Until recently, the only things preventing me from putting on 50 pounds of lobster weight were the 25-mile round trip from my house to Maine-ly Sandwiches and the lack of desire to go shopping for new fat pants. In essence, laziness was preventing me from getting fat. Now that Maine-ly Sandwiches has opened a second location just down the street from my home and office, I need to keep reminding myself now more than ever just how hideous clothes-shopping is: those tiny fitting rooms! Those itchy tags! Those flourescent lights! Having to take your shoes off and stand barefoot on gross carpet that's probably never been cleaned!
3310 South Shepherd
Otherwise, I'd be at Maine-ly Sandwiches every single day, gorging not only on the lobster rolls that have made Buddy Charity's family-run sandwich shop famous, but on the cold cut hoagies and whoopie pies that are just as strong an attraction.
There's something remarkable about opening a small, independent sandwich shop on Houston's far-flung northside and proving popular enough to open a second location a year later—and in one of the city's hottest real estate markets, no less. Charity saw an unfilled niche in Houston, and the Maine native stepped up to the plate with New England-style lobster rolls, clam chowder, and other specialties that plenty of ex-pats hadn't been able to get in Houston on the regular prior to Maine-ly Sandwiches opening in the winter of 2012.
His first shop on the North Freeway was small—the size of your average Subway—and had only a very basic kitchen set-up. No fryers, no griddles, no big ovens. The new location, which opened at the end of August in the old Sugarbaby's Cupcakes space, has it all. Charity intends to use it eventually, perhaps serving french fries or crab cakes down the line.
For now, however, they're enjoying the extra space to spread out and seat nearly three times the amount of guests. You still order at the counter, meaning Maine-ly Sandwiches is still super-casual—as it should be—and the decor is still "cheeky coastal," meaning it's all giant photos of Maine coastline and lighthouses and life preservers hanging from the walls but all in good, deliberately over-the-top fun. (Either way, it's certainly better than the aggressively twee decor that was housed in the cupcake shop.)
Most importantly, the lobster rolls are as good as ever: griddled buns hot and buttered, spilling over with lump lobster meat in a sweet, tangy mayonnaise dressing with the barest bit of black pepper on top. Some may grumble about the price—nearly $10 for a half-roll, nearly $20 for a full lobster roll—but it's all a matter of perspective. You'll pay $16 for a roll at the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport—called the best lobster roll in America—that's right in between a half- and full-sized roll; you'll pay $25 for the same size roll at Neptune Oyster House in Boston. All things considered, I think $10 is a steal.
But if lobster rolls aren't your thing, you should still consider Maine-ly as a great alternative to giant chain sandwich shops; the cold cut sandwiches and hoagies here are consistently terrific, and are between $5 and $6 for a 12-inch sandwich filled with fresh meat, cheese, and vegetables. (Keep your sloppy $5 footlongs, Subway.) I'm also pleased to report that Maine-ly is baking fresh batches of whoopie pies every single day, including new flavors like Fluffernutter (a chocolate pie with peanut butter filling) and Blueberry Spice (my current favorite, with a blueberry filling sandwiched between two enormous spiced oatmeal pies).
Luckily, those whoopie pies keep well, allowing me to enjoy one small pie over the course of a few days. Otherwise, between the desserts and the buttery lobster rolls, shopping for new [stretchy] pants would be inevitable.