All Star Sandwich Bar

All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge, Mass.

It's time to tell you about one of my favorite places. I'm actually kind of shocked that I've never written about All Star Sandwich Bar on this blog before -- considering how often we go there or pick up takeout. It's a short walk from where we live, and the food is consistently good, like really good -- certain combinations even incredible and mouthwatering -- and never dull.

All Star is known for taking sandwiches, good old comfort food, and taking them up a notch with interesting ingredients and creative flavor pairings. While there's a regular list of sandwiches that are always available, there's also a different list of specials to choose from each day. (I've been known to browse through the offerings on my phone on the way home from work, already plotting dinner.)

Because I've gone there so often, at this point I usually try to order off the specials menu because I know the regular sandwiches will always be there when I want them. If there isn't a special that catches my eye, I'll go with one of my standbys: the Tuna Melt, the Atomic Meatloaf Meltdown (minus inner beauty hot sauce), or the BLT.

For the Tuna Melt, a thick layer of lightly dressed tuna is spread on whole wheat and topped with cheddar cheese, sweet pickle relish, and another slice of whole wheat. The first time I had this sandwich, the thing that stood out to me, and the reason I always go back to it, is that layer of sweet pickle relish. I don't know about you, but all my life, I've only had tuna salad with the pickle relish mixed into it. Something about having the relish on top of the tuna is genius.

The Atomic Meatloaf Meltdown, which I make un-atomic and Jeff has with just cheese, starts with a thick hunk of well-seasoned meatloaf on sourdough and has a generous helping of red onion jam and some cheddar cheese to go with it. The onion jam makes this sandwich for me. And if you're less of a wimp than I am, you'd probably love it with the hot sauce. I've never been brave enough to try it.

And, oh, the BLT. The BLT has the usual components (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) arranged on grilled sourdough and flavored with an herb mayo. I'm usually a hold-the-mayo type of girl, but here it just works.

Jeff's favorites are the meatloaf, the Beef on Weck, the Grilled Pearl All Beef Hot Dog, and the Texas State Penn Chili (which I assure you has no beans or he would not be eating it).

For all the times the two of us have eaten our favorite sandwiches, I've never taken pictures of them, so you'll just have to trust me that they are delicious and picture-worthy. When we finally went to All Star with the intention of taking pictures (after I won a gift certificate from Audrey), we both ordered specials rather than our regulars.

I started with an Arnold Palmer, my usual drink order at All Star, and Jeff got a lemonade.

We opted to share some Cheese Fries (skinny fries loaded with Jack cheese). We order these semi-regularly, switching up with Buttermilk-Soaked Onion Rings from time to time. (For a while Jeff was on a kick of ordering the Onion Rings and Buffalo Fingers.)

Cheese fries at All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge, Mass.

All Star usually offers a veggie side special, and on the day we went, it happened to be Grilled Summer Corn with Roasted Poblano Lime Butter and Crumbled Cotija Cheese. On a typical evening, I usually just get a sandwich and sometimes nibble on fries and find that more than filling, but the veggie side called out to me, so I ordered that as well. I was far from disappointed. I was worried the corn would be mushy, but it was just perfect.

Grilled summer corn at All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge, Mass.

Jeff got the Cheese special: an open-faced French bread pizza sandwich with mozzarella, roasted garlic marinara sauce, roasted peppers, fresh basil, and pepperoni (hold the roasted mushrooms).

And I got the Extra Funky: buttermilk-fried chicken with whipped brie cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, watercress, green tomato chow chow, and Tabasco remoulade on grilled sourdough. What's not to love there? I could even handle the little kick from the remoulade.

We had attentive service and usually do even though All Star is almost always hopping when we go in there. We usually just order takeout, but every once in a while we like to sit down there because the sandwiches are just a little better than they are after being toted home. But there's something to be said for being able to eat a gourmet, creative, inventive sandwich in the comfort of your own home too.

One of the times we got takeout not too long ago, I ordered the Veggie special (I'm drawn to the Veggie special a lot). I, unfortunately, didn't write down everything that was on this sandwich, but it had fried zucchini, tomatoes, and mozzarella and was just heavenly. Some of the concepts seem so simple, but I would never think to do them -- like putting fried zucchini on a sandwich.

The most recent time we got takeout was about a week or so ago in the midst of All Star's International Specials (and yes, they're still going on, so be sure to check out the specials menu). I remembered the gyro from the last time there were international specials, so I checked for it right away. Sure enough, there was a marinated chicken gyro with feta, tomatoes, and red onions. You can't go wrong with those fillings or the chewy flatbread that holds them all together.

I have eaten food at (or from) All Star countless times in the five years I've lived within walking distance of the sandwich shop. Everyone puts up so nicely with our orders, which typically go something like this: "the veggie sandwich special and the meatloaf with no onion jam and no hot sauce." (Really it could be any sandwich with at least two modifications so Jeff will eat it.) One time they even wrote "Plain, not that there's anything wrong with that" on the wrapper of Jeff's sandwich. (I thought it was funny.) And along with the awesome service they provide us, they also keep Gunner really happy with a large bowl of water outside that he frequents every time we walk past. (He seems a little unhappy that we never let him have the treats alongside the water bowl -- but that's only because he has food allergies and needs his hypo-allergenic treats.)

I absolutely love having such a fabulous go-to spot so close by, and I was thrilled to find out I will soon have another one. Co-owners and brothers Kosta and Johnny Diamantopoulos took over the spot where Aram's used to be, and they're opening All Star Pizza Bar there. I cannot wait! The opening got pushed back to November, and I'll definitely be over to check it out as soon as I can. (As it is, I check for progress every time I walk by.) How can I resist with things like Loaded Potato Skin Pizza and Buffalo Duck Confit Pizza with Maytag Blue Cheese on the forthcoming menu?

Have you ever been to All Star Sandwich Bar, and are you awaiting the opening of All Star Pizza Bar as anxiously as I am?

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