Jamis Quest is my suggestion for a road bike. One of the best component mixes for the money.
That being said, no road bike is going to be great going over potholes. You'll have to be careful with your rims, and maybe even put larger tires on.
You might also consider the speedbike/hybrid straight bar category. Specialized Sirrus, Giant Cypress SX/SL, Jamis Coda (steel), Felt SR series and others. Some have a mtn bike type frame, others a road frame, and all are made so that you can add larger tires, probably up to 37s. I have a Cypress SX at $600 retail, and I really like it. It's more of an upright riding position, which I think is better in traffic.
Mine came with 700x28s which I think is fine. Any larger and the bike would start to slow down. As it is, my average speed is basically the same as it is on my road bike. And I'm not wearing the road bike out either.