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Where to find a great DC/Nova sandwich?

This may have been beat to death on this board in the past, but I figured I'd rekindle the discussion. I'm from a close suburb of Philly in South Jersey and I am always looking to duplicate the sandwiches I enjoyed growing up. I've taken reccomendations from this board and have slowly made my way around to the ones with good reviews. So far, Earl's and the Italian Store in Arlington, and Taylor Gournet in DC have been very good. I was much less impressed with the Cowgirl Creamery on 7th in DC. They may be good for grab and go, but that's just because they aren't very messy. There's not much on them other than a slice or two of meat and some cheese. I'm looking for a good hearty sandwich with lots of meat and toppings. It could be a good old Italian hoagie (Italian Store), a roast pork sandwich (Earl's), or a chicken cutlet sandwich (taylor gourmet). Please let me know if there are any sleepers out in town that could turn into a possible MVP. I'll keep looking myself and report back my findings.


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  1. The Deli in Herndon or Fairfax - especially the "Hot Sicilian". Not "A Deli" in Worldgate - "The Deli". http://www.thedeliherndon.com/ - if you order the hot sicilian as it's on the menu - you got meat. (you can order single meat serving for cheaper).

    Jimmy's for their regular philly or the beef on weck.

    The chicken philly at Santini's is good.

    1. Mangialardo's Super G Man sub. It's got twice the toppings of the already generous G Man, so it's basically Death-by-Hoagie. Good luck trying to finish it.

      Mangialardo & Sons
      1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

      1. University of Maryland, College Park, MD has a Student Union Building where we once went to the coffee shop (whatever) in the basement for phenomenal sandwiches.
        They build your sandwich, to your specific order, using a wide variety of ingredients. I was not a student. I simply went there whenever I was nearby because the sandwiches were so good. Inexpensive as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: recipelover

          2 of my favorite sandwiches come from my college days the gyro at Marathon Deli in College Park, MD. They saute the meat to give the strips of gyro meat a nice crispy, carmelized sear with home made tzatziki, toasty pita bread. I haven't been there for a while, but that gyro is still my favorite.

          The other sandwich is the meatball parmesan sub at 3 Brothers in Beltway Plaza, crispy, toasted sub, gooey mozzarella, meatballs, and a fantastic tomato sauce--I always asked for a shooter of extra sauce. My mom mentioned that she saw the old italian ladies making the tomato sauce and why she thinks the sauce at this location was better than the others. The sauce is still the best sauce that I have ever tasted, but that was many years ago, I have to go back sometime. They also have good italian ice.

        2. I was in Del Ray here in Alexandria for Art on Avenue a couple of months ago. I was waiting at a bus stop on Mt. Vernon Ave just south of Monroe street. A guy was at the stop with a box full of wrapped hoagie-type sandwhiches (turns out they were cheese steaks). We started chatting and he said he had just picked them up from the nearby Al's Steakhouse (http://www.alssteak.com).

          The guy was from Philadelphia, lives in Montgomery county, and comes all this way, by bus and metro no less, for the cheese steaks. He called the place a "hidden gem" and says they are just like he had in Philadelphia. I don't eat beef so can't give a personal rec but there you go.

          I used to live in Del Ray and the place has been there forever.

          5 Replies
          1. re: milocat

            Second Al's. Some Philly natives are indifferent, but I find them really tasty. Other good local variations on the "steak & cheese" include those at Philly Water Ice Factory on H Street NE, Mario's/Marino's, and The Broiler, a local institution. Each have their followers/detractors. Not a fan of South Street Steaks.

            Speaking of The Broiler, they have an excellent homemade spicy sausage patty sub.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              It's funny that I think of all of these resturaunts that have been listed, I live closest to Al's. My wife and I tried it a few years ago, but she wasn't impressed, and I can't seem to remember what I thought. I guess I'll try that this weekend, On another note, I tried the Broiler in Arlington on Sunday. I had a cheesesteak with mushrooms and fried onions. It was pretty good. I think it smelled better than it tasted. My wife had the chicken cheesesteak which we both agreed was really good. I'll post back here as I make my way around to all of your suggestions.

