Fast Food Face-Off: Sandwiches

Our writer is taste-testing fast-food lunches to help you find the most delicious—and nutritious—options. Up first: sandwiches from Wawa and Potbelly.

So you planned to pack a healthy salad for lunch today but left it in the fridge at home. Now you’re forced to face the big, bad world of fast food. Sure, there are plenty of healthy-seeming options, from Saladworks to Subway, but when you’re not the one buying the ingredients and assembling your own dish, how do you know which to choose? I’ve tested out a few lunch-stop options to see who’s got both the tastiest and healthiest wares in four lunch-food categories: sandwiches, soups, salads, and burritos (in case you want to spice it up a little). First up: sandwiches.

Potbelly vs. Wawa

For this face-off, I couldn’t ignore Philly’s favorite hoagie go-to: Wawa. It’s competitor, Potbelly, is an underdog with a much smaller reputation than the convenience store giant. Both establishments allow you to build a meal and calculate nutritional info online, so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s how their stats—and my personal taste tests—compare:


I ordered: The TKY, a turkey-breast sandwich on thin-cut multigrain bread with mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mushrooms. Hold the cheese.

Calories: 317
Calories from Fat: 41
Total Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 30 mg (10% DV)
Sodium: 1265 mg (53%DV)
Fiber: 6g
Protein: 22g

Price: $5

Comments: The turkey tasted fresh and flavorful. The mushrooms were also delicious, and an add-on you can’t get at Wawa. The thin-cut roll was crispy and the perfect amount of bread for the sandwich’s insides.


I ordered: Premium Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast on a whole-wheat Shorti, no cheese, spicy mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and roasted red peppers.

Calories: 430
Calories from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 6.5 g
Cholesterol: 60 mg
Sodium: 1990 mg
Fiber: 4g
Protein: 33g

Price: $3

Comments: More bread and more meat means a more filling sandwich—but you pay the price. More calories, more fat, more sodium, double the cholesterol … and unfortunately, in this case, less flavor. The turkey seemed more processed—salty and with a slightly slimy feel to it. Also, the sandwich became messy due to way too much oil in the roasted red peppers.

Verdict: Dole out a couple extra bucks for Potbelly for a fresher-tasting and more nutritious lunch.

What’s your go-to lunchtime sandwich? Tell us in the comments.