When I find myself in times of trouble, sandwich fairies come to me.
I whisper words of wisdom; let’s go to Eatzi’s custom sandwich bar.
It’s nearing 2 o’clock on a weekday, and the bells of Christmas music toll inside the Oak Lawn market. The pizza ovens roar, swirling warm, crusty air around the entrance.
The lines that usually weave through canals of the to-go meals and sliced baguette samples (during peak hours) are gone. It’s unusually empty, almost suspiciously cleared out, as though I’ve passed on and have entered some sort meat-centric afterlife. It’s like the end of Titanic in Eatzi’s where Leo joins the smiling crew, except with more sourdough.
The guy in the toque blanche, the white’s chef cap that Remy hid under in Ratatouille, points at me with a serrated bread knife.
“You ready?” He asks. I am ready.
I’ve always been ready for the Eatzi’s Market custom sandwich bar. It seems to be eternally replenished like life after drinking from the Holy Grail.
Black pepper-edged turkey and capicola, with marbling as white as snow, are piled high next to spreads, each sauce whipped into a flame-tip — all of it focusing in your field of vision when you step forward, like an oasis in the desert. The custom sandwich bar is, and has been for years, one of Dallas' most reliably delicious, made-in-front-of-your-eyes quick meals. It's also inexpensive.
As an example from a recent visit, less than 10 bucks will get something like this: A personalized sandwich chef (is there any better collection of words?), per my request, lacquers the porous bone bread with a Grand Canyon-orange sun-dried tomato spread, turkey, onions, pickles, two slices of pepper jack cheese and — importantly — a scoop of hot relish. It’s bright red and pickle-y, a blast of eye-watering tartness. It cascades down the turkey. The softball-sized sandwich is wrapped neatly in wax paper, handed over the counter, and you're out of there in minutes.
What evil person wouldn’t feel a bolt of thrilling joy at this moment? Sandwich bars are already pure hits of happiness; Eatzi's is essential in these troublesome times.
Look closely, and you’ll see evidence that explains why it's delicious: The onions are sheared thin, piled in rings, and the lettuce is finely shredded. Sauces range from acidic and brass-band-bright to salty and creamy. There’s plenty of mustard, which is one of life’s great sentences. Meats are sliced thin, but maintain flavor. There's no meats on display that taste like Bankers Boxes. They’ve spent time on texture, size and shape of the toppings — a custom creation that won’t slip or topple. This is prerequisite for sandwich art.
Restaurant bubbles swell and explode in Dallas, leaving the debris of poke bowls and ghost pepper-ranch dressing on the streets. Trends surge and relent, but none have broken the good ship Eatzi’s Sandwich Bar.
You’ll still see people almost sprinting to get a place in line. No one frowns in the Eatzi’s sandwich line. No one looks down at their phones, at least on this visit. We all gaze deep into the grid of meats and spreads.
It’s a Dallas rite of passage to wait with strangers here.