Really Good Eats On South Street

I have a fondness for sandwich bars. An affiliation with their owners and an understanding of the early morning wakeup calls and the often rigorous preparation that goes into getting everything ready for lunch. I know the routine of perfecting tuna salad before the sun comes up, and the banter of early morning customers on their way to work, who stop by hoping for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich, even though they know you’re not yet open.

I used to own a sandwich bar on Dundas Street in Edinburgh, close to George Street and the financial hub of Scotland’s capital, a place where sandwiches at lunchtime sold in the hundreds.

As you might imagine, I’ve always had a curiosity about other people’s sandwich bars, and can never resist a peek inside, a taste of a daily special, a critique of the choices of bread.

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Good Eats owners Jamie Denney (left) and Keri Ho with sandwich maestro Dustin Truman. Jo McGarry photo

And I’m a somewhat picky sandwich eater, nowadays limiting my indulgence to one or two places where the fillings, the bread and the choice of ingredients complement each other in such a way as to prove irresistible. A properly constructed sandwich is as fine a meal as most of us could ever wish for. And a poorly made sandwich, of which there are many examples in Honolulu, is not worth the trouble of warming the toaster.

So it was with high expectations that I went to visit Good Eats, a deli on South Street opposite the Honolulu Fire Department. I’d driven past the deli many times in the past six months and was aware that it seemed to be changing hands. It’s latest owners, sisters Keri Ho and Jamie Denney, took over in September, determined to breathe life into the business. The tiny store is barely big enough to hold a steady stream of customers, and it’s obvious the two have found a niche.

With Boar’s Head meats, quality breads and fillings that are a mixture of classic (Reuben, BLT, Tuna) and contemporary ( The Smokin Jeff, The Mozzachio and Turbacon), Good Eats fills a hole in the lunchtime market.

It helps that the sisters have had years in the food and beverage industry their bartending experience most evident as they stand behind the waist-high counter taking orders and greeting customers by name. Step into the store for the first time and within minutes someone will be asking your name, chatting about your day and explaining how the sandwich system works.

“We already have a lot of regular customers, people we know by name,” says Keri, “but we are naturally friendly and we think getting to know our customers is part of the business.”

New sandwiches are hitting the chalkboard as the business continues to grow, but if you want to stop by and be blown away by some intense flavors, then try the Rosie’s Roast Beast ($8.35) roast beef, bacon, provolone, pesto, mayo, spinach, red peppers and cracked black pepper on a ciabatta or a hoagie roll. Or the Kicken Chicken ($8.55) rotisserie chicken with avocado, chipotle mayo, provolone, salad greens and tomato on ciabatta. You can mix and mingle as your mood dictates and choose from a variety of breads, cheese and eight different spreads and dressings several of them homemade.

“Everything is fresh, as natural as we can get it,” says Jamie. “We go to the farmers market for arugula, greens and some veggies, and we make everything to order.”

And sandwiches come with a slice of kosher dill pickle.

Call ahead if you don’t want to wait, or request delivery if you’re a mile or less from South Street.

Those still mourning the passing of MELT from the foodie scene may be pleased to step through the doors of Good Eats.

With sandwiches this good, South Street should be your next destination lunch spot.

Happy eating!

Good Eats
627 South Street
521-3287