Just Good Food is a deli and catering kitchen in the basement of the Rose St. Market Building in downtown Kalamazoo. A friend of mine suggested it as a place to get good sandwiches, and he nailed it. JGF offers a lot of salads, salsas, and vegetarian/vegan options, as well as traditional deli fare like Reubens.  It’s a lot like Zingerman’s, only without the brand identity and subsequent overpricing. For this review, I’ll be sticking to two of their salad sandwiches, the Salvadorean Chicken Salad and the Tuna Tango.

The Salvadorean Chicken Salad sandwich. You know, before Instagram, I was the only person taking pictures of my food with my phone. Now, everyone does it. It’s a really weird thing to feel slightly jealous about.

The Tuna Tango (not pictured) is their tuna salad, available either cold with lettuce and tomato or as a melt with provolone cheese. I’ve always had it warmed up. JGF makes the best tuna salad in Kalamazoo, because they’re not afraid to deviate from the norm a little bit. In addition to tuna and mayo, their salad has hard-boiled eggs, sliced dill pickles, capers, and onions. It’s kind of a mix of a couple of different things, and it comes together beautifully. It’s a hearty, filling sandwich, helped along by the generous size they serve you.

The Salvadorean Chicken Salad includes onions, peppers and carrots diced in, and is served warm with lettuce and tomato. Both times I’ve ordered it JGF has been out of pitas, so it’s been served as a wrap, which is fine by me. The salad itself is great. The ingredients are all pretty fresh, and the lack of mayo or another dressing makes for a nice change of pace. I always appreciate leaf lettuce over shredded, and the tomatoes are diced small enough to be manageable as well. Another filling sandwich, and another great buy.

Sandwiches at Just Good Food run for between $6-9 for a full order, which includes tortilla chips. I occasionally order other sides on top of that, but it’s only to try their other items, since the sandwiches are plenty filling. It’s a great lunch spot, and if you’re ever in downtown Kalamazoo, you should definitely check it out.

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This marks Sandwichtalk’s 100th post, so I wanted to review something special.  Zingerman’s is a collection of Ann Arbor-based restaurants and food retailers.  It began in 1982 with Zingerman’s Delicatessen and has since expanded and evolved into a brand which includes a bakery, creamery, coffeehouse, and catering.  Zingerman’s also created the charity Food Gatherers, a local hunger relief group I volunteered with a couple of times during high school.  It’s a very well-known name within the Ann Arbor community, and probably one of the most famous, well-regarded restaurants in town.

Zingerman's Deli. The building on the right is Zingerman's Next Door, a coffee shop with more seating.

To get a more complete Zingerman’s experience, I tried two sandwiches.  The first was a new sandwich, the TNT Cowboy Reuben.  It’s a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and provolone on a sandwich roll.  I’d hesitate to call it a reuben, but it was delicious nonetheless.  Coleslaw is always a nice break from the usual tomato and lettuce route, and the combination of slaw and the pulled pork gave it an interesting, enjoyable texture.  The provolone wasn’t as noticeable, but it didn’t hurt the sandwich at all.

Now that I think about it, there was nothing much "TNT" about it either. Hmmm.....

My other sandwich was the B.L.T., which I was a little less impressed with.  It was a perfectly fine B.L.T. on their Jewish Rye, and all the ingredients were high quality, but I don’t know if it was worth the price, which I’ll get to in a sec.

Again, I'd recommend it if you want a B.L.T., but you can make a B.L.T. at home pretty easily too.

Both sandwiches were good and deserve high marks, but I do have to mention one other fact about Zingerman’s.  It is insanely expensive.  The TNT Cowboy Reuben cost $10.99, and the B.L.T. cost $9.50.  $9.50 for a B.L.T.!!!  And I ordered the smaller sizes, the larger ones run for a couple of dollars more.  AND that’s just the sandwich and a pickle, no sides or drinks or special requests on the sandwiches (which will add 75 cents bare minimum, normally upwards of a dollar or two if you want special bread or something).  These are pretty typical prices for the menu.  You can get hot dogs for a dollar or two less, and the most expensive sandwich I saw was a smoked fish bagel which cost $20, but most sandwiches are $10 or a little bit more.  I’m hesitant to say that any sandwich is worth ten dollars, and I’m a guy whose hobby is writing a blog about sandwiches.  A lot of the cost is because almost all of Zingerman’s ingredients are either manufactured by them using super high quality items or imported directly from the source, as well as the whole “paying for the experience” concept (and I will admit that their corner location in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown neighborhood is pretty cool).  At the end of the day, though $10 for a sandwich is $10 for a sandwich, no matter how you sell it.

I’d still definitely recommend Zingerman’s.  The sandwiches I had were good, and with their dozens of menu items, I’m assuming they have a lot of other great sandwiches as well.  I won’t be going back anytime soon, not with my budget, but it’s a great option for a place to celebrate, a fancy lunch date, or a place to take out-of-towners.

P.S.  Thank you to everyone who’s supported Sandwichtalk so far!!  Be sure to let me know any questions, comments, or requests you guys have in the comments section, and here’s to the next hundred posts!!