A car service appointment took me to the American Tobacco Campus Monday morning. I worked and had a blended mocha at Saladelia before packing up and walking across Blackwell Street and by the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for lunch. I was headed to Moe's Southwest Grill, a favorite of mine; I like the Julia Gulia, the vegetarian double stack that I can load up with mushrooms and olives. I paused for a moment. Should I go to Mellow Mushroom for the vegetarian pizza, the one with the tempeh? Nah, too expensive for a lunch. So I continued toward Moe's, passing Only Burger and briefly peeking in at the vegetarian options on their menu as well.
But wait - hold on a second - here's this 'Wedgie's' place. I'd heard about Wedgie's from Friend of Argyle ('Argyle Ally'?) Andrew Stilwell. The first Wedgie's is in a Southern Pines gas station, and he'd texted me excitedly when they expanded to Durham. 'You've got to try this place,' he said, or something like that, in a text that I can't locate at the moment. I was skeptical of the name. He understood, but asked that I trust him.
So on this rainy Durham afternoon, I ducked in to Wedgie's. There was a gaggle of ATC co-workers eagerly awaiting their orders. I picked up a menu and began to study.
A 'wedgie,' I gather, in this context, is not a schoolyard bullying tactic in which one boy hoists another by the beltloops in an attempt to wedge the bullied's underwear up in his unfinished basement, but rather a triangular grilled sandwich. Available in white, wheat, rye, or in a low carb option, the wedgie boasts hot meats, melted cheeses and grilled vegetables, pressed between two slices of pizza dough.
Wedgie's menu tempts you from above, with offerings listed on pallets, echoing the history of this working-class downtown district. The Wedgie's Original is ham, turkey and salami with mozzarella cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise. The 'Pitching' drops the ham and salami but adds bacon and sprouts, swapping the mozzarella for swiss. Wedgie's also offers cuban, reuben, Italian, Texas and New Yorker sandwiches, with the requisite meats. Also Wedgie's caters to both sides of the state with both Eastern and Western North Carolina barbecue sandwiches, although they call them 'BBQ' sandwiches, an abbreviation I don't subscribe to. I should add that customers can also request any sandwich be made into a salad, with a choice of dressing.
A 1/2 wedge is $5.25 while a full wedge goes for another three dollars. One can make it a combo with a side and a drink for an additional $2.75.
I thought Pitching was a reference to the DBAP, but I'm realizing now it's a nod to the restaurant's Southern Pines/Pinehurst roots. Pitching wedge, lob wedge, birdie, etc.
Wedgie's has two dedicated vegetarian options: a Lob, with cucumber, mushrooms, onion, tomato, sprouts, mozzarella, lettuce and pesto mayo; and a Change Up, with portabella mushrooms, swiss, tomato, onion and pesto mayo. I went with the Change Up, with chips (Zapp's New Orleans, in this case, although Wedge's offers Cheetos and SunChips as well) and a drink. Wedgie's pours Pepsi products, though I choose to mix sweet and unsweet iced tea. Other than chips, one can order homemade potato salad, homemade broccoli salad or cole slaw.
Given the number of people standing around waiting for orders, I expected a long wait. So I was pleasantly surprised when my order was delivered to my table in fewer than five minutes.
The Change Up is a nice sandwich. A really good sandwich, on pizza dough. I am a folder of especially large pizza slices, so I was right at home here. I appreciated that both the mushrooms and tomatoes were chunked, not sliced. The tomatoes had never seen the inside of a refrigerator - just the right consistency for a grilled sandwich. The onions, too were perfectly grilled. Just a little brown, just a little clear. The provolone was a nice fit with the mushrooms, and just melty enough. Tying it all together was the pesto mayo. I think plain mayonnaise would have been lacking. All in all, it's a terrific vegetarian offering at a place that doesn't specialize in vegetarian offerings.
The chips were fine, but they were out of a bag. Next time, I'm going to reach for that potato salad. I'm not a cole slaw fan, but I appreciate that homemade slaw is on the menu.
The Wedgie's staff was friendly, and the service was quick. This place is going to do really well in the American Tobacco District, where downtowners can walk, grab a satisfying back and then head back to work. I'll be back, for sure. Big things, indeed, often have small beginnings.
Wedgie's Durham is at The American Tobacco Campus, 359 Blackwell Street, Durham, NC
Visit them online at www.eatwedgies.com or call 919 908 6346.