              1. re: mcb1981

                Since you're in the Arlington area you should check out the cuban at Caribbean Grill as well.

                Oh - and the Torta at Pepito's in Adams Morgan should also be on your list.

                I'm due to hit The Deli in Herndon soon for a Hot Sicilian for me and pay back to a coworker. I'm lucky to have such a strong sandwich nearby my office and house.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  I ike the Cuban at the Caribbean Grill but I have to say, I could -- and often used to -- make a meal out of their sides!

                  1. re: Bob W

                    And I love the open kitchen complete with the well used sauce pans, etc.

          2. i, love, earls. seriously, i'm so glad somewhere else eats there....for a place with such amazing sandwiches it has never seemed very popular to me. I also like the sandwiches at Lost Dog — definitely worth looking into.

            4 Replies
            1. re: littlew1ng

              littlewing, tell me about earl's, please. i know where it's located; i'm more interested in what makes it stand out sandwich-wise. http://www.earlsinarlington.com/menu....

              and...too bad that it doesn't serve an andouille sandwich with remoulade, since it offers a gumbo with andouille.

              1. re: alkapal

                The roast pork sandwich is really good. They roast their own meats and just generally do a good job with a sandwich.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I second the roast pork. The signature one, I think it's called an Earl, is good. Plus the one with fries on it is not bad either.

                  1. re: mcb1981

                    I third the roast pork. I've always wondered why it hasn't taken off... maybe location?

            2. While it's a little out of your stated range, Trattoria E Pizzeria Da Enrico in Columbia has excellent italian cold cut and cheese steak subs (note for Philly people, I did _not_ say Philly CS; it's a CS with lots of stuff and no whiz).

              1. American Seafood in Arlington. Not too far from the Italian Store at Lee Highway and Lorcom Lane. Absolutely great fish sandwiches. Good selection of blackened fish sandwiches based on whatever he has fresh, some very good fried sandwiches and po'boys and a good selection of sides. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a good sandwich.

                1. Get the Italian Sausage Sandwich at Breadline. Midweek lunch only.

                  1. Heidi's Brooklyn Deli has big sandwiches that are pretty good. You might also like Liberty Tavern's lunch sandwiches like the Primanti Brother lots of meat.

                    1. I haven't lived in DC for a few years but I'm from NJ and feel your pain about the lack of sandwiches in that town. I used to go to Vace, an Italian deli on Connecticut Ave in Cleveland Park when I didn't feel like battling traffic out to the Italian Store. Classic Italian-American meat subs, etc. Try their pizza too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kates306

                        For Italian cold cut subs, I haven't found anything in this area better than A. Litteri's, about 5 or 6 blocks from the New York Ave. metro station. Closed Sun and Mon and with abbreviated hours on Sat. There's usually a line at lunchtime, but you can fax-in your order. They also have some pre-done, and those are in a cooler near the register. There's no dining area, but, if we have a car and the weather is nice, we take ours to the picnic area at the National Arboretum.

                      2. It's not a sub, but if you want a sandwich with lots of meat and toppings, Deli City makes the best reuben sandwich in DC.

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

                          1. Mangialardo's and Deli City, both in NE, have sandwiches that you will like.

                            1 Reply
                            1. I went by Al's Steaks in Del Ray today. I drove by once and the place looked packed, but after driving up the road, I realized that it was a cheesesteak that I wanted. I ordered one with mushrooms and fried onions with provolone. The way it should be. It kills me to see people order it with lettuce and tomatoes. Anyway, since they were so busy, I had to wait about 20 minutes or so to get mine. I decided to get it to go since there wasn't much room inside. Instead I ate it on the hood of my jeep outside and provided Al's with a little streetside advertising. It was fantasic. The mushrooms and onions made it great. I think if I were to get just meat, it wouldn't be so good. So far in the area, I prefer this over the Broiler in Arlington. I'll keep searching and posting. But I'll be home next weekend and will be getting a roast pork Italian from Tony Luke"s.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: mcb1981

                                L+T+Mayo is pretty standard on steak&cheeses in DC. You can get the same thing in Philly, where it's called a cheesesteak hoagie.

