Payfair sub: A sub from Payfair with some drinks and chips is perfect for a beach outing. SAMANATHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

Any time I bring up Payfair in Tavernier, someone will undoubtedly comment how they’ve been getting subs there since they were in high school. 

This quaint little grocery store is a quick hop from Coral Shores High School, at MM 90, the perfect distance to grab a speedy lunch. People from all graduating years have fond memories of this, especially since Payfair opened in 1961. You can’t help but feel the Keys history when you walk through the doors — this place is frozen in time. I always say I hope absolutely nothing ever changes about this local gem; it just has that simple small island charm. 

They’re mainly known for their steak selection and fresh subs. You’ll find the deli in the back of the store and a Payfair employee all happy and waiting for you to order your hoagie. If you’re pressed for time, you can call ahead and have it ready to go for you when you arrive. Their meat is sliced per order and they use all Boar’s Head products. 

Over the years, my go-to orders have changed, but my current favorite is Boar’s Head London port roast beef, Swiss, a hybrid mayo horseradish mix, deli mustard, lettuce and tomato — cut in half of course. I never even knew my favorite existed before Payfair. When I was customizing my sub many years ago, the Payfair sub master suggested I give it a try based on other things I liked and that he’s seen me order. You don’t see that level of care in corporate grocery stores.

I’ve seen some crazy combinations that really surprised me with how good they tasted. My fiancé’s go-to is Boar’s Head BBQ chicken, provolone, lettuce, pickles, sweet peppers, black olives, mustard and tops it off with barbecue sauce. We each order our own sub and save half for lunch the next day. 

You can easily fill up two tummies with one sandwich. They slice a half pound of meat for each full sub. They don’t skimp on the toppings either. All of it comes at a very reasonable price, which we know is rare nowadays. It’s $6.99 for a half a sub and $13.95 for a full sub. I love a good ole Publix sub more than anyone I know, but Payfair sandwiches just hit the spot differently. It has a little more love and care in it. There’s nothing better than getting some unexpected free time in the day, going to Payfair and grabbing a sub. Finding a little spot for myself in the sand at Founders Park Beach and having the world’s best lunch view. Go support our local hometown grocery store.

Samantha Dellilo has been in the Keys since she was 1 day old, so definitely consider her a Conch. Holding a passion for food since she can remember, while most kids were watching Barney, she was watching Emeril. "Being half Cuban and half Italian, food in those cultures is considered a love language. It's a total experience whether eating out or cooking." She's been with her other half, Marky, going on 17 years. The two met when they were 9 years old at Key Largo School. Samantha owns Florida Keys Eats, which is a blog of "must eat, must see, and must dos" from Key Largo to Key West.