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Does Subway Suck? We Tasted All Of Their New Signature Sandwiches To Find Out

Is Subway trash? I write about food pretty often, and in doing so many food rankings over the years, I’ve come to find that almost all fast food chains have die-hard stans who will rip me to shreds if I forget to include their favorite restaurant.

I’ve drawn the ire of Arby’s heads, angered Rally’s fiends, and don’t even get me started on whipping up the A&W goblins. Through it all, it stands out that I’ve never received a single comment, email, or random Twitter attack complaining about excluding Subway from a ranking.

These days it seems like Subway is known less for delicious sandwiches and more for things like bread that isn’t bread, tuna that isn’t tuna, and foot longs that aren’t a foot long. And that’s not even the worst press Subway has ever gotten (Jared Fogle, anyone?).

And yet, Subway remains one of the largest fast food chains in America, bringing in $16.1 billion in revenue in 2020. Until recently, it was second only to the mighty McDonald’s in number of locations (which may have had something to do with their allegedly predatory franchising practices).

If no one likes Subway enough to defend it, why is it so ubiquitous? All of which impels me to attempt to answer a fairly simple question: is Subway any good? Have we been sleeping on Subway? There are at least three Subway restaurants within walking distance of me, one of which is open 24 hours. Who is eating Subway in the middle of the night (don’t say drunk people and stoners, they go to Jack in the Box)? And more importantly, why?

Thanks to some reporting by John Oliver and others, we now know that part of Subway’s omnipresence across the fast food landscape can be explained by how easy they make it to open a franchise. Yet the pandemic has been especially unkind to Subway, who slipped from the second biggest fast food chain in America to the eighth. Of course, that’s still pretty good in the grand scheme of things, and there are signs that brand is finally trying to innovate and improve. Which brings us to the Subway Series.

Subway is a brand built on its endless customization options. Yet the Subway Series poses the question: what if Subway had a real menu? Now, in addition to your usual customization, Subway fans can order 12 different signature sandwiches, broken up into four different categories: Cheesesteaks, Italianos, Chicken, and Clubs. This is a potential game changer for Subway because now they’ll actually have things on their menu that people can recommend to friends, talk about, and most importantly (for us at least) rank! So we ordered all 12 sandwiches in the Subway Series and ranked them from worst to best. All in an attempt to finally answer the question: is Subway trash?

We also took pictures of each sandwich. I understand that fast food press photos always show food in the best presentation possible, but the way Subway sandwiches look in advertising vs. the way they look in reality is one of the most jarring differences I’ve ever seen in fast food. I’ve never felt so catfished by fast food.

For the record, I bought all my sandwiches for this ranking from two different Subway locations in Long Beach, California. I would’ve picked a single Subway location, but after being told the first location didn’t carry a specific type of bread, I bought the remaining sandwiches at a different Subway, just to stay consistent with the Subway Series’ recommended bread options. These just happened to be the closest Subways to me, and one of them was open 24 hours, which meant I could eat a sandwich at any hour of the day, even the middle of the night like some kind of lunatic.

12. The Great Garlic

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Rotisserie chicken, bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions with creamy roasted garlic aioli, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

The centerpiece of Subway’s The Great Garlic is a new roasted garlic aioli. They need to go back to the lab with that shit. This is one of the most off-putting sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life, and no I’m not one of those weird people that dislike garlic. I love garlic, but nobody loves garlic this much.

The flavor of this sandwich is entirely dominated by the taste of garlic with the slightest hint of smokey bacon on the aftertaste. That’s it. You can’t taste the cheese (ever at Subway apparently), the lettuce, the tomatoes, or the red onions. Do you realize how difficult it is to not taste red onions? That’s how powerful this garlic is.

What’s worse is the roasted garlic aioli is extremely bitter. Roasted garlic should not taste bitter. Roasted garlic has a wonderful mild sweetness and floral caramelized earthiness that packs a lot of depth of flavor. Garlic only tastes bitter when it’s burnt. Burnt is not roasted, Subway.

