Sunday, January 18, 2009

Return of the Neba! Capital Region Rejoice!

Any regular reader will be aware of my frequent nostalgia fits regarding the foods and restaurants of my Albany childhood. So when I heard that the Neba was back (via Steve Barnes and Cathy Woodruff of the Times Union) I was almost overcome. Does anyone remember Mike's Neba? To the best of my childhood memories it was over on Central and Colvin in front of where the Hannaford's is now. I am presently a Guilderland resident, but I grew up on the mean streets of downtown Albany and my parents worked off Central Ave. I remember uncountable trips to Mike's Neba where my parents would have lunch and I would get Slushies. In fact, I must have been Slushie mad as a child because these trips to Mike's are among the pantheon of those few disconnected, warm and fuzzy, especially treasured, earliest clear memories of culinary bliss. Except for the penny candy store that used to be on Ontario and Washington (anyone remember that?), I can't think of a place that made my 6 year old heart happier.

I don't remember too much about the actual Neba sandwich (I think this would have been too much for my finicky child's palate) so I was excited when I heard about Mr. Subb bringing them back. I never knew this, but Mr. Subb is run by the original owners of Mike's Neba. So this isn't just some corporate attempt to capitalize in the soft spots in our Upstate hearts, it is an actual recreation of the original sandwich. I had to run over to the Western Ave. location and grab a couple last night. They were reasonable at 3.99$. Here is one of the sandwiches-

The components of the Neba are fairly simple. Sesame bun, jus cooked roast beef slices, and Tiger sauce. No cheese thank you very much. Here is the opened sandwich revealing the Tiger sauce-

The Tiger sauce is a lightly tangy concoction described as a mayonnaise/horseradish mixture. I like it, it is only mildly spicy and I would have liked to have seen a bit more horseradish, but it had a nice sweet flavor. I am a spicy kind of guy so I forgive them for the mildness of the sauce. In the next picture you can kind of see that some of the roast beef is still pink, not the unpleasant gray of an Arby's beef n' cheese (didn't I hear the rumor that Neba stood for NEver Buy Arby's?)-

I watched them prepare the sandwich and I enjoyed watching them fish the beef out of the pot with a slotted spoon which was then pressed with a second spoon to remove excess juice. This results in a sandwich that is moist and succulent but not over soggy. I really enjoyed the Neba sandwich. There was a healthy amount of beef, the sauce was good, and the bun held up nicely. I am glad the Neba is back, I give it two thumbs up. In fact, I might have to have another for lunch. Hooray for local food traditions (see here for the unique Capital Region hotdog style), does anyone remember any others that are worthy of discussion? Please share.


I found a link to this picture in a link from Steve Barne's blog. Supposedly, It is the Central and Colvin location. Not quite how I remember it, it might be before my time.

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  1. Wow, there's a name I haven't heard in eons. Long live the Neba

  2. I'm swooning here! Gotta make a visit to Albany for my Neba fix! Now if only they could bring back Mike's. What I wouldn't give for an Italian Mix on that soft, soggy roll.

  3. According to this TU blog, Mr. Subb is not owned by the "Mike's Neba" owner, but Mr. Subb was once "Neba-Mike's."

  4. The pictured restaurant looks more like the one in Schenectady, at the intersection of State St and the Crosstown. I've heard stories that drag racers used to meet at this location before races, Shirley Muldowney may have been one of them.

  5. OK, Im pretty late to the game here, but I remember Mike's Neba VERY well. I grew up in Troy and there were two my family would frequent: One at South Lake and Hoosick (Sycaway) and one down on 2nd street near the 112th street bridge (Lansingburg)The Lansingburg location looked like the left half of the picture you posted, the Neba sign and yellow paintjob. I also remember one at the corner of Lark and Madison where the Dunkin Donuts has been for a while now.
    While Mike's Neba offer your basic submarine sandwich fare, the Neba was really their main attraction. I recall many weekends when I was in grade school when my father would pick up Nebas and Tater Nuggets for dinner. Yea, I bet you forgot about the Tater Nuggets, not too differnt than any other potato nugget, but cooked in beef tallow. I also remember everyone being really bummed when Mr. Sub took over the franchises.
    I have tried the "new" Neba and I think its pretty good. Quite frankly, its been so long I couldn't tell you if its close or right on to the I think thats pretty good.
    One final thing, I believe the Mike's Neba (the actual name) was somewhat distorted into Neba-Mike's based on the signage and popularity of the Neba sandwich. I dont recall any locations actually being called Neba Mike's.

  6. Am I the only one that remembers what NEBA stood for? Nicest Eating Beef Around.

  7. I always heard "Never Eat Beef Again"


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