A Hamburger Today
A Sandwich a Day: The Italian Stallion from Uncle Henry's Deli in Downey, CA
In this great nation of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
In the land of gourmet sandwich excess, there's not much to be said for the straightforward deli sub in Los Angeles. Sure, there are great, crusty Westside Italian sandwiches that are worth the drive, but you'll also find things like the Toron from downtown's Bäco Mercat, a sandwich-like object (SLO) that hovers between burger, wrap and tasty abomination. At Uncle Henry's Deli in Downey, a southeastern suburb of L.A., you can still find those thick slices of roast beef or turkey, layered heavy onto puffy white French rolls and slathered with condiments. But if you're driving to Downey for a sandwich, you really ought to make it the Italian Stallion ($7.99).
From the name to the ingredients, the Italian Stallion doesn't mess around. It's the most popular item on the menu board, which says a lot considering Uncle Henry's has a sandwich where potato salad is the condiment. All of the ingredients for a classic Italian sub are here: thin salami discs, a well-spiced mortadella and layers upon layers of salty ham. Usually served warm, the requisite provolone slices melt and drape across the tower of meat, pooling up at the edges and anywhere it can find a cheesy foothold. Precariously slapped on top of all that sandwich is a thick slice of tomato, whole pieces of vibrant leaf lettuce and some pepperoncinis for the tiniest bit of crunch and heat. Mayo and mustard are liberally applied to the airy French roll, whose insides have been toasted to a satisfying crunch. Oil and vinegar finish off the Italian Stallion in classic sub fashion, plus a dusting of dried oregano because hey, why not.
With three sizes (the whimpie, the super size, and the baby bomber), you can choose your level of desired sandwich coma. The $8 super size is one that will get you into trouble the fastest. Like any great deli sandwich, the first half feels like almost enough, but one bite into the second half and you know you're going to finish the whole thing, then have to call a loading company to forklift you all the way back to your house.
It's probably for the best anyway, considering the Uncle Henry's Deli secret weapon: a back wall lined with over fifty craft beer taps. If you weren't already stuffed from an afternoon spent battling the Italian Stallion, you're really going to be swimming once you grab a pint of Great Divide. Or Oskar Blues. Or Stone Brewing, or Deschutes, Petrus, Ommegang, Hangar 24... you get the idea.
As a strip mall sandwich spot, Uncle Henry's Deli isn't much to look at. The rectangular space can get stuffy in the summertime and you may have to fight for a prime parking spot thanks to the gigantic Super A Grocery next door. But Henry and his crew have been putting provolone to mortadella since 1959, and you don't stay open that long in Los Angeles unless you're doing something very right. The Italian Stallion sandwich from Uncle Henry's Deli, served with a cold summer beer, is exactly that—very right.