The Bottom Line:

The great garlic? More like the… not so great garlic. The Bad Garlic! It’s the only objectively bad sandwich in the Subway Series. Even if you love garlic, this sandwich is straight-up gross.

11. Subway Club

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Turkey, Black Forest ham, USDA Choice Roast Beef, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mayo, on toasted multigrain bread.

Tasting Notes:

This is the sandwich that Subway decided to put its own name on, so it’s got to be good right? Wrong. It’s not that this sandwich is bad, it’s just incredibly boring. Subway’s USDA Choice Roast Beef doesn’t taste all that much better than their regular steak, but it still provides a good medley of beefy flavor along with the roasted turkey and Black Forest ham. It’s the veggies that leave something to be desired.

The tomatoes are a bit watery, and the lettuce is the lowest quality iceberg and muddles the flavor of the meat, leaving the red onions as the only veggie to add flavor. Green peppers, banana peppers, cucumbers, spinach — anything else would make this sandwich better! The toasted multigrain bread is also not nearly as good as Subway’s Italian Artisan. It’s dry and tastes a little like cardboard.

The Bottom Line:

The worst sandwich in Subway’s collection of Clubs, which is pretty ironic considering they attached their name to this one.

10. The Champ

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Rotisserie chicken, double Monterey cheddar cheese, green peppers, red onions, peppercorn ranch, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

You’re going to notice a lot of redundancy in Subway’s new menu. The brand launched 12 sandwiches and about half of them aren’t ever worth ordering. Unfortunately, this sandwich is one of those. The issue with the Champ is that Subway also makes a sandwich that is essentially the same as this one, but with steak and bacon instead of Rotisserie chicken, and it’s so much better.

It’s hard to taste the rotisserie chicken through the heavy helping of peppercorn ranch. That creamy, slightly tangy, and earthy cracked black pepper sauce dominates the flavor here, totally drowning out the meat.

The Bottom Line:

The Champ? More like the Chump. If you like the build of this sandwich and you’re flexible about the meat, order “The Monster” instead. It’s the same sandwich with a meatier and more savory flavor.

9. All-American Club

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Roasted turkey, Black Forest Ham, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mayo, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

A nice medley of meaty flavors. I’m tasting some thyme from the turkey, a nice savory sweet smokiness from the ham, and a bit of crunch and more smoke from the bacon. I think this is a solid sandwich, but Subway has all the ingredients on-hand to make this a significantly better experience and I don’t know why they don’t.

This sandwich is in desperate need of better lettuce and more veggies. Pickles, jalapeños, black olive — this sandwich needs something to elevate the meaty flavors with some fresh vegetal backing. Subway’s mayo isn’t flavorful enough to add the tang this sandwich needs.

The Bottom Line:

Its only sin is that it’s boring.

8. The Philly

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It? Steak, provolone cheese, green peppers, red onions, mayo, on toasted bread.

Tasting Notes:

The Philly is part of the Subway Series’ Cheesesteak family; probably the only sandwich in the Series that doesn’t need a description. This is Subway’s take on a classic Philly Cheesesteak. It’s fine, though I actually think it tastes a lot better if you don’t associate it with a Philly cheesesteak. With that as a point of comparison it comes up wildly short. If only Subway could carmelize onions, it would vastly improve the flavors of this sandwich. Sadly they can’t, so think of this more as a beef sandwich, not a classic Philly cheesesteak.

This sandwich helped reveal to me that Subway’s steak, as thin and pale in color as it is, is actually pretty good. It has a savory beefy flavor that tastes great with the toasted bread and green bell peppers. It’s hard to hate this simple sandwich, but it’s also hard to love it. As it stands. It’s just fine.

The Bottom Line:

A simple beef sandwich, add bacon and pepper and you’ve got a massively better sandwich.

