Budget Beat

Gourmet Sandwiches for Under $10 At Downtown Mesa's Urban Picnic

Over the last couple years, Mesa's main drag has been making quite the comeback with new little indie shops and eateries -- one of which is an adorable sandwich shop called Urban Picnic.

The one-year-old gourmet sandwich shop (which, just last week, was sold by former owner Chris Ackerlund to long time customers Rio Understiller and Chase Barrett) with its sleek interior, exposed wood beams, lacquered tables, and nicely packaged pretty food, isn't exactly a groundbreaking concept but it is a welcome and unique addition to the struggling strip of Main Street we like to call downtown Mesa -- and a much needed alternative to the Subway across the street.

Of course, Urban Picnic isn't going to be as cheap as its corporate competition, but, if you play your cards right, you can get out of there for right around $10.

Open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., UP cranks out gourmet sandwiches and salads using only fresh ingredients, including grass-fed beef, organic greens, and free range chicken. Everything is served packed up and ready to go or you can grab a seat inside at one of their custom made lacquered maple tables and enjoy their free wi-fi.

On our most recent visit, we tried the signature Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich for $7.50. Big chunks of moist chicken, green apples, and raisins were tossed in a tangy yellow curry sauce and served on a buttery, flaky croissant. We splurged and spent the extra buck on a side of mac & cheese that tasted exactly like Velveeta's shells & cheese. Decent but not worth the extra cash. Skip it and go for the black bean & orzo pasta salad or the seasonal fresh fruit.

We also snagged a classic Italian Pressed Sandwiches for $8.50. This one was a little disappointing for the money. Thin slices of salami, mortadella, hot cappicola, and provolone were dotted with pepperocinis and a few arugula leaves on a slightly stale baguette. It was a good sandwich but we would have loved to see a bit more of everything on this pricey item.

If you're looking for something sweet, UP normally has a few cupcakes and beautifully decorated cookies up at the front counter that range from $1.50 to $2.50 or try one of their decadent housemade shakes for $3.50. They are almost a meal in themselves.

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