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Togo's and others

A sandwich might not seem like a special meal. After all, anyone can slap something between two slices of bread and gobble it down while standing over the kitchen sink.

A good sandwich shop, though, can save a lazy diner from this fate, stacking up a careful balance of quality ingredients to create a quick, yet satisfying meal. Such a shop can, and should, develop a loyal following.

Togo's, a California-based chain of eateries that just opened a shop in Medford, has legions of dedicated fans, including my husband.

The chain has grown from a single sandwich shack in San Jose, started in 1971 by a college student with a big appetite and a limited budget, to a self-proclaimed "West Coast Original" with more than 240 outlets. The new shop in the Blue Sky Plaza at the corner of Biddle and McAndrews roads is only the fourth Togo's in Oregon.

Southern Oregon clearly has a hunger for the big sub sandwiches that Togo's is known for. The first time my husband and I stopped by to reacquaint ourselves with the sandwiches he fondly recalled from growing up in Citrus Heights, Calif., the restaurant was packed. Every seat was filled, and a line snaked around the shop, leaving hungry patrons with little room to move. We decided to come back later.

Another day when the throng had thinned, there was no line, but some varieties of bread were depleted, and the cheerful employees needed a few extra minutes to replenish the stock of pastrami. (I told you there were crowds of hungry fans here.)

The hot pastrami is a signature sandwich at Togo's, and the smell of the warming, cured meat permeates the shop. Thinly sliced pastrami is mounded on a chunky roll of your choice of bread — classic white, sourdough, whole-wheat, onion-herb or Parmesan — then topped with a selection of shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and pepperoncini and accented with a smear of mustard and mayo and a shake of salt and pepper.

Another menu mainstay is the turkey and avocado, featuring a generous helping of sliced turkey, a dollop of guacamole, which marketers proudly proclaim is made fresh daily, and the fresh fixings of your choice.

Prices for a 6-inch sandwich range from $4.60 to $5.95. A large, 9-inch sandwich is just $1.50 more. Three-inch minis of some of the menu's roughly 30 sandwich selections are available for $2.50. Wraps, salads and soups round out the choices.

If Togo's lines are long or you just want to express some local loyalty, Medford is home to plenty of other worthy sandwich spots.

R & D Sandwich Factory, 1132 N. Riverside Ave., has long been home to one of the fattest pastrami sandwiches in town. The 4-inch for $4.95 is enough for any normal appetite, but for $8.75 you can get an 8-inch sure to sate even the hungriest carnivore.

Mounds of meat are a cornerstone of many of the 20 sandwiches offered here, but R & D also has some simple veggie options, such as avocado and cheese. Prices for most hover around $5 for the generously portioned sandwiches called "small" here. Spaghetti — with or without meatballs — is a specialty at the shop, too.

Along with a hearty appetite, remember to bring cash or a check, as no credit or debit cards are accepted at R & D.

Joey's Italian Deli, 149 S. Central Ave., Medford, is a relative newcomer on the sandwich scene, having opened last spring. Brothers Joey and Gabriel Murphy, who also own Gogi's, bake their own bread — loaves that offer a perfect balance of crunchy and chewy crust and tender interior — then layer on gourmet ingredients, including meats they roast themselves, olive tapenade, pesto, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and cheeses, such as Gouda, Brie, Romano, Parmesan and fresh mozzarella.

The half sandwich here is plenty for me, and it's only $4. For $7, you can get a larger sandwich or a pizzetta, which are big enough to share.

— Anita Burke