Cheba Hut helps with munchies

By Elizabeth Thompson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cheba Hut, the newly opened, marijuana-themed sandwich shop on Sixth Street is the perfect example of the seemingly brilliant - but totally unrealistic - business enterprises people might come up with when they're stoned.

Or, what they want you to think they came up when they were stoned.

While some people smoke pot and say things like, "I should totally open an indoor snowboarding park in Hawaii," they usually end up watching that Cirque du Soleil special on Bravo and forgetting all about it. In Cheba Hut's case, however, somebody said, "I should totally open up sub shops in college towns where EVERYTHING is a reference to weed," and it actually happened.

When walking into Cheba Hut, you're sucked into a weird pothead vortex where you're not sure if the restaurant's barrage of decorations are really stupid or really hilarious. Besides obligatory posters of Cheech and Chong, The Grateful Dead, and a ton of other bands who love the bubonic chronic, the walls feature a trippy, jungle-themed mural that doesn't make any sense. In one part of the mural, a man in a safari hat with an arrow through the top of it peers out from behind some leaves, while Bob Marley's head floats nearby, surrounded by stars. Even if you aren't stoned when you go in, you'll feel like you are when you leave.

But the decor is only the beginning of the innuendo-laden, "dude, do you get it?" theme of Cheba Hut. The menu features 25 toasted subs with names like the "Chronic," a barbecued beef sub, or a spicy chicken and jalapeno combination named "The Schwag." Sub sizes come in four-inch "nugs," eight-inch "pinners," or 12-inch "blunts."

While the sandwich list features beef, turkey, chicken and bologna, it also caters to vegetarians with both eggplant and portabella mushroom sandwiches. The "Griefo" featured a fairly run-of-the-mill veggie selection but caught our attention with pepper jack cheese, guacamole and hemp cream cheese.

While the Griefo sounded interesting, we decided cream cheese should never contain ingredients you can make clothing with. Instead, we opted for Majic Mushrooms, ($2.69) portabella mushrooms and melted Monterey Jack cheese, and The White Widow, ($2.69) a grilled chicken sandwich with a delightfully tangy ranch sauce and melted provolone and parmesan.

The Majic Mushrooms sub would have hit the spot with a little more flavor, and who kicked ourselves for forgoing the offered mayonnaise, mustard and fresh vegetables. The White Widow, however, did not disappoint. The tangy ranch sauce combined with the melted Monterey Jack was chock-full of tastiness, and none of the various condiments offered were needed.

We also enjoyed a tomato melt ($2.49) off of the "cotton mouth cures and munchies" menu, which was filling enough to be had on its own or shared. Fresh tomato slices came smothered in evenly melted mozzarella on toasted garlic bread, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top. With your choice of regular or vegetarian marinara dipping sauce, it was very pizza-esque and delicious.

While the sound of hemp cream cheese scared us a little, we bit the bullet and ordered a hemp brownie for dessert ($1.95). The brownie came with a layer of hemp seeds on top, but didn't have the creepy aftertaste we had expected. The texture was the only thing affected by the addition of the hemp, which made it denser and moister than a regular brownie.

Not only does Cheba Hut serve up delicious, healthy-ish food, but they do it for cheap. Two pinners, a tomato melt, a hemp brownie and two drinks only set us back about $12, leaving us with plenty left over to buy a nickel sack and slurpees on the way home.

And, as promised by the sign out front that says "where the only thing fried is an occasional customer," one apparently stoned patron became panicked when he couldn't figure out how to find the exit to a side patio. Maybe he was frightened by the giant, faux joint hanging over the cash register, or the giant hookah behind the counter, or the giant framed picture of Tupac and Snoop in the bathroom, or, maybe he had just smoked too much pot. Either way, his paranoid presence added a little authenticity to the otherwise slightly hackneyed decor.

Overall, Cheba Hut was worth "the trip." The food was far tastier and fresher than any other campus sub places. Give it time, and Cheba Hut will be "high" on the list of Tucson's favorite sandwich shops. (Dude, do you get it?)