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Grahamwich Finally Opens!

By Caitlin Klein in Food on Dec 16, 2010 5:00PM

It’s here! It’s finally here! The long-awaited Grahamwich opened yesterday, and foodies across the Chicago blogger universe are asking: Was it worth the wait? Before we begin, we must admit to being big Graham Elliot fans. We correctly predicted Graham Elliot’s Michelin star back in November, and we love the chef’s larger-than-life personality. That being said, we think that Grahamwich is worth the hype. It obviously has some growing pains ahead to wade through, but after experiencing all that is Grahamwich, we predict that it will become a destination hotspot for Chicagoans and visitors alike.

First, the food.
These aren’t your daddy’s sandwiches. And if they are, then we guess that your daddy is one badass mo fo. See the complete sandwich menu here. The sandwiches are sophisticated enough that spending $10 doesn’t seem unreasonable - the jibarito press was particularly notable for the well-seasoned and tender pork shoulder, though it was messy and somewhat difficult to eat. Of course, serving our favorite truffle oil popcorn from the original Graham Elliot restaurant doesn’t hurt either. We will definitely be back to try the other sandwiches, and if the Grahamwich menu changes seasonally like Graham Elliot does, then we’ll be back even more.

Second, the drinks. Grahamwich features a soda fountain - the flavors of the moment are vanilla kola, lemon-lime, orange ginger, and root beer. We tried the lemon-lime and it was very refreshing, although probably more suited to a hot summer day than a frosty Chicago-winter one. Elliot worked hard to keep the hungry, impatient crowd at bay; at one point, he passed out small cups to waiting patrons, exclaiming, “Hot, delicious rosemary cider!” Despite not being on the menu, the cider was the highlight of our visit. Warm, sweet, and fragrant, it thawed us out and kept us from rioting while we waited (quite a while) for our sandwiches. Add it to the menu… Pretty please?

Third, the atmosphere. Grahamwich is bright, airy, and very, very hip. The location is excellent. The music doesn’t suck. The staff is much cooler than you’ll ever be. A single long, wooden table at the back of the restaurant provides communal seating for elbow-bumping and conversations with strangers, if you’re so inclined. Glass doors open up to a back patio that we pray will have outdoor tables in the summertime. During our visit, Elliot casually leaned against the countertop, instructing his staff, taking pictures with fans, and signing autographs.

The growing pains. At this moment, the Grahamwich only takes cash. Boo. There is an ATM near the front door, but we’re not inclined to pay $6 in fees for a $10 sandwich. If you’re going to Grahamwich any time soon, expect to wait - the complexity of each sandwich means you’ll be standing behind a rope waiting for your sandwich for quite some time while the staff learns to deal with large crowds. There are also a few menu holes - under the “Juices” section, there is a simple question mark. Juices? What juices? We expect these bumps to get ironed out in the coming weeks, and you can count on it, Mr. Elliot… we’ll be back.

Grahamwich is located at 615 N. State.