The thing about college towns…..you never know when restaurants are open. I’ve tried my last three trips to eat at one of three places. Everytime I go, the buildings are locked up and dark leaving me to scramble to find something else.
On my most recent trip to East Lansing, I just wasn’t in the mood to keep looking. There was a perfectly good sandwich shop down the street and that’s what I was going to have for lunch.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a Chicago based chain that has been around since the late 1970’s…well, the original shop on North Lincoln Avenue has been anyway. They’ve been in the expansion game for a little over a decade.
I’ve eaten at other Potbelly stores before, but never the East Lansing location which is in the heart of downtown on the corner of Grand River Avenue and Mac. The restaurant occupies the bottom floor of the corner building.
The decor of all Potbelly Sandwich Shop’s is an homage to the original store which took over retail space formerly occupied by an antique store. Many of the decorations were leftover from that store. I always get the feeling that I’m in an old carriage house or something. The floors are antique-looking wood and there’s a wood loft that runs along the outside walls that is home to antique signs and knick knacks.
The order counter is a little wierd. You have to go all the way back in the corner to place your order. There’s a pop cooler on the wall and above that is the menu. Like I already mentioned, Potbelly is a sandwich shop that serves toasted submarine sandwiches. I ordered the Bigs Roast Beef. You can get the sandwich either regular or “Bigs” which is 30% more. You also get the choice of white or wheat bread. I chose the wheat.
The sandwich is piled up and toasted on a conveyor oven which makes the bread nice and crispy. When it comes out, there are a few choices of toppings. Not as many as some of their competitors, but they have one thing that really makes them stand out.
Besides the roast beef and provolone cheese that comes on the sandwich, the only thing I added were hot peppers. If you know anything about me, you know my favorite food outside of burgers is a Chicago-Style Italian beef with hot giardiniera. Potbelly was selling bottles of their hot peppers and while my sandwich was toasting, I picked one up and my mouth started salivating. It was a true, Chicago-style hot giardiniera with carrots, cauliflower, peppers and all the goodness I crave when I go home.
My sandwich was wrapped up and tucked into a little paper bag. I waited until I got back to my job site to eat. I was actually really happy with the sandwich. It almost tasted like an Italian beef. The giardiniera was spot on and provided most of the flavor. The other thing I really liked about the sandwich was the bread. It was so nice and crispy. There was a crunch in every bite which is something I really like.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop turned out to be a quick, cheap, delicious lunch. It wasn’t what I was going for when I left and I pretty much avoided the place when I actually lived in Lansing because I had eaten at a Potbelly in the past, but I’m glad I stopped in when I did.