The Hive’s hot pastrami sandwich is New York deli-quality. Photo by Wyatt Newquist

The Hive, 201 N East St, Arlington. 817-903-8661. 11am-2pm Mon-Fri. All major credit cards accepted. 

Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery has supplied cake and cake-balls love to Arlington for the better part of the last decade, most recently in the renovated part of Arlington’s downtown area. Since folks in the burgeoning Urban Union district can’t live on cake alone, chef-owner Heidi Allison started offering a few savory treats to go along with her sweets. The Hive is nestled in the same building as her flagship bakery. 

The shop, which is open only for lunch on weekdays, looks Magnolia Avenue-pretty and functions like any other fast-casual sandwich joint, but you’re not going to find housemade bread and croissants at most chain hoagie operations. Because everything is assembled in front of you, diners can adapt pretty much anything on the menu to their own dietary specifications. There are vegan, vegetarian, and even Whole 30/paleo/dairy-free adaptations available, and the counter staff are famously accommodating.

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The hot pastrami sandwich on toasted, buttery sourdough bread is probably the closest thing you’ll find to a New York-style deli sammich this side of Dallas. The lean meat was cradled between layers of garlic-kissed parmesan, artichoke, and a spinach schmear, which oozed pleasantly when heated. It’s not a traditional version for sure, but the salty parm was a treat with the meat and bread.

If you’re in the mood for a BLT, the Hive’s version (called BLAT) with avocados and a cream cheese-jalapeño jam will do nicely. A beautiful thick-sliced yellow tomato, abundant ripe avocado chunks, and the slight spice of the cream cheese and jalapeño spread turned this fairly traditional interpretation of a classic into pure magic. Again, the fragrant, toasted sourdough bread elevated the sammy from basic to beyond.

The Goat looked like a good deal: Ham, tart goat cheese, slices of apple, grilled onions, and raspberry jam sounded like a crave-worthy combo. Unfortunately, the thick-sliced French bread was tough to chew. The whole production could have benefitted from a run through the panini press to heat the meat and cheese. You could ask for all those modifications, though my table of three wasn’t that creative at the time we ordered.

Sandwiches are served with potato chips, and you can upgrade to a salad or soup for $2 extra –– and the fruit and nut salad is definitely worth the small upcharge. The spring mix was gussied up with a fabulously sweet-tart honey-jalapeño vinaigrette dressing and loaded with chunks of apple, dried cranberries, sweet toasted pecans, and a little sharp goat cheese. The blue Caesar salad was also a delight, with a peppery, creamy dressing and an ample coating of parmesan cheese atop the fresh-tasting romaine lettuce. The bits of blue cheese made the dressing a little nontraditional but divine.

The soups were a mixed bag. A vegan tomato offering is available daily, and while I appreciated the bright, fresh taste of what was essentially just tomato and pepper, the end result tasted closer to tomato juice than to the tomato bisque I was craving. If you’re a vegetarian or need dairy-free options, it’s OK. The soup of the day during our visit was a tortilla iteration, chock full of chicken, beans, and corn and flavorful other veggies.

One of the best things about lunch at The Hive is wandering next door to the bakery for a portion-controlled cake-ball to go – or to enjoy a cupcake on the pocket-sized patio on one of the picnic benches. Tasty grab-and-go options in this part of Arlington are scarce.

The Hive

The Goat $8.75

BLAT $8.75

Hot pastrami $8.75

Soup and salad $8.25