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What's the 2nd best sandwich place in DC?

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I've been struggling with a question that a friend (who is very much DC savvy) asked me recently. After Breadline--I think most would agree this is the city's best sandwich spot, quality of bread, etc.--what's the next best option? My fear is that everything else blends together in a mediocre mass much behind breadline but hopefully I'm forgetting something. This is very much a chowhound question--so can't be any type of chain unless maybe a smaller local one. Different way to think about it: you're headed to the airport for a long flight and it's Saturday (so Breadline is closed). Where do you go to get carry-on sandwiches that'll take your mind off the horrible state of air travel and airport food?

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  1. I'm a fan of Jettie's...

    1. Just outside of DC proper (but so is the closest airport) - Italian Store. I'd also say a trip to German Gourmet can do someone up really right and make other passengers jealous.

      I'm not a fan of Breadline, though, so I don't agree with your assumption.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Dennis S

        I'll second The Italian Store, but add a caveat. If you've never eaten one of their sandwiches, and you can't give the assembler personalized instructions, ask for some of the condiments to be put in little plastic containers rather than on the sandwich. For example, I like a bit of hot pepper on my sandwich, but the assemblers always put more on than I prefer. And I'm not a fan of the sweet peppers. I just don't like sweet with meat. If I were to eat my first Italian Store hoagie done up the standard way, I would wonder why everyone is a fan of the place. When I customize my IS hoagie, it's a treat.

        1. re: Dennis S

          Interesting--both the reccs and the stance on Breadline. Do you like something (anything) better inside DC? Have you found a place with better bread inside the District?

          1. re: nwdchound

            I like Breadline's bread fine, but also like Firehooks though I see you're not a fan of the latter.

          2. re: Dennis S

            where is German Gourmet? sounds good!

            1. re: lindsay_r

              Google "german gourmet falls church va" to get some results. For some reason it's showing three locations, but I only know of 2. I've only been to the original location which is on 29 south of Broad St. in Falls Church (probably 1/2 mile from Broad).

              The newer location that I know of is in the Bailey's X-Roads area, and is apparently much larger (where you can't hardly get smaller than the original location).

              1. re: Dennis S

                German Gourmet on Washington St in FC aka RT 29 closed quite some time ago..the one on Columbia pike in Baileys is a lot roomier.

                -----
                German Gourmet
                5838 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

          3. Agree with Italian Store. I'm a Philadelphia native and these are truly good hoagies. Get a soft roll, not a hard one.
            Other places that get a lot of good buzz on their subs are A. Literi's and Mangialardo's.

            1. There are great sandwiches at Marvellous market - branches at Georgetown, Dupont Circle and - I think, Foggy Bottom - their brownies are also fantastic, the pumpkin muffins are to die for - and more or less all the cakes are totally delicious.
              Also try the Firehook bakery - they also do fabulous pecan sandies and other cookies and muffins etc.

              6 Replies
              1. re: fliss

                One of the best sandwich in the city would be the reuben at Deli City, or any corned beef or pastrami sandwiches from there.

                1. re: crackers

                  Yup, Deli City corned beef is probably the best sandwich in town -- well, other than the burger at Hell-Burger.

                  1. re: crackers

                    A pastrami/corned beef combo at Deli City has the best of both worlds.

                    1. re: Steve

                      Pastrami and corned beef do rock at Deli City, but their atrocious store-bought rye bread takes it out of the running as the best sandwich in the city.

                      1. re: DanielK

                        I wonder if they'd let you bring your own rye bread? Anyway, I hear you about the bread thing. I can't stand when so-called Chicago dogs don't come on a poppy seed roll. I can live without the sport peppers, but not the green relish and poppy roll.

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          Maybe the best sandwich in DC is in my kitchen - corned beef and pastrami from Deli City, and a fresh-baked rye bread from Brooklyn's Deli in Rockville.

                2. I am chiming in on the Italian Store. I love the Napoli on soft with everything but onion, but I like my peppers. Definitely up there, may be better than Breadline, although I love Breadline.

                  I think again not in DC proper, but next up after those two if you can't find something you like at Lost Dog Cafe in Falls Church or Earl's Sandwiches in Clarendon then you just aren't trying. But Breadline and Italian Store are awesome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    I also wanted to add Liberty Tavern as having excellent sandwiches for lunch, although it isn't a deli style, they do have to-go. I think what makes theirs so good is the bread there, too. There has been a lot of discussion about bread and Liberty's is very good. And they make their own sausages and many of the meats so it really is fresh and tasty. They are huge though, about 2 meals for me, and not extremely cheap, but not too bad. Probably behind the Italian Store, and Earl's, in NOVA, but very good.

                  2. I always really loved the sandwiches at So's Your Mom in Adams Morgan. I use to get a sandwich from there at least once or twice a week when I lived down the street. I miss it now even though I'm not that far away in Dupont. Mmmmm perhaps I'll go tomorrow for lunch.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Is Hodge's still open on New York avenue?

                      1. re: Joe H

                        In terms of "sandwich", no burgers etc. I would say Booeymonger. One of the few places left that serve a nice hot sandwich done on a grill. Great dinner special too.

                        1. re: beauxgoris

                          I had walked past Booeymonger many times and never felt tempted by it based on appearance. Then I read your comment, beauxgoris, and decided to try it today. I got the Veggie Special. Three things I liked about it -- first, it was substantial - there must have been at least 1 1/2 cups of cooked onions, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli on that sandwich. It also had a lot of melted cheese and mayo so it was a full meal. Second, I really like my hot food served to me HOT and this really was. Almost too hot to eat, which is just the way I like it. And third, it was served with a pickle and not chips. The moisture from the cooked vegetables kind of soaked into the bread too, which I liked. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a nice meal for $6 - I'll be back. There is a dearth of decent, inexpensive places to grab a quick bite in Friendship Heights.

