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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell sandwich crawl


Grinnell is awash in scrumptious sandwich vendors. A veritable smorgasbord of options exists, making it tough to decide when that sandwich craving hits. Depending on your dining companions, time constraints and sandwich preferences, each of these options may hit that sweet spot. Join me on a sandwich odyssey through the streets of downtown Grinnell.

Jimmy John’s

BEST FOR: A quick but filling lunch. Also provides delivery service to campus.

A fun franchise focused on making delicious sandwiches quickly, Jimmy John’s lives up to its reputation. My sandwich was ready before I had finished paying the cashier. The store is quirky and filled with cheeky signs, making this an enjoyable spot for a speedy lunch. Day-old bread offered for 50 cents a loaf is another tasty item for the economy shopper.

THE SANDWICH: $7.25 for an Italian Night Club and chips. A scrumptious sandwich packed with Italian meats, lettuce, onions and tomatoes on fresh French bread. Fresh ingredients and substantial portions mean this sandwich is simultaneously delicious and filling. The made-daily bread is the best of all establishments reviewed.

Back Alley Deli

BEST FOR: The working lunch or combining a coffee rendezvous with lunch

The Back Alley Deli, nestled in the rear of the space it shares with the Saints Rest Coffee House, is a well-kept secret around Grinnell. Offering a variety of simple, yet filling sandwiches, this is a great place for a working lunch. The reasonably priced sandwiches and the convenience of the shared space with Saints Rest means you can snag lunch in between your cups of productivity-boosting coffee.

THE SANDWICH: $6.15 for a small (approximately 6-inch) sandwich with a bag of kettle-fried potato chips. I chose The Chandlebaum, a 5-meat, multiple cheese sandwich with various vegetables, sauced with oil and spices. The sandwich was simple, but robust. The small ($4.75) was quite filling, but for those interested in a bigger meal, medium and large sizes are available.

Comeback Cafe

BEST FOR: A lunch with creative choices and great ambiance

A cute cafe just a block away from downtown’s main drag, Comeback Café is a wonderful spot for a lunch with a date or visitors. A wide selection of wraps, salads and sandwiches means everyone can find an option to enjoy. Comeback also has the best atmosphere of the sandwich spots I visited—an open space lined with windows and a homey, local ambiance make for a relaxing lunch.

THE SANDWICH: $6.95 for the Kickin’ Chicken wrap and chips. The wrap consisted of grilled chicken, mozzarella, tomato, lettuce, fried onions, ranch, BBQ sauce and chipotle mayo, and was delicious, high quality food. Although featuring smaller portions than other places around town, Comeback is definitely a great option for a tasty meal.

Montgomery Sandwich Shop

BEST FOR: Sit-down lunch in retro diner atmosphere

A retro-styled spot, Montgomery’s offers an array of classic diner favorites. The options include burgers, sandwiches, chili and a variety of other dishes. Vegetarian options are available, but meat dominates the menu. Montgomery’s is known for their loose-meat sandwiches and has great service.

THE SANDWICH: $5.70 for the “classic” beef burger with pepper jack cheese and a small portion of fries. A basic burger made with ground beef. Quality was better than fast food, but the flavor was pretty bland. Fries were good, and complemented the sandwich well.


BEST FOR: Value, lots of vegetables, customizability.

Another franchise, Subway is well known for their highly customizable, affordable and healthy sandwiches. A variety of “5-Dollar Footlong” sandwiches make this one of the best value meals available. Customers can choose between different types of bread, meat, cheese, vegetables and sauces to create a custom sandwich. A clean, but obvious fast food environment make this a pleasant spot to eat, but not simply on ambiance. Subway also has the most vegetables available to add onto their sandwiches of all sandwich locations reviewed.

THE SANDWICH: $6.10 for the 5-Dollar Footlong of the day (egg, bacon and cheese) and chips. I had my sandwich on the Monterrey Cheddar bread and topped it with tons of spinach and southwest sauce. The sandwich was the largest of the sandwiches reviewed and was exactly what I wanted. Although other places may have superior ingredients, the value for money at Subway was phenomenal.

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  • J

    James T. DeckerApr 13, 2013 at 5:27 am

    It is comforting to know that the fabled loose meat sandwich of Iowa survives in the Grinnell diet, even though it has gone upscale. Montgomery’s advertises that their beef is fresh ground daily and “contains no filler, sodium, or MSG”.