TOGO’S: A California Import to the Utah Sandwich Scene

TOGO'S Triple Dip

The Triple Dip

Here in the Beehive State, we are use to having people from California move to our state. Maybe they are tired of the traffic, the smog or the lack in the change of seasons back home.

Recently there has been another move, or expansion, to Utah from Southern California. It is the Sandwich Shop, TOGO’s. I had never heard of them before until they reached out and asked me to come and have a taste. Sometimes these invitations come and you go meet with them, taste one thing, they ask if you have any questions as they are obviously pre-occupied, and rush you out the door. That is a little of what I was expecting but Ben and Bart, the franchise owner and operations manager respectively, could have not have been kinder, and could not have possibly had me try more food.

At first, I asked what TOGO’s was all about. The answer was that they are known for Big, Fresh, Meaty Sandwiches but also well known for their Soups and Salads. Their goal is to be the coolest sandwich shop in town with the best ingredients. They source their produce locally and get all their bread fresh from a sourced Baker–your choice of classic white, honey wheat and sourdough.

Turkey-Avocado

Turkey-Avocado

When they told me that I would be trying 5 sandwiches that day, I thought that it would be a little sliver of each and I would still need to go get a burger after. Not the case.

At first I had the #9-Signature Pastrami. The company has sold over 40 million of these sandwiches so there must be a reason why. This thing is loaded with thin-sliced, peppery pastrami, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions and pepperoncinis on classic white.

That is some wonderful pastrami. It’s so incredibly tender and delicious with a kick. Mix it with the red onion and the pepperoncinis and you have some powerful flavors. It’s great that it’s on the classic white bread so that can blend into the background. No room for more flavors here.

The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse

Because a loaded 9-inch sandwich isn’t enough to fill you up, I went for round 2–The Triple Dip. This is their delicious pastrami, hot roast beef and cold turkey, with melted provolone and horseradish mayo on toasted sourdough served with their au jus dip. You can barely fit this sandwich in the frame to take a picture. The meat is reaching out for some air there is so much of it.

Round 3 was the Turkey-Avocado on honey wheat bread. This is a load of freshness with hand mashed avocadoes, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and pepperoncinis. After the Triple Dip, you switched from an ocean of meat to one almost entirely of veggies. It was quite the adjustment.

Ben & Bart corrected me when I referred to the avocadoes as guacamole. It’s not guacamole, it’s hand-mashed avocadoes. They mash about 400 of these each day and it seems that half of that is on your sandwich. The honey wheat is an artisanal bread that is very dense and packed with a healthy flavor. Other than the bread and the hand-mashed avocadoes, you don’t taste much. The turkey is almost entirely drown out by the other ingredients. If you are looking to get a couple of days worth of vegetables, this is your sandwich.  

Next up was The Clubhouse. As a self-proclaimed club sandwich junkie, this had me excited. It’s applewood smoked bacon, turkey, cheddar cheese, fat free honey Dijon, lettuce tomatoes on San Francisco style sourdough bread. You could mix all these ingredients with shredded paper and it still would taste good.

I loved the flavor profiles of the bacon, cheddar cheese and honey Dijon on that warm-tosted sourdough bread. Each one complimented the other quite well. The Dijon is house made each day, sweet and nearly addictive.

The Pastrami

The Pastrami

This sandwich doesn’t seem to be piled high, but that is because it was placed in the press to toast it. But is it ever loaded? There is enough veggies and meat to feel like you got a three-course meal. This was a great sandwich and if I could have snuck out the door with a jar of honey-dijon, I would have.  

The final sandwich to squeeze into my overloaded tummy was the Wasatch Club. What? Didn’t I just have a club? Yes I did, but this being the first TOGO’S in Utah, they were allowed to create their own sandwich for our unique taste buds. It includes bacon, ranch, turkey, avocado, provolone cheese, tomatoes, red onion and lettuce on classic white.

The item that is unique—Ranch dressing. I wasn’t aware of it but apparently that is a Utah thing. This sandwich was stacked high. How did all those flavors go together—really well actually? The ranch mixed with the bacon quite well and the avocadoes were a nice compliment, not a tidal wave. The classic white was the perfect choice of bread for it as it didn’t compete with anything else.  

Any of these sandwiches can be made as a wrap-spinach or wheat if you don’t want the classic white, sourdough or honey wheat. You can also raid the soup and salad menu. There was no room for me to have those on this visit but here is a list of soups that will be on their rotation: broccoli-cheddar, garden-vegetable, southwest chicken and clam chowder. They also have been selling out of the chunky chicken salad each day so get their early for that. Each sandwich can be 6” or 9.” That doesn’t sound like much until you get one. Each day you can feed your kids for $4.00 at TOGO’s: drink, sandwich and choice of chips or a cookie.

The Wasatch Club

The Wasatch Club

I especially love the delicious sandwiches of Caputo’s and Firehouse. If the question “will another sandwich shop make it” rings in your mind, then here is some information that I found out. TOGO’s has gone through 1200 pounds of meat in the first few weeks they were open. One customer had been there 16 times in the first 3 weeks it was open. He was likely a California transplant but nonetheless. This is the first of 14 locations in Utah. The next one will be open in 4 months. Locations to come are Murray, Sugarhouse, Lehi, South Jordan and Downtown Salt Lake.

