Although Thundercloud Subs is somewhat more than local but less than chain, it is nonetheless the third competitor in the Local Sandwich Shop Division. This shop has 28 locations, mostly in Austin, with two in the San Antonio area. You don’t get to that level of success without doing a few things right, so we were about to see how they stacked up to the rest of the competition in the Sub’r Bowl.
At the location we visited, parking was a zoo. We turned into the parking lot, which turned out to be a car trap. Some not so deft maneuvering got us into an adjacent HEB parking lot that was only a short walk to the shop. Despite the crazy parking, the shop didn’t seem too full — maybe we just missed the lunch rush. There was a short line, but by the time we decided what we wanted to order, they were ready to take it.
The menu definitely reflected the eclectic trends of Austin, but if you’ve been reading any of these reviews and take a look at the combo menu, then you’ll correctly deduce that I ordered the N.Y. Italian sub combo. It looks like a decent price at $6.29 until you realize that’s for the small sandwich, which is easily the smallest of the smalls we’ve seen. Not being under the age of 12, we paid the extra $0.99 for “large” sandwiches. That came with the standard Pepsico owned Lay’s snack sized chips and a Pepsico soft drink product. Greg was not amused.
The construction of the sandwich was rather a personal affair, as we chatted with the nice girl who asked us questions about how we wanted the sandwich made every step of the way. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to ask for light mayonnaise, which was a good thing, considering how much was slathered with a rubber spatula on the other sandwiches. It made for a very personal experience that we hadn’t really had before. At other shops some of the people were friendly and personable enough (and sometimes not at all), but this was a pleasant level of interaction at an individual level, from greeting to conclusion of the transaction.
There was nothing special about the bread. It was decent enough, but it looked and tasted like it could have come from the HEB (grocery store) bakery across the parking lot. Just as run-of-the-mill was the sandwich stuffing, which consisted of the usual Italian meats, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and mayonnaise. We were offered and accepted Thundercloud’s special dressing, flavored with, among other things, paprika. The sandwich also came with your choice, or not, of hot and sweet peppers, of which I got the hot peppers.
The sandwich had a good taste to it, but there wasn’t anything that made it stand out among the other subs we had eaten to that point. There was enough meat to make a hearty sandwich, but it was not discernibly higher quality than what you’d get from a grocery store’s branded deli cuts. The dressing was different and tasted decent enough, but the sandwich didn’t add up to anything more than “average.” It was the kind of sandwich I might buy the parts for individually at the grocery store to make a sandwich for myself, so maybe you could call it a “home style” sub.
I rated the following categories:
- Bread: 3
- Sandwich Stuff: 3
- Price/Value: 6
- Non-sandwich Stuff: 3
- Bonus points: 2
- Total: 17 points
I feel like I’ve been giving a lot of bonus points lately, but something about each experience has really been outside the scope of our rating system. This time is was the genuine friendliness and attention you get while ordering your sandwich and waiting for it to be made. Although the sandwich itself wasn’t anything too memorable, the experience was an enjoyable one for me, and a good time was had by all.