Matt Bonner's Sandwich Hunter: Dec. 23, 2009 - Phoenix

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Entry #6 - Paradise Bakery, Phoenix
by Matt Bonner

Sunny Phoenix. Desert, mountains, cacti, and sandwiches. It was a relatively uneventful sandwich hunt this time around. I simply walked across the street and smack into a Paradise Bakery. Their slogan is "we're famous for our cookies". And goodness knows I love me some chocolate chip cookies. Giving up sweets for Lent every year is always a struggle.

I notice Manu is on the phone out front. I ask him if he can take a picture of me in front of the entrance. He obliges, takes the picture, and I enter to get in line. While waiting, some guy comes up to me and says, clearly unaware that I play for the San Antonio Spurs: "Do you realize who just took that picture for you? That was Manu Ginobili! He plays in the NBA! You must feel really stupid for getting him to take a picture and you didn't even have him get in it with you." He left. Probably to go harass Manu.

When my turn came, I asked the man behind the counter what their best sandwich was. He told me people come from miles around to get their chicken walnut sandwich. I was a bit skeptical of such an ambitious statement, but I went with his recommendation anyway. Every sandwich comes with a free cookie, which is sweet (no pun intended). I got some tomato bisque soup to go with my sandwich and found an empty table.

Turns out, the guy was right. The chicken walnut sandwich was delicious. The chicken was moist and tender, the bread was soft and freshly baked, and the walnuts were a nice touch. My only problem with it was the usual problem when dealing with a chain restaurant. It lacked soul. It was missing that edge, that intangible character trait that gives a sandwich magic. That's what I need to taste in order to declare "The Hoagie Grail". And although very good, possibly the best sandwich I've had out of all the chains, it was missing it's soul.

Regardless, I enjoyed Paradise Bakery's simplistic back to basics approach to sandwich artistry. They had quality components and a decent supporting cast. My advice for them would be to improve upon their beverage and chip selection. And the cookie was delicious too!

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