Blink and you might miss the Curtis Park Delicatessen while driving down Champa Street in the historic Five Points neighborhood, but this is one establishment you won't want to pass by. Marked with a red door and small sign on the brick above, the owners makes good use of the tiny space. Known for gourmet sandwiches heavy on the meat (they are a deli after all), the little shop surprises with a veggie sandwich worth a detour.
The sandwich is chock full of a range of hearty vegetables -- portobello mushroom, red pepper, zucchini, and red onion -- along with a generous helping of goat cheese and house made pesto all resting between halves of a fresh baguette, delivered from City Bakery daily. The combination of goat cheese and pesto makes for a rich, creamy texture to complement the crunch of the bread, while the array of vegetables gives the meal significantly more mass than lesser veggie sandwiches -- enough, in fact, to hold its own against the meat-filled counterparts on the menu. It's a filling sandwich that still feels healthy.
The mingling of goat cheese, pesto and fresh slices of onion and mushrooms will make you forget your workday or dispel a lingering hangover from the previous night's company party (we wouldn't know). And while enjoying this chef-d'oeuvre, don't be surprised if your meat-eating friends ask for a bite and have a similar reaction to that of a child discovering snow for the first time -- this is what we call sandwich envy. Your carnivorous companions won't refute the flavor, texture, and sustenance -- a great meal whether you're a strict vegetarian, someone looking to cut back on meat consumption, or just looking to try something new and tasty.
The only improvement (dare we say?) would be thinner slices of zucchini. The thick pieces make the sandwich a little cumbersome; slicing the squash thinner would prevent pieces from slipping out (but we're not above scavenging the pesto-covered zucchini that falls from the sandwich onto the plate).
The Curtis Park Deli is open Monday through Saturday form 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until the bread sells out -- and it usually does. So don't straggle to get there for an envy-worthy lunch.