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Onward Debate: Who Has State College’s Best Hoagie?

We’ve debated wings, burgers, bar food, and even West cookies this year. Next up is an item whose name is more debated than the food itself — hoagies/submarines/heroes/[other].

Whatever you call it, State College has no shortage of options for sandwiches on rolls. Some of our staff’s most well-versed sandwich eaters debate: Who has the best hoagie in State College?

 Jake Somerville – Jimmy John’s

State College has plenty of great hoagie spots, but when I’m looking for the best subs and cold cuts for lunch, I’m headed to Jimmy John’s. At Jimmy John’s, it all starts with the freshness. Anyone walking along the east end of College Ave. can catch a whiff of the freshly baked bread from outside the shop. When you walk in, the second thing that hits you is the chain’s famed “Freaky Fast Delivery” moniker, but the same goes for takeout. Simply select your number order off of their big board and your sandwich will likely be up in the time it took you to finish reading this sentence. Jimmy John’s has a simple menu, but with just enough variety to have something for everybody.

I’m partial to the J.J.B.L.T., but from the “Vito” (salami, provolone, capicola, onions, lettuce, tomato and “real tasty” Italian vinaigrette), to the “Vegetarian” (provolone, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber, lettuce, tomato and mayo), they’re sure to have what you’re hungry for. Jimmy John’s also offers a number of club sandwiches and the “Unwich”, which wraps all the ingredients of their subs in lettuce.

With all the time you save not waiting for your hoagie, it’s always a plus to eat in and check out some of the decor. Clever signs hang around the restaurant proclaiming JJ’s “The Freshest and Bestest.” My personal favorites are “Your mama wants you to eat at Jimmy John’s” and “Pigs can fly if you make them into a sandwich fast.”

Everything else aside, it all comes back to the quality of the sub and you won’t find a better one in town than at Jimmy John’s.

Maddie Lippincott – Jersey Mike’s

Sure, there are plenty of places downtown to get yourself a hoagie. Personally, I live a little less than a block from Jimmy John’s, but I’m going to give you a run down of why I’m trekking halfway across town to Jersey Mike’s for a hoagie.

No hate for the other guys, but you really can’t beat Jersey’s Mike’s ingredients. Their bread is not only fresh, but you actually get the whole piece of bread unlike Jimmy John’s. Their tomatoes? Super juicy. Deli meat and cheese? Freshly sliced right in front of you. Plus, the portions are more than you can ask for — heaps of meat, lots of cheese, and a ton of lettuce, all doused in vinegar and oil. You truly get what you pay for. There are so many different kinds of sandwiches to choose from, the recipes are practically infinite. And aside from the sandwich selection, there are so many different kinds of chips it’s almost alarming.

So in summation, I’d rather walk the entire way across town to get what I want and get what I pay for than get a hoagie at any of the sub shops on my side of town.

Tim Gilbert – McLanahan’s

OK, first off, it’s a hoagie, not a sub or hero. All other regional dialects are invalid besides Philadelphia’s. Sorry.

Now, on to McLanahan’s. Before you even order your hoagie, you’ll probably be treated to the rants of McLanahan’s deli staff members, who aren’t afraid to curse and discuss their drunken exploits amongst themselves while well within the earshot of patrons. That’s just part of the wonderful experience the Agostinelli Deli at McLanahan’s provides. When you do order, it might be difficult to settle on something — McLanahan’s boasts a menu with every possible combination of hoagie you could ask for.

I’ll concede that Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mike’s have slightly better-tasting hoagies, but they’re not at all worth the extra $2-4 you’ll spend. At $3.79 for eight-inch hoagies, McLanahan’s is by far the best bang for your buck. Meatball Madness, in which McLanahan’s sells absurdly cheap eight-inch meatball hoagies ($2) in March, is also the best food deal in State College. I may have died of starvation had Meatball Madness not happened me last year. Don’t be fooled by the chain names — McLanahan’s is the best play if you’re looking for a hoagie.

Zach Berger – Wegman’s

Tucked away in the back of the best supermarket in State College is a market/cafe with the best prepared food in town. It took me a while to work myself up from the buffet-style Chinese food to the sub shop, but I’m not turning back. Take notice of the fact that I called it a sub. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, just over 77 percent of people in the United States refer to “a long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, and so on” a sub, while just 6.98 percent call it a hoagie and 5.18 percent call it a hero.

But I digress, because the point here is that Wegmans has the best cold cuts in town. I like to make myself the occasional sandwich, and when I do, I only use cold cuts that I buy from Wegmans (because WalMart’s cold cuts make me want to throw up most of the time). But no matter how hard I try, and no matter how many times I overspend on expensive sopressata and capicola, I just can’t make it taste as good as they do at the sub shop counter.

The submarine sandwich oil, which they sell by the bottle, is a mixture of vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, some Italian herbs, dried garlic, sugar, and salt. It’s perfection. It’s light enough that you won’t feel stuffed from a sub covered in mayo and flavorful enough that it doesn’t matter what else you put on it. But of course, there won’t be just anything on your sandwich, because you’re at Wegmans.

What’s your favorite hoagie/sub/hero/grinder place in town? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Jimmy John’s

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About the Author

Tim Gilbert

Former Managing Editor of this site, now just makes lots of #content for it from the Phyrst’s Table 69. Senior from Philadelphia. First-generation Penn Stater. I might go to law school after this, but I might not, too. “For the Glory” is in my email signature because I’m a douche. [email protected] is my email if you want to tell me why I suck. Alternatively, you can call me out on Twitter @OlGilb.

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