Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Business Spotlight: Sandwhich

The origins of the sandwich may be unclear, but not its reinvention as a gourmet indulgence at Sandwhich ( on West Franklin Street A merger of owner Janet Elbetri’s extensive background in specialty foods, and original business partner, Hicham  Elbetri’s formal culinary training, has converted the humble sandwich into a culinary adventure.

Though innovative, the concept is simple: Take the highest quality ingredients, apply classic methods of fine cooking, then encase the result between slices of the best sourdough bread, grilled on the inside for smokiness and crunch, but left soft on the outside for delicacy.  The outcome, neither common sandwich nor elaborate production, is an accessible, affordable luxury.

In keeping with the cuisine is a casual, relaxed ambiance that invites the funny, quirky freedom that Janet takes with the menu.  The Antidepressant Chocolate Cookie and Outrageous BLT are examples.  Such dishes would be difficult to replicate at home because of the seasoned artistry they require.  The cookie employs toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, rather than nuts.  The BLT uses thick sliced, pepper encrusted bacon, juicy tomatoes, ripe avocado slices, roasted jalapeno, and a fine mayonnaise seasoned with lemon, garlic, paprika, and other spices importing a Moroccan influence.

A Moroccan theme shows itself on the menu and in the restaurant's decor: Moroccan Tagine (pork shoulder slow cooked with Moroccan spices) is served a number of different ways, the very popular Moroccan Tacos (tagine meat served inside homemade corn tortillas) and Sandwhich's celebrated Moroccan Iced Tea, made with green tea and "an armload of fresh mint". Other specialties from their menu include the Homemade Potato Chips which are drizzled with clarified butter, and sprinkled with kosher salt, and fresh parsley before serving. The Lemon Honey Cake, on their specials menu, has a surprising rosemary glaze. Beers and wines are carefully chosen to complement the food.

Sandwhich offers limited free parking.  Its terrace of outside seating, recessed from the street, is reminiscent of a European cafe.  Janet loves that it has become something of a local gathering place for the community.  Her vision for the future of Sandwhich, or SWCH, as she calls it (pronounced switch), includes continued growth and increased community engagement.

By guest blogger Jarrett L. 

DiningCHDPSandwhich, SWCH