Sandwhich over the years has become a Chapel Hill staple, known as much for its dedication to local sourcing as it is for its sandwiches. It was at the forefront of the slow food/local sourcing movement in the Triangle when it opened its doors over five years ago. The attention that Sandwich pays to their ingredients and the care with which they are prepared transform the common sandwich into an art form have earned Sandwhich regular national media praise.
The Location: 407 West Franklin Street. Sandwhich is housed in the building that used to be Patio Loco (or Beso mi Burro for old school Chapel Hill folks) just next door to the McDonalds on Franklin St. Note: Sandwhich used to be down the block in what is now Vimala's Curryblossom Café.
The atmosphere in Sandwhich is open and inviting with lots of wood, stainless steel and chalkboards. They do have a large outdoor patio with shaded tables – a rare commodity in Chapel Hill
The Food: A wide selection of cold and hot sandwiches (obviously), burgers, soups, salads and a rotating list of daily, seasonal specials. All of the meats and veggies are from area farms (which are prominently displayed on a chalkboard by the front door). Sandwhich does offer dinner specials (dinner is only served Wednesday-Saturday) as well as a daily rotating list of housemade desserts and milkshakes. Wine and local drafts/bottle beers available.
The Meal: In recent weeks I've sampled the Caprese Sandwich (tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic, basil on a fresh baguette), a BAMF Burger (loaded with portabella, avocado, sport pepper, LTO, “whichsauce,” American & blue cheese) and the Outrageous BLT (crispy bacon, tomatoes, avocado, fire-roasted jalapeño, lettuce and garlic mayo on sourdough) in addition to several sides.
Everything has been excellent. The Caprese is definitely large enough for two meals, a crusty baguette stuffed with the creamy mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Sandwhich isn’t reinventing the wheel with this one, but in this simple sandwich the quality of the ingredients really shines through. The Outrageous BLT is truly outrageous – piles of bacon, avocado, tomato, peppers and lettuce between two slices of classic sourdough. It rivals Merritt’s for the best BLT in Chapel Hill. Sandwhich has also developed a reputation for serving a great burger and the BAMF Burger doesn’t disappoint. It’s a mouth-stretcher and borderline knife-&-forker. This isn’t something I’d order every day or even once a month – but when indulging in an over-the-top, top-notch burger – the BAMF is the way to go.
I’ve also sampled Sandwhich’s housemade chips (fried crisp and tossed with fresh herbs), and two of their daily side specials - roasted beets and creamy polenta. The beets were tossed with a lovely citrusy vinaigrette and the polenta cooked with cream was indulgently rich and comforting. Like everything else at Sandwhich the sides are reliably excellent.
The Service: Sandwhich just has counter service, though everyone who works there is friendly and helpful.
The Bill: For dinner, s loaded burger, a sandwich, a side of roasted beets, a side of creamy polenta, and two beers came to $35 (not bad for dinner). A lunch of an outrageous BLT with chips and mint tea was $13, but the sandwich was large enough to save half for later.
The Verdict: While Sandwhich is pricier than most lunch/counter service restaurants, you get what you pay for. The food shines with local, premium ingredients and a dedication to the art of the sandwich. Each meal comes with a small slip of paper that reads: "We're Genuinely Grateful That you're here. Thank you, you're awesome!" And I must say, I feel the same about Sandwhich.
Chris Rhyne Reid is a North Carolina native with a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A copywriter by day, she pursues her love of all things edible in her spare time. She writes for Durham-based food blog Carpe Durham.