Take the B/D to Grand Street in NYC, navigate to a hole-in-the-wall squeezed between two shops, with a blank sign on top and tacky electric-blue shutters and walk into: gustatorial paradise.
With nothing but Cheeky’s signature logo thinly emblazoned over the door and a series of pencil sketches taped over the windows, this tiny New Orleans-inspired sandwich shop is easy to pass without a thought.
Enter Cheeky’s and inhale the enchanting aroma of sweet buttermilk biscuits and steaming plates of chicken sandwiches and po’ boys, in an intimate space with a certain rustic charm. Inspirational quotes and modern art adorn the walls in bright paint, kitchenware lines the wall shelving, hovering over the bar-cooks attending to customers, leaning over the bar to take orders and simultaneously whipping up biscuit batter and crafting mouthwatering sandwiches.
The wait time is unknown. You can sit at the bar and enjoy cold beer or Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale and wait up to 50 minutes (when it’s rush hour time) for a sandwich. If you’re lucky, you can get one as soon as you order. Food aside, Cheeky’s outstanding customer service is what makes the long wait worth it. The staff is very friendly and they genuinely care about customer’s satisfaction – from serving free sugared fried balls, offering free drinks, and reassuring a hungry/cranky customer, they treat waiting customers very well.
Seating is limited. You can sit around the bar or grab the one table with a group of friends. The line usually goes out the door.
Oh but the sandwiches are so worth it. Behold Cheeky’s classic chicken sandwich, which consists of sweet buttery biscuits encasing a dripping, delicious hot mess of crunchy friend chicken dressed with bright purple cole slaw and their signature gravy. Don’t take your date here if you want to present your clean and neat self. You’ll have gravy hands pretty soon.
Cheeky’s po’boy is also legendary. Unlike a regular po’, they pile the mayo, lettuce, tomato, and meat of your choice on airy and crackling loaves of bread shipped from John Gendusa Bakery back in New Orleans. At $8.50 per pop, their crunchy deepfried oyster po’boys fall short on the ingredients side (not enough oyster for the price) but the immaculate marriage of flavor, texture, and quality is worth it.
Their presentation – with the beyond-rustic storefront and lack of signage – may be cheeky, but their truly unique sandwiches and customer service – not so much.
Food: 4 out of 5
Affordability: 4 out of 5
Ambiance: 3 out of 5