These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (2024)

By Ariana Losch |

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (1)

When lunchtime rolls around in the South, patrons flock to the pristine green-and-white Publix deli counter, ready to order their favorite Publix sub sandwich—fondly known as the “Pub Sub”—and indulge in the best part of their work day. In fact, the best Publix subs have earned quite a reputation for themselves, with devotees claiming that these sandwiches are superior to sandwiches at places like Subway and Jersey Mike’s. As professional taste-testers, we knew it was high time to do what we do best: Buy a bunch of food and tell you if any of it is really any good! (Spoiler: Pub Subs are good.)

So, what can we expect from the best Publix sub beside quality ingredients and undeniably soft, freshly baked bread? Well, that’s going to vary from person to person. To me, a former East Coast Floridian-turned-West Coast Angeleno, the best Pub Sub tastes like an existential crisis. One bite leaves me questioning why I left behind the ease, convenience, and homestyle Southern comfort food found in the Publix deli for L.A. traffic, high gas prices, and zero restaurant parking. And let me tell you—this taste test was one existential crisis after the other.

Before we get into it, let’s go over a few disclaimers. This is the first time Sporked has ranked a highly customizable deli item…one that’s also beloved by hundreds of thousands of people. (Which, exciting! And terrifying, but mostly exciting.) For the most part, I ordered these without any modifications from their original menu description. It’s true that one bread alteration here and an extra sauce there can turn a regular Publix sub into the best Publix sub, but we had to set some parameters. We also didn’t opt for Boar’s Head upgrades this time—sorry! Next time we tackle these infamous subs, we’ll make sure to include them. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or hacks on how to up the taste of Pub Subs, we’d love to hear about it! From the best Publix chicken tender sub to the best Publix sub made with regular old cold cuts, these are the best Pub Subs, period.

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (2)

Best Pub Sub!

Hot Honey Chicken Tender Pub Sub

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m a freak for fried chicken, especially Publix fried chicken (which never fails to be super tender, juicy, and flavorful), and that might influence this ranking a bit more than it should. What I love about this Hot Honey Chicken Tender Sub is the boldness of the flavors—something the other Publix chicken tender subs, even ones I ranked higher, can be lacking. If you hoard packets of honey to drizzle on your spicy fried chicken sandwiches, this is the best Publix chicken tender sub for you. You won’t be disappointed!

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (3)

Best Pub Sub!

Buffalo Chicken Tender Pub Sub

Oh, Buffalo Chicken Tender Pub Sub, how I wished for you to rank higher on this list. As some of you may know, the last time I was in the Publix deli, I asked the sandwich artist to make me his idea of the best Publix sub on the menu. That ended up being a buffalo chicken tender sub on white bread, pressed, with provolone, extra buffalo sauce, a side of spicy gold sauce—and nothing else on it. No veggies, no bacon, nothing. If that’s the way I could have ordered it for this ranking, this sub would jump to #1. As it stands, the Buffalo Chicken Tender sub without any modifications actually lacks a strong buffalo flavor. I highly recommend ordering it with extra buffalo, or else you’re not going to detect much of a difference between this and a normal Chicken Tender Pub Sub. Still, the fried chicken tenders are flawless, and it scores high points for that.

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (4)

Best Pub Sub!

Tuna Salad Pub Sub

The tuna fish on Publix’s Tuna Salad Sub tastes super fresh (like most fish served in Florida) and, despite what the picture may look like, this tuna salad goes pretty light on the mayo. The emphasis is really on the tuna itself, which I loved. There’s a kick of vinegar to complement the saltiness of those dill pickles—which yes, you have to add-on yourself (I couldn’t resist). The tuna sub’s default bread is a soft, yummy wheat bread, but I highly recommend ordering this with their flaky Italian five-grain bread, which adds the texture of sesame seeds and whole grains into the mix. Regardless, even if you opt for the white bread, this is still one of the best Pub Sub orders to date. That tuna is just too good.

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (5)

Best Pub Sub!

Chicken Parmesan Tender Pub Sub

Why go through the hassle of making chicken parm when you can just eat it as a $10 Pub Sub? Served with hot marinara sauce, melty, gooey provolone, a sprinkling of parm, and that extra tender fried chicken, this is one of the best chicken tender Pub Subs at the deli. The mix of classic, mild provolone cheese and sharp, slightly greasy parmesan works beautifully together. I highly recommend ordering this pressed to really seal in those juicy flavors!

