A beloved, but cramped, part of beach life in Atlantic City is the famous White House Sub Shop on Artic Avenue. Throughout the summer, hundreds of impatient New Jerseyan’s stand shoulder to shoulder with gawking tourists in a line that can stretch out the door, into the veranda and around the block. Even the take out line, which is how many of those in the know get their sandwiches, can grow to immense proportion.
After our long drive down the coast, we immediately parked, trudged the three or so blocks and hopped in line for a table. By the time we got there, the line had already wrapped around the door. Those interested in take out shoved their way past the shuffling penguins to walk inside for a service number. When their number is called, they make their way to the counter to place their order and wait.
After about 15-20 minutes, we finally made it in the doors into the small waiting area, where a bearded old Italian mother indiscreetly pointed us to a still-wet long booth. We settled in and enjoyed the surroundings. Faded images of famous visitors line the walls – Sammy Davis Jr., Franco Harris, Alex Trebek all haphazardly tossed on the wall like puzzle of who’s who.
Above our seat was the famous “Sinatra towel” – a towel donated by one of the White House Sub Shop’s biggest fans and New Jersey’s prodigal son, Frank Sinatra. He apparently used the towel in one of his last Jersey shows. Sweaty, it sat looking down longingly at customer’s eating Frank’s favorite Italian subs.
We reviewed the laminated one page menu, and quickly decided on a “whole” “White House Special” which is Italian sub with extra salami, provolone, ham and capicola to split. We ordered it with tomato, lettuce and peppers then waited with our mouths watering.
This Atlantic City institution has been in operation since 1946 and sold over 25 million subs.
Our enormous cold sub was delivered on four paper plates under each half. We knew immediately we wouldn’t be able to eat it all but we were going to try. There was so much meat that it was hard at times to get even a tiny bread shred in each bite. And there’s no doubt the bread was just as good as the high quality deli meat, and some say it’s the secret to White House’s success. It is made fresh daily at the Formica Brothers Bakery down the street and is delivered up to a dozen times each day.
We enjoyed our lunch so much we had to make one more stop before we left AC, but this time – like a true Jerseyan – we did take out! Just as good as the first… and maybe the first and second best sub we’ve ever eaten.