Who knew going out for a great sandwich at a particular place would be something so many others on motorcycles would think of. But we should have seen that coming.
On Sunday, April 17, Elaine and I headed off on a 156-mile circuit in the best weather so far that year, approaching 70 degrees. The riding couldn’t have been better, which we expected. And the food couldn’t have been better, which we also expected. That’s because we headed to Big G’s.
If you’ve never been, then cancel all your riding plans the next day off you have with great weather—no matter where you are. This might be challenging if you’re coming from Madawaska, but it’ll be worth it.
Big G’s is legendary in Winslow, and indeed in the entire Waterville area—heck, it’s legendary well beyond that. What began as a small sandwich shop in 1986 is today a 200-seat restaurant occupying 5,400 square feet and sitting on 1.5 acres. Lots of that acreage is parking lot, which is enormously important during weekend meal times, because the lot gets packed full. The day we headed down there, evidently just about every motorcyclist around got the same idea, because it looked like someone had started Winslow Bike Week when we got there.
But crowds are the norm at Big G’s, and the staff keeps the line moving. The sandwiches are incredible—I speak from years of trips there, so this wasn’t just a lucky visit. Big G’s makes its own bread, and when you order a whole sandwich, be sure you either have room in your belly or room in your saddlebags to take the rest home. For the not-quite-so-hungry, you can order a half-sandwich. For my money, that doesn’t even make sense; order the whole sandwich and take it with you. It’s just as good later… or so I’m told. I’ve never failed to finish a sandwich, but then I’m part pig, part Pac-Man, mostly gluttonous, and all Irishman.
The sandwiches cover a wide range of styles, many of them incredibly creative in the mix of ingredients. If you prefer the basics, there’s even a “Plain Sandwiches” category. Now, when you settle down to eat, don’t expect to hear yourself think when the place is busy, because everyone from legions of motorcyclists to piles of kids to sports teams and church groups and locals and so on will be making plenty of noise. But you won’t care when you start eating.
My favorite sandwich has always been the Wisecrack, so I can only tell you about that one specifically. It’s ham, pepperoni, provolone, tomatoes, and onions, and with just the right amount of hot mustard. I could eat one every day.
For the hungry motorcyclist, Big G’s is the perfect way station to put down the kickstand and fuel up your body before hitting the asphalt for another bunch of miles. You’ll even get a chuckle out of some of the celebrity-themed sandwiches: the Richard Simmons, the Cher, the Johnny Carson. There are some local celebs, too: the Cindy Blodgett (turkey, no fowl—HAH!) and the Jolly John (lots of bologna—ba-dum-BUMP!), for example. There are other fun ones, like the Foghorn Leghorn (chicken salad), the Dudley Do-Right (it has Canadian bacon) and even the Sea Pig (seafood salad with melted cheese and bacon).
And don’t think you’re limited to sandwiches at lunchtime, either. Big G’s is open for breakfast with all the usual short-order fare, so if you’re in the neighborhood it can serve as the perfect launch point to begin your day’s ride.
Whatever you do, don’t take my word for it. You have to enjoy it to see what I’m talking about. I can tell you that that great Sunday that we were there we personally saw at least five dozen bikers coming through, and plenty of them sat down to eat. None of them complained. And when you have a bunch of guys with SONS OF ARMAGEDDON on their leather, you suspect that if they had a problem with the food, they’d have said something. Nope; there were nothing but smiles and enjoyed meals from where we sat.
And if you don’t believe me and the apparent satisfaction of the all the other motorcyclists there, then believe Down East Magazine. According to Big G’s Web site, in 2005 the magazine included Big G’s on its list of “150 Reasons to Give Thanks We Live in Maine.”
And if you STILL won’t believe any of us… then you are clearly an alien from another galaxy who does not require food. Or you ride a bicycle with a banana seat and pink streamers instead of a motorcycle. Really, get down to Big G’s and order a sandwich, will you?
Oh, and one more thing: Save room for dessert. I highly recommend the whoopie pies. In fact, grab a pair on your way out; if you don’t eat them, you might be able to use them as spare tires on your bike.
We took a whoopie pie home, because I already had a dessert destination in mind.
Learn more about Big G’s Deli and check out its menu at www.big-g-s-deli.com.