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (6)

Best Pub Sub!

Cuban Pub Sub

Maybe it’s because I would sell my soul for a jar of crunchy, juicy, salty dill pickle chips. Maybe I’m a mustard queen, and too many of these subs were lacking a good, tangy, mustardy spread. Or maybe, just maybe, the Publix Cuban Sub sandwich is just that delicious. I’m pretty sure it’s the third option, but if you need some convincing, here’s what else I loved about this: The ham is sweet and tender, offsetting the saltiness of the roasted pork and all those pickles. You don’t have to order this pressed, but if you do, the melted Swiss mingles with all those sealed-in juices, and it’s pure bliss. Easily one of the best Publix sandwiches you can buy—and yes, before you @ me in the comments, I’ve heard the Publix Havana Bold is basically the Cuban on steroids, but sadly I didn’t get the chance to try it. Next time, guys!

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (7)

Runner Up

Chicken Tender Sub

I don’t mean to upset the masses by putting the classic, tried-and-true OG Pub Sub in pole position here. Unfortunately, I’m going to upset the masses even more by saying this: I actually wavered on whether Publix’s Chicken Tender Sub deserved to be the runner up. I know that’s confusing, but bear with me. Without modification, this Pub Sub tastes remarkably similar to the Chicken Parm Pub Sub. However, with modifications? The possibilities are sky high. This is the sub that gave the Publix deli its legendary status, and not only do I recognize that, I taste it in every other version of the best chicken tender subs on their menu. In my opinion, you don’t have to mess with a classic—much. But the way you modify your Public Chicken Tender Sub to suit you and your tastes will definitely make it the best Publix sub on the menu.

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (8)

Best of the Best

Deli Ultimate Pub Sub

Once upon a time, the Deli Ultimate Sub intimidated me. I thought, no way, nu-huh, that’s too much meat. I can try to be objective about the taste, but I’m definitely not going to enjoy eating it that much. Clearly, I was dead wrong. First things first—the Ultimate Sub is definitely not packed with too much deli meat. It actually has a very reasonable amount of delicious, balanced deli meat variation. (Meat freaks might even want to double it!) The tavern ham is smoky, and the oven roasted turkey breast has a light maple sweetness. The default order comes on their Italian five grain bread—the best Publix sub bread, if you ask me. I tried this cold, without any modifications, and I was totally sold. With some dill pickles and extra sub sauce? What more could a Florida girl want from the best Pub Sub?

Credit: Merc / Publix

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other Pub Subs we tried: Roast Beef Sub, Chicken Bacon Ranch Tender, Italian Sub, Turkey Sub, Homestyle Beef Meatball Sub, Spicy Falafel Sub, Philly Sub, Deli Mojo Pork Sub

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These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (12)

About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

Your thoughts.

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (13)

    Dale Mills

    You mentioned mine and my husband’s favorite..we always stop at Publix before the beach ⛱️ , and I get the Cuban and hubby gets the Ultimate sub club…my daughter in law and children loveee them when they come down from Virginia, it’s a Pub Sub vest with them..We love PUBLIX…

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (14)

    Kristin

    I worked in the Publix deli and to this day still eat there frequently. You know it’s good if former employees choose to eat there!

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (15)

    Craig

    As much as I love Publix fried chicken, the chicken tender subs are way too dry for me; its too much bread. The Ultimate with a good dousing of oil and vinegar is the best.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (16)

    Jason

    Did you even try the Chicken Cordon Blu??? That PubSub is off the charts. Deserves the #1 spot.
    The ultimate should move back two spaces.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (17)

    Russell

    The ultimate is king

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (18)

    Raymond

    I have never been a believer in the chicken tender sub. I don’t go to the deli because I want to wait 20 minutes while someone making slightly above minimum wage hollows out the bread, then tosses the chicken in a sauce, then toasts the sub, before we can get to assembly. If I want fried chicken on a sandwich, I’ll go to Chick Fil A. The Ultimate Pub Sub however is a masterpiece. I don’t shop at Publix for groceries anywhere near as much as I used to; they are one of the companies that have used inflation as an excuse to jack up prices to unacceptable levels and unlike other grocers in my area, have yet to relent. However the last time I went into Publix, I bought a pub sub and picked up a couple of things while I was there, not the other way around.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (19)

