Wawa beat out several major sandwich chains in Market Force Information's annual consumer survey — including last year's winner, Firehouse Subs — to be crowned America's best sandwich shop. We visited Wawa to see why it has the best sandwiches in the nation.
Wawa, the Pennsylvania-based gas-station chain, has a loyal fan base.
Those in the know — usually those who have grown up in the Mid-Atlantic states where Wawa is most highly concentrated — worship Wawa. With over 790 locations, the chain is no small-time regional player, and its reputation of high-quality sandwiches and food precedes it.
In Market Force Information's annual consumer survey, Wawa beat out several major sandwich chains — including last year's winner, Firehouse Subs — to be crowned America's best sandwich shop. Nearly 11,500 people voted in the survey.
We recently visited the chain to see what all the fuss was about, and we were duly impressed — impressed enough to declare that it's officially better than its main regional rival, Sheetz.
But to be voted the No. 1 sandwich chain in America? That's a heavy mantle. But as the saying goes, the customer is always right — here's why consumers think Wawa is the No. 1 sandwich shop in the country:
We visited this Wawa in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, after hearing countless tales of the chain's superior sandwiches.
There's plenty of pre-prepared food as well, ranging from salads to wraps to full-fledged meals.
Most Wawas follow the same relaxing, non-distinct vibe of yellow and beige walls, as though you're being eased into a calming sandwich oasis.
You can also order your own custom sandwich, as with any normal deli.
Because each sandwich is made fresh, the wait time is longer than your average fast-food sandwich chain. Not much longer, though — our order took about five to seven minutes.
It's impossible for us to try all the sandwiches at once, so we tried to go for something of a cross section: an avocado bacon club sandwich, a meatball hoagie, and a cheese panini.
There's an abundance of shredded iceberg lettuce, and the toasted bread is only half-toasted — if you're going to make the grand (and appreciated) gesture of toasting, go all the way with it. But credit where credit is due: the bacon is plentiful.
It's served warm and well-toasted, with stringy, melty mozzarella and a crusty yet soft bread that's perfectly satisfying. The sauce and meatballs are great, especially considering gas station expectations. The meatball hoagie is easily on the same level of quality as your favorite local deli.
It's really good for a convenience store — like Panera Bread on a good day kind of good. Not gourmet or mind-numbingly wild, but so much higher than the expectation that it can sweep you away. And at $5.29, it's a fantastically cheap meal.
So while it's surprising that a regional East Coast chain can be named best sandwich shop in America by a national survey of more than 11,500 consumers, the sandwiches are impressive enough to earn that title.