It's just a few blocks away from the Freedom Trail (a 3-minute walk in a straight line from the Boston Massacre site), but Al's is on a different planet: the Mon-Fri workday planet of the young guys who labor in the neighborhood office buildings.
Al's customers are the kind of guys -- 21-55 -- who crave a foot-long sub, loaded with cheese and extras, for lunch. Frequently, this bounty is hauled back to the office, where it is consumed at the desk. That's one reason why Al's does not have significant seating -- just a few counter seats. They don't need them.
A bargain for tourists
For visitors to Boston, Al's can be a money-saving lunchtime audible: skip the touristically-inclined restaurants, and score an office special: $8.50 for a giant sub, a soda, and a bag of chips. And sample some Boston mid-day, work-day, culture.
If you don't have a desk nearby
You'll need a place to eat your hard-won Al's sub. Fortunately if the weather's nice, there are plenty of options. Start with the comfortable chairs scattered around Boston City Hall Plaza.
The view from the street
Here's a recently-updated Google Street View, below.
Al's on Yelp
Al's has an enthusiastic following on Yelp. It's ratings are consistently in the high 4's, flirting with 5's.
Max M's review, below, sums up the twin appeal of Al's: not just the size and the hefty flavor of the subs, but the aggressively energetic way that the lunchtime line of customers is managed. Many of the 150+ reviews warn potential customers to be prepared "to be yelled at."
Like to avoid confrontation? Check out a menu before you venture inside.
A "1 bite" video review
Check out this "1 bite" video review from a YouTube channel called "Subs and Stuff." Note that the reviewer actually takes 2 bites. Note, also, how long he considers his rating. This guy is paying close attention to his taste buds.