Joe's Deli: As Simple As It Sounds

Joe's Deli 3729 W Alabama St Ste C

I'm a sandwich guy, but I'm not fussy about it. I'm as thrilled with prosciutto and brie on Italian as I am with turkey and American cheese on Wonder Bread, especially if cherry Kool Aid is involved.

While driving down West Alabama last week, I noticed a little hole-in-the-wall deli that looked as if it had been there for 50 years. I pointed it out to my passenger, and she said, "It's probably awesome." Since I recently moved into the area and I love me a good sandwich, I figured I'd give it a go for lunch.

Joe's Deli is a tiny little storefront in a nondescript strip center that also contains a liquor store, Domino's Pizza and a Goodwill donation center - a combination found only in Houston. It's sparsely decorated, and there is little seating area. Next to the bags of chips is a wall of "designer" costume jewelry that looks like it might be found in the back room of a knockoff shop on Harwin. I loved it immediately.

The counter has a big plastic board hanging from it with choices ranging from meatball sandwiches to baked potatoes. The prices are low, like Vietnamese-sandwich low. Regular sandwiches are around three bucks. I opted for a turkey and provolone on a six-inch wheat roll.

As my sandwich was being prepared, I asked how long the shop had been there, and the woman behind the counter said she thought about 20 years. Judging by the faded, autographed Rockets championship poster framed on the wall, I figured she was in the ballpark.

My sandwich was prepared quickly and came wrapped in plastic. With chips and two large bottles of water (I was thirsty), my total was under $9 - a much better bargain than Subway or some other chain. And this place is the definition of hyper-local.

The soft wheat roll was stuffed with moist roasted turkey and cheese. Joe's doesn't exactly skimp on the veggies, but I probably should have asked for more lettuce and pickles had I not been distracted by the "Rudyball" poster. If you are looking for grilled vegetables and portobello mushrooms on imported artisan bread, this place isn't for you. But if you want good, cheap sandwiches on the go, Joe's hits the spot.

Rumor has it that they serve very good sushi after 4:30 p.m. weekdays, which means I'll be stopping by my new neighborhood deli for more than just lunch in the future.

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