Great American Hero
4001 Lemmon Ave.
Dude Factor: 5, or Fred Savage, on a scale of 1 (Ricky Schroder) to 10 (Michael J. Fox).
Considering the waves of ill-advised '80s nostalgia still sweeping through your local Urban Outfitters, one would think a place like Great American Hero would be packed with hipsters eating vegetarian subs. After all, the restaurant's highlighter-inspired yellow, pink and blue color scheme--so hard on the eyes for so many years--has somehow become relevant again. How, you ask? Because kids these days don't heed the lessons of history. And because the morons will wear anything.
That being said, walking into Great American Hero is a lot like entering a time warp, in ways both good and bad. Considering the woodgrain interior, stained-glass sub and American-flag-themed t-shirts hanging from the wall , the decor seems like it was shipped in from a casual eatery in some '80s-era beachside resort. In fact, every time I walk in I constantly expect some pimply local teenager to challenge me to a game of Super Mario Bros 3, only to be disappointed, because Great American Hero doesn't even have an arcade.
You see, this part of Lemmon Ave. isn't exactly a hotspot for hip Dallas youths, so Great American Hero must resort to feeding working stiffs on their lunch break--which is fine and dandy until you consider the sad scene of a man in a business suit sitting down to dine in a neon yellow and pink building. A neon yellow and pink building THAT DOESN'T EVEN CONTAIN AN ARCADE.
All that being said, the sandwiches at Great American Hero aren't bad. They're not particularly great, either. One would think they might be, considering some 1100 employees are responsible for their construction, but one would be wrong.
To give you an idea of the strange demarcation of duties on display, consider this: it's one woman's responsibility to fill drinks and put carrot sticks on your plate. All day. That's her job. She doesn't ring you up. She doesn't make your sandwich (Don't worry, they have at least three or four people to accomplish the many complicated steps in that task.) Just carrots sticks and soda. Now imagine another carrot stick/drink lady who only works the drive-thru. Even when you account for the entire drive-thru team, there are still too many people behind the counter. It's like trying to watch the current Dallas Mavericks roster make sandwiches--there just aren't enough minutes and sandwich duties to go around.
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It's quite possible that the sandwiches at Great American Hero would be better if they simply focused on a few combinations and stuck to those. But there are 30 on the menu, and that's not including salads and nachos. (The number 18 cheesesteak is even broken down into 4 subcategories--18A, 18B, 18C and 18D--which would only be acceptable if they changed the cheesesteak to a number 36.)
If you stick with the classics--numbers 1-8, or if you're really hungry, the number 9 Super Hero featuring Genoa Salami, Pastrami, Baked Ham, Bologna, Corned Beef & Pepperoni--you'll probably fare alright. Nothing's gonna blow you away, but at least they're consistent.
The number 21 with peanut butter, banana and honey works well when you're too sick to eat right, too. Granted, it's not fried like Elvis would have wanted, but it does the job. And you can also get free sprouts on anything! Too bad sprouts suck.
Oh yeah, the Great American Hero's bathrooms are also the only place in Dallas where you'll find the Dyson Airblade. And they also claim to be Dallas' first penniless store--as in, they just round all the prices up to the nearest nickel. I wouldn't be surprised if they've got the elephant man's bones in the storage room, too. IJS.