                          -----
                          Booeymonger Restaurant
                          5252 Wisconsin Ave NW Ste 3, Washington, DC 20015

                        2. re: Joe H

                          Hodges is still open. They outlasted Restaurant AV across the street. I only hope the current economic slowdown will keep Hodges from turning into a condo development, since much of the neighborhood is going in that direction.

                      2. Maybe it's not that chow-worthy, but I really like Potbelly's. :) I don't get to go there very often, though. Their hot peppers are great (I need to go back to get another jar for my homemade sandwiches, which, of course, I prefer to restaurants' sandwiches, but anyway...).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: chinkleDC

                          Italian Store and maybe So's Your Mom sound like good ideas for me to check out. I should have disqualified Deli City in the initial post. I discovered that thanks to CH and readily agree it's the city's best Reuben but those sandwiches don't travel as well (tangential lament: how truly great would it be if the Deli City Reuben was in a real Deli locale? Sigh...)

                          Places like Firehook, Booeymonger, Potbelly and even Marvelous Market (probably the best of those four) are not in the same league as Breadline, iMHO. Should probably add Dean & Deluca also to a list like that.

                          Oh, and Lost Dog Cafe and Earls Sandwiches--never heard of those places. Any other experience with them?

                          Thanks all--great ideas as always.

                          1. re: nwdchound

                            Since you've discounted Deli City, then I would have to say Wagshall's trumps all the others mentioned. The #25 features their superior roast beef, with coleslaw and russian. This sandwich is a real star. Another one features roast pork, cheese, and tomato, can't remeber the number. Overall quality is high.

                            1. re: Steve

                              Oh, yeah, Wagshall's! Their turkey is the best. Those sandwiches sustained me through a summer of studying for the bar exam a few years ago.

                            2. re: nwdchound

                              I find Booeymonger much better than potbelly. Potbelly tasts like something I would get in a cafeteria in high school, nothing unique or interesting to me in their sandwiches. Booeymonger at least grills their sandwiches and has interesting combinations and sauces.

                          2. I love a little place called "Best Sandwich" off L Street. I haven't worked downtown in a year so hopefully it's still there. If you go to the Borders on L street there's an ATM off to the side with a door that leads into an office building. Inside is truly the best sandwich place I've tried in the city, complete with fresh carved turkey.

                            1. I am actually also not a fan of Breadline - initially because of Mark Furstenberg, and now because of the still ridiculous prices.

                              There's a place on Vermont Avenue, just above K Street, called The Roast House. When I worked in that area, I loved those sandwiches.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FoodieGrrl

                                LOVE Roasting House. The turkey and avocado is the best, and I enjoy their pasta salad side.

                              2. I'm not a fan of Breadline. Jetties and Wagshals, yes! And for Italian subs, I think Mangialardo's on Capitol Hill is much, much better than the Italian Store.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                  I agree completely (on both Breadline and Mangialardo's). But Mangialardo's is not open Saturday. To remedy this, I'd buy a Super G Man on Friday, put it in the fridge, and eat it on the plane out Saturday.

                                  The reuben from Deli City, while excellent, would be too messy a carry-on. And the aroma of roasted corned beef would be painfully distracting to your fellow plane travelers. I might opt for a cold roast beef from Deli City or Hodges.

                                2. It's been a while since I was in the area but if you're talking Italian and sanwiches what about Vacci.....? Are they still around?. I used to think they made great heros.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: michael4ny

                                    Somewhere the string gravitated a bit from sandwich places to Italian sandwich places but that's okay. A great Italian sandwich is a wonderful thing but my initial quesiton was really about all-around exceptional sandwiches. Wagshals may be a good suggestion for me to re-try--has been years.

                                    The "Best Sandwich" and "Roast House" tips are interesting. Vace is still around--I'm around that area. And, while much loved, it's not really what I'm looking for here. On sandwiches, respectable hoagie/heros on okay bread but just not outstanding in any way. That's what makes me cite Breadline first. Admittedly high prices aside, the place has the best bread in the city. Has always amazed me how unusual that is here.

                                    Safe to say---I know some will disagree--that DC has a number of very respectable sandwich spots. I have a few to check out thanks to everyone but I'm guessing there'll only be 2 or so at most that really qualify as memorable, outstanding, etc.

                                  2. Try the "Super Italian Coldcut" at Lucia's in Wheaton. Great bread, meats, and cheese - the total package. This is "Lucia's," not "Momma Lucia's" and it's been around for many years. Located on University Blvd near the intersection with Georgia Ave.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: MDBBQFiend

                                      Yeah, some good stuff there, although the sandwich menu shrank when former owners returned. But until the Banh Mi place on Georgia closed, they were the second best sandwich in Wheaton.

                                      1. re: repete

                                        New bahn mi place on Grandview near the Metro parking lot that is delicious. Buy 5 sandwiches get a 6th free - costs about $10 (sandwiches are around $2 a piece). I don't know the name but it's the only Vietnamese joint in Wheaton. Great place!

                                        1. re: WhitChef

                                          Can you be more specific? I went to Saigonese yesterday seeing a sign for Bahn Mi in the window or on the sidewalk and had 2 really good sandwiches for $2.50 each. They were the tofu and the red meat {pork belly}. The ham was not at all interesting as the ham itself was boring as can be. The meat ones came with a liverwurst like schmear of pate, a good cuke, carrot & cilantro slaw and mayo. The tofu sandwich has freshly fried tofu, some mysterioius brown sauce, the slaw and was quite good. Right now my favorite quick lunch in Wheaton, well that and Max's.

