Submarine Tender floats between classic submarine shops like Riviera and Alpine and commodity submarine shops like Subway and Potbelly.
The meat in my king-sized Depth Charge (ham, turkey, and beef) was perhaps a cut above the franken-meat at some sub shops, and although the flavors of all these different flesh products were not all that complementary, they were not contradictory either. The bun was amazingly both squishy and kind of tough, and the cheese just a sheet of indistinguishable white material, but still I ate the whole thing. As Louis C.K. once said, "I don't eat until I'm full. I eat until I hate myself."
It must have been self-hatred, too, that drove me to order my side; standing in front of the menu board, I imagined this internal conversation.
French fries…would that kill a man?
Of course not.
Butter-garlic French fries…would that kill a man?
How about cheese-covered butter-garlic French fries…would that…
Yes, yes, that probably would kill a man!
Between my wife, Carolyn, and me, we probably ate about one-quarter of the large serving of cheese-covered butter-garlic fries. I didn't actually think I'd like them, but of course I just kept plowing through them. Dead man eating.
Although I wouldn't say Submarine Tender is a destination, this almost 30-year-old place is much beloved. It was very crowded when were there: the lot was full, there was a line and many tables were taken. This place is clearly a cop magnet; there were more side-arms on hips here than you'd expect to see in a Texas honkytonk.
Submarine Tender got some special love from WGN, which named it one of Chicago's Best Late Night Places, and being open until 4AM, many no doubt find themselves chowing down here after the bars close on Madison.