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Potbelly Sandwich Works


Since Al Johns[Austin's finest source for a giant sub on a scratch baked loaf]closed after 34 years of operation I've been at loose ends.

I can't believe it's come to this but after reading the above article I'm thinking about trying Potbelly.

Is it any good?

My lone requirement is amazing bread.I'll sacrifice meat and cheese quality points but I have to have a scratch baked loaf that is blow your doors off good.

How're the buns at Potbelly?

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    1. I am truly puzzled by the success of this chain (Jimmy Johns, as well). If you have a semi-decent local sub shop in your area you're way ahead of the game.

      1. I don't get why people love this place so much (or Jimmy John's).It often gets voted best sandwich shop in DC. I think a lot of people enjoy the price more so than the food. The sandwiches are quite cheap. I really think they need to introduce grilled chicken sandwiches. I always get the impression the meats are very processed.

        1. Pretty much only good if you're in school and coming up with quarters to buy dinner or eating them for free at club meetings to avoid the dining hall.

          (which is why I guess I don't think it's too, too bad, but wouldn't recommend it to someone who is seriously searching for *the next good sandwich*)

          1. I can honestly say that I'm more drawn to Potbelly for their hand-dipped milkshakes, which I find to be *surprisingly* good. Yes, I have to ask them to make The Thickest Milkshake You've Ever Made (and I make them look me in the eye when I say it), but I've not been disappointed yet. Their chicken salad sandwich is merely okay. It's not expensive, so it's not exactly got a high bar to vault.

            The sandwich bread itself? If that's your make-or-break item, keep searching. It's generic, bland, and very mass-produced. Nothing of consequence at all.

            1. I *love* Potbelly and have been begging them to come to my city/area for years. We do NOT have any decent sub shops. Penn Station and Jimmy Johns are about all we have. Potbelly would be a big step up from that.

              We have one good sub shop that I know of and it's about 45 minutes away from where I live, not very conducive. There is another sandwich shop that has great food but they are only open for weekday lunches and are not downtown, where most of the employees in my city are, so I almost never get there.

              1. Best of the sub chains that I've tried -- certainly leagues above Subway and Blimpie's -- but "amazing bread" it isn't. The shakes and malts are very good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                  Agreed. Potbelly is far better than Subway or Blimpie or Quiznos, whose sandwiches manage to be terrible while shredding the roof of my mouth. What a great way to get rid of stale bread: toast it until it's inedible and make that your marketing pitch.

                  Subway manages the feat of making every sandwich, regardless of the contents, to taste identically bad. And their fresh baked "bread" has no flavor at all.

                  I believe Potbelly also allows online ordering, so that saves having to wait in the line.

                2. Alongside Potbelly, none of the other sub chains have any reason to exist. They are the only sub chain that I know of which offers giardinera, and for me that alone is not just a deal breaker but a deal pulverizer.

                  I'll always have a fond place in my heart for Potbelly (college nostalgia definitely has something to do with that) but if you are after fantastic bread, look elsewhere. I would call Potbelly's bread good enough for its intended purpose: to hold together the sandwich filling while providing a good crispy texture and inoffensive taste.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                    whoa, I didn't know that Potbelly offers giardiniera! Do they call it that? Or is that what they mean by "hot peppers"? If so does that really qualify?

                    And I must say that that bar they have there ... the Dream Bar I think ... is really quite heavenly.

                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      P.S. - I really love your user name. :-)

                      1. re: emmaleeb

                        Thanks for the compliment, and yes the "hot peppers" there are actually delicious giardiniera. The first time I had it was at Potbelly, before I even knew what it was called. The best thing is extra giardiniera doesn't cost anything there.

                      2. re: RealMenJulienne

                        All of the scrubways in the chicago area have giardiniera, and whatever brand they use, it's fiery. If subway used real meat, and real bread, I'd eat there three times a week at least. Lol - but what does meat and bread have to do with a sandwich? Subway is so funny to me.

                        Do ppl really think that stuff is turkey?

                      3. I'm kind of with you here. Sandwiches are ok - they at least use real mayo which is major bonus points from me. There is NOTHING worse than cheap sugar laden glop being called "mayo."

