Sandwiches

532. Ernie’s Market – October 30, 2021 – Oak Park, MI

Ernie’s Market! What a delight it was to finally experience this iconic Oak Park-based shop and its beloved sandwich.

The red-bricked convenience store/deli holds court on a corner in a residential neighborhood, looking like it’s straight out of the 1950s – because it is. Ernie’s Market opened in 1955 and is run today by the son of the original owners. He’s also named Ernie.

Maybe you’ve heard of Ernie and his big personality and big sandwiches. I was fortunate to encounter both during my visit.

The shop itself is tiny in stature, with a couple of rows of drinks, snacks, and other convenience items. At the back is the deli counter. Everywhere else is crowded with memorabilia: framed articles; Ernie’s-centric artwork; and accolades the market has won over the years (and it’s won MANY – including best-of nods from Hour Detroit and numerous WDIV Detroit Vote 4 the Best awards).

Ernie’s Market offers what it calls “Build It Your Way” sandwiches. There’s the Ernie’s Special, which includes one meat and your choice of toppings; the Ernie’s Double (which has two meats); and the Ernie’s Club with – you guessed it – three meats. And then there’s the Monster.

I think the main draw to Ernie’s Market is that Monster, which has received lots of press – and for good reason. It’s the seven-meat version of the Ernie’s Special, a compilation of turkey, ham, pastrami, pepperoni, salami, chicken, and corned beef. All that meat on a kaiser bun with cheese PLUS your choice of veggies and sauces. And that’s not all! The pièce de résistance of the sandwich is Ernie’s Love Spice, the shop’s proprietary blend of spices.

You know I had to try that Monster sandwich! The only modification I made was to nix the salami (since I don’t like it) and to add extra ham in its place. For veggies, I went with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, banana peppers, and jalapeños. I said yes to cheese, yes to mustard (but not mayo), and yes to the Love Spice (obvi!). All those ingredients were nestled in hefty layers between two halves of an uncut, onion-flecked kaiser bun.

When you’re a first-timer at Ernie’s and order the Monster, it’s requisite for them not to cut the sandwich in half for you. Initiation into the Ernie’s Market legion means taking that Monster head on!

It was such fun to be in the shop and orchestrate the build of that Monster sandwich. The staff members I interacted with were friendly and welcoming. I even got to interact with Ernie himself!

He said hi to me warmly – so warmly, I admit, that I felt sure he was confusing me with someone else he knew. Because of this, I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t say hi back at first. Then I realized it was him – Ernie himself!

I didn’t know that Ernie greets all of his customers so enthusiastically. According to the shop’s website, Ernie’s customary greeting to patrons is “Hey Baby!” because he wants people to know he cares about them – even if he doesn’t know their names.

That explains the “Hey Baby!” greeting Ernie gave a father and his young daughter while I was there. I’d assumed he knew them well. Maybe he did – or maybe he was displaying his customary warmth. Regardless, once I got past my initial confusion around his reception of me, it felt wonderful to be welcomed so congenially by Ernie – who, once he heard it was my first time trying his sandwich, said he hoped I liked it.

I hoped I liked the Monster, too!

My hopes were not to be dashed. The epic sandwich was epically delicious! What a kaleidoscope of flavors that Monster sandwich was.

The sheer number of ingredients and jaw-defying height of the sandwich meant that each bite was different. My favorite bites included the hearty meat with that soft kaiser bun, those spicy jalapeños and bananas peppers, and an ample smattering of Love Spice. That’s no surprise, given that I’m a lover of all things spicy. In fact, I bought a bag of Better Made’s Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Chips from Ernie’s to accompany that Monster sandwich.

You may be wondering: did I finish that Monster in one sitting? [Drum Roll] I did not. I ate over half of it for lunch that day. That meant I got to enjoy the leftovers for dinner! They were delicious toasted in the oven.

I wonder if Ernie would find toasting his sandwich sacrilegious. I have to think he’d be all for it. “Whatever makes you happy, Baby!” I can imagine him saying.

Worth noting: Ernie’s is a cash-only establishment – but totally worth the trip to the ATM!

8500 Capital St.

Oak Park, MI 48237

www.erniessandwichshop.com

426. La Pecora Nera – August 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

August2019LaPecoraNera1 (3)August2019LaPecoraNera2 (2)Ravenous hunger brought me to La Pecora Nera on a Thursday afternoon in August. With its hefty, hearty sandwiches, the downtown-Detroit-based deli is an ideal place to satisfy such hunger.

After over-caffeinating myself at Madcap Coffee (SO worth it, BTW), I hit that phase of the coffee-drinking experience where my temporarily-distracted appetite suddenly whooshed into awareness, craving ALL the things.

After scanning La Pecora Nera’s menu, that craving narrowed down to a hankering for its Reuben Italiano sub, which I enjoyed on the deli’s pretty, street-facing covered patio. It was delicious, packed full of flavor with its corned beef, cabbage slaw, pickles, mozzarella, and house-made Thousand Island dressing. I devoured it – and it, in turn, devoured my hunger.

La Pecora Nera’s menu features much more than that Reuben Italiano. It also offers a variety of other subs, such as the Italian Meatball with its crispy fried onions and  homemade marinara and the P.L.T., a luxe B.L.T. with pancetta replacing bacon and herb-and-garlic aioli dethroning garden-variety mayo; entrée salads; morning-centric items (breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, hash browns, muffins – available in the a.m. only); coffee and espresso drinks; and gelato (because satisfying one’s sweet tooth is never sweeter than after you’ve enjoyed a whole lot of savory!).

1514 Washington Blvd.

Detroit, MI 48226

(Closed Sundays)

www.lapecoraneradetroit.com

347. M.C. ‘Wiches – July 27, 2018 – Ferndale, MI

July2018MCWiches1 (4)July2018MCWiches2 (2)The Friday before last, I was in downtown Ferndale, and I needed sustenance – hearty sustenance. Bread-and-cheese-and-meat-level sustenance. I scanned the downtown stretches of Woodward and Nine Mile, seeking somewhere to satisfy this requirement, and stumbled upon M.C. ‘Wiches sandwich shop.

After scanning its menu, I knew M.C. ‘Wiches was a place where I could stuff my face with a substantial, satisfying sandwich: specifically the seven-inch Cuban B ‘Wich. I got it on toasted wheat bread, opting to keep it simple when choosing from the various bread options, which included the intriguing Jalapeño Cheddar and a gluten-free variety. My sandwich was prepared promptly by the friendly young woman working the counter, and I settled in at one of ‘Wiches’ tables to devour it.

That Cuban B was a hefty sandwich indeed! Loaded with ham and pulled pork, pickle chunks and Swiss cheese, mustard and the signature ‘Wich Sauce (a garlic aioli), it most definitely satisfied my hunger – and was delicious while doing it.

While I found the seven-inch ‘Wich to be the perfect portion, I like that M.C. ‘Wiches offers two other sandwich sizes: the 3.5-inch Lil ‘Wich and the 14-inch Double ‘Wich. Its menu also includes two combo options that add a drink and a pickle to your ‘Wich as well as a side: depending on which one you go for, you can choose from chips, coleslaw, soup, mac-and-cheese, and baked goodies (including gluten-free varieties).

Bomb bread-and-cheese-and-meat-level sustenance offered by a friendly staff in a clean, pleasant environs: M.C. ‘Wiches is doing fast-casual right!

172 W. Nine Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

(With an additional location in Oxford)

www.mcwiches.com