As my lovely bride has said before, Its hard to mess up a sandwich. Shes right, but it says something when youve been making sandwiches for 30 years, which is how long Zanders Deli has been in its Forest Hill Road location.
If theres some kind of special ingredient, itd be the seasoned salt that finds its way into most everything, but the real secret seems to be the service. Theres a family vibe at Zanders, which makes sense because its family owned and operated -- presently on just its second owner, after its first loaned his middle name to the eatery that prides itself on being known humbly as The Lunch Place.
Open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. only, thats exactly what Zanders does: lunch. Quick. Friendly. Quiet. In a world that adds new bells and whistles to everything it can get its hands on, Zanders works because its focused on being simple, steady and efficient.
Of course, it helps that the food is good, but theres no secret to ordering here. If you can pick out your favorite meat from ham, turkey, corned beef and roast beef, pair it with either American or Swiss cheese, and decide whether it goes on white, wheat or rye, youll be in good shape.
The whole menu works that way, with familiar items made as youd expect: pimento cheese sandwich, egg salad sandwich, chicken salad, tuna salad, vegetable soup, etc. The exceptions are the Zanders Cracker -- choice of a meat and cheese on a white tortilla wrap -- and the enormous (and mighty filling) Triple-Decker, a sort of beefed up club: three slices of bread with ham, turkey, bacon, cheese and all the fixings.
Everything I had -- from the Rueben to the Zanders Jr. -- was obviously fresh and made-to-order. And everything was tasty. Nothing was outstanding, but I wouldnt turn my nose up at anything either. It was all good and a great bargain, too.
Speaking of, to keep their costs down -- so the sign says -- they dont accept credit or debit, so if you dont have cash or checks, you better find some. I didnt, and had to make a trip to the ATM. That was the only hiccup, and really, thats more of a product of the times than anything else.
In fact, Zanders has a thoroughly anachronistic flair from the simplicity of the menu and the payment options to the wall of pictures that depict the way Macon used to be.
It took me longer than normal to leave because I found myself looking at pictures of our city Id never seen before, which is saying something because Im hooked on that sort of thing. While you might find an egg salad sandwich anywhere in the country, Zanders Deli feels like the kind of place that really could only be in Macon. Theres something comforting and appealing about that. Its the sort of thing that motivates repeat customers and might just keep a restaurant in business for a while -- like 30 years.
Two and half stars
Address: 1568 Forest Hill Road
Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays
Payment: Cash or check only
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Price range: from $3.99-$7.49