Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: Smoked Turkey at Hobo's Sandwich Shop

For the Smoked Turkey at Hobo's Sandwich shop, the bread's the thing.
For the Smoked Turkey at Hobo's Sandwich shop, the bread's the thing. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

Sandwich shops, as a general rule, aren't exactly fancy. They aren't meant to be. They are mostly lunch places where people want to get in and out quickly. But they also want good food. The average sandwich spot probably has fairly decent sandwiches. There are a handful near me that are good, but they wouldn't really make this list because, to be on a Best Sandwiches list, you better do something unique.

Hobo's Sandwich Shop (13431 East Freeway) is a no-frills lunch spot with checkerboard tablecloths and a regular midday crowd of mostly workers from nearby businesses. The strip center near Beltway 8 on the east side is underserved by places like Hobo's in that there are plenty of chain places but not nearly enough good, local joints with great grub.

By some accounts, Hobo's is just a standard sandwich shop. That's until you eat the bread. Before I get into that, let's dissect a couple interesting things about what's inside the bread on the Smoked Turkey sandwich. The smoked turkey is fairly standard fare: smokey, sliced deli turkey, choice of condiments, lettuce and tomato. It's good, but unremarkable. But when I looked inside mine, I also found diced black olives. That was my first clue this place was different.

Some may not care for the brine-y zing of olives, but they were a bit like a more subtle substitute for sandwich stalwarts pickles. Really, they just provided a bit of salt and a twinge of acid to break up what could otherwise be a rather standard filling.

But, when you try the bread, you get at least a hint of why the choice of olives makes sense. Hobo's boast fresh, in-house, baked daily bread. That, in and of itself, warrants kudos. It's rare, even for nice restaurants, to do their own baking. Most would rather pick it up from a reputable distributor. Some of my favorite sandwich breads, in fact, are not made by the restaurant who sells them (see: Roostar). There are even a few who have their bread flown in (see: Papa Geno's) because they feel they can't get the bread right here thanks to Houston's high mineral concentrations in the water.

So, it's also a testament to Hobo's that they even make the attempt to bake their own bread in the first place, but when you taste how spectacular it is, you understand why. It's light and airy, almost like a cross between a ciabatta roll and the typical bread used for a muffuletta, which is why, after one bite, the olive suddenly made sense. It's crisp on the outside with loads of nooks and crannies on the interior. I found myself wondering just how great this would be sliced and toasted with butter by itself.

The ingredients inside the sandwich were solid and the use of the olive unique, but the bread made this a sandwich I'll go back for repeatedly. Honestly, I'd love to just order a dozen rolls to have near my bed for late night snacking, living like a freaking king.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke