Potbelly Sandwich Toronto
Potbelly Sandwich Shop is kind of like a high end Subway, but that's perhaps selling it a bit short. They have the same basic elements of sandwiches, soups, salads, chili, cookies, juices, and breakfast, but also live music daily, shakes and craft beer.
The format is similar enough: you line up to give your order to a troop of sandwich makers behind the counter. There's the standard soda fountain and your sandwich comes wrapped in paper. The shop started in an antique store in Chicago in 1977 where the owner made sandwiches on a potbelly stove.
One hundred years ago this first Toronto location used to be a Muirhead Cafeteria, a photo of which is proudly displayed, then Silver Rail and the Evening Star headquarters. The interesting floor tile has been preserved, and the ornate ceiling preserved. There's a patio, and music is in the front area only.
The buffalo chicken sandwich ($6.99 - $8.99) isn't on the American menu, but weirdly Canadians apparently love it: grilled chicken breast, blue cheese, Frank's Red Hot and ranch. My theory is Canadians are maybe more used to actual sharp blue cheese, due to our access to Quebec French cheeses.
We try a meatball sammy ($5.99 - $7.99) to be classic. It's basic, but if it's a meaty, cheesy, grilled sandwich you're after on your lunch break, this ain't a bad way to go.
Their signature Wreck sandwich ($6.99 - $8.99) is a U.S. best seller and instantly my favourite, because how could you go wrong with four kinds of meat? It's salami, roast beef, turkey and ham with Swiss cheese. I feel like it's tasty because it doesn't try too hard, just a classic cold cuts sandwich without too many frills, familiar but zesty meats blending.
They also do ginormous Summer Fresh salads here. This is the tuna salad ($9.99), a scoop of their house-made white Albacore tuna salad, hard-boiled egg, grape tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers and avocado on top of their signature fifty-fifty blend of spinach and romaine. I tried it with Renee's low-fat poppy seed dressing, which was decently creamy, and the tuna salad added to that.
Their hand-scooped milkshakes are made with Chapman's vanilla. They come with teeny little cookies that have a hole in the middle so they can fit on special Potbelly cookie straws, but the milkshakes have been so popular in Canada that when we order one they've run out of the straws. Our oreo shake ($5.99) comes with little oreo cookies, and it's rich and smooth.
Photos by Hector Vasquez