I am by no means a stranger to Samiches which should be obvious by the way I just spelled that. No person in their right mind would ever spell sandwiches that way in a public forum without being a true fan. Although I don't recall him ever saying it that way, it was Joey Tribbiani's favorite food and there multiple good reasons why. First, they are fully customizable and delicious! Other foods may claim to be as varied (I'm looking your way pizza) but you can literally put anything in between anything else and call it a sandwich. This goes for anything including crackers, car accidents, and even sexual fantasies (read: threesomes and the like. Not actual sex with sandwiches. Or car accidents with sandwiches for that matter). And so it goes that I move away from Chicago, and very much like pizza, move away from my favorite sandwich.
How I thought I'd miss you dear Potbelly's. Truth be told, I do. Just not nearly as bad as I thought I would thanks to you, Blues City Deli.
The Counter at Blues City Deli
First of all, back story... Potbelly's started off in an antique shop somewhere in Chicago in the late 70's. The owner thought that it would be nice to have sandwiches for their customers when they were shopping during lunch. The key to these sandwiches was they would toast them. It wasn't long before people were spilling out on to the Chicago streets waiting in line for one of these sandwiches. And that's all it was for years. Just awesome sandwiches in and Antique shop. The antiques themselves became almost a decoration. By the 90's they started to open them up in other places in Chicago and now it's one of the fastest growing most promising chains in America. Sadly, they are not in St Louis yet. They are still mostly based in Chicago but are slowly branching out because they do not franchise.
Until then, if you ever have a layover in Midway Airport in Chicago, they have one near the food court. The line is usually pretty long. There are a couple of things that make this sandwich awesome. One is the bread. It toasts up perfectly and taste's much better than Quizno's in my opinion. The meats and cheeses are all obviously fresh but what makes this sandwich is the Potbelly's homemade giardiniera (a mixture of hot peppers and veggies found mainly in Chicago... SPICY). You must get the peppers, even if it's on the side. It truly makes the sandwich.
It wasn't very long into my stay here in St Louis, that someone mentioned to me Blues City Deli in Benton Park (just West of Soulard). Being a firm lover of Potbelly's I was initially doubtful. Especially because of so many people's unconscionable love of Jimmy Johns. I mean it's ok. But really guys? Best sandwich? Anyway, I read some reviews online and decided to check it out one Saturday. First thing I noticed when I walked in was Zapp's (awesomely bad website!) which was immediately a good sign. Growing up in New Orleans the only chips we ever had in the house were Zapp's. After we moved to Chicago we'd occasionally get the fam to ship some up. They were that good. Try the Craw-taters flavor.
I checked the menu for my go to sandwich at any new place. Roast Beef. The person at the counter is who I believe is the owner. Super nice guy. I mean really. Even just ordering a sandwich from him you could tell. (In subsequent visits I've also been served by who I believe is the owner's son. Equally awesome and nice. You feel very welcome here.) The Roast Beef Sandwich was out in a few minutes and I could feel the warmth through the bag. The place was very inviting to sit in but it was unfortunately full probably due to the live Jazz being played. Oh yeah... They do that here.
I hurried home and opened the bag to find a sandwich wrapped with thick white deli paper. Nice touch. When I opened it I found a half sliced italian bread loaded with tender, falling apart roast beef. This stuff had been cooked with care. It was by far the closest competitor to the awesomeness of Potbelly's possibly even besting my go to Chicago sandwich. It wasn't a one time thing either. After multiple visits it is becoming one my favorite St Louis haunts not only for it's food but it's atmosphere. Now if they did real N.O. Sno-balls in the summer this place would be packed.
Roast Beef on a Muffaletta Bun
Go there. Now.