                                      2. re: MDBBQFiend

                                        True that the sandwiches are great (unfortunately probably the best I've had in the 10 years I've lived around DC) but the service is sooooooo abysmal that I now refuse to go back. Think how bad service must be for an Italian hoagie fanatic who lives about a half-mile from what some consider to be the best Italian sandwich shop in the entire DC area to make a pact with his wife to never ever go there again (after ten years of patronizing Lucia's and putting up with the lousy service just because the sandwiches are so good). Now I just buy Boar's Head Italian meats and bake my own bread and make sandwiches at home. F Lucia's and the snotty little girl who works the register.

                                      3. i went to breadline once many years ago and the owner would only give me one ketchup for my fries. i've never been back. potbelly is great for a chain. loebs has great sandwiches.

                                        12 Replies
                                        1. re: dcgdc

                                          "no ketchup for you!" sheesh, how cheap can you get?

                                          1. re: dcgdc

                                            he also gave me a hard time once because I was getting a sandwich and fries.. "carbo loading - what, are you running a marathon?" umm... none of your business, which incidentally is focused around a carb-rich food?!? But I still go, excellent salads as well as sandwiches.

                                            1. re: dcgdc

                                              "the owner would only give me one ketchup for my fries."

                                              Oh the humanity!!!!

                                              There is kind of a backstory to this.... when Mark Furstenberg started Breadline, he didn't provide any ketchup at all. He didn't want people using it as their own 'sauce' for his food.

                                              Go to France, and you might have difficulty finding ketchup, etc

                                              He finally relented, but he didn't provide commercial ketchup, only one that he prepared so that he had complete control. And he didn't want for folks to use it as a sauce.

                                              Idiosynctatic, yes, fetishistic, yes, but I for one prefer the 'sauciness' of stories like this to the glop of chain restaurants. Even I have (partially) kicked my ketchup addiction. But I do relapse upon occasion......

                                              1. re: Steve

                                                That's like Louis Lunch in New Haven, the place that claims to have invented the hamburger. They don't serve ketchup on their burgers and they'll throw you out if you try to smuggle some in. And I believe it was John Updike who once commented that only mental patients put ketchup on their hot dogs. It seems to me that ketchup attracts more than it's share of scorn in comparison with other condiments. Why not mayonnaise, for instance, which is pure fat and nearly tasteless? Yet, I've never heard of any restaurant banning the insipid stuff. Maybe because the French invented it. Who knows?

                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                  Then you haven't been to Chutzpah - re: the mayo.

                                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                                    Not yet. But when I make it out there, they'll hear no whining from me on that count. Hot pastrami and mayonnaise--egads, what a thought!

                                                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                      Can I get that on Wonder Bread?

                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                        You know - I agree with <hardly> ever using Mayo and I def am morally against Wonder bread, but there is one time of the year I want both of those AND iceberg lettuce - and that's the day after Thanksgiving for a leftover sandwich. But I feel bad buying the whole loaf and only eating two slices.

                                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                                          Yep. It must also include stuffing and whole cranberry sauce. One of those puppies and I'm good for another year. It is also permissible to employ a slice Wonder Bread as a handle/wrapper/napkin for a hunk of ribs or fried fish. Maybe in a pinch for a tomato sandwich. Oh oh! The list is growing longer and it's beginning to scare me.

                                                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                            I can't imagine a BLT without Wonder Bread and a dab of mayo. I suppose some SAVAGES might insist otherwise, but hopefully these people remain in their caves.

                                                  2. re: flavrmeistr

                                                    Mayo is also banned from most reputable Philly cheesesteak joints.

                                                    1. re: DanielK

                                                      And yet it's an essential element of the DC steak & cheese, along with lettuce and tomato. Vive le difference!

                                              2. I've posted before about Cafe Phillips. They hand carve turkey, roast beef and ham and serve it on a nice variety of breads, with multiple toppings. It's a great sandwich, very quickly made. They are expensive (about $8.00 per sandwich) but worth it.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: 4X4

                                                  This reminds me of the Bethesda Cafe... haven't been there in a while, but it's run by a bunch of fun Asian women and they do the same thing -- hand carved turkey, brisket, etc. Great sandwiches and wraps very fast. I love going there when I find myself in Bethesda for lunch. :)

                                                  1. re: chinkleDC

                                                    Where's Bethesda Cafe?

                                                    I like going to Via Cucina and having them make up a sandwich with grilled chicken, lots of veggies, and "hoagie mix."

                                                    1. re: Doh

                                                      Oops, that should've been Bethesda Deli. :) It's on the ground floor (outside entrance) of the Bethesda Place tower, across from the copy center. Just south of Philadelphia Mike's and the Mongolian Grill.

                                                      7700 Wisconsin Ave Suite G
                                                      Bethesda, MD 20814
                                                      (301) 652-3354

                                                      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/7/100580/...

                                                      1. re: chinkleDC

                                                        Thanks, I know where you mean now (although the Mongolian Grill was replaced, sadly, by Javan). I'll try it one of these days.

                                                        Woodmont Deli in Bethesda (up by the back door to Guapo's) also does a nice sandwich.

                                                  2. re: 4X4

                                                    Agreed. They do a great job with sandwiches. They offer a variety of bread choices, the meat is outstanding (carved right in front of you) and the logistics make the most of lunch hour. Aren't they closed on weekends, though?

                                                  3. Breadline sucks. I came here to say that. I've been half a dozen times now and every time I've been underwhelmed. I see at as the ultimate "emperor has no clothes" kinda place that exists solely on marketing and image -- the sandwiches are lousy. I don't even care about the fact that they are overpriced, they are just plain lousy.

