Some of us spend years identifying our favorite, go-to sandwich that has a perfect meat-to-bread ratio and the ability to fill us with all the good feelings. To aid your unending quest for sandwich bliss, we asked 12 top DC chefs about their all-time favorites.
Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley, The Arsenal & GBD
Why we picked him: He loves hoagies so much that he named his dog Hoagie Bear.
Favorite sandwich: Bub’s Italian Hoagie at Bub & Pop’s
Where to get it: Dupont Circle
What it is: Genoa salami, prosciutto, capicola, pepperoni, aged provolone, arugula, Roma tomatoes, hoagie relish, mayo, Bub’s vinaigrette, and pecorino romano
Why he digs it: "I've probably eaten thousands of Italian hoagies -- at least one a week since 1988,” Kyle tells us. “I grew up in Southeastern, PA, where the greatest convenience store of all time, Wawa, is prevalent. But there are also countless mom-and-pop hoagie shops in the region. Bub & Pop’s nails my favorite sandwich. The shop has a great vibe -- they're always ready to take care of you."
Matt Adler of Osteria Morini
Why we picked him: Surely the man responsible for Osteria Morini’s epic lunch paninis knows a good sandwich when he sees one.
Favorite sandwich: The Half Street at DGS Delicatessen
Where to get it: Dupont Circle & Merrifield
What it is: DGS pastrami, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese & mustard on double-baked rye
Why he digs it: “When I take the first bite it just reminds me of NYC, and it’s always delicious,” Matt tells us. “I like to ask for a side of Russian dressing for dipping. That, and a Doctor Brown’s black cherry soda and you pretty much have the perfect lunch.”
Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bar
Why we picked her: We are really REALLY excited about her upcoming Petworth cocktail bar, Twisted Horn.
Favorite sandwich: The Good Feather at Buffalo & Bergen
Where to get it: Union Market
What it is: Turkey, bacon, Mixtress-made pesto, mozzarella, and tomato on a bagel
Why she digs it: “It’s a hearty portion and has a delicious combination of flavors,” Jamie says. Hearty indeed. The thing is basically a leaning tower of PLEASE-a. Pro tip: get it on an everything bagel.
Michael Schlow of Tico and The Riggsby
Why we picked him: He just opened a restaurant, which requires a lot late nights fueled by sandwiches. Oh, and he’s on TV a lot.
Favorite sandwich(es): Both the Cauliflower and Spiced Baby Goat at G by Mike Isabella
Where to get them: 14th Street
What they are: The Roasted Cauliflower with romesco, pickled vegetables, and paprika & the Spiced Baby Goat with harissa, lemon potatoes, and oregano
Why he digs them: “Luckily, both of my favorite sandwiches can both be found at the same place,” Michael says. “Each of these sandwiches packs a lot of punch between the bread, and it's such a toss-up that I usually order both so I can have half of each!”
Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro
Why we picked him: We wanted to see Kaz out of his sushi-chef element.
Favorite sandwich: The 4 Meat Grinder at Stachowski Market
Where to get it: Georgetown
What it is: Salami, coppa, mortadella, soppressata with provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and house vinaigrette
Why he digs it: “Chef Jamie knows how to play with meat,” Kaz tells us. “At $12.99, the 4 Meat Grinder sounds a bit pricy, but it is big enough for two people, so it’s actually very good price.”
Danny Lee of Mandu
Why we picked him: Danny won Cochon this year. Being the Prince of Porc comes with responsibility, like pointing us towards good sandwiches.
Favorite sandwich: The BLT at Breadsoda
Where to get it: Glover Park
What it is: Applewood-smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise on toasted sourdough bread
Why he digs it: “The BLT at Breadsoda is great because it's a no-frills, standard BLT, but done with a lot of care,” Danny says. “The bacon is nice and thick, and has a nice exterior crunch. They also keep the lettuce ice cold until they place it on the sandwich so that it keeps crispy, and then the sourdough is toasted perfectly for that extra bit of char and texture.” He also likes the bread-to-filling ratio.
Alex McCoy, formerly of Duke’s Grocery and chef/owner of a forthcoming DC restaurant
Why we picked him: The guy gained a reputation for being a sandwich guru on this season of Food Network Star.
Favorite sandwich: The pastrami at Stachowski Market
Where to get it: Georgetown
What it is: Thick slices of pastrami on pumpernickel with mustard on rye
Why he digs it: “The brisket has a gentle brine and great smoke to it, the bread is fresh, and the mustard is spicy,” Alex tells us. “What makes the sandwich great though, is the size. If you head over for lunch, clear your schedule for the day, because you’re going to be living in smoked-pastrami heaven for the next few hours. My suggestion is to find a shady tree in the park and take a personal day.”
Tim Ma of Water & Wall and two forthcoming restaurants
Why we picked him: He’s gearing up to open a sandwich shop called Chase the Submarine, so surely he’s done a lot of between-the-bread research.
Favorite sandwich: The Roma at The Italian Store
Where to get it: Arlington
What it is: Dry-cured prosciutto ham, lightly smoked mortadella, Genoa salami, and provolone cheese
Why he digs it: “It’s just a properly made Italian sub, but with the bread torn out of the middle,” Tim tells us. “The meat wraps around the lettuce, sweet peppers, etc., and it’s made to order, making it incredibly fresh.”
Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground & Maketto
Why we picked him: Ummm, have you tried the Cambodian sandwich at Maketto? He knows what to do to a sandwich.
Favorite sandwich: Green chili chicken sandwich at Meats & Foods
Where to get it: Bloomingdale
What it is: A chicken sausage kicked up with chilies with customizable toppings
Why he digs it: “Meats & Foods makes the best sausage in Washington, DC,” Erik says. “They put a mango chutney on top of the green chili chicken sandwich that is just amazing.”
Why we picked him: We were really excited to see Lonnie in his new role at The Royal.
Favorite sandwich: Build-your-own roast beef sandwich at MGM Roast Beef
Where to get it: Brentwood
What it is: A hand-carved roast beef sandwich on a soft roll with endless topping options
Why he digs it: “I really love a good roast beef sandwich, especially at places where they have the meat out on the counter and slice it right in front of you, old-school-deli style,” Lonnie tells us. “I add lettuce, tomato, onion, hot peppers, mustard, and horseradish mayo when possible.”
Scott Drewno of The Source
Why we picked him: The height-advantaged chef needs a lot of sandwiches to feed his tall frame, so we imagine he’s found some good ones.
Favorite sandwich: The Real Obama at Bub & Pop’s
Where to get it: Dupont Circle
What it is: Chicago-style Italian beef, slow-braised beef brisket, giardiniera, and aged provolone
Why he digs it: “The jus is so good, I usually just drink it,” Scott says. He also says he has Kyle Bailey to thank for introducing him to Bub & Pop's -- the mom-and-pop shop that’ll win any sandwich lover over in no time.
George Pagonis of Kapnos
Why we picked him: We have respect for this comeback kid who fought his way into the final stages of the last season of Top Chef. And the guy knows meat.
Favorite sandwich: Roasted turkey at G by Mike Isabella
Where to get it: 14th Street
What it is: Roasted turkey with spinach, giardiniera, and lemon-thyme mayo
Why he digs it: “Everyone loves the lamb and suckling pig sandwiches at G, and they are great,” George tells us. “But I am on my feet all day cooking that lamb and pig for Kapnos, so that's the last thing I'm looking for. In addition to being delicious, G's turkey sandwich is substantial enough to be filling, but light enough to keep me on my feet.”
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1. Bub and Pop's1815 M St NW, Washington
2. DGS Delicatessen1317 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington
3. Buffalo & Bergen1309 5th St NE, Washington
4. G by Mike Isabella2201 14th St NW, Washington
5. Stachowski Market and Deli1425 28th St NW , Washington, DC
6. Breadsoda2233 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington
7. Meats & Foods247 Florida Ave NW, Washington
8. MGM Roast Beef905 Brentwood Road NE, Washington
This charming mom & pop shop in Dupont Circle has a whole host of hearty hoagies at their disposal, like their traditional Italian, roast pork, or our favorite, Pop's Beef Brisket, with apple-horseradish cream, five-year-aged Gouda, and veal jus.
DGS Delicatessen takes the idea from your old Jewish grandmother's kitchen and elevates it with a modern and creative spin that gives this authentic deli-bar new flavor and energy with a homestyle base. Styled after the turn-of-the-century grocery stores, DGS Delicatessen house cures and smokes their all meats and fish as well as crafts their own duck fat matzo balls.
Located inside of DC's Union Market, this diner-style spot is specializes in New York-style bagels and everything you can put in-between them. Every kind of bagel imaginable serves as your base for a breakfast or lunch sandwich that you can customize with a selection of meats and flavored cream cheeses. Or you can go for a signature style like the Foxy Loxy (self-explanatory) or something a little more daring like The Bandito with carnitas-style pulled pork and pickled peppers.
Mike Isabella's grab 'n go sandwich shop "G" is doing up jaw-dropping meaty hoagies with most of the meat spit roasted next door at Kapnos.
A farmer's market vet now has the meatiest corner store of them all, with a pig chalkboard displaying daily sandwiches, and deli cases rocking gourmet options like chicken bratwurst (w/ a cider-soaked apple/ sage/ nutmeg), port- & juniper-spiced duck, and a bay leaf/ toasted oats pork they're calling "Banger, English style", so you'll want to eat it with the lights off, try not to move around too much, and wish each other well afterward with a firm handshake.
Breadsoda is a dimly lit, retro, wood-paneled billiards hall that serves a huge list of sandwiches and beer and hosts a fierce ping pong competition on Tuesday nights. Whether you favor a game of pool or skipping the rental fees in favor of darts or one of the many board games like risk, trivial pursuit, and connect 4, checkout the 50 plus beers (12 on tap) that range from domestic to craft. As far as food goes, the sandwiches are hearty and diverse: The Breadsoda comes with turkey, swiss, mustard, tomato, and coleslaw on pumpernickle, the Reuben is a familiar favorite with salty corned beef and sweet Russian dressing, and the BBQ is piled with chipotle pulled pork on a juice-soaked potato bun.
Meats & Foods, from the people behind 13th St Meats, functions as a retail shop and restaurant combination on Florida Ave. On offer are a variety of handmade sausages, chili, soups, and, of course, sandwiches like the lemon-basil chicken sandwich, garlic pork sandwich, and roasted poblano sandwich in an intimate setting that’s enclosed by white tiled walls and lit by incandescent bulbs. Choose to eat at one of the coveted stools in the window, or take your food to go for home grilling.