From Apollo’s Greek Kitchen to Catfish Biff’s Pizza & Subs to the famous Buckeye Donuts, there are plenty of solid options for late-night bites. For Buckeyes who find themselves less concerned with counting calories, there is a dark horse in the herd whose gluttony knows no bounds.
I am, of course, referring to the infamous PJ’s Sandwiches. Football-sized hoagies house several meals’ worth of the lowest-quality bar food imaginable, and the most popular options sport names we cannot print. Who would stack chicken tenders, beer fries, mac ’n’ cheese wedges, mozzarella sticks, buffalo sauce and ranch on a single sandwich and name it after a sexist slur? A staff clearly unconcerned with the laws of God and good taste, that’s who.
Still, there is an undeniable appeal to the place. Like moths to a flame, intoxicated students flock to PJ’s every weekend for a hefty helping of deep-fried, artery-clogging cuisine. While most order from a small list of “safe” options, we here at The Lantern wanted to see what other options were hiding in the dusty corners of the PJ’s “specialty” menu. I was joined by Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Harter, Copy Chief Anna Ripken and Assistant Arts & Life Editor Ashley Kimmel. Here, we have compiled a list of six subs that jumped out to us from Ohio State’s bad boy of the dining scene. I promise at least one was fit for human consumption.
- Chicken tenders, bacon strips, shredded cheese, mozzarella sticks, potato skins, lettuce, tomato and ranch.
- Nicholas: 3/5 — Immediately upon unwrapping, this sandwich was dripping. It was drowned in about a gallon of watery ranch. The bacon was vile, as well. Overall, not recommended, although I cannot recommend any PJ’s sandwich in good conscience.
- Kaylee: 3/5 — This one pretty much just tasted like ranch. I like ranch, so the fact that it drowned out the taste of the rest of the potentially questionable ingredients was all right with me.
- Anna: 2/5 — You can’t go wrong with bacon, right? Wrong: PJ’s has proved you can. I’m not sure how the restaurant was capable of messing up my favorite breakfast meat.
- Ashley: 2/5 — The chicken tenders on this helped my rating, but the ranch threw me off a bit. The mozzarella sticks were a bit cold.
Veggie Fat Cat
- Garden burger, American cheese, fries, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and ketchup.
- Nicholas: 2/5 — With fake meat on what already barely constitutes real food, this sub started at a disadvantage. A second mark against it for being soaked in ketchup, a topping that does not belong on any sandwich in the first place. Bland overall, but bland is honestly a blessing.
- Kaylee: 1/5 — If I wanted this many vegetables, I would have ordered a salad, and if I wanted a salad, I wouldn’t have come to PJ’s. Also there was too much ketchup.
- Anna: 1/5 — This sandwich was by far my worst PJ’s experience of the night. I’m not a vegetarian, but I will dabble in vegetarian options, and this vegetable patty has absolutely no business calling itself a “garden burger.”
- Ashley: 1/5 — This ended up being a ketchup and lettuce sub, and it was honestly terrible. I also think if you put ketchup on a sandwich, you are either a child or a psychopath. I felt personally attacked by this order.
- Steak, sour cream, nacho cheese, bacon bits, corn nuggets, potato skins and mozzarella sticks.
- Nicholas: 2/5 — There are not enough quotes in the world to put around the “bacon bits” on this sandwich. At least the steak was probably made of beef. The bacon bits were vibrantly red and looked more like Himalayan rock-salt than pieces of pork belly. With woefully inadequate sour cream, this thing was bone dry and tough to stomach.
- Kaylee: 2/5 — This one sounded good to me, but I was sadly disappointed. The corn nuggets were almost a saving grace, but alas, dryness persisted.
- Anna: 3/5 — I was excited for the sour cream on here because it seemed like an unexpected ingredient, which made me think, “Hmm, maybe this actually works together.” Let me assure you it did not.
- Ashley: 2/5 — The bacon bits looked like a fun time but I promise they were not, and I felt lied to.
- Cayenne cheese steak, jalapeno peppers, jalapeno poppers, beer fries, shredded cheese and buffalo sauce.
- Nicholas: 1/5 — Repugnant. Vile. Crude. Indecent. Unholy. There are not enough negative adjectives for this abomination. I like spicy food, but it can quickly cross from thrilling to revolting if the quality is low, and the quality here was on the floor and swept under the fridge. My body rejected this sandwich like a bad skin graft. I wish I could have the memory of eating it surgically removed.
- Kaylee: 4/5 — I may be in the minority here, but Smokin Hottie was a dark horse. The beer fries were delicious, and the random assortment of spicy foods somehow worked. This one was a wild ride, but I’d do it again.
- Anna: 2/5 — My sensitive mouth can only handle so much spice, and the Smokin Hottie had too much of that. The spicy cheese steak was definitely the worst part too — tasted like dog food.
- Ashley: 2/5 — It can be pretty difficult to eat really anything when it is drenched in sauce, especially if the sauce is already spicy. I did like the spice though. I just think the sandwich could use less of it.
- Sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn nuggets and shredded cheese.
- Nicholas: 5/5 — I never expected to say this, but it was actually good. As one of the few PJ’s offerings with a responsible number of toppings that actually relate to one another, it turned out pretty palatable. The gravy gave adequate moisture, the corn offered a touch of sweetness and the cheese bound it all together nicely.
- Kaylee: 5/5 — I always say you can’t go wrong with mashed potatoes and gravy, and this one proved my point. The golden nuggets of corn were a treasure and the sandwich’s savory mushiness was the embodiment of comfort food.
- Anna: 5/5 — You won’t catch me going home for Thanksgiving anymore. I’ll simply be walking into PJ’s on the last Thursday of the month to enjoy the holiday alone with some fried corn nuggets.
- Ashley: 4/5 — I think the gravy stressed me out at first, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I was not the biggest fan of the corn or the excessive amount of mashed potatoes.
- “One mystery meat item (chicken, steak, gyro, etc.), four mystery sides (fries, poppers, etc.) and we choose your surprise.” We think ours was mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, fries, shredded cheese, buffalo sauce and blue cheese(?)
- Nicholas: 2/5 — The phrase “we choose your surprise” is incredibly foreboding in this context, but the toppings did actually work together. Unfortunately, I revile PJ’s buffalo sauce, and there was a ton. I genuinely think it’s watered down Frank’s RedHot sauce. There was a debate about whether the white sauce was ranch or bleu cheese, but either way it didn’t help.
- Kaylee: 3/5 — The ingredients on this one probably made the most logical sense — not what I was expecting from the mystery sandwich and honestly a bit disappointing. This sandwich was fine, but lacked some of the excitement of other PJ’s sandwiches.
- Anna: 4/5 — A lot could have gone wrong in ordering a mystery sandwich from an even more mysterious place, but I was pleasantly surprised with the staff’s selection for the ingredients. It was one of our calmer orders, and a good one to end the night on.
- Ashley: 4/5 — I was tentative about the ranch on top of the sandwich but I made it too far to give up at this point, so I dove in. I really liked the buffalo sauce on this one.