                                                    26 Replies
                                                    1. re: masonuc

                                                      Sorry you don't like it. I might be willing to vote Breadline as the single most important restaurant in the US. Why? Because it has five or six exceptional versions of the greatest sandwiches in the world under one roof. Cuban sandwiches better than Miami. Cheesesteaks better than most places in Philly. Chopped pork BBQ better than just about anywhere. Same for egg salad, felafel on freshly grilled bread, and even if you go for the lowly BLT , order it on a ciabatta and it becomes heavenly. The Mediterranean Pizza is the world's best excuse for eating grilled zucchini there is. the Italian Sausage sandwich guarantees I will never have to be jealous of Lower Manhattan street festivals.

                                                      There are plenty of sandwiches there I won't order. Anything with white chunks of chicken, turkey, hard salami, a rather funky Morroccan tuna, the cheese-dominated sandwiches. The fried fish and soft shells are more expensive than good. Which doesn't mean they are not good!

                                                      This is definitely a place where you can go wrong. But the right stuff is magnificent.

                                                      1. re: Steve

                                                        Steve,
                                                        I am glad you enjoy Breadline. I do too, but let's not go overboard. If you can't find a better Cuban in Miami or a better cheesesteak in Philly then you aren't trying very hard. I go to Earl's pretty often and it is excellent. They roast many of their own meats and it rivals Breadline but does not have the variety.

                                                        1. re: rappel75

                                                          I've had Cuban sandwiches in Tampa gas stations that were better than Breadline's. And the cheesesteak at Philadelphia Water Ice on H puts Breadline's to shame. Never warmed up to Breadline.

                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                            I imagine a gas station in Tampa could produce a great Cubano. Why not?.

                                                            I lived in Miami, and although there are many wonderful bakeries, most of the bread used for Cubanos and Media Noches taste little better than styrofoam to me. I can't speak for Tampa, though, so maybe you have a point.

                                                          2. re: rappel75

                                                            Most of the bread that Cubanos and Media Noches are served on in So. Florida - where my family lives and where I lived for five years - are little better than styrofoam. Breadline's is better.

                                                            Regarding Cheesesteaks, well, that's another debate. I've spent quite a bit of time in Philly eating cheesteaks, especially anything recommended to me by various experts. I personally love the cheez-whiz style at Pat's. I know there are many who swear by only the provolone style - such as Breadline. After having tries many cheeseteaks in philly, I'm in the "it's all about the bread" camp. In that case, Breadline's ciabatta is a World's Best sandwich bread. The homemade ketchup puts it over the top.

                                                            I'm not expecting everyone to agree with me, but anyone who is a serious Breadline detractor either hasn't tried the good stuff or has an attitude that has nothing to do with the food.

                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                              To some degree, you're right - at least with me. I hated the attitude and the prices, and that seriously detracts from my enjoyment of my food. If my experience is miserable as soon as I step in the door, and then I have to pay for the privilege of being abused, how can I possibly enjoy my food?

                                                              I used to work a few blocks from Breadline and so have had the opportunity to try it many times. While the food was good, I can't say that I find nearly the gastrorgasmic experience that you do. And I think that was what finally did it for me. Yes, the food was good - at times, it was excellent - but worth the price and the abuse that I saw Furstenberg heap upon people all the time? Absolutely not.

                                                            2. re: rappel75

                                                              Oh, I've tried plenty hard.

                                                              In Miami, I' think the bread is the big drawback.

                                                              In Philly, after scouring the city for the better part of a month, trying every expert's opinion, I am still partial to standing outside Pat's with a Cheese-Whiz based sandwich. Of course, there are others who swear by only provolone, similar to Breadline. For that type, I have to say that the Breadline ciabatta and the homemade ketchup put it over the top for me.

                                                              Now, there are sandwiches I have learned to avoid at Breadline. Frankly, I didn't think much of Breadline after my first two visits, but I ordered wrong.

                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                Interesting. I think of all the Philly cheesesteaks I've tried, Pat's was the absolute worst. Gristly beef, congealed cheese. I think it lives on past glory, reputation, and location.

                                                                I guess we just have different tastes...

                                                                1. re: FoodieGrrl

                                                                  Agreed, FoodieGrrl!

                                                                  Steve, you spent a month "scouring the city" and the best you could come up with was Pat's? Where did you eat? TGI Friday's? Dairy Queen? Hard Rock Cafe?

                                                                  1. re: aburkavage

                                                                    I ate at everyplace that the cheesesteak lovers I ran into would suggest to me and through reading newspaper articles, etc. The single best one I had was actually in the food court in the Bourse. It was all burnt and crispy and delicious. Probably a mistake. I haven't been to Pat's in a long time now, but like I said before, it's really the bread. close to 100 percent of the cheesesteaks I tried were on the same level. I like the gooeyness at Pat's.

                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                      Holy smokes, Steve!

                                                                      Pat's and the food court at the Bourse?!? It's a good thing this isn't on the Philly board - you'd be lambasted worse than a red-headed stepchild!

                                                                      1. re: aburkavage

                                                                        I know, it takes baverey to speak the truth! Actually, the place at the Bourse probably doesn't even exist and maybe it was a fluke. But I have been to just about every place recommended on the boards and, although styles differ somewha, I find little difference in quality. I was first taken to Pat's by a local who was really into cheesesteaks and who prepared them at home all the time too.

                                                                        Now, it's been years since I've been there, and quite frankly I'm much more interested in sampling the roast pork choices. I give a big thumbs up to Tony Luke's.

                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                          Ahhhh...Tony Luke's...

                                                                          You have been redeemed, Steve!!

