It's hard to find a good cheese sandwich these days.
Sure, plenty of delis, sub shops and even some fast-food chains are serving up sammies like they just became stylish, but few make a really superior cheese sandwich. The exception to this rule? Which Wich?, a diminutive sub chain out of Dallas that now has twelve stores in Colorado and makes the best damn cheese sandwich I've had in a long time. And WW's other sandwiches aren't bad, either.
I'd first noticed the Which Wich? when construction started on the location at at 2209 East Colfax Avenue, and I had to do an internet search because I'd never heard of the company. Turns out it's a newer chain, founded by Jeff Sinelli (founder and former CEO of Genghis Grill) in 2003, because -- according to the website -- he was "frustrated by the lack of great sandwiches available in quick service restaurants and bored by burned-out sandwich brands."
Adorably faux-altruistic reasoning aside, Which Wich? now has over 130 stores nationwide, and is continuing to expand. And after ordering a few sandwiches and a shake at the Colfax store, I can understand why. The company's website describes the chain as being "a fresh, innovative concept featuring superior sandwiches served in an edgy, magnetic environment" -- and the sandwiches definitely live up to "superior."
I dunno about the "edgy" or "innovative," but Wich also has the "fresh" and "magnetic" parts down. The modest dining room and to-go counter are all polished, chilly stainless steel; there's a careful lack of ornament on the tables and walls; and utilitarian would be the best way to describe the interior. .
The way ordering works at this Wich is that as you walk in, you see that the right wall has a number of bins filled with pre-printed paper sandwich bags below a large menu board, and as you choose a sandwich -- based on your choice of protein -- you take the corresponding bag, use one of the red Sharpies provided to check off desired details of your sandwich, sign your name at the bottom of the bag, bring it to the counter, pay for your sandwich, and then wait until the employees call out your name.
There are about fifty customizable sandwiches on the menu, including a monster with five meats and three cheeses called the Wicked. I ordered an Italian Muffuletta (base of salami, ham and olive salad), \the Cuban (ham, pork and pickle) and, of course, a Triple Cheese Please (choice of three cheeses), all in the regular seven-inch size ($5.25 each).
Picking deets on the bags was fun on a bun. I got to choose from white or wheat bread, toasted or not, cheeses like American, Swiss, cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, mozzarella, bleu, feta, Parmesan, cream cheese and Cheez Whiz. There were four mustards; four mayos; sixteen sauces, spreads and dressings; three kinds of onions; thirteen veggies; and seven different oils and spices for garnish. Whew-wee.
Wich also has fountain drinks, chips, cookies and rice Krispies treats and shakes. I ordered a small strawberry shake ($3).
The employees on duty -- Chad, Lee and Brittany -- definitely had senses of humor. I signed two of my bags with toilet-humored fake names -- "Mike Hunt" and "Jack Mehoff" -- just to see if they'd say them out loud.
The staff actually makes the shakes by hand, with real ice cream, and the strawberry shake was far better than the usual fast-food chain, freezer-burnt, machine-poopies. It was thick, rich and made with chunky strawberry puree rather than strawberry-flavored syrup.
When my first sandwich was ready, I heard Brittany call out, "Mike Hunt!"
She'd figured it out by the second sandwich, though, and I heard muffled laughter as she yelled out, "Jack--giggle-giggle--Mehoff?"
Chad and Lee shook their heads at me while I collected my sammies. I asked if my names were the worst they'd seen, and they told me they'd gotten all squicked when a sixteen-year-old girl put "MissBendMeOver" on her bag. That's f*cking scary and gross.
The Muffuletta sandwich was meaty, the olive salad was tangy, and the addition of crushed red pepper, oregano, vinegar and olive oil made the bread and the crisp raw veggies marinated and flavorful. The Cuban was even better -- the combination of pulled pork and ham made the sammie extra savory, and I added pepper jack cheese, spicy mayo, caramelized onions and garlic, so this sub had a pleasant, spicy heat that lingered.
My Triple Cheese Please was an aromatic creation of toasted wheat bread spread with cream cheese, stacked with sliced Swiss and cheddar cheeses, slathered with horseradish mayo and Dijon mustard, and topped with red onions, sliced tomatoes, extra pickles, salt, pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper.
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It was a cheese sandwich to be proud of: spicy, well-seasoned and toasty with plenty of cheese, and I was stoked to think that I could have this again -- or a variation on this.
Yes, I could get a Veggie Delight $5-Footlong with all of Subway's cheeses and toppings, and I would get a bigger sandwich for less money. But Which Wich? offers far more flavor/ingredient combination possibilities, and its ingredients seem to be a higher quality.
Not bad for a chain I'd never heard of.