One great thing about Boston is that not only is it a city of neighborhoods, but it has neighborhoods within its neighborhoods, which basically means that there are all these nooks and crannies that few people outside of these areas know about, and with it, some real hidden gems when it comes to food and drink. One such spot is a convenience store buried away in Dorchester on the northern edge of Adams Village and the eastern edge of Ashmont in a residential area that looks like it hasn't changed in 50 years. And while Ashmont Market & Liquor is mainly a place to go for weekly supplies, it also happens to hold a secret--it's a longtime neighborhood fave for a beloved regional sandwich.
Ashmont Market & Liquor looks like so many other neighborhood grocery stores, markets, and convenience stores that are scattered throughout the city, with its green brick front, signs announcing such items as beer, wine, produce, meats, dairy, and sandwiches, and pictures of some of the products shown in the windows. The shop is more or less surrounded by three-deckers and the intersection of Adams Street and Ashmont Street has such a classic old Dorchester look that if you closed your eyes and ended up here, you'd still probably know exactly which Boston neighborhood you were in. As you might expect, the inside of Ashmont Market & Liquor is really pretty basic, with aisles of food and drink along with everyday necessities, and far in the back area of the shop is the little deli section, where you will find one sandwich in particular that happens to be the focus of this review.
Steak and cheese subs can be found on nearly every street corner in the Boston area, and they are also seemingly everywhere in the rest of New England as well. Some, of course, are better than others, and unfortunately, many are really not all that great as they are overly greasy, the meat may be gristly, and the bread might be stale. Because of this, if you find a place that makes a good steak and cheese, chances are you'll return again and again, and this appears to be the case with Ashmont Market & Liquor. While perhaps not at the level of Carl's in Waltham (which may be the benchmark for Boston-area steak and cheese subs) or Al's State Street Cafe in downtown Boston, the steak and cheese subs here are not all that far off from those, either, and they don't skimp with the tender shaved steak here as some spots tend to do. Options to add to the shaved steak and melted cheese include the usual, with peppers, onions, and mushrooms all available, and getting all three gives you your truly classic New England sandwich--a steak bomb. One downside is that this is a market--not a restaurant or sub shop--so there isn't a place to sit, but plenty of open areas are nearby if the weather is nice, including Pope John Paul II Park, the Neponset Greenway, Tenean Beach, and a bit further away, Carson Beach in Southie and Wollaston Beach in Quincy.
Purists might prefer the Philly cheesesteak over the Boston-area steak and cheese, but good luck finding a top-quality authentic cheesesteak in the region, and really, when you think about it, the two sandwiches, while certainly different (cheesesteaks typically have sliced steak and Cheez Whiz while steak and cheeses often have shaved steak and American cheese), they aren't *all* that different. And with little-known neighborhood places like Ashmont Market & Liquor making such good steak and cheese subs, you may quickly forget about the more traditional cheesesteaks, anyways.
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