The sandwich-lovers have spoken. And of all the chains surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics data, it’s clear that some sub shops stand well above the rest. So, what exactly makes one chain outshine the competition? For starters, the sandwiches have to be absolutely crave-worthy and one-of-a-kind.
Hungry for more information? Good, because we’ve got the scoop. Here are the top sandwiches at the top sandwich chains in the country.
10. McAlister’s Deli
- Go-to favorite: The McAlister’s Club
Founded in Oxford, Mississippi, McAlister’s Deli has been serving up southern favorites — including its famous sweet tea — since 1989. And although its brand-recognition may pale in comparison to others on the list, this deli is obviously doing something right.
According to those surveyed, the most craveable thing about this spot is the deli’s namesake creation, The McAlister’s Club. Following shortly after the McAlister’s Club, which features smoked turkey, Black Forest ham, and bacon, is another fan favorite, the French Dip.
Next: This chain is known for specializing in one specific meat.
- Go-to favorite: Roast beef
Everyone knows that Arby’s is home to meat, meat, and more meat. So it’s no surprise that customers opt for a variation of the chain’s signature roast beef more often than not. More specifically, sandwiches topping the most-loved list include the Classic Beef ‘N Cheddar and the Smokehouse Brisket.
Next: A build-your-own option tops this shop’s list of favorites.
8. Jason’s Deli
- Go-to favorite: Muffalettas
Jason’s Deli is known for having an emphasis on customizable options and healthier fare. In fact, the chain was focusing on better-for-you food well before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. The place even has a self-serve salad bar. But really, it’s the ability to build their own sandwiches that loyal patrons love so much. Aside from that, people love the muffalettas and the reubens.
Next: This sub shop is known around the world.
- Go-to favorite: Italian BMT
Subway may have closed 359 of its U.S. locations, but that’s hardly knocked it off its game. In fact, it’s pretty much chump change. Subway has long-been the reigning champ of sandwich shops, making it one of the most successful fast food chains of all time (despite that unfortunate Jared incident, of course).
So, what do customers love most about the sandwich shop mega-giant? For starters, the chain has done a phenomenal job in branding itself as the “healthy” fast food alternative. (Be careful, though, because not all options are as healthy as you might assume.)
Next: This place wins big with its original creation.
- Go-to favorite: The Original
This Austin-based chain may not have the name-brand recognition as other heavy-hitters on the list, but Schlotzky’s has undoubtedly earned its spot. In addition to its variety of toasted sandwich breads and signature sauce, The Original, complete with smoked ham, Genoa and cotto salamis, and melted cheese on a sourdough bun, has been the sandwich of choice since the chain first opened.
Next: This neighborhood spot is a well-loved favorite.
5. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
- Go-to favorite: A Wreck
Born in 1977 in Chicago, Potbelly Sandwich Shop is a well-loved favorite. And no matter where a store’s location, you can expect the same neighborhood sub shop feel throughout.
Fans of Potbelly Sandwich Shop stay true to its Chicago roots, often opting for the meat-centric menu items over the healthier versions (which the shop also has). People love Potbelly’s signature sandwich, A Wreck, along with the Italian. However, the chain’s most winning claim to fame, quite possibly, is its proprietary hot pepper blend.
Next: Home to the original toasted sandwich
- Go-to favorite: Black Angus Steak
The once-booming sandwich chain is on a serious decline, at least in terms of presence. In 2007, there were 5,000 locations; by 2017, there were less than 600. Perhaps competitors like Jimmy John’s and Firehouse Subs are the blame, but who cares? Clearly, Quiznos’ crave-worthy options are still aplenty.
Quiznos may not have invented the toasted sandwich, but it’s the very thing that keeps customers coming back for more. People love the right-out-of-the-oven flavor and the wide variety of breads, along with the Black Angus Steak and Chipotle Steak & Cheddar sandwiches.
Next: This place is “freaky fast.”
3. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
- Go-to favorite: The Vito
Every college campus kid within a five mile radius of a Jimmy John’s location knows the true value of the chain’s business model: fast and fresh.
Patrons have taken notice to the “Freaky Fast” service and fresher-than-the-rest ingredients. In particular, loyal customers love the veggie assortment, avocado spread, and the fresh bread. Furthermore, there are a few menu items that stand above the rest, including the Vito and the Totally Tuna.
Next: These subs aren’t just for folks who go down the shore.
2. Jersey Mike’s Subs
- Go-to favorite: Jersey Mike’s Famous Philly
As this New Jersey-based chain continues to grow, it’s become much more than just a staple at the shore. According to the 2017 ranking of top chains, Jersey Mike’s Subs was “among the chains whose double-digit increases in sales and store counts drove the [sandwich] category’s growth.”
But enough of the numbers, let’s get down to what folks find most crave-worthy at this sub shop. In addition to “the chain’s signature red wine vinegar and olive oil combination and the hot cherry pepper relish,” fans can’t get enough of the Jersey Mike’s Famous Philly, The Original Italian, and the Grilled Pastrami Reuben.
Next: And the home to the most crave-worthy sandwiches is …
1. Firehouse Subs
- Go-to favorite: Hook & Ladder
Not only did Firehouse Subs nab the No. 1 spot in the category of most craveable sandwiches, but it was also voted America’s Favorite Chain in 2017. And that’s saying a lot.
The Hook & Ladder, a hot sub featuring smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack, is a top crave-worthy choice among customers, as are the Firehouse Steak & Cheese and the Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket.
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