First Taste

Ollie Vaughn's Blends Fresh Comfort Food with a Quaint Atmosphere

Phoenix folk have been buzzin' since hearing former Lux baker Lindsay Magee would be opening her own little sandwich shop featuring her fresh-baked bread. We've even spotted some people peeking in the windows of the shop-in-progress off McDowell Road just west of 16th Street trying to catch any glimpse of Ollie Vaughn's before it opened. Well, the wait is over and this place is exactly what you'd expect . . . in a good way.

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To say the bakery case steals the show is an understatement. Crumbly apple pie, lemon bars with rose shortbread, quiche, granola bars, and cookies are all there to tempt you. If you manage to make it past that point, you have your choice of packaged ready-to-go salads for $2.50 for a small or $4.50 for a large in most cases or sandwiches that range between $7 and $9.

Pre-packaged salad might not seem like a super-attractive concept, but once you see what your options are -- light, fresh, and simple combinations loaded with local organic produce -- you'll likely change your tune. The salads are kept cold and made fresh daily. We tried the watercress salad ($8 for a large), featuring delicious watermelon radish, apple, goat cheese, and sesame seeds with a vinaigrette. Although the watercress could have been in smaller pieces for easier munching with the restaurant's plastic utensils, the salad had great flavor overall. Pair that with the lavender green tea and you have a guilt-free, flavorful lunch in under five minutes.

The sandwiches at Ollie Vaughn's are comparably priced, if not a little cheaper, than other upscale sandwicheries around town. Grilled cheese with chard, chicken with apples and pecans and flank steak with caramelized onion and goat cheese are just some of your options. From there, you have a bountiful selections of bread options, including brioche, sourdough, and rye. The turkey sandwich on sourdough, complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce, is pretty much all the best parts of Thanksgiving, without hours in the kitchen. Plus it comes with a cookie on the side.

Ollie Vaughn's definitely is the kind of place we can see people latching onto; we wouldn't be surprised if the place already has established regulars. In terms of lunch spots in CenPho, Ollie's has what it takes -- passion, quality, and community -- to last. Walking out the door, we grabbed a lemon bar and chocolate chip cookie for later. Truth is, neither made it past the car ride home.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch