Every so often while driving on Bridgeport in Richmond I would take notice of the Chicago Wrap & Subs sign. I have no idea what a Chicago Sub is, or if such a thing even exists, but the signage caused me to envision a sandwich that was messy and huge, with sauce and cheese dripping everywhere and sautéed veggies and meat occupying every bite.
I had been having these visions for years nearly every time I drove by, but never once did I make an effort to validate them. Always armed with an excuse, I would keep driving by, never stopping, never pressing onward to find out what was really behind name. That finally changed for me when Melanie and I set out on a mission to check out Chicago Wraps & Subs.
As we pulled into the parking lot I took a more intense look at the sign, having now noticed that it mentioned Mediterranean food below “Chicago Subs & Wraps”. As much as I love Mediterranean cuisine, I became wary as I was here for something from Chicago, not the Mediterranean. This feeling in me grew as we wandered in and I took in the sight of spinning meat behind the counter. Finally I realized I was in a donair place, and not a tiny section of transplanted Chicago.
Admittedly, I was let down by this. In a flash my ridiculous Chicago sub fantasy was gone, and in its place was a slim hope that they would somehow still surprise me. Approaching the counter, I ordered an12” Italian pizza sub for $6.99, as it most closely represented my desires, while Melanie requested a 6” meatball sub for $3.99. There existed options to double the meat for an extra $3, but since it was my first time there I wanted to see what a regular sandwich was like.
The two people that worked the counter and prepared our food were polite and quick, making sure to ask us what kinds of vegetables and other additional items we desired. The seating area was also large, with plenty of natural light coming in through the large windows. As we waited for the subs while they toasted in the oven I noticed a sign near the back proclaiming that they baked their own bread, which perked my hopes once more. Fresh bread can make a world of difference with a sandwich.
Finally it was time to dig in, and as reached over to collect my prize I was told to be careful, because it was very hot. Tearing away the paper I cradled the sandwich in my hands and took a careful bite, doing my best not to burn myself. It was however, without need, as the sub was only lukewarm, occupying that awkward middle ground where the flavours just don’t come out right. Melanie assured me her sub was hot but remained fairly average, with the meatballs lacking the qualities to suggest they were made from scratch, even if they truthfully were.
My pizza sub contained cheese, Italian salami, pepperoni, onions, green peppers and pizza sauce (and pickles on half), but none of these ingredients caused it to escaped the limbo that began with being hot on the outside and cold in the middle. The elements fresh and bread was nice and toasty, but the sandwich lacked a hook. With no qualities that made it taste any different than the sandwiches I have made at home, it let me down a bit. The reason I love to go out to eat isn’t because I’m lazy, but because I want something a little more special than what I could have made at home.
Looking around as I ate, I mentioned to Melanie that, aside from the bread, the subs really felt like an afterthought. It simply seemed strange to me that subs were mentioned in the establishment’s name when so many other items were available. Perhaps Chicago Wraps & Subs evolved over the years to include donairs, which may be better than the sandwiches since every other customer that came in while we dined ordered a pita wrap of some sort.
While we walked out with our hunger gone, our desire for an excellent sandwich remained with us. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the subs we had at Chicago Subs & Wraps, but there’s also not much that made them stand out.
It will nourish you, and it doesn’t cost a lot, but the meatball and pizza subs do little to separate themselves from being average.
Chicago Wraps & Subs, 140-12560 Bridgeport Road Richmond
6” Meatball and a 12” Pizza Sub
$3.99 for a 6”, $6.99 for a 12”