“What’s for lunch?”
“The best sandwich in Huntsville.”
Nathan had his first Kitchen Sink at the Governors Drive location of Stanlieo’s Sub Villa on Christmas Eve, 2012. We had just come from passing out parking tokens at the hospital. (It’s maybe one person in 10 who parks in a hospital garage and isn’t having a bad day, so why not drop some Christmas spirit there?)
Glenn Watson opened Stanlieo’s in May 1971 on Jordan Lane, one door south of the current location, with the idea of bringing Boston-style subs to the South. (That’s what the cubed onions, tomatoes, and pickles are about.) The Kitchen Sink has been exactly the same sandwich that entire time. That’s Genoa salami, cotto salami, ham, turkey, roast beef, cappicola, and pepperoni. It’s Swiss, American, and provolone. It weighs a pound. It comes hot or cold.[sws_pullquote_left]If you were trying to name an Official Sandwich of Huntsville, it’d be tough to say anything but the Kitchen Sink! [/sws_pullquote_left] I’ve eaten at Stanlieo’s regularly since we moved to the Huntsville area in 1986, and I’ve only very rarely had anything else on the menu. The Kitchen Sink is just too perfect. It’s good both ways, but I prefer mine cold. I think the vegetables have a more intense flavor that way.
(And actually the sandwich did change once. Current owner Connie Ward shared with me last week that she once accidentally changed the bread when she changed distributors, and heard about it long and loud from several regular customers. The inadvertent yet serious error was corrected quickly.)
Stanlieo’s has what is likely one of the more extensive sandwich menus you’ll ever encounter. You can get standby classics, like meatball, tuna, or corned beef. You can get seven different steak subs, including the Steak Bomb, which may be the second most well-known Stanlieo’s sandwich. There are nine specialty subs, like the Kitchen Sink and the Pizza Sub (Connie’s favorite). There are numerous vegetarian offerings, including several with meat analogues.
There are also salads and several delicious side dishes that go beyond the expected bags of chips, or French fries. (Not that those aren’t available too!)
The Stanlieo’s experience is a fast casual one. Order at the counter, and then they bring it to you by number. Lea and the boys met me for lunch at the Jordan Lane location. Nathan and I each had a Kitchen Sink. Lea had a steak kabob sub, and Aaron had a pepperoni sub. We shared fried cheese sticks and fried dill pickles (spears, not chips; how’s that for a twist?).
There is an intensity in Stanlieo’s subs that is generally absent in the offerings of large chains. A lot of it is the piquancy of the cubed onions, tomatoes, and pickles that are a Stanlieo’s trademark. I think it’s also that the meats and cheeses are always very fresh.
There is consistent excellence in a Stanlieo’s sandwich. Once you have your favorite, you can reliably look forward to it, because you can count on the experience time after time.
Finally, and know I say this with much affection: Stanlieo’s is kind of a dive. We’re talking way too cazh for the prom or the big business dinner. However, it’s a fantastic choice for lunch during the week, or for an easy and delicious sack of I-did-so-cook for dinner. Restrooms are single-seaters without changing tables. Highchairs are available.
Stanlieo’s is also an institution. If you were trying to name an Official Sandwich of Huntsville, it’d be tough to say anything but the Kitchen Sink!
Location: 605 Jordan Lane, Huntsville (map)
Phone: (256) 837-7220
Hours: 10AM to 9PM, Mon.-Sat. & 11AM-3PM Sun.
Location: 602 Governors Drive SW, Huntsville (map)
Phone: (256) 536-6585
Hours: 10AM – 7PM, Mon.-Sat.