The 1980s are becoming a blur, but food memories for me always seem to stick. I remember the classic Italian grinder at S & M Submarine Sandwiches on Orange Avenue (the location is now Moo Time Creamery).
My fondest memories of this sandwich shop were in high school. My brother and two best friends used to work across the street at Cable Vision, where Spectrum is today. We would all grab sandwiches and eat them on the grass in the median.
I remember a charming woman who worked at S&M; she always recalled my order, making my sandwich just how I liked it.
The sandwich featured a soft torpedo roll, generous portions of Italian cold cuts, and a mound of crisp shredded iceberg lettuce with a healthy amount of oil, vinegar, and oregano.
For a good portion of my life, that was my favorite sandwich. Believe it or not, I missed that sub when I attended college in Rhode Island.
While at school, I dated several girls from New Jersey, one of whom I dated fairly steadily and often spent summers visiting at her home near the Jersey Shore. I loved New Jersey, especially the food. Unlike our little beach community in Coronado, the Shore had many iconic food spots.
My girlfriend took me to a popular sandwich spot in Point Pleasant. I, of course, ordered an Italian Sub. The guy at the counter asked me if I wanted everything on it. I answered yes, so he shouted, “One Italian Mike’s way!” I came to find out that Mike’s way was how they used to prepare the subs at S&M: onions, lettuce, tomatoes, vinegar, oil, and spices. It is worth mentioning that Jersey tomatoes are the country’s best; they call it the Garden State for a reason.
I must have picked up a dozen sandwiches that summer. Every time I did, it made me remember S&M Subs and Coronado.
My girlfriend and I didn’t last another summer, and once again, I was saying goodbye to one of the best sandwiches I had ever eaten.
Twenty-three years had passed when I spotted a sign here in San Diego that read Jersey Mike’s Subs. My mind went a little haywire. Could this be Mike’s subs from Jersey? There I stood in a suped-up version of the little sandwich shop I had said goodbye to all those years prior. I took a quick look at the menu, and there it was, #13, The Original Italian, with an option to order it Mike’s Way.
The Original Italian, sliced to order has provolone, boiled ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami, and pepperoni. Prosciuttini is oven-roasted ham coated in black pepper, and cappacuolo, also known as capicola, is dry-cured salami. This sandwich is almost as good as the one I remember, minus the Jersey tomatoes.
When I drive to Jersey Mike’s in Imperial Beach, I think of the S&M sub shop of my youth and Mike’s in Point Pleasant. The Strand begins to feel like the drive down the NJ Shoreline with ocean breezes and long stretches of sand.
Thanks to the Coronado Historical Association for allowing the use of the S&M Submarine Sandwich shop photo. For more Coronado history, visit coronadohistory.org, and don’t miss “Open Doors,” the Vietnam POW exhibit that opens on March 3, 2023.