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Let’s do lunch: Dagwood’s brings stacked sub sandwiches to IUPUI

Aug 28, 2017

Just a short walk from the Indiana University School of Medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is another IU flagship, one that has fed thousands of Hoosiers since 1985.

Dagwood’s Deli & Sub Shop has expanded outside of the friendly confines of Bloomington to downtown Indianapolis, right by the IUPUI campus. The restaurant located at 923 Indiana Ave., which has dine-in and delivery, opened in 2016.

The Indy Dagwood’s keeps up the tradition of piling the meat high and heavy on freshly made bread. Owner/operator John DeVries said Hoosier alumni who work at IUPUI were his initial regulars.

Soup and a sandwich are ready to eat.
An order of Wicked Chicken Thai soup and a Hoosier Hoagie is ready to eat.Photo by Tim Brouk, IU Communications

“When they first come through the door,” said DeVries, an IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs alumnus and a former IU football lineman, “they’re overwhelmed with happiness, and I can see memories going through their minds as they look through the menu. It’s nostalgic. Dagwood’s was a big part of their lives. When they graduated, they missed it.”

Nestled in a strip mall between Paca Street and Indiana Avenue, the eatery employs IUPUI students and delivers across campus as well as a two-mile radius beyond. DeVries knows Jaguars prey upon Dagwood’s.

Dagwood’s sandwiches come loaded: Toppings, choices of bread and signature subs give the customer options upon options. DeVries said his deli meats are “whole muscle,” not processed. While not quite as extreme as the “Blondie” comic-strip character of the same name’s tall, eclectic sandwiches, Dagwood’s selections are dense and delicious.

For the budget-minded customer, DeVries said the “Cheap Stuff!” menu’s “midi” subs are still filling but offer a lighter lunch. The 8-inch Midi Turkey Bacon Club is popular. For vegetarians, the grilled cheese – Swiss, colby and provolone – and the 8-inch Veggie Midi Sub loaded with any topping are popular picks. The top vegan choice is the hummus wrap with lettuce, tomato, black olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, sprouts and cucumber.

Dagwood’s gourmet and specialty subs are the headliners, however. Top recommendations: The Reuben lives up to its legacy with mounds of corned beef slathered with melted Swiss, sauerkraut and Dijon on thick marbled rye, while The Ultimate Turkey Sandwich fulfills its bold name with turkey breast, avocado slices, cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and chipotle mayonnaise.

Dagwood’s Deli & Sub Shop

DeVries said the Hot Steak & Cheese sells better here than in Bloomington. This sandwich is piled with hot ribeye steak thinly sliced and marinated in Worcestershire sauce and au jus and topped with green peppers and onions. And, of course, the king of Dagwood’s is its namesake selection – the Dagwood Supreme. For the uninitiated, this work of culinary art is a medley of roast beef, ham, turkey, provolone, colby, lettuce, tomato, onions and a tangy smear of Dagwood’s Special Sauce.

The soup menu is also worth a delivery or a walk over. DeVries rotates three made-from-scratch soups daily from a bullpen of eight. The White Cheddar Poblano, Roasted Red Pepper, Chicken ‘N’ Dumpling and Wicked Thai Chicken can complement a sandwich or stand out on their own.

DeVries expects his second year next to IUPUI to be stronger than the first. He will soon be introducing grilled chicken salad and fresh fruit smoothies to the menu to give it a healthier kick. 

In time, DeVries hopes his location will become the IUPUI college tradition like the mothership in Bloomington. Word of mouth has kept the Dagwood’s brand and culture alive through the decades.

“The seniors would pass it on to the freshmen,” DeVries explained. “They’d find new customers every year. We know some customers who would drive to Bloomington just for Dagwood’s. Now, they don’t have to.”

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