                        They used to use real meat in my area, now it's processed garbage.

                        If I go, I get chicken salad only now. But the star of their show to me is not the milkshakes although my s/o says they are great. The star here for me is their oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They are phenomenal IMO. I once talked one of their managers to sell me a tub of the dough. They come in 20 or 40 lb pails. I split it with a friend. sooooooo gooood. No problem using it up. Seriously, they are flippin fantastic.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: gordeaux

                          Oh yeah! I do like those cookies, too, but I'd still give the edge to the milkshakes. But good call. I'd completely forgotten about those.

                            1. re: Jacey

                              Then you gotta try their ice cream sandwiches, two warm oatmeal cookies on either side of a scoop of vanilla

                              1. re: Dnanana

                                All the Potbelly talk led me to Baguette House here in Austin.Under 3 dollars for a footlong Bahn Mi stuffed with homemade pate,pork loaf,homemade mayo,carrots,jalapenos and radish.On a baguette still warm from a giant rotating convection oven.

                                Are there any Vietnamese chains in the USA?

                                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                  Outside of Chinese and Benihana, I don't know if there are any Asian chains at all. At least, not nationally.

                                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                    I don't know how widespread they are, but Lee's Sandwiches is mostly vietnamese food. I know there are several smaller local vietnamese chains in the LA area.

                                  2. re: Dnanana

                                    Way too many calories and not worth it. 2 cookies (400X 2) plus ice cream is around 1,000 calories. No way.

                                    I think some people think Potbellys is better than it actually is because it's so cheap.

                                    1. re: Jacey

                                      it's waaay worth it - just not an everyday treat. maybe one a year.

                              2. Potbelly is good if you're connecting at Midway Airport. But if your landside, anywhere else, I'd probably go elsewhere. It's just OK and not that great of a value.

                                1. I've had the "Italian" before, and it was acceptable for what it was. I would never go if they had one in Boston, but it was fine in Bethesda.

                                  This weekend I tried the meatball. Very disappointing. The meatballs just kind of there. No sauce to speak of. Is this usual? Should I have asked them for more sauce? Also, I just remembered, I didn't taste the cheese. Weak.

                                  Has anyone ever tried the "Pizza" sub? That looked like it had potential for the next time I'm in the midwest and possibly eat there.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Alcachofa

                                    If you visit the Chicago area and go to Potbelly's for a sub you should give yourself a swift kick in the seat of your pants.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      All those great italian beef places in Chicago would make Potbelly a bad choice for sure.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        Um, OK. I've never been to Chicago, but I can't imagine going to a chain there, so... deal.

                                        However, the question still stands.

                                        1. re: Alcachofa

                                          I don't think any sandwich there is worth eating. I've had the pizza before and it was watered-down "Italian." Pretty much Ragu-flavors. Being a Chicagoan, I have 3 Potbelly locations within a 2-block radius of my office. That radius also includes Jimmy Johns, Quizno's and Subway. It ALSO includes about 3 local sub shops that make better sandwiches all around. Better bread (Gonella or Turano rolls), better deli meats and cheeses, and options like eggplant and chicken parmigiana. Even better, there's a place that does Cuban pressed sandwiches that are extraordinary.

                                          I can't imagine any town that can support a Potbelly (Quizno's/Subway/Jimmy John) that doesn't have a better local option nearby.

                                          1. re: ferret

                                            Isn't that true of any fastfood option? If you look a little harder, you can almost always find a better non-chain sandwich/burger/pizza. In DC, there are quite a few good sandwich options in the $10+ gourmet range, but little worth eating in the $5 price point besides Quiznos/Subway/Potbelly, the latter being the least revolting. No decent Cubans, a handful of decent Italian subs, a couple decent kebab/falafel/gyro shops, one good deli.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              As a general rule, yes. But places like Potbelly are lowest-common-denominator spots. The end product fails in both quality of ingredients and execution. Nearly all the places in my area that aren't chains tend to beat them on price, quality and overall satisfaction. So I'm genuinely stumped when I see long lines in the chain locations (and I've tried all the chains at one time or another, usually as a last resort).