Nowadays, you can stop in at a national sandwich chain and choke down the exact same Italian sub whether you're outside Denver or Duluth. Consistent with this alarming trend, the local sandwich shop in Boulder County is increasingly rare especially those that offer something other than higher-end gourmet fare. It's hard to find something as simple as a decent club sandwich at a fair price. Happily, one area eatery that ably fills this bill is Bob's, centrally located on Louisville's Main Street.
While the exterior signage confusingly indicates Bob's might be either a diner or a sandwich shop (to say nothing of the window indicating the moniker of this establishment as B.O.B.S.), the more accurate description of this homey establishment is that it's a seller of fillings stuffed between two slices of bread. Prices here are extremely reasonable, and Bob's features an under-$5 menu with such items as a mini Philly cheesesteak sandwich, and many of the burgers go for less than a five spot.
Higher-end items include the $8.95 blackened salmon and mahi sandwiches. You can also get an inexpensive bottle of beer here, and those inclined towards healthier offerings can pick up a generously portioned entre salad. On a previous visit, I had sampled the entre-sized blackened salmon salad, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and pre sentation of the fish over fresh and tasty greens.
Bob's repertoire also includes a traditional breakfast menu for the early riser.
Consistent with the unfussy menu, Bob's possesses a welcoming, what-you-see-is-what-you-get atmosphere. This is the kind of place where you'll see local firefighters and workers enjoying a lunch time burger and fries, and it probably shouldn't be your choice for a first date. Ordering takes place at the counter, and for the dinner that friend Andrew and I shared, the counterperson also cooked our meal.
Andrew ordered a $2.50 Fat Tire to go with his $6.50 spicy Philly cheesesteak. It was a lot of sandwich for the money, and the meat was of better quality than the Steakum strips usually associated with this specialty. A generous smattering of peppers amped up the heat quotient. Andrew's biased against cheesesteaks drenched with cheese and found Bob's restraint with the dairy products admirable. My friend noted, "It allows the flavor of the beef and hot peppers to come through." He was also pleased by his $1.50 side of mildly spicy shoestring French fries. If you enjoy thinner fries, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better version. Of course, it didn't hurt that they came fresh out of the fryer, perfectly hot and crisp.
I ordered up a simple $4 St. Louis Cheeseburger seasoned with pickle relish, mustard and ketchup. It was certainly better than anything of comparable cost from a chain. Although it wouldn't be confused for a premium grass-fed burger, it solidly fit into the category of somewhat-greasy guilty pleasure. While the accompanying onion rings (available for a $2.50 upcharge, including a soda), were heavily breaded, their freshness, like the fries, made up for any faults.
In this age of faceless sub chains and unappetizing package deal meals, Bob's serves as a welcome reminder of the virtues of the old-school, independent sandwich shop. Easy on the pocketbook and generous with the portions, Bob's makes for a satisfyingly economical winner.
Clay's Obscurity Corner
Ice cream mechanics
After our meal, Andrew and I sauntered down the street to Paulie's Italian Ice and Gelato (906 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-9007) for dessert. Like Bob's, this local spot possesses a neighborhood feel, complete with photographs of happy children enjoying their desserts. The owner, unsurprisingly named Paul, plied us with several samples of his chilly delights. I was sold on a $3.50 single serving of mixed berry gelato that deliciously blended the sweet and tart qualities of fruit with decadent cream. After leaving, my car wouldn't start, and Paul, a master mechanic, came out and correctly diagnosed my vehicle's malady.