                                                                        2. re: aburkavage

                                                                          As a Philly guy snooping around for a visit to D.C. next week, I concur - Steve would be laughed off of the Philly board

                                                                          and Geno's sucks too, not to mention having one of the most obnoxious owners in the city

                                                                          John's Roast Pork is near indisputably the best cheesesteak in Philly proper, though it's not particularly tourist friendly - industrial South Philly location, Monday - Friday only, closes at 3PM (no steaks after 2:30)

                                                                          Speaking of which, the cheesesteak gets all the fame, but the roast pork sandwich is Philly's true treasure. Try it at DiNic's in the Reading Terminal Market (a veritable shrine to food and eating), Tony Luke's, or, of course, John's Roast Pork

                                                                    2. re: FoodieGrrl

                                                                      You've never been to Geno's.

                                                                      Every city has a signature dish, and every city has a place where tourists go for that dish. Pat's and Geno's are it in Philly.

                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                        That's true, but it doesn't mean that that place has the best one around. There are lots of opinions about Philly steak places, but from my reading on the topic I doubt many who get around and seriously eat them would select either Pat's or Geno's as best. Most famous, yes. Appeal to tourists (who by definition don't know where the really good stuff is), yes. Maybe it's snobism, I don't know. I've had Geno's many times, never Pats. My personal fav is Leo's in Fulcroft (sp??). But there are many I've read about but haven't tried, so don't take my word for it.

                                                                        BTW, you say every city has a signature dish, but unfortunately DC really doesn't have much of a signature dish. Believe me, I know whereof I speak on that one. And Lord knows I did what i could to change it.

                                                                        1. re: johnb

                                                                          I'm pretty sure DC's signature dish would be the halfsmoke, and Ben's Chili Bowl the touristey purveyor. Although, I prefer the version at Burger Delight. You don't really find halfsmokes anywhere else in the country.

                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            Well you're correct about that as far as it goes. Unfortunately very few folks seem to know about them, and fewer have ever had one, so consequently it doesn't go very far toward being a "signature dish," to my profound regret. As far as Ben's is concerned, it is identified with the half smoke, but unfortunately their chili isn't really very good, at least IMO. I have spotted very few folks in there when I've been that look like tourists. I've never been to Burger Delight, or (I admit) even heard of it.

                                                                            Oddly, half smokes, while as close as anything to a signature dish for Washington, are not to my knowledge produced anywhere in metro DC, but in Baltimore and possibly some even further away.

                                                                            1. re: johnb

                                                                              Halfsmokes are also to be found at Weenie Beenie, whose chili is far superior to the canned product at Ben's. City Paper did an extensive history of the halfsmoke and, yes, the good ones are made by Mangers in Baltimore. The version sold by Gwaltney is a pale imitation.

                                                                              http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/di...

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Weenie Beenie
                                                                              2680 S Shirlington Rd, Arlington, VA 22206

                                                                              Burger Delite
                                                                              3301 Kenilworth Ave, Hyattsville, MD 20781

                                                                              Burger Delite
                                                                              10401 Ewing Rd, Beltsville, MD 20705

                                                                              Burger Delite
                                                                              5650 Edsall Rd, Alexandria, VA

                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                Thanks for the addresses. Now I realize I've been to Burger Delite, I think, specifically the one on Kenilworth--it's at the top of the hill, directly across from (Salvation Army or Goodwill I forget which, yes?) and that big roofing supplier, IIRC.

                                                                                I've not had a half smoke at Weenie Beenie, just regular dogs. Their stuff is generally good. A true Chowhound spot.

                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                  For the record John won the Post's contest a number of years ago for defining D. C.'s most famous/best/definitive "signature dish." I should note that the multi million dollar prize they bestowed on him allowed him to retire to the mountains of Western North Carolina where now, I am guessing, he dearly misses the half smoke he helped popularize in D. C.'s folk history!) Immodestly, I was also briefly mentioned in the superb City Paper history, having once driven a cab in Bethesda in the late '60's and given a package of half smokes as a tip from the man who owned Briggs at the time.

                                                                                  And, the Weenie Beenie!!!! Credit, sir, for citing the location of a forgotten but absolutely great half smoke and carry out rarely if ever mentioned on here. Frequented over 30 years ago by myself and a good friend who, at the time while also driving a cab in Alexandria, pursued an exhaustive study of the best steak and cheese subs in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                    I think there is another one in Beltsville, right off 212 as you cross Route 1 you turn left into the first business area. keep straight to Old Baltimore Pike. Havent been up that way in a while, but it was the same menu as Weenie Beenie and Burger Delite. Same half smokes too!!!

                                                                    3. re: Ericandblueboy

                                                                      Sure. I mean, if I had to name one, I would consider it.

                                                                      For example, let's say you had an oversees visitor who wanted to know what Amercian food was like. You could take them to Breadline every day of the week and show them a high quality example of America's favorite foods. The foods we really eat every day. BLTs, egg salads, BBQ, got New Orleans covered, Philly, So. Florida, the list goes on.

                                                                      Now, if you don't like it, as apparently some on this board, then you don't have to agree. But if you do appreciate it, then I think you have to admit that it deserves consideration as one restaurant that could most single-handedly improve the eating in any community in the US.

                                                                    4. re: masonuc

                                                                      "Lousy?" Only Catania even approaches them for bread in this area. Still, I'll match the french bread at Bread Line with Berkeley's Acme or anyplace else on this side of the Atlantic. Yes, some of what goes on this could be better (and the soups and salads are inconsistent in their excellence) but overall we are indeed fortunate to have the Bread Line here. The lines out the door everyday are testimony to this. It may have been better when Mark Furstenburg owned it but I think we owe him a lot. He started Marvelous Market and took D. C. to a new level with what he baked and served.

