On one of my usual web surfing sessions recently, I stumbled upon a new website for downtown commerce: http://digdowntownjax.com. I was scanning the posts when I came across the brief post “Time to Go Off the Grid” by Tony Allegretti. It described a little sandwich shop located in an old bank vault in downtown Jacksonville.
Lunch in a bank vault? I was instantly fascinated and knew I had to check it out as soon as I could, so Adam and I met up for a lunch date to hunt this place down (the blog post was pretty vague.
Benny’s is located downtown just north of the Bank of America building in the bank vault of the old Atlantic National Bank.
They have an outdoor sandwich sign to help draw some outsider business in. Funny, I recall having passed this before, but never really thought to check out what Benny’s Sandwich Shop actually was.
So, how do you get there? You enter the building, and walk down the hall.
Turn left at the first set of stairs on your left. This takes you to the tunnels. Maybe that rumor of Jax having an underground tunnel system is true?
So glad there’s that teeny tiny sign on the wall to help direct us!
Along the way, you get a special treat displaying several photos comparing Jacksonville now to Jacksonville then. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth stretching the legs to check these out for yourself.
Main Street Bridge.
Suddenly among all the hallways and doors, Benny’s Sandwich Shop appears.
We were instantly greeted by Sarah who was really friendly and happy to see us. Really, she could NOT have been more friendly and inviting.
We snuck a peek over the counter at Benny himself, who was relaxing reading the paper in the corner. He was also answering any phone calls that came in.
Their menu board.
They proudly display previous news coverage on the wall.
Just as their sign says, “…so much more than a sandwich shop. Gourmet Chocolates, Gifts & Cards.” If you work downtown and find yourself in a bind for a last minute card or gift, they have a wide selection here! Just run over, quickly get what you need and maybe even grab a bite to go.
They also have another employee (seen here) but I forgot to get his name. He was super helpful as well.
One of the one things I KNEW was I had to try Sarah’s hummus. It was the lone tip on Urbanspoon. It was really good. Thick, creamy and tasty. They provided pita bread that was warmed up too. I love hummus with warm pita bread. This hummus would be REALLY good with green and red peppers and veggies too.
Since I had to haul a** to get downtown on my lunch break (I don’t work downtown, AND I only get an hour for lunch. Lame.), I ordered the Tuna Melt for a quick option. I didn’t really have time to be picky and scan the menu. They asked if I wanted anything else in it like Tomatoes. I love tomatoes but not in my sandwich, so I asked for it on the side. They were really fresh.
Now I’ll admit the sandwich wasn’t anything AMAZING. It’s a regular ol’ tuna melt sandwich. It came out super quick which was great, but could have been more cheezy melty. I was so starving I could have eaten two of these! I really liked that this was very tuna-y (Is that even a word?) and not loaded down mayo-y. It was just the right balance.
We asked what their most popular item was, and was told it was the Steak in a Sack, so that’s what Adam went with. The Steak in a Sack is more than just that. It’s sliced sirloin, cooked with onions, spices and stuffed into a pita served “all the way” with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, pickles, banana peppers, and house dressing. Adam said it was really good, but he felt he could have eaten 2 or 3. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people DID order two.
Adam DID say one thing he REALLY enjoyed about eating there. Although I was taking an occasional picture, he got my full attention because there’s no internet service! I had half a bar the whole time and the phone was very sluggish. Why would this be? The whole shop is inside an old bank vault (not to mention underground)
If you’ve been to Benny’s or make it there to try it out, let me know what you thought of it!