Stack 'em high!
A shortlist of places where sandwiches are an art form
Published: April 13, 2011
Pita Kabob Grill 619 E. William St., Ann Arbor; 734-622-8082; pitakabobgrill.com; $: The good news is, at Pita Kabob, you'll find vegetarian pita sandwiches for less than $5. More good news: The meat ones are generally just a dollar more.
The Potato Place Restaurant and Bakery 107 W. Warren, Detroit; 313-833-8948; the potatoplace.com; $: Now in its 20th year, the Potato Place has a casual menu centered around stuffed baked potatoes, but rounded out with soups, salads, sandwiches, subs, ice cream, and such baked goods as brownies and cakes made on-premises. And some of those potatoes are doozies, like the "taco" potato (ground beef and cheese), the "chicken and cheese," and the "steak, cheese and mushroom." In all there are 24 different kinds of potatoes with different toppings. Between Cass and Woodward, near Old Main on Wayne State campus.
Pronto! 608 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-544-7900; prontorestaurant.com; $: If you're going to Royal Oak to eat, but you want to avoid the pricey, overcrowded Main Street restaurants, go to Pronto!, where brightly colored walls add to the lively feel of this often bustling restaurant. The sandwich menu is creative and fun. Pronto also has many options for vegans and vegetarians (try the tasty "Farmer's Market" sandwich) and even offers a gluten-free option, by having your sandwich wrapped in lettuce instead of bread. If the weather permits, settle into a sidewalk table and enjoy.
Rowland Café 500 Griswold St., Detroit, 313-963-1440; therowlandcafe.com; $: Sandwiches and coffee at the Rowland Café are first-rate, but of necessity they take a back seat to the setting, amid the magnificent arched mezzanine of the 1929 Guardian Building, an Art Deco splendor reopened to the public in 2004. The beverages are imported from around the world, which include Illy coffee, Revolution teas and Italian sodas.
Royal Kabob 3236 Caniff St., Hamtramck; 313-872-9454; $: The arrival of Royal Kabob on Caniff in Hamtramck offers the multi-ethnic enclave known as Hamtramck a superb, fitting shop that can provide everything from an ambitious platter to a humble, wax-paper-wrapped falafel sandwich. And those sandwiches are deals: A falafel sandwich is $3.45, as are the four other vegetarian sandwiches. For carnivores, meat-kebab sandwiches are around $3.45. As for their entrées, they're big enough to guarantee you'll leave with a box. Jeez, their $24.99 takeout combo for two is enough food for a small army. Though it does a brisk take-out business, the interior is bright and commodious, with enough room for large parties. What's more, it has a gelato bar for your sweet finish.
Russell Street Deli 2465 Russell St., Detroit, 313-567-2900; russellstreetdeli.com; $: Russell's serves up great food for loyal customers in the Eastern Market area. The busy deli is always filled with happy, and hungry, people. If nothing on the extensive menu catches your eye, don't worry, because you're even able to build your own sandwich the way you want it. The soups are definitely a standout that change daily, which include a wide range of vegan, meatless and homemade that add a twist on the traditional soups your mom used to make. With affordable prices and huge portion sizes, you'll have enough for lunch and dinner.
Slows 2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit, 313-962-9828; slowsbarbq.com; $$: Slows caters to a mix of hipsters, folks from area businesses and suburban brewheads. Known especially for great barbecue food, Slows offers a variety of smoked pork or beef brisket sandwiches. Slows gives you a "reason" to dine here by offering "The Reason" (the actual name of the sandwich) - Niman pork butt, smoked slow and pulled, bathed in sauce and topped with their signature coleslaw and dill pickle strips. The macaroni and cheese is a satisfying combination of sharp and creamy and the potato salad could have come straight out of an Alabama picnic basket. Be sure to check out Slows To Go, newly opened and located at 4107 Cass Ave.
Sprout House 15233 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe; 313-331-3200; $: The Sprout House is serious about health and finds nutrition to be key in a long life. A sort of organic grocery, with produce, discount vitamins and health and beauty products, this place does a thriving carryout business in sandwiches and refrigerated prepared dishes from the store's working kitchen. Offering vegan, organic dairy, organic chicken, soy cheese and vegetarian options, the store has preservative-, growth hormone- and antibiotic-free foods.
Stella International Café the lobby of the Fisher Building, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-664-0400; and, for catering and carryout only, in the lobby of the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold St., Detroit; 313-964-3910; stellacafe.com; $: For obsessive, mid-morning sweets cravings, one of the breakfast paninis might do the trick. We recommend the café's house specialty, the "Stella Dolce Panini." Quite a dessertwich: nutella chocolate hazelnut spread with fresh banana slices on fresh-baked foccacia. In the Fisher Building, you can even bring a periodical or friend along, and enjoy a cup of steaming, premium roast Illy coffee (blended in Trieste, Italy, using 100 percent Arabica beans).
Union Street 4145 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-831-3965; unionstreetdetroit.com; $$: Another place to go with the 'rents, Union Street is an old standby. For $3, they get to park securely, and the reassuring interior blends classic aged hardwood with modern accents of art deco, including that damn impressive 1920s bar. As for the food, each dish on the menu is prepared with home-cooked lovin' and tends to be hearty, including a juicy portabella mushroom sandwich dripping with sweet red wine and balsamic sauce.
Whistle Stop 501 S. Eton, Birmingham, 248-647-5588; $: Cheese and meat omelets, pancakes with fruit, cinnamon rolls and French toast? Sounds like a breakfast winner. Equally traditional lunch items include tuna melts and Maurice salads. Weekend breakfast specials, served all day, are a tad more adventurous, and everything is made fresh on the premises, including the breads and bumpy cakes.
Zingerman's 422 Detroit St., Ann Arbor, 734-663-3354; zingermansdeli.com; $: Zingerman's is as fine a deli as anyone could wish for, and more than just a haven for triple-decker sandwiches and dill pickles. In addition to its array of imaginative sandwiches, soups and salads, it stocks top-of-the-line products, from tea, coffee and mustard to cheese, jam and olives, from small, proprietor-run companies literally across the globe. Breads from its own bake house have become almost as famous as the deli itself. The knowledgeable staff adds to the superior experience.
Special thanks to editorial interns Patrick Higgins and Alissa Gilmore for their assistance researching this column.
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