If there's one thing New York is not short on, it's sandwiches. From the bodega across the street to the fancy sandwiches peppering the boroughs, it seems like we have it all. However, one can never have too many sandwiches, so a couple of national chains have moved on in to join the city's sandwich scene. Earl of Sandwich and Potbelly's both arrived in New York this summer and have already started expanding. It's easy to see why they're doing well. But are they any good? We decided we needed to grab a man who knew his way around a sandwich and have him decide. Enter No. 7 Sub's Tyler Kord, the man who has even managed to elevate humble bologna into a special meal between bread. We set out with Tyler, and an open mind, to see if the featured sandwiches at these chains are worthy of your lunchtime dollars.
Earl of Sandwich: The Full Montagu
Roast beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, Cheddar, lettuce, roma tomato, and "the Earl's mustard sauce."
Tyler came into the first Earl sandwich with high hopes after reading the description: "That sounds like a party. A sandwich party." He was pleased with the amount of meat included for the $5.99 price tag, but found that even with all those ingredients, it basically tasted like a hot dog. A "salty as balls" hot dog.
Earl of Sandwich: Italian
Salami, capicola, roasted ham, mortadella, mozzarella, roma tomato, and "zesty Italian dressing."
Earl's Italian tasted overwhelmingly of pepperoni, despite pepperoni not being an ingredient in the sandwich. "It tastes like a good slice of pepperoni pizza, crossed with a Hot Pocket. In a good way." Tyler found the bread portion "inoffensive, which in sandwiches is a good thing."
Earl of Sandwich: The Original 1762
Roast beef, Cheddar, and "creamy horseradish sauce."
This was the clear winner of the three Earl's sandwiches we tried. "I can actually tell what I'm eating!" Tyler said. "It tastes like roast beef, which is nice." It had an "Arby's flavor profile" (a good thing, as Tyler loves Arby's), but the meat was clearly beef, and not meat-flavored "sawdust, like at Arby's." However, the meat had some rainbow action on it, which is nice in the sky but not what you want to see on your beef.
Potbelly: Roast Beef
"Thin-sliced" beef and provolone.
Potbelly's roast beef disappointed as soon as it was unwrapped, and made it clear why the chain offers an "extra meat" option — the sandwich had just an ounce of roast beef on it (for comparison, a bodega sandwich usually has three or four ounces). It also had no taste. "This could literally be any protein. It could even be tofu, or seitan to get the texture right." The lack of flavor turned out to be what Tyler found most surprising, explaining that with all the chemicals at the disposal of factory farms, they could make their products taste like "unicorn meat" if they wanted to. Sadly, there were no unicorn horns on display at Potbelly.
Potbelly: The Italian
Capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, and provolone cheese.
Potbelly's Italian, unlike Earl's, did not taste solely of pepperoni. "It tastes the most like what you could get at a bodega, which is the ultimate sandwich in a way. It's kind of the standard." It definitely didn't need a purchase of extra meat; however, there was so much grease that eating more than a bite or two seemed like too much. "I'd pay extra to not eat that," Kord told us. A shame, because this would have been the winning Potbelly sandwich if not for the explosion of oil.
Potbelly: A Wreck
Salami, roast beef, turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese.
Another signature sandwich, another sandwich that tasted like a hot dog. Unfortunate, because this was the one we had heard the best things about from Midwestern friends. "This tastes like something people in the Midwest would love, but we live in New York," responded Tyler. The Wreck also suffered from lack of meat, but was the tastiest of the Potbelly bunch.
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