I remember when downtown lunch options could easily be listed on one hand...one pleading, shaking hand begging for more places to choose from when heading out for a midday munch.
The last few years have been good to us downtown workers, All the Fourth Street Live eateries opened, then Caviar, Safir, Sol Azteca, Qdoba, Panera and many others. But for the last couple of months I have been anxiously awaiting the opening on 4th street of Potbelly Sandwiches.
I visited the original Potbelly on a trip to Chicago in the mid-90's, it was absolutely amazing. The sights, smells, sounds and tastes of a small independent sandwich shop was delicious in everyway. In 1996, Bryant Kiel bought the original Chicago shop and started expanding.
The "institutional" version is a paler copy of that original shop, but still tasty. I visited opening week, and the again last week and while not a RAVE place for me. It's good.
The sandwiches were satisfying, but stopped short of outstanding. They have lots of options, but THE WRECK, Salami, Roast Beef, Turkey, Ham and Swiss Cheese is a favorite. The soups were the same, good but not noteworthy.
The staff is friendly and helpful. However, Potbelly works a little differently, so take note. When you enter the shop, you are greeted by a worker with a modified tablet computer. You choose your bread, choose your meat & cheese, choose your sides. Prices are ala carte.
I do love that they list the calorie count, and if you want a tasty sandwich but fewer calories, Potbelly offers "thin-cut" bread, it helps eliminate some of those carbs.
So welcome Potbelly, a paler version is better than not having you.
Photos by George Lindsey