A soup and a sandwich. It’s about as stereotypical a lunch as you will find. That’s probably why so many restaurants offer soup and sandwich specials during the midday rush.
But just because it’s simple, that doesn’t mean it has to be to boring. Some places have taken it beyond grilled cheese and tomato soup.
One of those places is Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches.
Isaac’s began more than 30 years ago with a single location in downtown Lancaster. From there it has grown into a successful and popular regional chain with 17 locations across six Pennsylvania counties: seven in Lancaster, three each in York and Cumberland, two in Dauphin, one in Chester, and a single location in Berks County.
A bright pink flamingo beckons customers into the Village Square Shopping Center along Broadcasting Road in Wyomissing.
What makes Isaac’s unique from other restaurants is the simplicity of its menu. There are no “dinners,” no smattering of side dishes. Instead, it’s all about soups, salads and sandwiches.
That doesn’t mean the menu lacks variety. On the contrary, there are plenty of options, especially for sandwiches where you can order flatbreads, pretzel sandwiches, French bread sandwiches, Reubens, clubs and more.
Soup offerings are more limited. The creamy pepperjack tomato is available every day, along with one other flavor that rotates daily. According to Isaac’s website, there are more than 100 flavors in rotation.
On our visit, the soup of the day was potato garlic. With the main ingredients being two of my favorite things, I could not resist ordering a cup. While not overly garlicky, you could definitely pick up its flavor. Every bite it seemed had a sliver of potato skin, which only enhanced the delicious flavors. The soup was complimented by a piece of toast, which did more than just add to the presentation.
As it was December, I decided to be festive with my sandwich choice and order from Isaac’s holiday menu: the swan club.
No, there is no swan in the swan club. Every sandwich at Isaac’s is named for a type of bird, and the swan club was the name given to Isaac’s version of the Pilgrim sandwich (better known around here as the Wawa gobbler). The club was stacked with turkey, brown gravy, bacon, mayo, tomato, lettuce, cranberry sauce (I decided to hold the cheddar). With it soaked in gravy, the middle slice of bread served as a stand-in for stuffing, creating an entire holiday meal in one sandwich. The bacon was a nice addition, adding saltiness and a crunchy texture. What could have been a soggy mess was instead a delicious, cohesive sandwich.
While I was looking for a more substantial sandwich, Isaac’s offers a combo of a bowl of soup and half of a sandwich. Julie decided on a mix of Isaac’s tomato soup and the hoopoe: tun salad, melted cheddar, bacon and tomatoes on multigrain bread.
The pepperjack cheese gives the tomato soup a completely new flavor, adding both a little spiciness and a little creaminess to the bowl. The homemade croutons only add to it, providing a zesty crunch to compliment the soup.
The tuna in the sandwich was very flavorful, and mixed very well with the cheddar cheese. And as you know, bacon makes everything better, and it was a welcome addition. Multigrain bread seems odd, but it worked really well to compliment all of the ingredients.
When we finished with our sandwiches and piles of homemade chips, our final food bill was right around $20 (the addition of a couple speckled lemonades brought the total up a little higher).
With a menu that consists almost exclusively of soup and sandwiches, Isaac’s is not your traditional restaurant.
And with soup and sandwiches that are anything but traditional, it’s a great place for lunch or dinner.