    Jeff

    Custom fav. Is simple. Roat beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato, mayo on white.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (20)

    David

    Hi Ariana, this is intended for you. As to your comment “there isn’t enough good Mediterranean food”, there absolutely is! West of highway 19 from Clearwater all the way to north of Tarpon Springs are wonderful Greek communities and consequently many excellent Greek and other Mediterranean restaurants. I love tzatziki, humus, pine nuts, lamb, grape leaf dolmads, baklava and especially tabouli! Tarpon Springs has a very high Freek population. You can by anything Greek-related there! The Greek restaurants are as good as any I have eaten on Crete, in Athens or Santorini and I love the Greek restaurants in Santorini! I asked them who their provender is and they said, “Steve’s Produce and Mediterranean Food in Palm Harbor.” I go there every week for fresh local produce and
    seafood (he meets the fishermen at the dock every day and gets the prime of the prime fish, scallops, shrimp, crab all of it fresh from the ocean and enormous in size)!
    I make a lot of Greek food at home. I am like you; I couldn’t live where I couldn’t find it in the best quality. He also has an incredible butcher shop with excellent steaks. And he has lots of jarred, canned and salami Mediterranean food for your dishes.
    Arabic Mediterranean food is popular and ubiquitous too; I live in a small suburb just southwest of Jacksonville and there are 6 Arabic restaurants within a mile of me, most of it Halal friendly. And all of them delicious with friendly owners.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (21)

    David

    Best Publix sub is a bit custom. White bread, with mayo, boar’s head deluxe ham, boar’s head cooked/roasted salami (it tastes just like Genoa salami but is more tender than bologna!), white American cheese, pepperoncini peppers,light onions, lettuce, tomato, Italian spices including cracked black pepper, liberal olive oil and red wine vinegar! Bliss! Nothing comes close to it. I make it frequently and whenever soneone new eats one they are blown away with how good it is!
    If you make it at home use Colavita EVOO, it’s incredible!
    Buon appetito!

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (22)

    Carol Diaz

    My favorite Pub subs are the chicken tender and the ultimate. Those are the only subs I get from publix.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (23)

    Don Slogad

    No love for Boars Head? You can’t eat a pubsub without the simple upgrade!

    Reply

    • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (24)

      Susan Harris

      I prefer Publix brand deli to BH. Public Swiss is fantastic as is all Publix hams. Im from NJ. I know my aubs

      Reply

      • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (25)

        Heather

        Same! Born and raised in FL and I prefer Publix brand as well. I got a bonus one year and decided to splurge on BH…It wasn’t as great and almost twice the price. Might be cause I am cheap at heart but I definitely preferred Publix.

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (26)

    Daryl McDonald

    I love the Publix phili sub on the 5 grain roll with mayo, chopped onion, mushroom, and green peppers with Publix roast beef and provolone cheese and toasted.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (27)

    Thomas Brennan

    You nailed it the ultimate is go too, my favorite on White Bread , you got go Philly on it Mayo on the roll lettuce tomato onion on top salt pepper and oregano, vinegar and oil on top, also like Banana Peppers since moved here close decade ago jalapeno peppers on top with black olives can’t go wrong not a toast it roll, enjoy

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (28)

    Nathan

    While I don’t know if agree with the whole list, 100% agree on the top 2. I get the chicken tender sub whenever it’s on sale, but every time I go to the beach I stop by Publix to pick up a cold Publix Ultimate to take with me. Nothing tastes better in the hot sun.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (29)

    Kathryn R

    Don’t forget the holiday sub, limited time availability from November to end of December! I order one every week when available… turkey, smoked Gouda, bacon, mayo and the Publix cranberry relish ( which is like my mom’s cranberry sauce) . I’m drooling just writing about it.
    Although I dearly love the Ultimate sub.

    Reply

  • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (30)

    Scott thomas

    Bro onto nothing 🗣️🗣️🗣️🔥🔥🔥
    Eat the Cordon Bleu sub next time.

    Reply

    • These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (31)

      Jason

      This is the way!

      Reply

These 7 Pub Subs Are Simply Sub-lime (2024)

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