Once you tire of Subway's sub-par quantity-over-quality footlongs and Jimmy John's crazy cult following, swing by W.M. Sacks Art of Sandwicherie for a real sandwich that'll cost you no more than the imitators... Meaning you won't even break a $10, even after adding on chips and a drink.
As Sacks virgins (gasp, shudder, point, and stare), we weren't sure what all the hype was about... Until we discovered these guys have the art of the sandwich in the bag. Literally.
Tucked in the strip mall behind Essence Bakery along with a Papa John's and Cafe Lalibela, the Tempe installment of this local chain is barely visible from University Drive, but that doesn't prevent hungry sandwich seekers from packing the parking lot to the gills.
We almost feel kinda bad for the Starbucks guy manning the drive-thru. Didn't know traffic control was in the barista job description...
We finally squeeze into a spot and make our way up to the door: A "help wanted" sign and the din of a crowded café do not instill confidence in our quick lunch run. We're already kicking ourselves for not ordering ahead of time as advised. But we stroll up to the counter anyway and order an Impressionist from the art-themed list of sandwiches.
Click through for more about the best sandwiches since sliced bread...
You could grab a cold Dali (egg salad and bacon) or a Van Gogh (prime rare roast beef). Or you could heat things up with a Picasso meatball sub or an O'Keefe grilled chicken and mushroom baguette. And if you're already feeling a little Thanksgiving nostalgia (or berating yourself for sending all the leftovers home with the relatives), you can order an Improv complete with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry. None of the sandwiches are more than $7, and you can add a drink and a side for less than $2, bringing the grand total to just under $10.
To our surprise, there are nearly a dozen people behind the counter, so our sandwich comes out in five minutes flat (if that). We barely had time to discreetly snap a photo of the place first.
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All the ingredients in the vegetarian Impressionist sandwich are in perfect proportion: Sprouts, lettuces, tomato, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, provolone, havarti, cream cheese, and 12-grain bread. We didn't even mind the mayo, and usually we're not big fans. The real stunner: This sandwich didn't fall apart on us mid-bite like oh so many other sandwich disappointments. It held together miraculously so we got a little bit of everything in every bite.
Finding a chocolate chip cookie at the bottom of our sack was just the icing on the cake. Kind of like finding a nice note from your mom or dad in your lunch box, but soft, chewy and edible. The perfect ending to a meal that doesn't make you feel like you're 7-years-old and have to roll your eyes to impress your friends. Simply delightful.
We'll be back to try more of the Sack's signature sandwiches, and when we tire of those, we'll be ready to make our own self-portrait. Sayonara, Subway. Let us know when you invest in some quality ingredients and a sandwich-building class... maybe we'll be back, but we doubt it. If you're looking for a mentor, check out W.M. Sacks Art of Sandwicherie, maybe they'll have pity on you.