Let's take care of some background before we get to the list, so please bear with me. So, before I started law school, I used to go to Panera for lunch fairly frequently. Good sandwiches, salads and soups. Fairly healthy. Fresh. It was always good, if not that spectacular. I went there again recently and was not that impressed.
During the period I was studying for the bar (it was a truly joyous time) I ate at Subway way too often. Roasted chicken sandwich, toasted, most of the veggies. Good, but not great. It's not that it's not good, but I just can't eat Subway for a good bit. All this got me thinking about my favorite sandwich places. The places on this list are national chains and do not include banh mi (which I love, but, also ate way too often during the bar period). The places on this list are places where you can run in, get a sandwich, eat a decent mean, and go on with you day. Anyway, on to the list.
1. Which Wich. This is new to the Houston area and is awesome. If you haven't been there, you should go immediately. When you walk in, you are handed a marker and a bag where you select by check mark everything you want on your sandwich. You can get as many kinds of mustard as you want, and you know how big that is for me and my family. It's all up to you, and they'll make it fresh for you. It's the best sandwich out there.
2. Jersey Mike's. This is a close second, and would win if there was only more variety. There is not much customization available. But, on a positive note, they make a great club sandwich. Everything is freshly cut, so that's another plus.
3. Antone's. This is a Houston institution, even if many of the stores are closing down or being bought out. Thankfully, they are still available in grocery stores. The turkey and Swiss is the best out there. Customization is non-existent, but not much is needed.
4. Firehouse Subs. Another good sandwich. I've only had this once (thanks again Michelle) and was impressed. The sandwich could have been bigger (Potbelly has the same pitfall) but it was good.
5. Panera. The freshness is a strong positive. The soups are always good, as are the salads. There are also a good number of sandwich options on the menu. The recent visit, I'm assuming, was an aberration, and I will keep it high on the list. Perhaps for old times sake.
6. Jason's Deli. My only complaint is that they seemingly all close early. There is a great deal of variety and I've never been disappointed. I've never been blown away, either, but there is something to be said for consistency.
7. Potbelly. There is a new larger option that works well. I like the hot peppers they offer. Freshly toasted is a major plus. Had I not eaten Potbelly before nearly every law school final, I'd go there more often and not be tired of it as I am still.
8. Subway. Again, consistency has virtue. The commercials are horrible. I think Jared was a loser and the 5 dollar footlong campaign is nearly as annoying as the Jack in the Box mini sirloin burgers. But the sandwiches are good. I do get annoyed at the weed heads who work at the Subway on Waugh at Allen Parkway who make me repeat everything 2 or 3 times before they remember "wheat" and then "chicken" before the chore of picking out the veggies.
9. Quizno's. I don't really like Quizno's. The sandwiches are expensive and when the employees weigh the meat before putting it on a sandwich, it's very off-putting. If I get an extra slice of turkey, is the corporation going to fold? I didn't think so. Quit being so stingy. But I do like Quizno's more than the next two entries.
10. Jimmy John's. I realize many of you like Jimmy John's and maybe I'm missing something, but I've never liked it. I don't like the bread, I don't like the meat, I don't like any of it. I don't care if you deliver, your sandwiches taste like roadkill (I'm not entirely sold on that joke, but I'm going with it anyway)
11. Blimpie's. And this is a looooowww eleven. This is the worst place. The meat is not cold. It's warm. But not toasted. Room temperature. I realize I'm an old fashioned kind of guy, but I'm definitely pro-refrigeration. This is a must. I don't think I'm being unreasonable in not wanting a side of botulism with my ham and cheese.