                                I always get the Roman steak at Al's and have never been disappointed. At The Broiler, I always go for the homemade spicy sausage patty sub.

                                1. re: mcb1981

                                  Nonononono. No mentions of Tony Luke's on this board until they open up a branch down here:


                                  Dammit. Now I gotta go plan another trip to Philly.

                                  1. re: sweth

                                    Ha - I'll slug a ride up there.

                                  2. re: mcb1981

                                    i've never been to the broiler, so i looked it up: http://www.allmenus.com/va/arlington/...

                                    which sandwiches do people recommend, after the steak and cheese and the italian sausage? do they have a choice of hard or soft roll, like italian store, or is it all soft rolls?

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at the Broiler. You probably have something closer to where you live that is just as good if not better.

                                      1. re: Steve

                                        Steve - what about Al's? Heading to DC and thinking of making a houndish detour by there. Would you from Reston?

                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                          I've never been to Al's. That's quite a detour!

                                          1. re: Steve

                                            It was quite the detour and not worth the detour (had considered the spicy squid at Thai Square or TECC).

                                            I really liked the hole-in-the-wall ambiance of Al's, and the guy at the counter was nice, but first: 25 minutes for a cheesesteak? Reading the reports of 20 minutes I should've known something would be sub-par. If you're doing steady business the meat should be on the grill almost constantly - taking seconds to work up an individual order. Luckily I called ahead so the wait was only(!) 10 minutes.

                                            I got it with provolone, shrooms and onions. Nice portions, maybe even too many onions and shrooms (which is odd for me to say). Cheese was hard to detect and the meat didn't seem to be seasoned at all.

                                            If I lived in the area, or were nearby and craved such a thing (and could tolerate the wait), I'd go again. Not a trip worth too much of a venture.

                                        2. re: Steve

                                          Broiler, schmoiler. Go for the original steak and cheese at Mario's. Make it a double Lefty special.

                                    2. McB, two Taylor Gourmets have opened in DC. They bring in rolls from Philly and the sandwiches are very good. No need for duplicates when you've got the original, though there are many, many good sandwiches in DC, including quite a few that have already been mentioned.

                                      Taylor Gourmet
                                      1116 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

                                      1. The oyster po boy at RT's is one of my favorites. I prefer it to the more expensive one at Hank's.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                          RT? I just had the one at Hank's and it was delicious. You've been around here awhile, so you've got my interest.

                                          1. re: biscuit

                                            I've had decent oyster po boys at Hank's before, but the past few visits, the quality of the oysters has been inconsistent: small, iodiney. I have not had this problem at RT's. They've always been plump, briney, and crisp.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              Sorry for the newbie question, but I can't figure out what restaurant you are referring to as "RT's".

                                              1. re: neocount

                                                Well, there's a restaurant called RT's that specializes in seafood in the southern/Louisiana style.


                                        2. Just had the Cuban sandwich at Earl's yesterday. While it isn't completely traditional, it isn't too far off and is amazingly delicious. Highly recommended. Note it's a pretty big sandwich too, I really didn't need a side.

                                          1. I finally got to Mangialardo & Sons Monday around lunch time. I got the G-Man which everyone said was the one to get. I had the soft roll with sweet peppers and oil and vinegar. It was a great sandwich. Since this is the only place I know with such restricted hours, I may have to make this my place whenever I have a weekday off. There isn't much to it, bit I've always found that those kind of places make the best sandwiches. Sandwich and a drink was about $8.

                                            Mangialardo & Sons
                                            1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: mcb1981

                                              Some folks are used to harder rolls on their subs, but I've found the hard rolls at Mangialardo's to be TOO hard. If you must get them, hold the lettuce and tomato; that tends to keep the contents from sliding out of the sandwich. You don't get this problem with the soft roll.

                                              Also, the Super G Man sub doubles the meat/cheese for a couple bucks more. I don't think I've ever been able to finish one in a single sitting, but I have found that, like a muffaletta, it improves with a day in the refrigerator. The oil/vinegar/peppers/italian seasonings seem to help the flavors blend. So I tend to have half then save the rest for the next day. Or just split it with a friend, if their mouths are big enough. It can be a burden to take a bite of the Super G.

