This column is about the experience of food in Chattanooga. I will take people out for dinner and lunch dates at various restaurants in the Chattanooga region. It is not meant to be a review per se, but an account of a one-time experience at a restaurant. Your mileage may vary depending upon your expectations.
This week, we visited the always-reliable and highly affordable Figgy’s Sandwich Shop at 805 Chestnut St. Just a few blocks from our Nooga.com offices, Figgy’s offers lightning-fast sandwiches, soups and wraps for anyone working downtown. It’s often considered one of Chattanooga’s “best-kept secrets,” and I was anxious to discover why.
Chloé Morrison and I walked over to Figgy’s at about 1 p.m. It’s always nice to catch up with a co-worker outside of the office on occasion, if only so you can gossip about other co-workers. I’ve worked in small offices and large offices, but drama has always been a constant theme despite the number of people involved. This particular drama involved an inflatable pool float, a can of kidney beans and unrequited affection.
Anyway, lunch options are plentiful downtown, but sometimes, you just want a damn sandwich. Figgy’s has good damn sandwiches, and our plan was to eat one.
I’ve always known that Figgy’s was an option, but I almost always forget it’s there because of places such as Flatiron Deli and Mindy B’s Deli nearby. But Figgy’s is different. Whereas the above places offer gourmet sandwiches, the Figgy’s “special” is literally just a glorified ham and cheese sandwich.
Inside, a few tables are available for dining, or you can get your sandwich to go. Ordering takes place at the register, but you’ll only be standing in line for a few minutes as the sandwiches are prepared with incredible precision and immediacy by a man I can only assume is Figgy himself. I hope, like Figgy, that I can one day master an art form, rent a small space in a bustling downtown and practice that art form for $5 a pop. I used to be the best in my school at making those fingerboard skateboards. Maybe I’ll do that.
The Figgy’s operation is lean-only two people working out front-during lunch, but the line moved quickly. Chloé classified the atmosphere as friendly and said it reminds her of a little community secret. I think it probably has something to do with the exterior. There is nothing elegant about Figgy’s, and that makes me even fonder of the establishment.
Chloé had visited Figgy’s a few times before our afternoon adventure.
“The first time I went there, an employee brought an order for an elderly person out to the curb so she didn’t have to get out,” she said. “It was just a nice touch of kindness.”
Figgy’s menu includes simple sandwiches-turkey, ham, roast beef, tuna and chicken salad-along with “low-fat” wraps and chili dogs. Chloé ordered a turkey on wheat with lettuce, mayo and mustard. I decided to go with the “special”-a baked ham and turkey sandwich on a sesame seed bun, with Figgy’s famous special sauce and gooey melted cheese. I almost ordered the sandwich without having it heated, but a man in line next to us encouraged me to order it warm. Chloé and I both had chips and a drink, too. Our total damage was $14. Not bad at all for a quick lunch for two people.
Chloé said her sandwich was as if she had made it herself, which is a good thing in this case. “It’s a solid sandwich for a reasonable price that I can’t find much reason to turn down if I’m in the mood for a classic turkey on wheat,” she said.
Likewise, my “special” was simple but sufficiently tasty. I haven’t eaten a hot ham/turkey sandwich in years, and Figgy’s version made me realize how delicious the combination can be. It reminded me of those simple meals my mom would cook for me growing up. A hot ham and cheese was always an option. At first, I was ready to dismiss the simple hot ham/turkey and cheese sandwich as ordinary. But after the first bite, I understood the reason it was the “special.” You really can’t go wrong with this combination.
These sandwiches are just the right size for a lunch portion. Each sandwich also comes with two pickles. TWO pickles. Not one pickle. Double pickles.
Would we go back?
Chloé and I were in and out of Figgy’s in about 30 minutes. And that felt like a long lunch. When you’re in a hurry or if you just don’t want to eat an enormous sandwich, Figgy’s is a good option. I adore an artisan sandwich creation as much as anybody, but there is something to be said about simplicity and quality in sandwiches like these.
We both left satisfied and ready to spread the gospel of Figgy’s. It may not be the best-kept secret in town, but you owe it to yourself to pay a visit. Tell them we sent you, and you won’t get any preferential treatment.
The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.