A Sandwich a Day: The Meatball Sandwich at Potato Chips Deli in Los Angeles
East Coast versions of popular foods always seem to go through some sort of prism before reaching Los Angeles. There's our skewed West Coast version of pizza, of course, but even simple things like soft serve ice cream find a way to be different out here. Sandwiches, for better or worse, are in the same category—always fussed with.
At Potato Chips Deli on Stanley Avenue, between Beverly and Melrose, you'll find sandwiches that are an old-school exception to LA's normal subversions. The small deli, owned by longtime Angeleno Steve Arroyo, was originally open on Beverly Boulevard proper, before closing in favor of an upscale taqueria outpost by the same owner. But, sensing the neighborhood loss of good East Coast-style deli sandwiches, Arroyo reopened Potato Chips around the corner earlier this spring.
Now the neighborhood just east of Fairfax has more than corned beef and pastrami to rely on. Potato Chips' menu is all classic: A sopressata, capicola and mortadella Italian sub, a simple roasted turkey breast with shredded iceberg lettuce, and a straightforward eggplant parm.
Then there's the Meatball Sandwich ($10), a saucy, crunchy rendition of the East Coast deli stalwart. Loosely packed chuck beef meatballs are ground in-house and served with plenty of provolone and a slightly sweet red sauce. Instead of tough, long-sitting beef meatballs or the gigantic, salty grey orbs that can find their way into less exacting versions, the meatball sub at Potato Chips is both simple and well-executed.
The only real difference from what you might expect is the crusty bread. It's a house-baked version of a soft Italian loaf, but with a thin, crunchy exterior. If anything, the bread is an upgrade from the thick, overly dense hoagie rolls that are often encountered at lesser delis.
At Potato Chips Deli, it's (thankfully) all about the sandwiches. You won't find a cold case full of pre-packaged sides, just bagged chips from Wise and Utz and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. The small deli space demands simplicity; it's a lesson that lots of other sandwich shops in Los Angeles could learn from.