July 3, 2017
Photos: Courtesy Taylor Gourmet and Bub and Pop’s
National Sandwich Day isn’t until November 3rd, but summer seems like a far more appropriate time to celebrate everyone’s favorite portable lunch. Here are a few options for superlative sandwiches in the District, all of them the perfect fare for a picnic on Teddy Roosevelt Island or an afternoon of hanging out on a rooftop deck.
A longtime favorite from Wilmington, Delaware, Capriotti’s opened a D.C. outpost in 2013 near Dupont Circle, and became an instant hit. Founded in 1976, its signature item is the “Bobby” ($9.49 for 12”, $14.99 for 20”), a Thanksgiving sub overstuffed with thick turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. It’s a combination too good to reserve only for late-November leftovers. The Capastrami ($9.99, $15.99), sort of a mutant Reuben topped with fresh, crunchy coleslaw, is another bestseller.
G by Mike Isabella
One of D.C.’s hottest celebrity chefs, Isabella stays true to his New Jersey roots with this upscale Italian trattoria just north of U Street. The most original creation — and perhaps also the most satisfying — is the Spiced Baby Goat ($13), in which tender pulled meat is slathered with the perfect amount of harissa sauce (made with chilis) and fresh oregano. Mini potatoes are sprinkled throughout, which means that this is one filling sandwich. The roll is large enough so that one could comfortably consume one half for lunch and save the second for dinner. Isabella’s reinvention of the cheesesteak is another thing of beauty.
Operating out of a funky little converted garage in Shaw, SUNdeVICH serves up an inspired range of globally-inspired sandwiches, each named for international cities. There are no real weak points here, but the Buenos Aires ($13) – succulent carne asada steak slathered in a garlicky chimichurri – is a definite standout. SUNdeVICH prides itself on not having a freezer, which means that its ingredients are always fresh, although depending on the time of day, certain items might not be in stock. Service has a bit of a “Soup Nazi” vibe, but that’s part of the charm. A new Georgetown location is rumored to be forthcoming.
By the end of the year, this D.C. favorite will have seventeen locations in and around the District – and one in Chicago. Could it be the next Five Guys? The founders are two friends from Philly, who have paid tribute to their home by naming most sandwiches after its most prominent streets. The Ritner ($7.99 for regular; $12.99 for large) is a hearty roast beef and cheddar sub with a peppery kick. Unsurprisingly, the cheesesteak ($9.99) – best when piled with grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms – is a signature item. Taylor Gourmet was also a personal favorite of President Obama, who visited twice in consecutive years during his time in office.
By now, almost no one hasn’t heard of Potbelly, which boasts nearly as many D.C. locations as McDonald’s. Its simple and inexpensive sandwiches are as appealing as ever, especially the Wreck ($5.50), a combo of salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and Swiss cheese. “Skinny” sandwiches are satisfying alternatives, despite having only half the calories as the regular variety. Rich and flavorful shakes, with the trademark cookies on the straw, are the best possible way to wash it all down.
Bub and Pop’s
This unpretentious Dupont Circle sandwich shop takes great pride in its Mom and Pop status. Its logo features cartoon caricatures of owner Jon Taub’s grandparents, who once ran a deli in West Philadelphia. Like others on this list, Bub and Pop’s presents an outstanding cheesesteak. But the real winner is its Italian Hoagie ($8 for half; $15 for whole), a pile of Italian cold cuts sprinkled with a generous helping of shredded Pecorino cheese. (Weirdly, Bub and Pop’s has been receiving phone calls for Donald Trump lately; its phone number is only one digit off from a number of the president’s official residence. Hey – no publicity is bad publicity, right?)