Sara’s Sandwich Shop
5841 Arctic Blvd.
$7-$9 per plate
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Work has been piling up these days, but I recently managed to escape my cubicle for a quick bite to eat. While I didn’t have time for much more than a sandwich, I thought I’d take a recommendation from Rebecca Palsha’s blog and see if it measured up to her glowing impressions.
Sara’s Sandwich Shop has two locations, including its flagship restaurant on Arctic Boulevard and a more recent acquisition on Boniface Parkway. I stopped by the Arctic eatery, hidden away inside a small two-story brownstone building with a decent amount of parking that seems almost perfectly suited to its moderate but brisk flow of patrons. The shop is as unpretentious inside as it is on the outside, with an alcove for placing orders and receiving to-go items giving way to a dining room wrapped around the kitchen sporting picnic furniture and a soda fountain.
While other restaurants typically offer a number of dishes to accommodate a spread of tastes, Sara’s is almost exclusively a sandwich shop; you’ll find a few salad and soup options, as well as some side and dessert choices, but the core of the menu is a list of 27 hot and cold sandwiches. Although a build-your-own template offers added flexibility it’s almost redundant against the sheer variety of sandwiches on offer, running the gamut from simple choices like pastrami or egg salad to a nine-ingredient Italian combo and a grinder featuring three kinds each of meats and cheeses. I tried striking a balance between the menu’s extremes and went with an appealing choice tucked farther down the menu: the Blazing Buffalo Chicken sandwich ($7.75), which was about four people down the service list but came up about 10 minutes after I ordered.
I didn’t know it when I ordered, but the sandwich is apparently named after the brand of Boar’s Head chicken breast around which it’s built. Although Boar’s Head claims the meat is “coated Buffalo wing style with cayenne red pepper, vinegar and spices,” the net effect was more of a pleasant buzz than the heat level promised on the label. The rest of the sandwich definitely kept up that buzz too, from the excellent hoagie roll (with a section cut out to accommodate the ingredients like a bread bowl, rather than slicing the loaf) to the simple blend of cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato paired off against mustard and Cajun remoulade. All in all it was exactly the grinder I was looking for, not too complex but markedly more memorable than ham and cheese.
While I was on my way out the door, I stopped by a refrigerated case to pick up a peanut-butter-and-chocolate brownie ($2.50), which I brought back to the station for further study. A layered creation, essentially a thick peanut-flavored brownie built on a thickened soft chocolate crust with peanut-butter chips in the dough, I liked the small piece I ate -- but first, I chopped most of it up and asked the newsroom for brief opinions:
“It is a slow waltz of peanut butter and chocolate on the tongue” -- Kate Winkle, intern
“Thick and rich, bring a glass of milk” -- Joshua Staab, digital content supervisor
“It is good” -- Adam Pinsker, reporter
“A mellow, not overpowering peanutty state” -- Mike Ross, anchor
“It’s really peanut-buttery and it’s not very sweet; I like that it’s thick, like cakey texture” -- Rebecca Palsha, reporter
“Oh my God” -- Sarah Evans, assignment editor
With so many stops in town that’ll serve you a sandwich, Sara’s picks a challenging focus in a field already populated by formidable competitors like Alaska’s Gourmet Subs and the Brown Bag Sandwich Co. There’s a workmanlike quality to my meal that I appreciated, the combination of a simple menu backed by quality ingredients and rapid service that has drawn both Rebecca’s eye and mine to stops like Sis’s Café and Catering. While you might want something more elaborate for dinner, Sara’s hits the spot for an enjoyable lunch at a decent price.
Contact Chris Klint