It’s been five years since Knuckle Sandwiches opened its doors on Broad Street. The bare-bones sandwich shop can be found at 1149 Broad, identifiable by the logo on the window — a bare-knuckle boxer with fists full of sandwiches.
Central to the most populated blocks downtown, Knuckle Sandwiches used to just capture the late-night crowds as they empty from the bars, but they’re now open Wednesday through Saturday from an 4 p.m. until… whenever. And it’s not surprising that they attracted the kind of attention that propelled them through their first five years in business; the aroma of damn fine food hits you from about a half-block away. With a few beers down your neck, that smell will have you fumbling for your wallet.
My husband and I went on a Friday evening, and downtown was packed. After a tiny three-block hike, following the beautiful smell of beef and pork was quite exciting. I’d never been to Knuckle Sandwiches before, though it had been on my list of musts for a while. Reading the online reviews, I saw rave after rave for the PBR-B-Q and found plenty of Knuckle Sandwiches fans.
First impressions? The restaurant is tiny. As in it’s not really a sit-down spot. Not to say you can’t grab one of the bigger tables outside when the weather’s amenable, but inside it’s a tight squeeze. Fine for couples and small groups, but not if you have kids, are thinking of sprawling across a massive table, or in need of elbow room.
And this place is laid back. The interior’s low-lighting and reddish walls gives off some cozy vibes. The whole place is low-key; completely absent of any bells and whistles. The drinks are on display in a couple of half-fridges, and the menu items are listed on separate wood signs on the wall. As are the directions on how to order. Customers can grab some paper towels and condiments from below the signs. Low-maintenance but totally effective business solutions.
The menu consists of eight choices. A cheese steak, a veggie burger, a bacon cheeseburger, chicken, the PBR-B-Q, wings, a grilled cheese and a hot dog. On occasion Knuckle Sandwiches throws a special dish on the menu, such as Tacos Rosados or Chili Cream Dogs, usually announced on Facebook.
Since it was early Friday evening and we had other plans, we got our food to go. We ordered, paid the $19 for our meal and then we waited/looked around/stared at each other for maybe five minutes until the food was ready. Simple and fast.
I opted for the Uppercut Cheese Steak — sliced ribeye, peppers, onions, mushrooms and all of it smothered with cheddar on toasted French bread with a side of chili ranch dip that I put on everything. My husband went with the PBR-B-Q — shaved beer-braised shoulder topped with cheese — and holy crap it smelled so good I was jealous.
No need! Turns out the most amazeballs food coming from Knuckle Sandwiches are the fries! My sandwich was really very tasty, and I can’t complain — it was everything I hoped it would be. It certainly wasn’t a gastronomic revelation, but I’m down with absolutely everything thrown in it and yes I’ll happily eat it again. More likely to happen after a few drinks with friends than if I were to have to make a special trip.
But those fries. Yes, they are divine. Crispy and perfectly seasoned, they took only about three minutes for me to inhale. A few remained in my sandwich just to add another layer of awesome.
It does say a lot, though, when the fries are the most incredible part of your dinner.
But who cares? It’s great that there’s a place opened late for folks who have a (night) life downtown. They aren’t setting out to be a high-end fine dining experience. Knuckle Sandwiches is a convenient spot for some late-night munchies — delicious (not healthy) food to help soak up the brews. Don’t mistake it for anything else; just enjoy it for what it is.
1149 Broad Street
Wednesday-Saturday, 4 p.m.-until