I like everything about PJ Subs T6 Filling Station—except for the name.
This comfortable midtown eatery, which serves up sandwiches, sports and cocktails, seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis, no doubt a result of its somewhat turbulent opening. Jay Tolkoff—owner of PJ Subs on Speedway Boulevard, which he closed to open T6—partnered with Nimbus Brewing Company owner Jim Counts to open T6 at the corner of Tucson Boulevard and Sixth Street around the first of the year, in the space that had been home to wings joint Long Wong's. It seemed like a perfect partnering, combining Tolkoff's well-regarded sandwiches and Counts' regionally famous beer.
But that partnership was not meant to be. For some reason, Counts dropped out of the T6 venture and instead partnered up with Bob McMahon to create the Nimbus Bistro and Brewery on the eastside. (Best of luck to Counts and McMahon on that venture, which is slated to open this week; McMahon is due for some success, after a series of recent failures, including Italia, Smokin' and the heinous debacle that was Bistro Philippe.)
Meanwhile, Tolkoff pressed ahead with T6, in the process working a lot of PJ Subs branding into the business. As a result, it's hard to know what to call the place. Some signs say only PJ Subs; the Web site (which offers online ordering for pickup or delivery) only mentions PJ Subs; other signs and the menu say PJ Subs T6 Filling Station; the décor decidedly has a filling-station vibe, with lots of cool vintage auto-related metal signs covering the yellow walls in the front dining room. (Special bonus points go to the decorations in the bathroom, which include a Phillips Award of Merit mirror and a Turtle Wax sign—placed right above the toilet—which intriguingly states: "Wax Before You Ride.")
Long story short: It would probably be best if Tolkoff could pick one name and stick with it.
The food that we sampled was all good, if not necessarily innovative or revolutionary. We tried a half-dozen of the spicy barbecue wings ($3.50) and found the sauce to be flavorful, although the wings themselves could have been a bit meatier. (Other sauce offerings include barbecue, medium, hot and scorching.) The sandwiches were all enjoyable; we didn't try any of the cheesesteaks ($6 to $10, depending on size and fillings), but the 6-inch chicken parmigiana sub (6.50) was tasty. The marinara sauce was pretty standard, as was the breaded chicken (either chicken tenders or meat that could have passed as chicken tenders), but it was prepared well—the chicken was moist, and the mozzarella was melted perfectly. Garrett's "best damn grilled turkey sub period" ($6 for 6 inches) benefited greatly from the fact that the turkey remained moist even after being warmed.
On our second visit, I enjoyed the French dip (a somewhat pricey $7.25) immensely. The white roll was packed with seasoned and moist roast beef, Swiss cheese and onions—the server was kind and smart enough to ask if I wanted those onions—and the result was one of the better French dips I've had lately. The au jus was flavorful enough, and came in a big bowl that was perfect for sandwich-dipping. Garrett had nice things to say about his Italian grinder ($5.25), which was packed with good-quality salamis, provolone cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato, before being drizzled with oil and vinegar.
We found no faults with the sides we tried on either of our visits. The onion rings ($3.75), french fries (small order for $1.75, large for $2.75) and curly fries ($2.50 or $3.50) were all fried up to perfection. None of these items are produced in-house—at least that's what one of our servers told us—but we've all had restaurants botch the preparation of these basic items. That didn't happen here.
T6 or PJ Subs or whatever it's called offers some nice touches—such as table service, DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket (with lots of TVs scattered around) and the aforementioned online ordering. I also like the full bar, although the bar area appears to be somewhat unfinished; the yellow walls there were strikingly bare as of last week.
I hope that's all enough to lead to success for Tolkoff. On both of our visits (a Sunday dinner and a weekday early lunch), the restaurant was fairly quiet. I am concerned about the fact that much of what PJ/T6 offers—sandwiches, sports, booze, etc.—can also be found directly across the street at Rincon Market and Bob Dobbs.
What Tolkoff's doing at T6 isn't groundbreaking, but it's being done well. Don't be surprised if you see me there one Sunday afternoon chowing down on a French dip and fries while watching football and enjoying a Jack Daniel's and Coke.