I am not embarrassed to admit this, because it’s not as if Cheba Hut is the first business to nail my psychographic tastes and preferences with near-perfect accuracy — to suggest so would discount the quickened effect on my purchasing habits of Amazon ads for glow-in-the-dark polyhedral dice — but I am indeed in the bullseye of their target market, spitted on a conceptual arrow somehow specifically fletched for my personal preferences in philosophy, lifestyle, and entertainment. Cheba Hut’s concept, if you are unfamiliar with this chain from Fort Collins, Colorado, is based on a very simple idea: Stoners love sandwiches. As a stoner who does indeed love sandwiches, I was drawn to this place like a 311 sticker to the side of an acrylic bong.
Now, if you have ever worked in a sandwich shop, you might argue that every sandwich shop benefits from stoners loving sandwiches, and you would certainly be correct. But not every sandwich shop benefits from that concept the same way Cheba Hut does. As anyone who has ever been to a Mellow Mushroom location knows, these counterculture-copping restaurants lay on the druggy puns and psychedelically suggestive decor pretty thickly. I wouldn’t say that Cheba Hut gives you a heroic dose of weed culture, but a little bit goes a long way. It’s not like the place looks like a head shop, but the menu items are named after cannabis strains such as A-Train, Chronic, and Pakalolo. There are subtle touches of weed-leaf iconography. Friday-era Ice Cube’s picture is on the ice dispenser, and Ice-T’s mug decorates the teas.
The pièce de resistance, however, is on the north wall, a floor-to-ceiling mural of a cartoon rodeo, its bleachers busy with a cavalcade of cartoon characters from all parts of the recognizability spectrum: Toy Story’s Woody and Hank and Bobby Hill, as well as deep-cut characters like Marshal Bravestarr and Twinkie the Kid, most of them baked and blazed to hilarious proportions, puffing on equally cartoonish-sized joints.
It’s a fun thing to stare at, and it’s also a lot. Like last fall at a music festival in Sacramento, I was offered a joint made of one gram of Superglue and one gram of Mendo Breath, and all that ground-up, locally grown grass came wrapped in hash oil-cured paper, which was itself dusted in a layer of kief and then wrapped again in another sheet of hash oil-cured paper. “That’s an absurd amount of weed things,” I said as I exhaled. The same could be said about Cheba Hut’s mural.
If that sounds off-putting to you — and if the anecdote above reads like it was written in a foreign language — Cheba Hut will probably annoy you, and I concede that there are, like, 700 other options if you’re craving a club sandwich. And to be honest, for all the weedy whimsy abounding on its menu and walls, Cheba Hut makes a pretty good sandwich, but it probably won’t leave you in a state of stupefied amazement.
I had a turkey/roast beef sandwich called a G-13 that came topped with provolone, bacon, chipotle mayo, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato, and the chain’s signature “Shake & House Dressing,” (oregano and oil), served toasted — another signature Cheba Hut move — on a garlic bread roll. And, yeah, it was good. By comparison, it was far superior to anything from Subway and better than something similar from Jimmy John’s, Quiznos, or Jason’s Deli. My girlfriend, who is not a stoner herself but likes sandwiches as much as the rest of the world, ordered the portobello-based veggie sandwich called the Magic Mushroom, for which I offer the same assessment. Pretty good sandwiches, better than most chains, priced about the same as the others: 4-inchers for $6.49, 8-inchers for $10.39, and footlongs for $13.69. This being Cheba Hut, though, the sandwich lengths are measured as “nugs,” “pinners,” and “blunts.”
Other “pinners” that sounded good to me include the barbecue-chicken Acapulco Gold, a chicken-bacon-ranch delight named after quintessential 1990s weed strain White Widow, and the 5-0, about which the menu boasts, “ALL THE PIG, BABY!!” The sandwiches are also available in salad form, and other munchies include chips, cookies, Krispy Bars (made of various marshmallow-goo-ified breakfast cereals), pretzel bites, and cheesy garlic bread. But beyond those standard sandwich-shop options, Cheba Hut also offers a full bar that’s open ’til midnight and a daily happy hour between 4:20 and 7:10 p.m.
I had to ask what the 7:10 referred to, and, luckily, a friend of mine (also a stoner) happened to be there. “Punch it into a calculator, and turn it upside down — you get ‘oil,’ ” as in the stuff that goes in vape pens. At the time, we were gazing at the mural, trying to identify the characters, and I was surprised not to find Shaggy or Scooby — the two most famous stoner cartoon characters of all — among them. But I also realized that when you go to Cheba Hut, whether you’re there to sit down or carry out, you’ll probably see someone you know, and that person is probably someone you’ve ripped a bowl with. Given Cheba Hut’s bar and late-night hours, it is the rare sandwich shop where people might actually hang out.
To be honest, hanging out is what you’re going to do there anyway, because if Cheba Hut has one quirk that may hit you in a bad way if you don’t have the tolerance for it, it’s that the sandwiches take a while to appear. There’s a sign posted alerting customers to this leisurely approach to sandwich construction that says something to the effect of, “If you get your sandwich in five minutes, it’s a miracle,” so I assume that the longer-than-usual ticket times seem to be by design. But unless you are some prohibitionist lunatic who despises marijuana and marijuana culture, there’s lots to like at Cheba Hut, even if you’ve never inhaled. And if you identify with their branding, it’s a nice, kush-y spot.
Cheba Hut “Toasted” Subs
1217 8th Av, FW. 682-224-0021. 10am-midnight daily.
Cheba Hut “Toasted” Subs
G-13 pinner (8-inch) $10.39
Magic Mushroom pinner (8-inch) $10.39
Krispy Bar $2.99