                                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                                        "The lines out the door everyday are testimony to this."

                                                                        There's a line out the door at the Subway where I work, doesn't mean it's any good. Just that everything else sucks worse.

                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                          Subway was never nominated for a James Beard Award. Mark Furstenberg was for "best chef Mid Atlantic." His restaurant? Bread Line.
                                                                          Subway also never supplied bread to Citronelle.

                                                                    5. I have a few suggestions:

                                                                      For an Italian coldcut sub, O.G. Italian style: Vace in Cleveland Park or Bethesda.

                                                                      For an Italian coldcut sub Maryland style: Ollie's Deli in Twinbrook on Viers Mill Rd near Twinbrook Pkwy.

                                                                      For Vietnamese Banh Mi someplace that's not in Annandale: Ba Le' on Rockville pike. Have a pate' chaude (chicken puff) while you're waiting.

                                                                      Nearest duplicate of the Best. Sammich. Ever: The pork shoulder sandwich w/ broccoli rabe and green sauce at Bebo in Crystal City. The ones they had at the "Grill at Galileo" during Galileos waning days were unbelievable. Transcendent sandwiches assembled by Chef Donna who'd pick on the crowd and generally have a good time feeding you.

                                                                      Wildcard recent find I can't wait to have again: The Sucuk + Kaser cheese sandwich at Attillas in Arlington on Columbia Pike, a few doors from the Cinema and Draft House. Perfect, balanced, simple, delicious street food. Awesome.

                                                                      Another source of very good deli sandwiches is The Parkway Deli on Grubb Rd. in Silver Spring. They've got a reuben that's a full day meal, and both the corned beef and pastrami are excellent. The pickle bar kills it too.

                                                                      1. I'm not sure this qualifies as 2nd best....for house cooked and hand carved sammies in SW there is the Atrium Cafe on School St. across from the PD and FD.

                                                                        1. This is one of the things you have to love about Chowhound. The mix of knowledge, strong opinions and downright entertainment. As the one who started this string off, I'll go on record saying it's crazy to say either that Breadline is terrible (edited) or that it's the best in the country (seriously?). it's best in DC simply because they take such care with ingredient selection (the French madrange ham sandwich is a great example--so simple, so good) and method (back to that bread!). But as big of a fan as I am, can't say it tops what you'd get in places like NY, SF or, for that matter, the regional specialties such as Cuban sandwiches in Miami.

                                                                          Nevertheless, some great ideas here for anyone in need of the best sandwiches DC has to offer.

                                                                          1. I hope to god that those here that have never had a corned beef at Deli City aren't put off from giving it a try. It is amazing - the real deal. Go and decide for yourself.

                                                                            1. I'm in love with the sandwiches from Cowgirl creamery. I'm so glad they have 'em so I'm not relegated to only eating at the juice joint when I choose to leave work at lunch (I'm a brown bag girl).

                                                                              They do use Breadline bread (the ciabatta roll) and every day they have two offerings that rotate depending on the day, and have a special that you have to call up and ask about if you want to know ahead of time.

                                                                              I love em

                                                                              1. Deli City - Wow.

                                                                                Best Pastrami Sandwich i've had.
                                                                                - smaller than Katz's in NYC
                                                                                - Smaller than Katz's in Houston/Austin (no relation to the one in NY)
                                                                                - About the same size as Loeb's here in DC

                                                                                But the flavor and juiciness...Wow.

                                                                                If it weren't so out of the way, they'd make a killing.

                                                                                The service is classic DC, so I guess they wouldn't survive in the hustle and bustle and chaos of the Central Business District

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: WestIndianArchie

                                                                                  They wouldn't be able to afford the rent, either.

                                                                                  Whenever I go to Deli City, there's always someone ordering a bunch of sandwiches to take back to some office in Dupont or Georgetown.

                                                                                  The reuben is worth the drive. Literally dripping with flavor.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                    I'd like to thank this board to tipping me to Deli City. Just went there for the reuben and I'm sitting on my couch now digesting with this fat and happy look on my face.

                                                                                    Bless you all and Happy New Year.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Deli City Restaurant
                                                                                    2200 Bladensburg Rd NE, Washington, DC 20018

                                                                                2. Devon & Blakely on F between 13 and 14st. (great soups too)
                                                                                  Cowgirl Creamery (not the veggie, but the meat sandwich)
                                                                                  Organica-to-go on F between 13 and 14st.
                                                                                  Marvelous Market
                                                                                  Teaism also has a great banh mi (healthy)
                                                                                  Cuban (takeout at Ceiba)
                                                                                  Tuna on multigrain at au bon pain (only at 2000 penn mall location)

                                                                                  Potbellies

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: jaws1970

                                                                                    I have to nominate West Wing Cafe now. A little Korean run joint on 12th st between Penn and E across from the Covington Burling Building. Great simple homemade soups (i.e. chicken noodle soup whose broth is clear not yellow), awesome seven grain bread, boar's head meat, turkey pastrami reubens (yum) and good salads too. Try their grilled chicken tomato soup. It looks like kitchen sink soup but I buy it by the threefuls. Oh, and they don't charge you Phillips Cafe prices.

                                                                                  2. I love the sandwiches at Loeb's) and Morty's (in Tenlyetown).

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Loeb's Restaurant
                                                                                    832 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

                                                                                    Morty's Delicatessen
                                                                                    4620 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

                                                                                    1. Is Hodges still on New York Avenue? They had a very good roast beef sandwich, fries on the other hand were not so great.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: DonFrancesco

                                                                                        RIP Hodges. :-(

                                                                                        1. re: Culocho

                                                                                          Say it ain't so, Culocho! I'll miss their roast beef and baked ham sandwiches. Deli City does a decent roast beef, but it's hard to pass up their reuben.

