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Bub and Pop’s Italian Beef Sandwich

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First visit to Bub and Pop’s on M St near 18th NW. I was really looking forward to the sandwich known as “The Real Obama” which is “Italian Beef Chicago Style, Slow braised beef brisket, giardinera, and aged provolone”. I had my first Italian beef sandwich in Chicago earlier this year and I loved it, wanted to try to recreate that experience (despite this shop’s culinary origins of South Philly).

Bottom line: it’s a good sandwich, I might get it again but wouldn’t rush back, and it didn’t recreate my Chicago experience. The sandwiches I had in Chicago were much wetter, had much more aggressive spice flavors with celery/garlic, more emphasis on sweet (or hot) peppers, and melted cheese. Bub and Pop’s “Real Obama” had more subtle/muted flavor, emphasis on the giardiniera, and large shavings of uncooked sharp provolone cheese on top. I did need a fork for part of the sandwich spilling out of the bread a bit, which I think is just fine. I thought the bread itself was fine. I enjoyed it but not the same as the Chicago experience.

I’ll probably go back based on the sandwich I had and what I saw -- it seems to be a good place overall -- but I’ll try a different sandwich next time.

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  1. I'm glad word is getting out. I am really rooting for this place, especially now that that Caprioti's opened up right across the street.
    I really enjoyed the Bulgarian Feta and the Bolognese sandwiches. This place has really strong flavors. The feta sandwich had this incredible gremolata, wow.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hamster

      Yes - I have to second this. The Bulgarian Feta is one of the best vegetarian sandwiches in DC. And the specials can be amazing - I'm still drooling over a spring pea soup Jon made with truffle oil.

    2. I grew up in Chicago and have been eating Italian beef sandwiches there my entire life. I've never seen or had one that had melted cheese on it!

      My Italian mother and aunts used to make their own Italian beef for family gatherings all the time - and again - never cheese.

      Any other Chicagoans out there care to comment??

      1 Reply
      1. re: piafoodie

        Al's Beef, recommended by Chicago chowhounders, offers the choice of Provolone, Cheddar or American Cheese. Maybe only ignorant out-of-towners like me actually ask for cheese. I got provolone. The cheese was incidental to my enjoyment of the sandwich. Possibly my memory is wrong and it wasn't fully melted, but it was integrated into the sandwich rather than just slices placed over the top like at Bub and Pops. And the sandwich was hot so even if it was uncooked when added to the sandwich it probably got a little melty.

      2. The sharp provolone and Philly origins of this shop make me think of the less-famous roast beef at DiNic's Roast Pork.

        At the Chicago Italian beef places I've been to in the past few years (Al's, Johnnie's, Mr. Beef, Luke's), I've never been offered cheese. If I would have, I doubt it would be Philly-style sharp provolone.

        In NW Indiana (far Chicago suburbs, where I'm from), Italian beef from a restaurant almost always has cheese, though it's mozz or swiss. The Italian beefs out here are served more like a French dip. No peppers of any type, au jus on the side.

        This post reminded me that I need to bring home some giardiniera and Gonnella rolls so I can make the best Italian beef in the mid-Atlantic.