First Impressions: Potbelly Sandwich Shop

The latest outpost of Potbelly Sandwich Shop, the Chicago-based fast-food chain, just opened on Broadway. I’m surprised they didn’t go with “Shoppe,” given the vintageness on hand—mostly fake, with some neat old New York City photos and postcards.

I’m having a good day, if you, like the six people I interacted with, also want to know. I’m mocking the staff, but they were all super nice. Potbelly feels the need to explain how its system works—you order a sandwich (or soup or salad or whatever), then you select toppings for your heated-up sandwich at the next counter. Then you pay at the third counter. Maybe Chicagoans should be put on leashes.

There are 20-ish seats at counters, and a lone table with four chairs; all in all, given the noise level, I’d suggest you arrive with someplace else in mind to eat. (Potbelly also hosts musicians on weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.) Maybe it’s just me, but the presence of a hand-sanitizer dispenser tends to ruin my appetite, which is one reason I don’t go on cruises.

Those are mushrooms, not chicken

I ordered the vegetarian sandwich, whose very name indicates that meat is the restaurant’s raison d’être. The vegetarian is mushrooms with cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses; I selected regular bread (vs. whole wheat) and then mustard and pickles as toppings. And I got some Zapp’s chips.

There was very little flavor in the sandwich in general; if anything, it tasted like raw mushrooms. If there was mustard, it’s awfully weak. When I go back—and I’m sure I will, seeing as how limited the lunch options are in southeast Tribeca—I’ll try the tuna. The bread is bland, so your filling has to have something going on. Or I might get one of the premade salads, which looked rather good. People who eat meat have far more options–meatballs, turkey, roast beef, ham. All in all, Wichcraft is Per Se in comparison.

The menu includes soups, chili, shakes and malts, smoothies, and cookies. I posted it below; click to enlarge. The restaurant is open on weekends, a welcome development for this area, and dinner. And starting in around three weeks, Potbelly will serve breakfast. There’s no delivery.

Potbelly is at 280 Broadway (between Reade and Chambers), 646-289-4206;

Recent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
The Ludlow Shop
Hale Organic Salon
Super Linda
Lotus Blue
Art Projects International
North End Grill
Vintry Fine Wines
Blue Smoke



  1. the pre made salad at Francois Payard Bakery (in what I am calling Goldman Sach’s alley) are excellent, best premade salads in the area, imho… but it is a bit of schlep from read and Broadway, so maybe not a lunch time option (who knows, do FPB deliver? probably not…)

  2. Ah, another practitioner of the “boring cheese on everything” trend. I realize it is not meat, but THREE cheeses on a veggie sandwich??? It is like what they say about Indian veg food “It manages to be vegetarian and unhealthy at the same time.”

    I was hoping for more.

  3. I was not particularly impressed with Potbelly, either. I think the best thing they have is their hot peppers, which they pickle themselves. Those are great. Everything else is pretty much on the same level as Subway.

  4. Can we call it something other than Goldman Sachs Alley? Like “Vesey Alley” or “Movie Theater Alley” or in a nod to the hundreds of people that use the lovely ball fields “Ball field Alley.”

  5. @ Cami, I know, you don’t want to give them more naming rights than they have already taken… but when I use that phrase, everyone knows where I mean…

  6. @Cami: It’s clearly Goldman’s alley; they police it, for crying out loud. And I keep hoping that they’ll eventually do something to make it more hospitable.

  7. That does sound like a very sad sandwich. No matter what you get there, always add the pickled pepper/vegetable blend. It does wonders for blandness and isn’t very spicy.

  8. @Eric: Goldman literally polices that space, and it is inhospitable whether you take the “alley” or the front of the building. Hundreds (1000s?) of us use the alley to get out and into BPC everyday. That alley space used to be significantly more hospitable to the community. I am not suggesting the food options aren’t better now, but it has this creepy dystopian feel to it. You have the option to call it whatever you want. I am just suggesting that a moniker with a nod to the community, rather than the overlord, reminds us that thousands of residents occupy this neighborhood and use the space 24/7, not just during the albeit long GS work day.