Take a tasty sandwich tour around the world of chain stores that are redefining the portable meal experience. This post will walk you through a carefully chosen list of sandwich shops from different chains that each provide a delectable and distinctive experience. The world of chain sandwich shops is a treasure trove of flavors and variety, from the customizable delights of Subway to the artisanal creations at Jersey Mike’s Subs and the hearty classics from Potbelly Sandwich Shop. Every restaurant adds a unique touch, whether it’s through unique bread options, spreads, or fresh ingredients. Our investigation honors these exceptional chain sandwich shops, presenting their varied menus and emphasizing the qualities that make each a must-go-to place for sandwich enthusiasts. Come along with us as we explore these gastronomic paradises, assisting you in enjoying the greatest and most flavorful selections that completely redefine what a perfect sandwich is.
Potbelly is a popular sandwich chain started in 1977 by Peter Hastings in Chicago. However, it only grew to become a sandwich chain Bryant Kiel purchased the shop and expanded it, starting in 1996. Potbelly is known for its thick, juicy, and scrumptious sandwiches that don’t skimp on ingredients. They have classic sandwich options such as Italian, Mediterranean, roast beef, and tuna salad. But they also sometimes offer specialty sandwiches, such as “A Wreck,” which includes hickory smoked ham, turkey breast, roast beef, salami, and Swiss cheese. I love all their sandwiches, but I especially love their hot peppers, which you can add to any order.
Jersey Mike’s gets its name from the town it originated in as well as the name of the founder. Mike opened his shop, originally called “Mike’s Subs,” in New Jersey in 1956. Now, the popular chain has over 2000 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Its focus on quality ingredients sets Jersey Mike’s apart from other sandwich chains. All the meat and produce are fresh, and the bread is baked in-house daily. One of my favorite sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s is their “Original Italian,” which includes ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami, pepperoni, and provolone. It’s just as good as any Jersey-style Italian sub, in my opinion.
Another sandwich chain that started in New Jersey is called Blimpie, which began in 1964 and has changed drastically since. I appreciate that Blimpie offers three main types of sandwiches: cold deli-style subs, hot and juicy subs, and tasty pressed paninis. I love their paninis the most, especially because you can opt to get them on traditional ciabatta bread or switch things up and go for pretzel bread. The buffalo chicken sandwich on pretzel bread is one of my favorite orders at Blimpie. It comes with chicken breasts, tomatoes, onions, and provolone. To top things off, you get two of my favorite tasty dressings: ranch and Frank’s Redhot hot sauce.
Firehouse Subs was founded by two firefighters — Chris and Robin Sorensen — in 1994, and it has since expanded to over 1000 locations. This sandwich chain is known for its hearty and filling sandwiches, which are perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. Firehouse subs also specialize in hot sandwiches, which is fitting for the name! However, you can choose to order any of their hot subs cold if you’d like. They also provide the options of ordering a specialty sub or building your own sub. My favorite sandwiches from Firehouse Subs are the Firehouse Steak and Cheese, which is similar to a classic cheesesteak, and the Spicy Cajun Chicken, which includes jalapenos, cajun mayo, and pepper jack cheese.
Jimmy John’s is one of the best sandwich chains in America for convenience and for catering, and Jimmy John Liautaud founded it in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois. What makes Jimmy John’s stand out is the quality of sandwiches you can get at a quick pace and at a low price. I love Jimmy John’s simple yet fresh and tasty bread, along with their standard sandwich options that don’t ever give me decision fatigue. Jimmy John’s has unique names for some of its sandwiches, including but not limited to:
- Beach Club
- Country Club
- Bootlegger Club
- Ultimate Porker
- Italian Night Club
But overall, you’re not getting anything too crazy in the sandwiches beyond cold-cut meats, lettuce, and tomato. You’ll have bacon, onion, mustard, and other ingredients mixed in here and there, differentiating one sandwich from another.
Another popular American sandwich chain is Quizno’s, which started in 1981 in Denver, Colorado. Quiznos is very different from more classically-oriented chains like Jimmy John’s in that it specializes in more inventive toasted subs. For example, you can get a sub with hickory smoked burnt ends, a southwest chicken sandwich, a chicken carbonara sandwich, or a French dip sandwich that comes with a side of Au Jus. My favorite Quiznos sub is the Chipotle Steak and Cheddar because it has a similar appeal as a cheesesteak, with peppers and onions included, but with sharp, melted cheddar cheese and smoky chipotle mayo — yum!
Subway is the most famous sandwich chain in America, and it was founded by Peter Buck and Fred DeLuca in 1965. Not only is it popular in America, but it’s one of the largest fast food chains in the world, with over 42,000 locations globally. What makes Subway stand out is the build-your-own-sandwich approach that allows customers to create their perfect sandwich which just the right type and amount of ingredients. You can also choose from various pre-made sandwiches if you’re indecisive or just want something classic. When I go into Subway, my usual order includes turkey, ham, bacon, almost all of the veggies, salt, pepper, and chipotle mayo to top it all off.
Panera Bread is one of my favorite sandwich chains, and it’s also a great place to go if you want a healthy sandwich option. Panera Bread was founded in 1987 by Ron Shaich and Louis Kane, and it now has over 2,000 locations. Panera Bread is known for its wide variety of fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries. My favorite sandwich from Panera is the Toasted Frontega Chicken, which includes pulled chicken, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, fresh basil, and chipotle sauce. This sandwich stands out because it’s all on fresh, black pepper focaccia bread. Like their grilled mac and cheese sandwich, the Frontega is not the healthiest option, but it’s certainly one of the tastiest!
Pret a Manger
Pret a Manager is one of the popular sandwich shops in America that actually did not start in America, but in London, in 1986. There are now over 600 shops, 80 of which are in the U.S, and most of those (63) are in New York. There are a ton of sandwich places to choose from when I’m in New York, but Pret a Manager isn’t a bad option because of its reliability, consistency, and simplicity. I usually go for a chicken salad and avocado sandwich if I’m feeling healthy or one of their larger baguette sandwiches if I’m feeling hungry. You can’t go wrong with Pret’s Famous Ham and Cheese baguette because it is straightforward yet uses high-quality ingredients and always tastes fresh and delightful.
Schlotzcky’s, founded in 1971 in Austin, Texas, has over 330 locations across the States and offers a delicious array of burger-shaped sandwiches. The “Original” Schlotzsky’s is my favorite pick because it includes my two favorite cold-cut types of meat — ham and salami — along with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard, and three different kinds of cheese! Beyond that, it includes their signature sauce, which is vinegary, potent, and delightful all at once.
Which Wich is an excellent sandwich chain and the youngest on this list as it started only in 2003 by Jeff Sinelli in Dallas, Texas. The ordering process at Which Wich is my favorite aspect. You get to choose your favorite ingredients and create your own sandwich, but you don’t have the “stage fright” feeling of being asked what you want behind the counter as you do at Subway and other counter-serve restaurants. Instead, you take an order form and can take as long as you want to checkmark all of your favorite fixings. They have a variety of protein base options, including a black bean patty for vegetarians and practically every topping you can think of! Check out other chain restaurants that offer vegetarian dishes. As a fan of spice, I also appreciate that they have four different types of pepper toppings.