Sandwich City serves more than just sandwiches?
That was my surprised thought as my friend Becca and I surveyed the diner’s interior, warm with the scents of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and Southern veggies.
Sandwich City has been a downtown staple for 44 years, in a nondescript building set off of 10th Street. I’ve always thought of it as “that little sandwich place,” but I was wrong about not only the sandwiches.
The diner is huge on the inside, lined with framed photos of old Augusta and plenty of magazine and newspaper clippings on Sandwich City itself. During lunch (it’s also open for breakfast), it does a brisk business of dine-ins and takeouts for its sandwiches, soups, salads and its weekly specials.
Although the meat and two was calling to me (the day’s special was lasagna), I decided that I really needed to start with the restaurant’s namesake (plus Becca was only eating a sandwich – and I couldn’t break the unspoken rule of womanhood by ordering a huge platter of food in comparison!).
But how to choose?
The diner offers everything from breakfast sandwiches to hot dogs or patty melts to cold cut sandwiches. Faced with so many choices, I went for the homey one – the humble egg salad sandwich – and Becca went a similar route with a BLT.
Egg salad is a deceptively simple sandwich, but this one was served up just the way I’d make it at home – on lightly toasted wheat with a lettuce leaf and sliced tomato.
We took our little Styrofoam plates to one of the oilcloth-covered tables (black and white check) and dug in. The homemade egg salad was dense but creamy, heavy on the yolk and well seasoned. It was a classic, “but you should come back for the pork chops on Wednesdays,” manager Mike Mulherin told me while I was paying.
About a month later, I took him up on it, this time with my friend Catherine. Like me, the girl can eat, so we both chose the chops and my sides of choice were mac and cheese, collards and a huge square of cornbread, while Catherine swapped the pasta for field peas.
Sandwich City is known to attract Augusta’s movers and shakers – and this time, like last time, was no different. During my first visit, I think I saw nearly the entire staff of advertising and marketing agency Wier/Stewart drop by for to-go orders, and this time, we ran into owner Daniel once again (who happens to be Catherine’s husband – “This is our cafeteria!” he said with a laugh), and Catherine waved and said hello to a few other folks too.
Once I tasted my meal, I could see why the restaurant has so many regulars. My sandwich was good, but the meat and two? Fantastic.
The fried pork chop was tossed in a seasoned flour, making it golden, savory and tender – and you get two of them!
Anywhere you order mac and cheese, you usually get what I call a “wet” or “dry” option: Either it’s creamy and smooth with that almost plastic cheese that’s loved by kids all over, or the pasta is mixed with bits of melted cheddar that give it a crusty golden top. Sandwich City’s combines the best of those two options. It’s amazingly creamy and slightly tangy, but with real cheese, not the fake kind, and streaks of white (is it sour cream? Cream cheese? Evaporated milk? I wasn’t sure, but it made it to die for), and a lovely golden brown baked crust.
Against them, the sweet and smoky collards were an excellent counterpoint – with a tenderness that only comes from long slow cooking.
Catherine urged me to try the cornbread – “It’s like cake!” she said – but I couldn’t. In fact, I left enough for a lunch the second day, that’s how filling the plate was (and I was a very happy girl the next day come lunchtime).
I’m only sad that it took me so long to discover what so many other Augustans seem to already know – Sandwich City is so much more than I imagined.
ON THE MENU
WHERE: Sandwich City, 302 10th St.
HOURS: 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday
ENTREE COST: $3.50 to $9
SECOND HELPING: (706) 823-6237 or find them on Facebook