Bites Outside the Bubble: Cheeky Sandwiches
The storefront for Cheeky Sandwiches is so unassuming you’ll probably miss it, even if you’ve been there before and know what you’re looking before. Tucked away on Orchard Street on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, the simple white and blue exterior that claims to be open from “kinda early to kinda late” disguises an incredible hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop you won’t want to miss next time you’re downtown.
Inside, Cheeky’s is scarcely wider than a Plimpton hallway, with a bare industrial interior that allows customers to see straight back to the storage area. One white wall is dominated by a quote painted in red, while the other is covered in drawn figures. There’s some narrow bar seating and two small tables, but if you come during a busy hour you should expect to take your food to go.
Cheeky’s has a tight menu that offers six different elevated classic sandwiches, a breakfast option, plus a handful of desserts and beverages. The customer favorite is the chicken sandwich, which consists of fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit with coleslaw and gravy. The chicken comes in a dark, crunchy batter that offsets the thick gravy layered on top of it. To counteract these richer flavors, the coleslaw features a bright purple cabbage that introduces both sharpness and color to the sandwich.
If you’re not feeling your chicken fantasy, another standout option is the beef sandwich, which consists of braised short bread on toasted challah bread with cherry tomatoes, wild arugula, and horseradish sauce. This sandwich hits all the notes perfectly, marrying a range of textures and flavors in an absolutely perfect combination.
Not a meat eater? No problem! Cheeky’s also offers a shrimp po’boy for pescatarians and, for vegetarians, an impressive veggie sandwich featuring their “Mufallata Pickle Mix” made of olives, cauliflower, capers, carrots, shallots, garlic, artichoke hearts, and pimento on a toasted olive loaf.
If you have room after your sandwich, Cheeky’s offers simple fried dough beignets, which the cashier was nice enough to offer me and my dining companion for free (although they only cost a dollar, which you should absolutely pay back in tip!). They also serve a buttermilk biscuit with jam, which their website calls a house favorite.
The cherry on top of Cheeky’s menu is that their sandwiches will only run you between $4.50 and $8.50, making the shop a totally affordable stop for the best sandwich you’ll ever eat. If you find yourself near Orchard Street, it’s absolutely worth dropping in. In fact, it’s even worth making the trip downtown exclusively to go to Cheeky’s.