Wrap star

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Remember back when "phat" was beautiful? Yeah, I've gotta scratch my head on that one too, but I'd say it was somewhere around the time P. Diddy was wearing out one of his previous identities but still semi-regularly recording his own music.

Certainly no one today would contend that "phat" is hip-hop hip. So what cultural currency does "phat" now carry with it? I ask this because after recently telling a friend I ate at a place on the OSU campus called Phat Wraps, he started laughing.

Well, in this case, it doesn't matter what's in a name, because even if Phat Wraps' chosen title might be behind the times, the place is definitely up to speed in many other ways. And besides, it makes great sandwiches - or rather, lets you do it.

P. Wraps' tiny deep blue and metal gray building brings a distinct swath of flashy, streamlined style to an otherwise stolid part of Campus. A big, showy green sign outside announces that the tiny shop itself is green. It brags that it's "a new generation of fast food," that it uses no processed foods, is environmentally friendly, has biodegradable take-out boxes and napkins, uses utensils made out of potatoes and overall offers fresh, locally purchased ingredients.

That was plenty to convince me to enter its diminutive space. Once inside, I was welcomed by insistently upbeat, propulsive techno-beat and, in lieu of tables, a limited lineup of stainless-steel stools facing minimal blond wooden counters to perch sandwiches on.

Phat Wraps doesn't have a menu (though if it did, maybe it'd be called the "Wrap Sheet") and it doesn't need one, because there's only three options: steak (my favorite, it eats "flanky," is juicy and garlicky - get it with cheese), veggie (a fine quality soy product, sort of ham-like and slightly sweet) or chicken (a gnarly mix of light and dark meat). All are applied in generous quantities.

Each piled-up protein gets seared in about two extremely short minutes on a panini grill. Afterwards, it's placed on a grilled (but not long enough) pita bread, and then it's DIY time. Big time.

You see, P. Wraps is all about the fabulous fresh fixins, and they've got tons of them. Basically, you're offered anything and everything you'd ever think about putting on a banh mi (a Vietnamese "sub" - P. Wraps is co-owned by North Market's Lac Viet).

So there's maybe 10 kinds of hot sauces, a spicy mayo (I consider this a must) plus the following flagrant flavor and crunch contributors: Thai basil, cilantro, limes, cucumber wedges, incendiary fresh jalapeno rings, a cabbage medley, an onion medley, carrot shards, sliced romaine lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Heck, that garrison of great garnishes would probably taste good even on shoestrings - but get the juicy steak or surprisingly satisfying "veggie" instead.

Phat Wraps

10 E. 12th Ave., Campus