[Hole In the Wall] Wolfies Deli Is Almost Famous
A request to all present and future OC restaurateurs: Never call yourself “World Famous.” You’re not. Wolfies Deli in Westminster? A damn-fine place, but not world-famous by any stretch of the imagination, as the owners claim their subs to be. Indeed, this tiny dive is more of an afterthought in the local Italian-deli scene: It’s no Cortina’s, De Simone’s, or even Quizno’s. Wolfies sits just west of the 405, in a section of Westminster caught in a time warp of mostly white- and Mexican-themed businesses, with run-down strip malls standing in front of houses. They sell Wolfies shirts inside, but nowhere on the walls are there testimonials or articles attesting to the existence of a cult surrounding the restaurant’s legend. Why, they can’t even inspire that many Yelp reviews—and the kids over there will rave about anything.
Okay, rant done. Wolfies might not be world-famous, but it deserves a spot on your to-visit list, the type of no-frills sub shop common to Philadelphia, with the only decorations being 3-foot and 6-foot shellacked sandwiches hanging on the wall as though they were trophies shot on safari. You can order salads or fried snacks, but the emphasis is on 25 sandwiches—mostly cold and hot Italian subs, but also a good selection of American classics such as club, turkey breast and tuna salad. Of the latter, the best is the vegetarian: sauteed zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers and cheese, a great hoagie they should serve at Mother’s.
That vegetarian sub is the only real innovation at Wolfies; the rest of the offerings don’t stray from standard Italian-sandwich menus: salami here, capicola there, with peppers, marinara sauce and cheese throughout. Two key reasons why you should nevertheless visit: beautifully affordable prices (a 16-incher for nine bucks!) and fresh ingredients you can get direct from a small deli case. But the best part about Wolfies? It ain’t run by Italians. When I visited on a recent morning, the two men running the place—an older gent wiping down the window and the cook—spoke to each other in Spanish, in an accent I couldn’t truly decipher but will guess was Cuban (the guys weren’t Mexican, for sure). Besides, only Cubans could create a Cuban sub as audacious as the one here, a variation of the island classic except not pressed and not featuring a mound of roast pork the way exiles make them in Miami. But the sandwich is still wonderful: enough mustard and pickles to make your tongue pucker ever so slightly, crunchy bread, a combination of pork and Cuban ham. Wolfies might not be world-famous, but that’s all the better, as this means there are no lines . . . yet.
Wolfies Deli at 5871 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 898-0024.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.