Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lunch at The Football

...that's the Football Sandwich Shop...home of "The Zonker."

My friend Larry called this morning to see if I wanted to go for breakfast.

We usually hit IHop but lately trying to get into the one in our neighborhood is an experience that's roughly similar to trying to get into a South Beach nightclub on a Saturday night. (When in hell did IHop become so popular anyway?)

Anyway, he suggested lunch at the Football Sandwich Shop instead. I was up for that since I haven't eaten there in years.

(For the uninitiated, The Football is a 70's-era sub shop.)

Tucked between Little Haiti and El Portal, it's located at 8484 NE 2nd Avenue.

From the street it's not much to look at. It's in a hot pink building that looks like it might have been a gas station a long time ago. But for the past 37 years it's been a sandwich shop. After all those years they must be doing something right.

In 2007, Biscayne Times explained the The Football's beginnings:
Situated right off the Little River in Little Haiti, Football Sandwich Shop pays tribute to football (of course), old Hollywood, and New York-style subs. Owner Richard Hage decided 33 years ago to open his eatery after noticing a deficiency of restaurants that served good sandwiches. Coincidentally, the Miami Dolphins had just played the NFL’s first perfect season, giving Hage the perfect idea for his shop’s theme.

Today Hage, along with his son-in-law Doug Estes, run Football Sandwich Shop like a well-oiled machine, and still manage to call regulars by name. Their goal is to serve up your food fast, but without compromising quality.
Stepping inside The Football is like a trip back in time.

The decor can best be described as Early American Greasy Spoon.

There's a tiny dining room just inside the front door. Color scheme: Dolphin Aqua.

A sign over the portal says "Dan Marino Way." There are lots of black and white photos of Dolphin greats line the walls along with some Hollywood movie stars.

The kitchen is right behind the counter and even on a Saturday it hums with activity.

They take your order and scribble it on 3 x 5 scraps of computerized sales slips here.

Some hand printed signs on the wall remind you that complainers are not welcome. One sign warns that "The beatings will continue until morale improves." You get the picture.

Larry ordered the #69, The Zonker, ham, salami and provolone, $4.69.

I got the #22, The Mercury, turkey and cheese, $6.69. With lettuce, tomato, onions and oil...oh yum!

The verdict? This is a no-frills dining experience to be sure. But the sandwiches are served up by people who know that you came for the food and not the ambiance. Tasty and filling and you're on your way.

Maybe next time I'll try The Punter or The Kicker or maybe The Lineman or The Safety. There's even a sub called the Godfather, Genoa salami, roasted peppers and provolone cheese, $7.29.

We ate outside at the tiny tables. A few other customers sat at other tables. Larry told me that the place is much busier during the week.

My sub was a bit more than I could manage having just eaten breakfast a few hours earlier. I went inside and asked for a bag but one of the ladies insisted that she'd wrap it up for me.

So, if you're in the neighborhood and want a sub like they used to make back in the day, stop in.

Or you can order ahead and pick up your food at the drive-up window.

Football Sandwich Shop
8484 NE Second Ave


  1. Great place, large portions!

  2. All you have to do is eat there one time and you're hooked.

    Big portions reasonable prices....The steak sub is tops!!

    Been going there for years....then moved away.....everytime I come home; I'm eating at the Football Shop!


  3. The Steak Sandwich with cheese, mushroom, onions, and mayo is incredible and getting the same ingredients on the Chicken Philly will surely make you smile. You'll always find a police officer indulging in lunch there so you're feeling safe the whole time and the people that work there are super friendly. Here's the thing...If you've never been to Football Sandwich Shop, you haven't lived.



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