7. Mexicali

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Rotisserie chicken, avocado, pepper jack, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, Baja Chipotle sauce, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

I really wanted this one to be good, as it’s very similar to the sort of sandwich I’d build myself at Subway, and uses Subway’s best sauce. In theory, it should be good, in practice it’s just okay. The issue is Subway’s chicken. It’s not horrible, but rotisserie chicken is known for being tender and juicy, and Subway’s chicken is dry and stringy. The chicken does a lot to weigh this sandwich down.

With this sandwich, Subway is attempting some kind of Mexicali Baja-inspired flavors, but this really misses the mark. It seems Subway thought that by putting a Baja Chipotle Sauce with some avocado and pepper jack they’d have some approximation of Mexican flavors, but once again they’ve merely taken an adequate product and damned it with unfortunate expectations. This sandwich is bland, a thing Mexican food never is. Subway needs to ditch the lettuce and start stocking cilantro, and there is absolutely no reason this sandwich doesn’t have jalapeños. Subway has jalapeños, but they’re pickled, another thing they need to remedy.

The Bottom Line:

It’s an okay sandwich but mostly just shines a light on ingredients Subway needs but still doesn’t have.

6. Turkey Cali Club

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Roasted turkey, bacon, BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, red onions, mayo, multigrain bread, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

Subway should just call this sandwich “The Subway Club,” because it’s easily the best sandwich from the Subway Series’ Club family. Subway’s roasted turkey is pretty good, it has a nice thyme-forward flavor with a subtle hint of smoke which gets accentuated by the bacon. The meat pairing here is nice — sweet, herbal, and smokey. No complaints there.

That smoked flavor is nicely complemented by spinach, tomatoes, red onions, and creamy chunks of avocado, while the mayo adds some of the savoriness missing from the turkey and bacon. I think adding green bell peppers would do a lot to elevate this sandwich even further.

The Bottom Line:

The best Club sandwich in The Subway Series. For the best experience add another veggie (we suggest green peppers) and get it on Artisan Italian instead of the too-dry Multigrain bread.

5. The Monster

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Steak, bacon, Monterey Cheddar, green peppers, red onions, creamy peppercorn ranch on toasted artisan bread.

Tasting Notes:

What did I tell you? Add bacon to The Philly and you’ve got a massively better sandwich. I also suggested adding pepper, and this peppercorn ranch sauce gets you there, offering an earthy, creamy, and slightly tangy top note to each beefy bite. This sandwich is meaty, smokey, and satisfyingly savory. It wants for nothing, making it easily more essential than The Philly, despite having a very similar build.

The Bottom Line:

A massive improvement over the similarly built Philly. Beefy and smokey.

4. Bella Mozza

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Black Forest Ham, capicola, BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, red onions, banana peppers, MVP Parmesan vinaigrette, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

The Bella Mozza is part of the Subway Series’ Italiano family, and despite being the weakest sandwich in that category, I still think it’s pretty damn good. It has a delicate smoked flavor to it, courtesy of the thinly sliced Black Forest ham and the meatier capicola, which the New Jerseyans among us may or may not prefer to pronounce “Gabba Gool.” The Capicola is a new addition to Subway’s roster of meats and it’s pretty tasty, offering a sweet and salty flavor with roasted top notes. Gabba gool at Subway? Fuggeddaboutit.

That medley of meats gets a nice mix of veggies to help elevate it, the combination of spinach and mozzarella adds a refreshing quality to each bite while banana peppers add more dimension to the overall flavor, adding some spicy tang to the sandwich.

I’m torn on the inclusion of BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella. On one hand, it’s easily the most flavorful cheese Subway has. It actually tastes like, you know, cheese, instead of the weird shit Subway usually puts on their sandwich. But on the other hand, that fresh mozzarella comes with a lot of moisture, and that moisture will absorb into your sandwich, turning it a little soggy. That ultimately holds it back.

