Fast Food Review: Subway Beef Barbacoa

I've been doing fast food reviews for a while at various other blogs, and now that we have a section for culture, I'll be bringing some of the trashy culinary thunder to Geekweek. Because I know that when you're having those marathon role-playing game sessions, or parked in front of the TV for a wrestling do not have time to cook. Even if you wanted to, which, if you're like me, you probably don't. Onward...

I have not been a huge fan of barbacoa in the past, but this is almost certainly because the only times I've actually eaten it were at casino buffets, where it tends to be a fatty, gummy thing that feels gross in the mouth and doesn't taste like much. I have no trouble believing that it's far from the real deal.

Given the atrocity that is Subway's rendition of pastrami, I have no problem believing that their barbacoa is similarly inauthentic, but fortunately it tastes considerably better.


Basically this is Mexican-style barbecue beef. It has the texture of a Southern-style chopped barbecue sandwich, but lacks the sweetness of typical barbecue sauce, being sour and spicy instead. I suppose if you really wanted it to taste more "American," you could add ketchup or sweet onion sauce instead of the suggested chipotle, but that would be your loss. Although, since none of the major chains really do any kind of barbecue -- KFC comes closest with their barbecue chicken sandwich, and I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the McRib, at least for the moment -- you could try to change it up and make this into one from time to time.

As you can see from the advertising image above, they also throw in some black beans and corn, which are usually fast food shorthand for "Southwestern," so I'm a bit surprised they didn't use that particular buzzword. The cheese comes grated, and the advantage of that is that they can't ration you by slices as they do with all other cheese at Subway -- it simply comes down to handfuls, and those have been generous thus far. The meat portions, sadly, are small. I've gotten used to their Big Philly, which is double-meat technically, but this feels like a third of that, rather than a half, as would seem more mathematically fair.

I don't know if this is just my local Subway, but the price structure is odd -- the ads call this a five-dollar footlong, yet I was charged $4 for a 6-inch. Again with the fuzzy math. I realize footlongs are generally priced to incentivize you into upsizing, but a mere dollar more is an unusually seductive bonus price by Subway standards. I suspect this may have been a mistake...or that the barbacoa is not long for the $5 menu.

I should note that my Subway also has a special deal for rainy days: if it's raining when you order, you get a free 6-incher or soup with purchase of a 6-incher and 32 oz or bigger drink. In Los Angeles, this is a useful deal right about now.

I like the barbacoa better than most other meat sandwiches I've had at Subway, but I'm also the guy who already puts chipotle sauce on everything, and thus I am the target demo.

Also? It's cheaper than a casino buffet. More authentic? I couldn't begin to tell you.

(enjoy Luke's fast food reviews? Check out the archive at

More on Geekweek


Sign in to comment with your TypePad, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo or OpenID.