Bart and Ben want TOGO’s to not be just another sandwich shop but for it to be an experience for you. Your sandwich maker is the same for the full 1 ½ from order to payment. You can have it done any which way you want. They also put ipad and iphone charging stations at each table. A good sandwich, refillable drink and a charging station may just consume your afternoon. Their enthusiasm is contagious, the sandwiches are good. Overall they should be a nice addition to the sandwich scene.

TOGO’s
74 West 11400 South
Sandy, Utah, 84070
(801) 456-9922

Togo's Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Fernando’s Cafe Guanaco: Tasty Salvadoran Fare

I had the great opportunity to write this feature of Café Guanaco for City Weekly. Link here; or article also below.

Pupusas

Pupusas

It may be a rare day when one says, “We should go out for Salvadorian food,” but that could change if you’re stopped at the light at 500 East while driving west on 2700 South. Glance out the window and you’ll see a distracting sight: a building on the corner with a banner for Fernando’s Cafe Guanaco proclaiming “Salvadorian Food,” along with some hunger-inducing pictures.

Cafe Guanaco’s specialty is pupusas—a traditional Salvadorian dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla filled with a mixture of beans, meat and cheese—and you will find them here in abundance.

At $2.15 each, you may think that you will need a few pupusas—until you take your first bite. The dense tortilla is loaded with your chosen ingredients (pork, chicken, shrimp, steak and zucchini are available as the main filling); top it with a spicy slaw and some hot sauce, and you’ll be full. One is a meal; two is a feast. Appetizers, entrees and soups are also available. For desert, the fried plantains are soft, sweet, caramelized bites of deliciousness.

Fernando’s Cafe Guanaco may be the textbook example of hole-in-the-wall. There are four tables inside and three outside, with mismatched chairs. The décor doesn’t matter, as all the attention has been given to making amazing food and a great experience for the customer.

FERNANDO’S CAFE GUANACO
499 E. 2700 South
801-484-6584
CafeGuanacoUtah.com

Cafe Guanaco on Urbanspoon

My Love of Smoking!

Nearly 8 pounds of Brisket at 7:45am. Not a bad start to the day.

Nearly 8 pounds of Brisket at 7:45am. Not a bad start to the day.

In June 2012, my wife got me a smoker for my birthday. I definitely loved BBQ and smoked meat–hence the reason for the gift. Did I know how to cook it myself at the time, not so much! We had a rack of beef ribs from my in-laws. They had bought a half cow of meat so beef was a plenty. I don’t even think that I put a rub on it. I simply placed it on the smoker and when I felt it was done, took it off. Those ribs were nasty. It could have been the quality of the meat, but my process, or lack thereof, didn’t help.

Now it’s almost 2 years later and there is so much you can do with a smoker. You can make good to great; and great to better. That first Thanksgiving since getting the smoker, it was my job along with Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse to cook the turkey. We brined them for 3 days and smoked them Thanksgiving morning. Wow! The culinary scale had been raised. Lately it was been a weekly event of cooking either ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, brisket; or a combination. My wife never thought that she liked BBQ, but she is now a convert.

It has also been a great experience to find some places around Salt Lake where they are almost deity in the smoking world. Here are just 3:

Pat’s BBQ: Pat is a legend around these parts. For 28 years now, he has been smoking meat. He started on the street by towing his Oklahoma Joe’s trailer around and catering for people. He then got a just a small space in his current location where people could walk up and order food. Now you can enjoy live music and any number of great smoked delights. Try the smoked meatloaf. I have cooked with Pat and the man has a PHD in BBQ.

Charlotte Rose’s Carolina BBQ: When I wrote this article, a couple of people gave me some grief. They went there and weren’t impressed. This reminds me of a lesson my wife taught me. Last summer I was working with 10 real estate clients. 8 were moving forward and 2 were not; yet those 2 were taking all my time. I wanted to throw it all away. She told me to get rid of the 2 and keep the 8. Don’t get rid of all because just a small portion are not moving along. I did just that.

Same idea applies to Charlotte Rose’s Carolina BBQ. Far more people love this than not. Trae makes some delicious food, much of it with copious amounts of butter and sugar. You can’t just get out of here with a meal, you will have a new friend.

Pig Out BBQ: This was a recent article that I wrote for City Weekly. Meeting the owner, Toko, was a wonderful experience. He has had a lifelong passion for food and only after an injury in his previous profession, did he turn to cooking full time. They make some delicious Island and Southern BBQ at Pig Out. They also have one of the most addictive sauces around.

Looking for things to smoke may have a bad connotation, but I do it daily. Seeking out those who have smoked for years, only encourages me more. As they say, “once is one too many, and one more is never enough” may also apply to meat.

Here is to the next mouth-watering creation.

Happy Eating.

Pig Out BBQ on Urbanspoon

 

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