Jamba Juice vs. Potbelly: A Battle For Steel Cut Oat Supremacy

Potbelly Rock Center

It’s not all that uncommon that I run out the door without something to eat in the morning so I was pretty excited to see that Potbelly in Rock Center is now serving breakfast. And even more excited to see that they had steel cut oats. I’m a big steel cut oatmeal fan and I usually splurge for the oatmeal at Jamba Juice, so I had to see how Potbelly stacked up.

Potbelly Oatmeal

Let’s just say it was a big disappointment.  I’m guessing that someone at Potbelly must have misread the recipe because instead of a pinch of salt these oats were crazy salty. How salty? Let’s just say I’ve had cheap ramen with less sodium. If I had tasted this on the premise I would have demanded a refund on the spot, but I was already back at my desk and soon too wrapped up in work to return my oatmeal. Aside from the saltiness issue, I found that the Potbelly oats were just generally overcooked and lacked the toothsomeness that I’ve come to expect from steel cut oats.

Jamba Juice Oatmeal

While I’m not the biggest Jamba Juice fan, I do think if you like steel cut oats they do a great job. The oatmeal is available all day (a plus for if you’re looking for a cheap afternoon snack or if you’re like me and enjoy breakfast for lunch) and the staff at the Rock Center does a good job cooking it so that it’s never been gloppy, runny or dry in my experience (and the oatmeal texture doesn’t seem to vary as much based on time of day at the Rock Center branch).  And it’s never ever tasted like a salt lick.

Has anyone else tried the oatmeal at Potbelly? Was my experience isolated? Should I give them another shot?


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    Since there are a ton of them in Midtown, Pret is serving steel cut oatmeal now as well. It’s more along the lines of the Jamba variety.

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    What’s the difference in the cost of the Jamba vs Potbelly? Jamba is around $2.75 in Penn Station, whereas I think it’s over $3.25 in Midtown.

    Jamba tends to leave a lot of room for toppings regardless of which you get. Obviously, bananas take up more room than just brown sugar.

    I think Pret’s pricing is: $1.99/sm and $2.99/lg.

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    Regardless of what you all may think, I did not have oatmeal this morning for breakfast.

  • Potbelly was 3.10 with tax. I’ll have to double check the Jamba price. I think it was 2.99 plus tax, but if you ask for the Rock Center discount, it comes in under $3. I’ll have to give Pret another shot. I had it last year and was very disappointed, for “posh porridge” it was pretty plain and kind of gloppy. Looking forward to giving it another try!

  • Breakfast is so 1983! Real men drink diet coke and eat tic tacs for breakfast!

  • I prefer brass cut oatmeal.

  • An alternative for thrifty/discerning ML’ers is the Trader Joe’s frozen steel cut oatmeal. 2 full servings (plastic-wrapped frozen discs) for only about $1.50; just heat in a bowl for 3 min. in the microwave, with a stir in the middle. It’s really good, with just a hint of maple syrup and brown sugar but not very sweet, so you can add any toppings/mix-ins (but I like it as-is). Great texture too, and I rank it better than the JJ and Starbucks offerings. (Have not tried the oatmeal from Pret or Potbelly.)

    [Diclaimer: I'm not a TJ's employee or shill; I'm just addicted to their food!]

  • I haven’t had oatmeal for breakfast in ages.
    Is this going to be a being craze than cupcakes? Probably not.

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    Jamba Juice at the port authority has the oatmeal for $1 on wednesdays including any topping.

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