It sometimes feels as though Encinitas and other coastal communities have two distinct dining personalities.
Coastal is primarily made up of the independent, free spirited restaurateurs while the El Camino Real corridor is loaded with just about every chain and franchise available.
There are exceptions in both cases with the occasional chain making it west of Interstate 5 and plenty of worthy independents in shopping-center-land.
The foodie culture tends to poo-poo the chains and I will admit that I’ve found myself in that camp, but then contradict myself completely, finding myself at a chain drive-through, giving in to my fast-food weakness and the convenience of it all.
That said, I’ve always been of the mindset that if an independent restaurant provides delicious, quality food in a unique atmosphere that reflects their personality, I’ll make it a point to support them, and even pay a little more to do so.
Which brings me to the topic of this week’s column — the Sub Palace in funky Leucadia. I’ll state emphatically off the bat that this is literally a mom and pop place that serves up monster subs at an affordable price in a charming Coast Highway location right next door to the new Bing Surfboards retail shop.
The mom and pop comes from husband and wife Ray and Annalee Yargeau, who own Sub Palace with their kids Tim and Leeanna.
The Yargeaus have owned Sub Palace since 2000 and are true locals who live right around the corner on Hygeia. Ray moved to Leucadia from Massachusetts as a teenager, and attended San Dieguito High, Oceanside-Carlsbad Jr. College, and has lived in Leucadia for 40-plus years. Annalee, a So Cal native, also graduated from San Dieguito and has spent much of her lifetime guiding four children through Central (Paul Ecke) Elementary, Oak Crest, Diegueno, San Dieguito and La Costa Canyon.
Sub Palace had been a landmark in Leucadia since the ‘70s, when it was located next door to the 7-Eleven location on Leucadia Boulevard.
It was originally known as Steve’s Sub Palace. Reputedly, Steve was forced to move to the present spot by his financially stronger neighbor’s concern over competition.
Many of Steve’s early customers remain loyal supporters who constantly assert that they serve the biggest and best sub in North County.
When the Yargeaus purchased Sub Palace, they were wary about changing anything. After all, the business already was well regarded for many years by both its local and vacationing patrons.
Though decidedly adamant about retaining its menu of oversized sub sandwiches, they wanted to make the kind of changes that would mark this place as theirs.
For more than 30 years, the family vacationed in Hawaii and was involved with a Polynesian Dance studio in Encinitas.
Shortly after assuming ownership of Sub Palace, they added a Hawaiian gift item section and commissioned a local artist Kevin Anderson to create an outdoor mural depicting their favorite vacation spot at Laniakea beach on the North Shore of Oahu in the very Leucadia-like town of Haleiwa.
Hopefully, all customers feel the same thing when they come into Sub Palace — a special blend of the “aloha spirit” assimilated by the Yargeau family during its many visits to Hawaii and the friendly, caring Leucadia attitude instilled in them by their local residency.
As far as the subs go, they really are gigantic and quite tasty.
A “small” sub runs $6.50 and a “large” is only $8.50 and really should be called the monster as it is quite a handful. I’m a sucker for Mama’s Italian, an old-school combination of mortadella, salami and provolone with your favorite toppings. I should note that one of those toppings is a relish that is the bomb.
They were hesitant to tell me what it was made up of, and I don’t blame them as it really is that good.
They have 20-plus subs to offer including a few of the veggie variety. I always get sucked in to buying a large with the intent of eating the second half later. That works sometimes, but not after a lengthy surf session or other appetite inducing activity.
If you do devour a large, it would serve you best to have set aside some nap time for after as there will be a very pleasurable food coma as a result.
The Sub Palace is a local gem worth supporting. Stop in next time you are driving along the coast and tell them Lick the Plate sent you. They also cater events.
They are located at 810 N. Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays. Call (760) 753-2105 or visit subpalace.com.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday-Friday during the 7 p.m. hour. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.