                                              My deathbed lunch is a Mangialardo's G Man, a Rock Creek soda, and a bag of Utz Old Bay Crab Chips. There are worse ways to go.

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                Same with the Capri at the Italian Store. They'll double up the proscuitto/sopressata for a few dollars. I always get two-one for now and one to marinate in the refrigerator for a day or two. The hard roll holds up a little better without getting too soggy. I'll put it on my Chistmas list.

                                                1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                  See this is where The Deli in Herndon and Fairfax is the clear winner. You have to ask them for single portions for a few dollars less!

                                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                                    In for a penny, in for a pound (or more).

                                                  2. re: flavrmeistr

                                                    flavr-flav, the capri on hard roll with everything is my sandwich, too. didn't know about the double-up!

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      Actually, extra meat is $1. I went there yesterday and got the extra prosciutto. That sandwich had to weigh a good 3 pounds. It was awesome.

                                                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                        that, my friend, is a bargain! maybe that's lunch tomorrow, and i can get extra capicola, too. i love all their fixins' -- esp. their pepper mix.

                                                        once, i thought i'd get a better deal by buying the ingredients and making one myself. nope! it's a better deal to buy the sandwich!

                                                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                          Wow, great deal. I'm another big Italian Store fan. Love the Capri -- always go for the hard roll!

                                                      2. re: flavrmeistr

                                                        Do they still have a basket of ready made Capris on top of the counter at The Italian Store? I liked being able to just grab one and check out but haven't been in ages.

                                                        1. re: MsDiPesto

                                                          Normally, unless it is really busy or later in the afternoon.

                                                          1. re: ktmoomau

                                                            I phone ahead on my way over. It's usually ready when I get there, even when they are super crowded (which is pretty much all the time). It can be a good 20-30 minute wait if you show up at lunch time and take a number.

                                                          2. re: MsDiPesto

                                                            i thought the ready-to-go-stack was another sandwich (the "milano" "our most popular sandwich") -- not the capri ('cause i like the capri, but have to order it and wait). http://www.italianstore.com/subs.html

                                                            i have to remember just to call ahead and order. doh!!!

                                                        2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                          Where can I find Rock Creek soda?

                                                          I have a beautiful 1950's Rock Creek soda rack that houses my stereo.

                                                          1. re: Mister Big

                                                            Mangialardo's sells Rock Creek soda. I've also seen it in Horace & Dickies, but last time I was there, they were carrying Cheerwine.

                                                      3. Sweetleaf in McLean has half a dozen great sandwiches. You can add up to four toppings--all very fresh--all for just $7. Their salads are also first-rate.

                                                        1. I'm sure I've passed Jimmy John's many times cutting through the Carlyle center, but never took notice of this place. I saw a review on Yelp the other day and figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. I went late on Monday night, just before they closed and got a great Italian Hoagie with hot peppers. They gave plenty of meat and the roll was very good. The sandwich was a little oily, but the taste was great. It wasn't as big looking as say, Subway's sandwiches are, but we all know Subway puts two slices of meat on a big fluffy roll. This place actually puts a great meat/roll ratio. My wife liked the way mine looked on Monday, so I went back for both of us on Tuesday. She got a turkey hoagie with alfalfa sprouts and I got the Gargantuan, which is I think every meat they got on one roll. It was a little overwhelming with all the flavors, but it filled me up. I just couldn't decide what type of sandwich to get. Anyway, on the way out the guy who I think was the manager gave me a whole roll for the road. He said to make garlic bread with it. I guess since they were about to close he was getting rid of the fixens for the night.
                                                          All in all, good sandwiches, easy to get to, and very reasonably priced. The downside is not much parking, and they close at 7pm.

                                                          Jimmy Johns
                                                          330 John Carlyle St Ste 140, Alexandria, VA 22314

                                                          1. Chutzpah in Vienna is pretty spot on for lunch. I really enjoy their Chicken Salad, and like the variety of sizes of sandwiches.

                                                            1. Sullivan's Seafood in NE has an excellent 1/2lb crabcake sandwich. One of the better ones in DC.