Review: Firehouse Subs

Jan 28, 2014 by     12 Comments    Posted under: Boise, Idaho, Restaurants, Reviews

There’s a new franchise sweeping the lunch crowd streets in Boise called Firehouse Subs.  Oh joy, another sandwich shop.  We have so many already.  But Firehouse has a faithful following in the other 45 states they do business in, so I thought I’d give them a try.

Firehouse was started by two firefighter brothers, thus the name and firehouse theme in the restaurant.   They actually have a great story, which you can learn about here:

The restaurant is clean, warm, and inviting, and their staff is just the same.  The menu looks pretty much the same as any other franchise sub shop, except for the clever firefighting names like Hook & Ladder.  However, they have a unique process that sets them apart.  Quiznos toasts everything; Subway offers 20 different vegetables and sauces to choose from; and Firehouse steams their meat before plopping it on the bread so that it is nice and hot and juicy.  Does it really add anything to the experience though?  I’m going to have to say yes.

Firehouse Subs Has the Best Meatball Sub of Any Franchise

Upon first walking up to the counter, I was taken back by all the menu choices.  They all sounded great, so how was I to choose?  I succumbed to the marketing genius behind their Meatball Sub posters stating “The Best Meatballs, Guaranteed”.  It was cold out, I was especially hungry, and hot meatballs and melted cheese swimming in marinara sauce sounded too good to pass.  I was given the choice of regular, sweet marinara, or spicy.  I went with the spicy, thinking a little heat in winter sounded good.

Firehouse Subs Meatball Sub

Firehouse Subs Meatball Sub

This sandwich was beautiful!  The already hot meatballs and sauce were loaded onto Firehouse’s signature soft and slightly sweet hoagie roll.  It was then topped with surprisingly high-quality provolone cheese and ran through their toaster.  This toasting process resulted in a perfectly crunchy crust on the bread, and a bubbling and slightly browned cheese melted all over the sandwich.  It was awesome!  The spiciness I requested came from red chili flakes, which were heavily sprinkled all over the sandwich.  It was very “five alarm” indeed, a bit too much so actually.  It would have been perfect with half as much chili heat, but I gobbled up every bite regardless.

My biggest impression of this sandwich was that everything was higher quality than competitive sub shops.  The bread was exceptional and had a wonderful soft chew to it; the marina tasted like real small batch marinara; the cheese was real cheese that melted like real cheese rather than a plastic byproduct; and the meatballs were meaty, non greasy, and pretty dang tasty. Just look at them!

Firehouse Subs Meatball Inside

Firehouse Subs Meatball Inside

I greatly enjoyed this sub, and have to agree it was the best meatball sub from a chain that I’ve had.

Speaking of chains, I was curious about the leader of the pack’s sub sandwich, so I ordered one the other day to compare.  Firehouse’s slogan, “Our way beats their way” is true in this case.  Here’s what Subway handed me.

Subway Meatball Sub

Subway Meatball Sub

The appearance of this sandwich doesn’t come anywhere close to Firehouse’s.  Flimsy skinny bread that’s barely thick enough to stay together, barely enough cheese to recognize, and only a hint of marinara sauce.  The only thing it has going for it are the veggies, but they were clumsily thrown on, resulting in uneven distribution and a sloppy appearance.  No care was given to presentation whatsoever.  Typical of Subway.  But I was hungry and it looked appetizing enough, so I inserted and chewed.  I’ve had Subway’s meatball sub numerous times before, but after eating Firehouse’s version, this thing seemed like a joke.  The marina was bland, and the meatballs tasted fake and overly processed.  If Firehouse’s meatball sub gets 4.5 out of 5 stars, Subway’s sitting at a mere 2 stars for their version.

But how about health and calories?  Let’s compare my footlong Subway Meatball Marinara with my large (footlong) Firehouse Meatball.

























As you can see, Firehouse’s meatball is a nutrition disaster.  This is not a sandwich to eat when dieting to lose weight or when recovering from a heart attack.  But for the rest of us, enjoying this delicious delight once in awhile is probably worth it.  But if you’re calorie concerned, you could always elect to order the standard Medium size and shave off 470 calories.  Either way, this is a delicious sandwich that blows Subway’s away in taste, appearance, and enjoyment factor.