The Bottom Line:

Delicious, but the fresh mozzarella makes it wetter than we want it. Consider eating this one in a Subway booth instead of letting it sit in a bag for too long.

3. The Outlaw

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Steak, double pepper jack cheese, green peppers, red onions, and Baja Chipotle sauce, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

By now you’ve probably come to the realization that the Subway Series would function better as a four sandwich menu. Case in point, The Outlaw, the best sandwich in the Series’ Cheesesteaks Family, and probably the only one that deserves that signature spot. It combines the best of the Cheesesteaks family: layers of thinly-sliced beef, the undeniable combination of red onions and green peppers, and elevates it by adding some pepper jack cheese and a spicy and sweet Baja Chipotle sauce.

The pepper jack cheese doesn’t differ a whole lot in flavor from the provolone and Monterey cheddar, but it does add a subtle kick to the creamy salty flavor. The real star of the show is that Baja Chipotle sauce. It’s bright and sweet forward with a slight peppery burn that plays well with the savory beef notes.

The Bottom Line:

The best sandwich in the Cheesesteaks family. The only way this sandwich could get any better is by adding bacon, so definitely do that. Subway could’ve just done that for us, but they decided to f*ck around.

2. The Boss

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Meatballs, marinara sauce, pepperoni, BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, and parmesan, on a toasted Italian herb and cheese bread.

Tasting Notes:

I’m fully aware this sandwich looks less like food and more like a murder scene, but I promise you, this was the best way to take a picture of it. This sandwich is supposed to be built on Subway’s Toasted Italian Herb and Cheese Bread. Mine wasn’t, because apparently at Subway it’s not entirely out of the norm for a franchise location to have limited bread options. When I was told by the Subway employee that they “don’t carry toasted Italian herb and cheese bread” I said, “never?” To which they replied, “ever.” Despite the bread mishap, this sandwich still kind of blew me away.

Yes, I’m using the words “blew me away” to describe something I ate at Subway. I fully expected this sandwich to be bad. Despite how much I liked it, Subway’s meatballs are weirdly flavorless and very dry. But it kind of doesn’t matter, because this marinara sauce is so good and laid on so thick that you hardly notice how the balls come up short. Plus we’ve got pepperoni and it gets the job done.

The texture of this marinara is like velvet, with a nice balance of garlic and onions and an herbaceous earthy oregano flavor to boot, with a slightly spicy aftertaste that lingers on the tongue in the best way. It’s hands down the best part of the sandwich.

The Bottom Line:

The best sandwich in the Italiano line, but it’s a few steps away from being perfect. Some sort of combination between this sandwich and the Supreme Meats would be ideal but I haven’t figured out the build yet. But I won’t stop trying, that is my promise to you.

1. Supreme Meats

Subway Series Ranking
Dane Rivera

What’s In It?

Black Forest Ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, banana peppers, MVP parmesan vinaigrette, toasted.

Tasting Notes:

Supreme Meats combines all of Subway’s best meat and throws it into a single sandwich, and you know what? It pays off. The thin slices of meat combine to produce a bouquet of smokey, peppery, savory, salty, and sweet flavors, with veggies that provide tangy umami notes, all ensconced in a bright parmesan vinaigrette.

Delicious flavor aside, this sandwich also has a mouthwatering and intoxicating smell. The ingredients are in harmony here, coming together to produce something greater than the sum of its parts.

The Bottom Line:

A sandwich for meat lovers, this is about as meaty a sandwich you can get at Subway without getting meatballs.

The Big Takeaway: Is Subway Trash?

Absolutely not. It’s far from the best sandwich chain in fast food (I think we’d have to give that crown to Jersey Mike’s) but Subway has more than enough signature sandwiches to warrant a visit the next time you’re hungry. With a few simple hacks and alterations, you can easily take the sandwiches from good to great and the new Subway Series makes that easier than ever.

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