First Look: Potbelly’s Sandwiches Just Might Win You Over

When I first heard that Potbelly Sandwich Shop was opening its first New York City location just down the street from my office I kind of rolled my eyes and uttered a “meh.” To me it was just another addition to what I like to call “Chain Row” between Water St. & Gold, and really, why would I get excited about another sandwich chain? Well, the store opened yesterday and of course I had to go check it out even though that meant waiting in a line that stretched down the block. It wasn’t until I unwrapped my lunch that some of my skepticism dropped away.

According to a PR person, this is the first of four Potbelly locations opening in NYC by the end of the year. There are two others listed on the company’s Web site – one on E. 17th St. in the Flatiron district and another in Midtown East on E. 44th St.

When I got inside the shop after a short wait I was greeted by both a woman handing out menus and asking if I had questions, and a guy sitting on a stool wailing a soul standard with his acoustic guitar.

My order of an Italian sandwich ($5.80) on wheat with marinara sauce (thanks to lunch’er Dave for the suggestion!) was taken while I was still in line by a guy with an iPad-ish device.  All I had to do when my sandwich came barreling out of the conveyer-belt toaster was ask for some hot peppers to be added.

When I sat down and unwrapped my sandwich, I realized this was going to be a grease bomb since two layers of paper and the bag the sandwich was in were soaked through with oil. That would be because of the pepperoni, capicola, mortadella and salami which, other than the provolone among the meats and hot peppers, were what this sandwich was made of.

I liked the small amount of marinara that was put on the sandwich because it cut a little of the grease, and the toasted bread did a good job of soaking everything up and not disintegrating. And those peppers? It’s more of a pickled pepper relish involving carrots, jalapenos and cauliflower and it was freaking amazing. They sell jars of the stuff and I’m seriously considering buying some.

I was tempted by the shakes ($3.20) but after eating this grease-fest of a sandwich I instead went with two mini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies ($1.15). They bake their cookies fresh each day and I’d have to say they were delicious.

In the end even I – a cynical blogger who writes about lunch – was swayed towards the pro-Potbelly camp because I can’t deny the food was good. Or maybe it was the hot peppers…

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I don’t have to shell out more than $10 for lunch!
  • The old-timey decorating scheme is like eating at my grandma’s.
  • Hot peppers does not do justice to this condiment.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I’m anti-sandwich chain.
  • None of the sandwiches are really original.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, 101 Maiden Lane (at Gold), (646) 289-4201



  • I’m opposed to the homogenization of my lunch-time options. I say “Boo!” to Potbelly and all of its kind.

  • I had the Pizza sandwich on wheat with hot peppers and was equally impressed by the quiality AND the price! $5.80 for sandwich with higher quality than Quiznos in FiDi…say it ain’t so!!! It was yummo and will now be my go-to sandwich spot for lunch! Btw, the chips are $1.10..cheaper than what Duane Reade charges!

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    The shakes, if I recall correctly, are smaller than the shakes you get at most places, and that’s a good thing.

    The veggie sandwich is also pretty awesome (as far as veggie sandwiches go). I’m going to get one tomorrow.

  • The 4th location will be in the Rock Center concourse, i believe.

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    Potbelly’s was in my college town and totally meh. It’s fine for a sandwich I guess, but I don’t understand the fan following.

    The one thing I really enjoy is the little cookie with a hole in the middle they put on your shake straw though.

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    I ate at Potbelly’s yesterday and was unimpressed. I ordered a Roast Beef Sandwich with Provolone. The bread was ok, but the roast beef was clearly processed. It’s like Quiznos with better decor.

  • Just tried. Overpriced, processed CRAP.

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