The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (2024)

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Wilder Shaw

Wilder Shaw is a staff writer at Cheapism covering food, specializing in taste tests and fast food. He has over a decade of food-writing experience, and his work has appeared in Thrillist, The Washington Post, L.A. Taco, Time Out, and numerous other publications.

Wilder Shaw
The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (1)

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The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (2)

Battle of the Subs

We live in a world of fast-food chain sandwiches, and depending on the town you live in, the best sandwich near you might actually be the chain down the street. But in the sub-space battle, who rises to the top? Does J. Mike defeat J. John? Has Subway's legacy aged well? Did I include a grocery store in this ranking even though that definitely doesn't count?

For all these answers and more, here are 10 of the most popular sandwich shops in America, ranked from best to worst.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (3)

Best: Potbelly

Some cities have a Potbelly every 20 feet. Others are disastrously barren. If you're lucky enough to live in range of a Potbelly, you already know what you have.

The meats are hearty. The bread is always perfect. Options range from familiarities like Italians and tuna, all the way to originals like Mediterranean subs and chicken salad. The addition of hot, giardiniera-stylepeppers are a gorgeous thing as well. Cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches; it doesn't matter. These things are beautiful.

Not that your gut would be happy about it, but tossing a side of mac and cheeseor chili onto your order is highly recommended.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (4)

2. Publix

I know, I know, this isn't even really a sandwich chain. What are you, the ranking police? Publix Deliis on par with the best chain sandwiches money can buy, and if it weren't such a hassle to get in and out of a grocery store, I'd probably have given it the No. 1 spot.

The deli makes a terrific sandwich, loaded with Boar's Head meat and served on sub rolls that toast up like a dream. Most famous of all is the Publix chicken tender sub, which, if you haven't had it, is even better than it sounds. Chances are high that if you're at Publix, you're probably standing near the best sandwiches in your vicinity.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (5)

3. Jersey Mike's

If you are a big, hoagie-loving goon like myself, you probably also enjoy the dripping-with-oil vibes that New Jersey Michael hangs his hat on. "Mike's Way" (lettuce, tomato, onion, oil, vinegar, and spices) is my go-to sandwich backbone. It's a delight to watch the employees slice meat in front of your very eyes, and even though this is a Pepsi-only establishment, I forgive it for that.

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The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (6)

4. Snarf's

Snarf's actually isn't too much different than Potbelly, but it's just too localized (namely: Colorado, Missouri, and Texas) to have the ability to defeat Jersey Mike's. Snarf's does meat well. Snarf's does bread well. Snarf's knows to use shredduce. Step after step, it's a hit, and though it plays to a college crowd, that right there might be the secret to the success.

When you run a sub sandwich shop, a college student is precisely who you should be catering to. We're talking about peak sandwich eaters in their prime. These specimens have given Snarf's the stamp of approval, and that goes a long way.

Related:Iconic Sandwich Shops That Changed Lunch Forever

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (7)

5. Which Wich

I'm not really sure what Which Wich's "thing" is. It does seem like the people behind it designed the name to specifically stop customers from spelling it correctly.

These are good, solid sandwiches, made on bread that gets flaky and perfect when you toast it. Hot Italian peppers are an option, but you won't find anything too experimental on the menu.

Related:Best Subs, Grinders, and Hoagies Across America

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (8)

6. Jimmy John's

If you had to choose to eat at a sub place owned by a man who once posed in front of a lion he had shot and killed, Jimmy John's is probably the best place to do that. While the sandwiches are of an undeniable quality, the entire establishment looks like the product of a lunatic. Signs with cutesy phrases are plastered over ever bare inch of wall and ceiling, and for some reason they don't slice the sandwiches in half.

Here's a fun trick at Jimmy John's: Order a large sandwich. Rather than one large sandwich, they will instead just wrap up two regular sandwiches and hand them to you, making you feel like the world's biggest glutton. The whole place just feels unhinged.

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The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (11)

7. Subway

It's been quite a rollercoaster with Subway, don't you think? There was a time when Subway ran this town. As a kid, Subway was one of my favorite sandwiches on the planet. The freshly baked bread and build-your-own-sub setup was everything my middle-school-self ever wanted. Once the other challengers blew open the saloon door, Subway fell to the absolute back of my mind, and I had a streak of bad experiences.

Then came the chopped salad days and the Subway secret menudays, and the chain peaked a bit for me around then, but now it's ditched its old salad ways. I still don't mind a Subway sandwich, but it's nowhere near the king it used to be. Here's lookin' at ya, Subway. You have my utmost respect.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (12)

8. Blimpie

Blimpie is kind of like a restaurant you'd make if you took the bad parts of Subway and Jersey Mike's and combined them. Existing solely on the East Coast or in the corner of unsafe highway truck stops, Blimpie serves hoagie-style subs.

While there's nothing inherently wrongwith Blimpie, it just feels like something I could make at home for half the price with Oscar Meyer meat. I go to a sub shop for high-quality ingredients. This is not a high quality sandwich.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (13)

9. Firehouse Subs

I suppose it's nice that Firehouse allegedly donates some of its proceeds to first responders. That's about as specific as the company's willing to get, so take from that what you will.

The sandwiches are fine and I enjoy the pickle spears, but the deli meat is probably the most forgettable of all. Brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen started this company in 1994 and have already blasted past 1,200 locations, so clearly they're doing something right.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (14)

10. Quiznos

I'll be honest, I've not seen hide nor hair of Quiznos in quite some time. There are still 164 left, speckled across the country, but it can't be long before this freakshow restaurant is completely extinct.

Remember those commercials? Remember waiting an eternity for your sandwich to slide through that toaster designed to incinerate your bread into ash? There was always that huge barrel of pickles in the "pepper bar" so I will give the big Q one ounce of credit. But only one.

The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (15)

And a Few More

Here are a few more popular chains that any sandwich fan needs to know.

  • Panera Bread
  • Pret a Manger
  • Au Bon Pain
  • Jason's Deli
  • Schlotzsky's
  • McAlister's Deli

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The 10 Best Sandwich Chains, Ranked (2024)


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