We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!
It's usually a good sign when you walk into a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop and it's full of nearby workers stopping in for lunch, particularly on the Friday before a holiday weekend. Antonini's Subs and Steaks (17314 TX-3, Webster) has been around for nearly three decades near Clear Lake (they now have two additional nearby locations) and it is clearly an area favorite as workers poured in at lunchtime when a friend and I came to try the highly recommended Italian.
The woman at the counter said that their cheesesteaks had long been the favorites on the menu until the syndicated regional television show Texas Bucket List featured them and their Italian sub. Since then, it's all anyone seems to want. And with good reason.
To be fair, my friend tried the turkey-steak, a turkey version of the beef classic, and it was delicious. But, my Italian was the clear winner. Soft, po' boy-style bread is stuffed well beyond capacity with four kinds of Italian meats (salami and three types of ham), lettuce, tomato, onion, provolone, oil and vinegar dressing and, the kicker, their hot pepper relish.
The relish is obviously a customer favorite because they sell it in small plastic tubs at the counter.
The meats were all high quality with good flavor and were sliced super thin. They interestingly piled the meat on top of the veggies, something you don't see every day, but it actually made for a better bite (I might have to try that myself) because it was easy to get a big hunk of meat in every bite.
But it's that spicy relish that carries this sandwich's flavor profile. I am not someone who typically goes for very spicy foods. I'm fine with a little, but it can be overpowering. By the time I finished eating this sandwich, my mouth wasn't on fire, but I could certainly feel the heat and taste the vinegar...and it was absolutely fabulous. There was such richness in the meat and cheese, the spicy, vinegar-y pop of that relish cut through the fat and made the whole thing sing with flavor.
Honestly, I should have bought a big tub of that stuff and brought it home to mix with mayo for every sandwich I eat forever. Next time I'm at Antonini's, you can bet that is what I'll be doing. After reading this, you should as well.
If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.