                                                                                          http://editorandpunisher.typepad.com/...

                                                                                      2. Where is the Italian Store? I don't think we are talking about the same thing with The Italian Market located in Gaithersburg behind Fuddruckers (28 & Quince Orchard). Their Italian True Sub and Spicy Italian are amazing. Get the hard roll but soft is also awsome.

                                                                                        Anyone been there?

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: SITBOY

                                                                                          The Italian Store
                                                                                          3123 Lee Hwy
                                                                                          Arlington, Virginia 22201-4207
                                                                                          Phone: (703) 528-6266

                                                                                          http://www.italianstore.com/

                                                                                          1. re: dcs

                                                                                            Has anyone had the sandwiches at "Heidi's"? I've heard it's good, but never been.

                                                                                            1. re: beauxgoris

                                                                                              The meatball subs are good, microwaved, but really good actually. Their Italian subs are decent. They have fairly good bread, the sandwiches are huge.

                                                                                          2. re: SITBOY

                                                                                            Unless you like standing in line though, try to phone or fax your order in...and if you fax it you might want to verify receipt. Just saying. :)

                                                                                            Oh, I'm new to Chow Hound. Hello, everyone.

                                                                                          3. Check out the Italian Gourmet store in Gaithersburg, MD across from Quince Orchard High School. Awesome sandwiches (regular or spicy Italian, soft or hard rolls).

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: WhitChef

                                                                                              A regular stop on my DC-Frederick run, especially if I missed lunch. The rolls at the Italian Store are a little better, but the overall quality of the IG sandwich is right up there. IG also has a decent selection of Italian wines that change regularly. Many good deals in the 10-16 dollar range.

                                                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                Any decent french dip around here?

                                                                                                1. re: beauxgoris

                                                                                                  There's a sandwich place in Bowie at 14207 Annapolis Road. It used to be J Mart but I think it's changed owners. Anyway, they do mostly sandwiches and they have a particularly good roast beef on a baguette with a little cup of jus. Don't think I'd go all the way to Bowie just for it, but whenever I'm in the neighborhood, I try and make a detour.

                                                                                            2. Can I just say, for me, when someone says "it has Boars Head meat" that is a good reason not to go?

                                                                                              My favorite sandwich (and definitely the one I stop by and get before getting on the metro to Reagan) is at Cafe Phillips. I think it is a local chain, but I go to the one in Metro Center.

                                                                                              This is not a place to get a fancy, trendy sandwich. No panini presses, no arugula pestos.

                                                                                              What they do have is three hunks of meat. a ham. a beef roast. a (bone-in!) turkey breast. The meats are kept warm and sliced to order. By hand. No presliced meat, no machine. The roast beef is my favorite. Very rare, juicy, perfect!

                                                                                              To me, meat and bread are the keys, everything else, if its no good, just don't get it. The bread at Cafe Phillips is good, simple, looks like its from a local bakery, good enough not to ruin the perfect meat.

                                                                                              1. Listrani's meetball parm hero. Wow.

                                                                                                1. If you haven't had the roast pork/broccoli rabe/sharp provo on sesame Sarcones sub at Taylor Gourmet, get one. Now. Better than anything I've had at Breadline recently.

                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679085

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                    Is Listrani's really that good? I've never been.

                                                                                                    1. re: beauxgoris

                                                                                                      The meatball parm is to die for. Eggplant is ok, but the eggplant wasnt 'sturdy" enough and was abit greasy.

                                                                                                      1. re: fishie

                                                                                                        Which Listrani's do you go to?

                                                                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                                                                          I didnt know that there was more than one-the 4th and Morse-by the farmer's market.

                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                            Duh. read too quickly. I thought Litteri's not listrani's. I think the listrani's on macarthur blvd is mediocre, and their eggplant parm isnt particularly good.

                                                                                                            1. re: fishie

                                                                                                              OK, so I'm still confused. Are you saying that your original 'Wow' is for the meatball parm at Litteri's?

                                                                                                    2. Philly Cheesesteaks: Colonial Pizza at 40th and Pine.

                                                                                                      DC Sandwiches: Cowgirl Creamery, Bahn Mi in Eden Center, Taylor on H Street NE, A. Litteri or Italian Store for Italian sandwiches, Butcher's Block in Alexandria.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: irishgem79

                                                                                                        I love a good Phiily cheese steak. I'll have to make a point to try Colonial Pizza..

                                                                                                        1. re: irishgem79

                                                                                                          Have to agree that Breadline is overrated. I second cowgirl creamery and Taylor.

                                                                                                        2. Just read through the string, picked up a couple new places to try, I've always found the Italian Store in Lyon Village to have a respectable hoagie. After Taylor opened in NE, I went out of my way to try it due to the write-up in the WPost. It was good but my expectations were higher. I'm from Philly area (like the owners) and while the roll is shipped in from Sarcone's, it had sesame seeds, which is not a plus for me. Cheese steaks in DC - when I arrived here in the 80s, it was a steak and cheese, at least the terminology here has evolved, but every time someone says they found an "authentic" Philly cheese steak here, I've been disappointed, but will check out some of the places mentioned. I like my steaks simple and "Talk of The Town" on Broad Street in Philly just down from the stadiums is where I stop when passing through on I-95. The best steaks growing up in the burbs were the small pizza/steak/hoagie shops. Probably a good thing I don't still live there or I'd be twice my size!

                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: pizzah

                                                                                                            Have you tried the roast pork/broccoli rabe/sharp provo sandwich at Taylor? Some are saying it's better than Tony Luke's.

