Wowed by Wamba Juice & Deli’s winning mulligatawny soup at this spring’s Smudge Pot Stroll, I vowed to work the downtown deli into my lunch rotation more often.
Chef and owner Sage Taylor and her crew prepare soups, salads, sandwiches and, of course, juices and smoothies with care, using local products when possible. The eclectically homey atmosphere at the little restaurant at 207 W. Eighth St., Medford, welcomes those grabbing a quick bite and those wanting to linger.
The mulligatawny soup that won the People’s Choice at the Smudge Pot Stroll is part of an ever-changing lineup, so you’ll have to time things right to try the soup made with chicken and vibrant spinach and tomatoes in a light, delicately spiced base of coconut milk and chicken broth, then accented with apple and mango salsa. Taylor typically makes four or five varieties of soup each day. When I saw online that Vietnamese pho was on the menu, I was eager to check out her rendition of this soup known for subtle and complex flavors. It must be good because it was already sold out by the time I arrived.
No matter what is available, diners will find something delicious. I decided to order a daily lunch combo that would let me try a half sandwich with soup or salad for $9.75. The combo includes a choice of eight basic sandwiches: classics such as turkey, ham, roast beef, corned beef, salami, tuna, avocado or a BLT. Upgrading to a specialty turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich was just $1.50 more and I couldn’t resist. Each sandwich comes on a choice of Apple Cellar Bakery bread, either white, wheat or asiago basil rolls or sliced sourdough, whole wheat or rye. Tomato basil or garden spinach wraps are available, too, as is gluten-free bread for an extra $1.
For my sandwich, I opted for sourdough bread and chose provolone cheese, although cheddar, Swiss and pepper jack are also available. All Wamba’s sandwiches are made with meats from Cherry Street Meats and automatically come with mustard, mayonnaise, a mound of fresh, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and salt and pepper unless you speak up to make your preferences known. I liked it just the way it was designed, a tower of tastiness I could barely wrap my hands around.
The daily soup options leaned to the southwest with southwestern chicken, nacho supreme or chicken enchilada chili, but I picked the outlier — roasted garlic mushroom soup. The mellow flavor of roasted garlic permeated the thick, creamy soup, which was studded with hearty pieces of portabella mushrooms. A cup is the perfect portion when a soup is as rich as this.
Careful attention to flavorful details is apparent even in the water cooler at Wamba Juice, where water infused with fresh fruit is offered. Cheery wedges of watermelon brought a bright summery touch to ice water on my most recent visit.
Other lunch combos include a four-inch or half sandwich with chips and a soda for $8.75; a sandwich with potato or macaroni salad and a soda for $9.25; or soup, salad and garlic bread for $9.25. Early birds can check out breakfast sandwiches on bagels or English muffins.
Wamba Juice is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 541-779-2215 for deliveries in a limited downtown area.