A visit to Atlantic City from Center City Philadelphia is only about 65 miles and a little over an hour, so it’s not really accurate to describe it as a road trip. You can go there on the way to or from a weekend at the shore, as a spur-of-the-moment decision during a night out, or for a planned gambling excursion. Regardless of the circumstances, I strongly recommend that you make time for a submarine sandwich at White House Sub Shop on Arctic Avenue.
Open since 1946, White House is well known to both old timer residents as well as newer generations of Atlantic City visitors. The corner shop itself is not large and is an exercise in inefficiency. There are about 10 booths, and those looking to sit down must stay outside the inner door until a waitress takes them to a table. Those looking for take out can proceed inside to the back, where they then stand around like stockbrokers waiting to place buy-sell orders. For those looking to sit down at the counter, it’s a gray area whether you can go in and sit down without a waitress taking you there or not. Somehow, this system has worked for about fifty years.
The menu features about 25 hot and cold subs, each at either a half or whole order. Choices include Italian, cheesesteak, ham, chicken steak and even the cheeseburger sub. Half orders are about 8-10 long and packed pretty full, so they are more than sufficient. A nice touch is that a half order (typically around $6.45-$8.00) costs exactly half of a whole order.
Ordering a half order of a basic Italian sub is a good introduction to the White House experience. The first noticeable aspect of the sandwich is the meat. It’s quite substantial to the point that it’s folded twice to fit in into the bread. Then there’s the bread. It’s baked across the street by Formica Bros. Bakery, which supplies bread to quite a few Atlantic City sandwich shops. The key with White House is that it can order and receive fresh break from Formica Bros. up to twelve times a day. You’re guaranteed to have bread that’s been baked within the past couple of hours.
As far as the taste? Simply delicous. The bread is soft and does not have a crusty exterior. In that way, it distinguishes from most Philadelphia hoagie shops. The meat is extremely high quality, and White House prides itself on 80 percent fat-free Italian subs. The cheese and vegetables are also fresh and fit well. There’s a reason this place has thrived for so long and remains popular with lines out the door.
You may lose money gambling down in Atlantic City, but hitting up White House Sub Shop turns any A.C. trip into a winner.