                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6790...

                                                                                                            1. re: pizzah

                                                                                                              This ain't Philly and we still call our local sandwich a Steak and Cheese.

                                                                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                pizzah, in case there is confusion, I think flavr is responding to the difference between Philly's cheesesteak and DC's steak and cheese. If you search for those terms on this board, and include Joe H, you can get a lot of historical info. The short of it is that there is a DC sandwich, the steak and cheese, which (IIRC) was never meant to even be a comparison to the Philly cheesesteak. The DC sandwich Definitely includes tomato, lettuce and mayo, and again is not a cheesesteak.

                                                                                                                Edit for links:

                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4807...

                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/544236

                                                                                                                And there are more I believe.

                                                                                                                1. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                  I think Dennis described the situation pretty well. DC's steak and cheese is a completely different sandwich from a cheese steak, and when you add lettuce, mayo and tomato, it really adds a richer flavor in my opinion. I have only had cheese steaks on South Street, so I am not a Philadelphia cheese steak expert, but I like the pretty good Mario's or Al's steak and cheese better than a 'best in the world' cheese steak in Philadelphia.
                                                                                                                  People confuse the two all the time, but they really are different sandwiches.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ziv

                                                                                                                    I think you're in need of a mayo intervention.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                      LOL!
                                                                                                                      Steve, I think most comfort foods are what you had when you were young. If you grew up in a vinegar based barbecue sauce area, then mustard based or molasses based BBQ is fundamentally wrong. Chili is the same way, to have chili without beans seems effete to me, but if I grew up in Texas I would be feeling completely the opposite.
                                                                                                                      The whole cheese steak vs. steak and cheese debate is similar. My first experience was with a loaded steak and cheese, with hots, mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, fried onions and mushrooms. After eating those for a few years, I hit Geno's and Pat's and they were great sandwiches, but they weren't what I liked best.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Dennis S

                                                                                                                    OK, OK. I don't get out too much and not being a native of the area (though 20+ years here seems to almost qualify someone as one), I understand. It seems like the places I do see a steak sandwich, it's a philly-style cheese steak and called that, so it's probably my limited view. Thanks for the clarification everyone. I'm brand new to the Chow site, so have a lot to catch up on!

                                                                                                                    1. re: pizzah

                                                                                                                      There are fairly recent incursions by chains which tout Philly Cheeseteaks, but DC has had it's own steak and cheese sandwich for at least as long as Philly has had theirs. These days, DC days seems not to be identified with a particular dish, although it was reknowned for seafood years ago. Baltimore still markets itself that way, but has suffered along with DC in the steep decline of it's once unrivaled local fisheries. Pitifully, the only other food item we can identify with DC is the half-smoke, a largely unremarkable sausage found mostly at local Seven-Elevens. Pretty sad. I think nowadays, DC is mostly famous for the copious varieties of Asian, African and South American foods that are now widely available. Tough for branding purposes, but certainly a much better deal for those who live and visit here. "DC--home of a whole bunch of good stuff to eat".

                                                                                                              2. I am very surprised that no one really mentioned Litteri's. Much better than Vace's which did get some mention. And while I really like Taylor's chicken cutlet sandwiches, other sandwiches I had there weren't as good. Litteri's has great ingredients and the nicest folks ever to help you out. And great prices on food, wine, and foodstuffs. Go there, but if it's lunch time, it takes forever for them to make your sandwich. The sandwiches are stuffed with meat, and there's plenty of shelf-shopping to do...

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: nloewen

                                                                                                                  Do try Taylor's roast pork, broccoli rabe, and sharp provo sandwich. Outstanding. I much prefer it to their other sandwiches.

                                                                                                                  1. re: nloewen

                                                                                                                    Ah man, was reading this entire long chain wondering if I should chime in about Litteri's or not - since everyone else had missed it I was kind of into keeping it under wraps - but I guess that isn't the spirit of this board and you outed them anyways.

                                                                                                                    Easily the best sandwich in DC - only the Italian Store is really close - and the shopping (especially the cheap cheap cheap cases of wine) make it a must trip.

                                                                                                                  2. I had a really good BLT on toasted soft sub roll this weekend at So's Your Mom in Adams Morgan for about $5.00. I thoroughly enjoyed that sandwich. What I didn't enjoy about it is the same problem I have with Vace in Cleveland Park - nowhere to sit, so unless you live or work nearby, you have to eat standing on the sidewalk. But still, it was a really good sandwich and they had lots more delicious-looking ones on their menu.

                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                    So's Your Mom
                                                                                                                    1831 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                                                                      We usually enjoy our Vace pie leaning on the hood of the car. Sometimes sitting in the bus shelter out front. Still my favorite pie in DC, so it's worth it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                        Agreed - it's definitely worth it. I like Vace so much that having to stand to eat it isn't a deal breaker... but I would enjoy it even more sitting down!

                                                                                                                        1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                                                                                          In nice weather, it is a pretty quick zip on over to Rock Creek Park. An impromptu picnic at the shelter off Tilden/Park Rd.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                                                            vace italian cold cut with LT & hot peppers--plus you can ask them to add a few slices of imported procuitto. best NW DC option

                                                                                                                    2. I noticed this thread didn't contain MGM Roast Beef. Excellent hand carved sandwiches at a reasonable price. Since Hodge's folded, this is the best roast beef I've found in DC.

                                                                                                                      http://www.mgmroastbeef.com/

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      MGM Roast Beef
                                                                                                                      905 Brentwood Rd NE, Washington, DC 20018

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                        Good for breakfast too.

                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                          News alert: this thread is dead and burried... Breadline has gone through lots of changes and there are many new entrants in the field. Time to start another thread...