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#1 Thing to Never Order at a Sandwich Chain, According to Chefs

This sub is most likely NOT going to satisfy.

Fast-food chains are a major guilty pleasure, even for trained chefs. But sometimes, they can be a little too much guilt and not enough pleasure. Just as there are certain things you shouldn't order at a burger joint or pizzeria, the same goes for sandwich chains.

As evidenced by controversy plaguing some of America's largest sandwich chains (looking at you, Subway), it's important to hone in on select menu items when patronizing a sandwich chain while avoiding others. And that means zeroing in on freshness.

While chefs are not above ordering sandwiches off fast-food menus, there are some hard and fast rules they follow. One big taboo, according to Brian Tsao, chef/owner of Brooklyn's Mission Sandwich Social, is pre-made "salad." This means items like tuna or egg salad.

"Never ever order any of the pre-made 'salads,' like tuna or egg, unless you can clearly see the spot is busy," he says. "I can't tell you how many times I've seen that stuff sit there for ages, and it's really gross. That's the main reason why Mission has such an emphasis on freshness!"

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Following a similar approach to freshness and quality, and the idea of avoiding things that seem blatantly iffy, Mike Rice, the beverage director of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, has strong feelings about cheesesteaks. "Never order a cheesesteak from a sandwich place without a grill. Just saying."

wacky sandwich

Of course, at the end of the day, fast-food sandwiches can indeed still be a amazing. The over-the-top excess can be part of the treat, but sometimes chains go too far.

"Anyone who knows me knows I love sandwiches," waxes Ambely Oumiette, chef of Sushi | Bar Hospitality in Austin. "From New York deli sandwiches to a bodega bacon, egg, and cheese, I seek them out. On my travels on the road this week, I've stopped at several fast-food spots to catch up on what's going on since I rarely eat fast food."

What she found was nostalgia mixed with disgust. "My grandmother and grandfather met at a Dairy Queen as teenagers and I haven't been to one in years. I stopped by and tried a specialty burger with Fritos and chili on top. I know it sounds dangerous. It was not delicious and very bad."

Sometimes, even the most heartwarming of nostalgia can't overcome room-temp egg salad or chili burgers.

Matt Kirouac
Matt Kirouac is a travel and food writer and culinary school graduate, with a passion for national parks, all things Disney, and road trip restaurants. Read more about Matt