Wicked from Which Wich. The bread was again a nice vehicle for the insides of the sandwich, which were added in just the right increments to allow each flavor profile to shine through. Very well done.
If you couldn't tell by the glowing review from above, I was pretty smitten with Subculture Sandwiches. I definitely have my eye on other sandwiches to try on future visits. Even though they are quite a distance away from where I live, I'm looking forward to eating my way through their menu. The ordering process and pick-up were nice and easy. They mention that they frown upon modifications to their sandwiches, but when you order online, there are places where you can check off items that you don't want on your sandwich. Prices are a bit more than what you'd pay at your local Subway, but these are better sandwiches with way more heft to them than those inferior sandwiches. I am looking forward to things getting back to normal, but not the heavy traffic that comes along with it.
Out of five encyclopedias, (because at one time if you bought a set of these books for $126, you also got a parcel of land in Huntington Beach), five being best to zero being worst, Subculture Sandwiches gets 4 encyclopedias.
For more information about Subculture Sandwiches, head to their website here: http://www.subculturehb.com/