My Hero is one of the San Fernando Valley’s many unsung strip-mall beauties. Its sandwiches have been delighting Cal-State Northridge students since 1964. Since then, the shop has only changed hands once, when a long time sandwich maker at the shop bought it from the founding family. The sandwiches and the core of the menu haven’t changed one bit. These are vintage California style heroes. That means extra veggies.
Sandwiches come on bread that is lightly steamed, then filled with your choice of meats and topped off with generous spoonfuls of the famous tomato salad. The bread is soft. warm, slightly chewy, and studded with sesame seeds. Meats are standard cold cuts. It’s the chunky marinated tomatoes that make a difference. They are soaked in oil & vinegar and topped with celery with lots of cracked black pepper.
Because there is so much tomato salad on the heroes, you will likely lose many chunks as you eat the sandwich. For this reason, it’s best to keep your hero flying over the basket. Otherwise it will look like you lost a tomato fight. Some crafty regulars take out half of their tomato salad and eat it with a fork like a bonus side salad. We prefer to keep our ‘maters on the sandwich like the hero’s creators envisioned.
The My Hero Special is an unusual combo of pink lunch meats: two kinds of soft salami and two kinds of bologna. The seemingly redundant meats all play a vital role on the roll. The fattier cotto salami enriches the Genoa salami. The American bologna soothes the spicier mortadella. The rich layers of half-Italian deli meat all match well with the tomato salad.
All the classic deli meats are available, and we liked our turkey just fine. Some complain that there isn’t much meat on their hero. Perhaps the moderate meat is exaggerated by all that tomato. For us, the meat is sufficient, and the menu offers a double meat upgrade for a reasonable extra charge. Given the bargain price of these sandwiches, we’d prefer they keep the cold cuts — and their prices — lean.
Drinks and sides are standard sandwich shop fare, although the selection of fun-sized bags of chips is super.