I ate at Jersey Mike's for the first time and saw why it's America's favorite sandwich chain

Jersey Mike's lineIrene Jiang / Business Insider

Jersey Mike's was named America's favorite sandwich chain in a recent Market Force survey, beating out last year's champion, the convenience store Wawa.

The survey, which included responses from more than 7,600 people, found that respondents also preferred Jersey Mike's to Subway, Arby's, Panera, Jimmy John's, and Firehouse Subs. Jersey Mike's ranked especially high for food quality, staff friendliness, and value for money spent.

I've never eaten at a Jersey Mike's, although I've eaten many times at competing restaurants. Subway was my go-to for a cheap, quick, and reasonably healthy meal throughout college, and Panera was my splurge version of that. So where does Jersey Mike fit in?

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I decided to see what all the hubbub was for myself. With my trusty camera and a handful of lactose pills, I took the PATH train to Hoboken, New Jersey, and trekked to the nearest Jersey Mike's.

I was not prepared for what I was about to experience.

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As I approached Jersey Mike's, I noticed a line out the door.

As I approached Jersey Mike's, I noticed a line out the door.

It turns out I'd come on the day after this store's opening. No wonder it only had two reviews on Google.

It turns out I'd come on the day after this store's opening. No wonder it only had two reviews on Google.

Inside was compact — and packed. Luckily, the line was moving quickly and most people weren't dining in.

Inside was compact — and packed. Luckily, the line was moving quickly and most people weren't dining in.

The sandwich assembly begins in the back, where prep work happens.

The sandwich assembly begins in the back, where prep work happens.

I saw a case full of hams, cheeses, and other deli specialties.

I saw a case full of hams, cheeses, and other deli specialties.

Read more: I taste-tasted the signature breakfast sandwiches from 6 major fast-food chains, and the winner was clear

They were sliced to order at lightning speed and layered onto sandwich bread by one crew member.

They were sliced to order at lightning speed and layered onto sandwich bread by one crew member.

Everything happened faster than I could keep track of. My meat-topped bun was passed over to the toppings person, who slapped toppings on with remarkable precision and speed.

Everything happened faster than I could keep track of. My meat-topped bun was passed over to the toppings person, who slapped toppings on with remarkable precision and speed.

Veggies were followed by an overly generous squirt of vinegar.

Veggies were followed by an overly generous squirt of vinegar.

Next, someone capped my sandwich with its top bun and sliced it in half.

Next, someone capped my sandwich with its top bun and sliced it in half.

It was rolled up in the blink of an eye. Every element of the process was speedy and organized, but at no point did I feel like I was being rushed.

It was rolled up in the blink of an eye. Every element of the process was speedy and organized, but at no point did I feel like I was being rushed.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich "Mike's way," with pepper relish and a chips-and-drink combo. I also grabbed a pack of sugar cookies from the counter.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich "Mike's way," with pepper relish and a chips-and-drink combo. I also grabbed a pack of sugar cookies from the counter.

I unwrapped my roast beef sandwich like a child unwrapping the biggest gift at Christmas.

I unwrapped my roast beef sandwich like a child unwrapping the biggest gift at Christmas.

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It was soggy and wet at the bottom, but otherwise it was intact.

It was soggy and wet at the bottom, but otherwise it was intact.

It was dripping with vinegar, but I was delighted as I pulled the sandwich apart. The roast beef was rare and marbled, and it couldn't have been fresher.

It was dripping with vinegar, but I was delighted as I pulled the sandwich apart. The roast beef was rare and marbled, and it couldn't have been fresher.

The ingredients were layered together beautifully. I couldn't believe that such a photogenic sandwich had come together so quickly.

The ingredients were layered together beautifully. I couldn't believe that such a photogenic sandwich had come together so quickly.

The bread was chewy, the beef tender, and the veggies fresh and crisp. Nothing felt off, old, or anything less than top quality.

The bread was chewy, the beef tender, and the veggies fresh and crisp. Nothing felt off, old, or anything less than top quality.

However, there was definitely too much vinegar. It had soaked through the bottom bun, and unfortunately it also overpowered the flavor of the other ingredients.

However, there was definitely too much vinegar. It had soaked through the bottom bun, and unfortunately it also overpowered the flavor of the other ingredients.

Still, this was a new location, and half of the line staff were new and in training. I'll also just ask for no vinegar next time.

Still, this was a new location, and half of the line staff were new and in training. I'll also just ask for no vinegar next time.

Read more: I tried the signature burgers from 5 major fast-food chains, and the winner was obvious

My meal didn't end with the sandwich. I had dessert waiting for me: sugar cookies.

My meal didn't end with the sandwich. I had dessert waiting for me: sugar cookies.

The cookie broke apart as I was trying to take it out of the bag.

The cookie broke apart as I was trying to take it out of the bag.

It was buttery soft, rich, and sugary — a solid sugar cookie.

It was buttery soft, rich, and sugary — a solid sugar cookie.

I understand why Jersey Mike's draws lines out the door. Those lines move quickly because food is prepared in an efficient assembly line that doesn't sacrifice friendliness or service. There's an emphasis on freshness, quality, and convenience. You leave feeling full, balanced, and satisfied.

I understand why Jersey Mike's draws lines out the door. Those lines move quickly because food is prepared in an efficient assembly line that doesn't sacrifice friendliness or service. There's an emphasis on freshness, quality, and convenience. You leave feeling full, balanced, and satisfied.
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