The Harbinger Online

Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop Lives Up to Promise

Potbelly IPOIn Chicago, Potbelly’s was and is my favorite sandwich shop. I craved it when I was there, and even more so when I wasn’t. But now that we have one on the Plaza, I can eat there whenever I want.

Potbelly’s promise is “Fresh. Fast. Friendly.” And they live up to it. Their food tasted fresh, I got my sandwich fast and the guy behind the counter was friendly. Upon entering the small shop my first task was to pick a sandwich. There wasn’t a huge selection so the choice wasn’t too difficult. I chose my favorite, “A Wreck”, made with salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and swiss cheese.  I highly recommend it, especially for those who are indecisive like me, since it includes almost everything.

The ordering style was typical of a sandwich shop, with a just-below-shoulder-height (for me) wooden counter and little conveyor belt oven in the center. The wait for the sandwich to be toasted (which is what makes a sandwich wonderful in my opinion) was short, and afterward I chose the condiments I wanted. I got mayo, a little mustard and lettuce. The whole process went by quickly, which I was happy about since I was dying to eat. And on top of all that it was cheap too, being less than five bucks.

Walking in, I thought the place looked pretty cool. It was small, but the tables were relatively spread out. The thing that got me was a feeling that they were trying almost too hard to be cool. I got the feeling that they were definitely trying t to copy the original, older shop in Chicago.  Because of that, a lot of the “indie” factors came across very forced. The menu included not only the ingredients, but also a calorie count. Personally that’s not something I care to see on a huge sign.

I think it is just an attempt to draw in hipsters and instead of achieving the health conscious vibe, it just came across as a little insincere. The walls were decorated with collection of newspaper clippings and pretty stereotypical art pieces. Since those were scattered throughout the room, there was a lot of bare wall space. This is probably due to the restaurant being pretty new, having not had the time to gather collectables yet. I could tell they were trying, but it just looked kind of awkward. I think that, with time, Potbelly’s look will become more natural. But for now, they are stuck looking brand new no matter how much they want to look vintage.

Even with all that, Potbelly still makes a killer sandwich and when you get down to it, that’s what matters. Having gone through the oven for the perfect amount of time, the bread was crunchy and warm without being burned or sloppy. The cheese was melted but not greasy, and the condiments were not so intense that they were overwhelming. A perfect sandwich. Plus, they also offer chips, milkshakes, cookies, a multitude of drink options and pickles.

Even if their decorating does make them seem fake, that isn’t enough to deter me from going back. Their sandwiches are just too good to not have again, and I can live through the hipster eating experience for that.

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