A Review of Firehouse Subs Italian Sandwich

So pleased was I with Firehouse’s meatball sub, that I thought I’d give them a chance with one of my other favorite sub flavors… Italian.  This sandwich also looked beautiful.  It was stacked high with Genoa salami, pepperoni, and ham, lettuce, tomato, that same high quality provolone cheese, Italian dressing, and a sprinkling of dried herbs, all sandwiched between that same beautiful hoagie roll.

Firehouse Subs Italian Sub

Firehouse Subs Italian Sub

Boy was I excited to dive in!  But upon my first bite, I immediately discovered a major problem with this sandwich.  The ham was a sweet Virginia ham, LOADED with sugar.  It was so overpoweringly sweet that I couldn’t taste any of the Italian meats.  To add insult to injury, the Italian dressing was also quite sweet.  Sugar is not what I want on an Italian sandwich.  I want spicy, zippy, salty, and fatty.  I was so disappointed.  This sandwich was nowhere near as good as their meatball sub.

True to form with Firehouse’s other sandwiches, this guy was significantly higher in calories and fat than Subway’s versions; over 500 more calories in fact!  I’d be alright with that if it also tasted amazingly better, but it does not and is nowhere near worth it.  Higher quality, yes.  Better taste, not really.

Firehouse Subs Could be the Best Tasting Sandwiches in Boise, but They are Very High in Calories

So there you have it.  Firehouse Subs offers significantly better quality sandwiches than their biggest competitor, but not all of their sandwiches taste better (unless you really love sugar glazed ham).  I appreciate their attention to detail, their clean atmosphere, happy employees, and great bread.  But be warned that most of their sandwiches are very high in calories and fat.  Worth experiencing though.

The Bald Gourmet eats at Firehouse Subs for the first time, and falls in love with their Meatball Sub.

Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

12 Comments + Add Comment

  • Firehouse is pretty decent, if you have to go franchise. And your not near a Jersey Mikes. Or a Blimpies. Or Jimmy Johns. I’m in Bergen County, and the only nearby Jimmy John’s closed in Lodi. I might still choose Jersey Mikes, which opened down the street from that JJs and may have run them out of town. When i first started going to Firehouse though, I was a little annoyed by the high counter that hid the actual sandwich making process from the customer. And I don’t know if it’s official policy but on a few occasions, on take out, I get home to find that i was stiffed on the pickle. I checked before leaving recently, and noticed it absent yet again, and asked the counter girl. who seemed overly nervous and she said when they run low on the slices in the evenings, they are told to stiff the takeouts – what she actually said is only provide it “on request”, but of course most takeouts are trusting it’s in there and won’t know to request it – it’s on the front sign as included. I always keep the low sodium Vlasics at home so its a small thing, but important enough to those of us that don’t have much of a life beyond our sandwiches otherwise.

  • The Virginia honey ham is their worst idea to put on the Italian… switch it out for pastrami and thank me later :)

    • I agree

  • I ate sat firehouse subs, moorestown nj
    Had a smoked house brisket sandwich/ it was not satisfying at all, meat if it was meat was sliced so thin it was barely noticeable/ drenched with bbq sauce made it sickening/ sweet I e tea was light brown water, I’m in the land in of great sandwiches, probably will not return

  • Good review. It was nicely balanced.

  • Completely agree with the Italian review. Way to sweet. I received a gift card so I will take your advice and try the meatball, Thanks!

    • Edit: too sweet.

  • Thanks for the thorough and informative review. I was trying to decide which want to go for tonight and you helped make up my mind. Ever try Quiznos? I really liked their subs but they all closed down around here. Take care!

  • The sodium in the Subway meatball sub (2570) is way too high. The Firehouse house sodium (3290) is insane. I’m sure a lot of restaurant food is just as bad but seeing it in print really brings it home.

    • I couldn’t agree more Jeff. Pretty crazy for sure.

  • They also have one of those awesome coke machines where you can create any flavor of any soda you desire. Sometimes I go there just for that.

    • I forgot to mention that Rhet. I do love those “mix any flavor you can think of” Coke machines.

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