Hungry? The Wanderer tells a tale of two Akron delis: Mr. Zub’s and Diamond Deli

by Holly Brown

Mr. Zub’s Deli
812 W. Market St., Akron

Diamond Deli
378 S. Main St., Akron

Sandwiches are the universal vessel. The thing you can put anything on. The go-to item for many during the lunching hour.

Today, the humble sandwich has expanded its repertoire to serve as a satisfying breakfast or dinner. Everybody knows sandwiches are good; here’s my story of two great ones.

This year was my first year of graduate school and, man, does that take it out of you. Last Thursday evening was my last class of the semester, and once that business was over, I was on my way to the moon, and I was just that thrilled to be done. So what were me (and Maya) to do? Go out. And go out we did.

After a long night of festivities and celebrations and pomp and congratulations and beer, the only way to end the evening was to go to Mr. Zub’s in Highland Square. We hadn’t exactly had dinner yet, and though it was now the wee hours of the morning, the cavorting and general joyousness had really gotten our appetites going. Zub’s, as regulars call it, is open until 2:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday and until 1:45 a.m. on Sunday. (The restaurant’s motto is “Open for Lunch, Dinner, Then Breakfast.”)

Once the decision was made, there were no distractions: We were going to Zub’s. Once inside, I was greeted by those egg-yolk-yellow walls and that mouthwatering fried food smell. Most nights, I spend at least 20 minutes trying to decide which sandwich to get. It’s almost impossible. I’ve tried many of the options, sometimes based on description and sometimes based on its namesake; each sandwich is named after a great movie character. One menu highlight is The Hightower from “Police Academy,” a mac-and-cheese and bacon sandwich, the ultimate “thing you can put anything on.”

Tonight, I was going for my favorite: The David St. Hubbins from “This is Spinal Tap,” a sandwich with turkey, bacon, onion-and-chive cream cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, all on an onion bagel (I like onions a whole lot). Once I got that loaded bad boy in my vice grip, I was never letting go, and I took it down. The texture alone made my mouth water: crunchy bacon, ultra-soft grilled and buttered bagel, the solidity of the turkey keeping the whole thing together, and don’t get me started on cream cheese (I could literally eat the stuff by the spoonful.) Safe to say, this sandwich made my morning, both before and after catching some z’s.

I woke up later in the morning, feeling great despite my night on the town. I went for a run, did some errands and still felt quite satisfied from my dinner (breakfast?) the night before, until noon when the lunchtime rumbles started to get to me. I picked up Maya, and we decided we still hadn’t had enough of sandwiches and off to Diamond Deli we went.

Diamond Deli is your classic deli, with University of Akron paraphernalia lining the walls and those goofy signs that say things like: “Unattended children will be given espresso and a puppy.” I knew what I was getting myself into here, and I was pumped about it.

I don’t know what it is about Akron, but all sandwiches have great names. I was laughing out loud and pointing at all kinds of menu choices (like, Chad’s “Wait Til You Hear This Story,” Zach’s “Yeah, Right Dad” and “Here’s the Beef”), struggling to decide what to get as the line behind me grew longer and longer.

2015-05-01 12.59.56Then, I saw it: The Old Bald Guy, a daily special made with turkey, bacon, sun-dried tomato pesto, smoked gouda, green apple and onion on a ciabatta. (Apparently, I have a thing for turkey and bacon.) It was another one of those rare moments when I knew exactly what I wanted, and I had to have it.

The tartness of the apple in conversation with the earthiness of the rest of the sandwich was unreal, and the ciabatta, my favorite sandwich bread, was crisp and filling — the perfect fuel for a fine Friday afternoon.

Whether you want your glorious sandwich funky or classic, be sure to visit Zub’s and Diamond Deli. The sandwiches from both of these Akron staples are killer and come with a pickle spear on the side.

Writer Holly Brown lives in Highland Square with her senile cat, Hedwig, and is a master’s candidate in poetry at the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program.