Skip to content

Hot Plate: Kudos for Capitol Hill’s Humble Sandwiches

Despite its apocryphal aristocratic origins, the sandwich is a humble beast. The Earl of Sandwich might have used bread to shield his playing cards from his meat, but these days, the sandwich is more often the go-to lunch for busy office dwellers, eaten at one’s desk between e-mails.

The lowly sandwich is often eclipsed by its flashier cousins: the burrito, the wood-fired or gourmet-topped pizza, the carb-watchers wrap. But it’s the simple sandwich (So portable! So dependable!) we keep coming back to again and again.

Here are seven under-the-radar sandwiches (which also happen to be under the noses of Hill denizens) that deserve some love:

• In-the-know Senate staffers (and sometimes a Senator or two) head to the basement of the Senate side of the Capitol for the Baby Gourmet‘s BLT ($4.95), one of the best BLTs in town. The bacon is always crisp and plentiful, the bread toasted evenly, and the smear of mayo perfectly proportioned.

• Inside Gandel’s Liquors, this unassuming House-side liquor store (211 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), a small deli counter turns out some unexpectedly good lunch fare. The Gandel’s Special ($4.98) lives up to its moniker, with layers of capicola, mortadella and Genoa salami laced with tangy vinaigrette.

Taylor Gourmet, the Philadelphia-style deli at 1116 H St. NE and 485 K St. NW, makes a case for the notion that the cheesesteak is Philly’s second-best sandwich. The Pattison Avenue ($7.20 for a 6-inch) is a version of the roast-pork hoagie made famous at iconic spots such as DiNic’s in the City of Brotherly Love’s Reading Market: Hunks of slow-roasted pork shoulder, spicy broccoli rabe and tangy shards of provolone cheese are piled on a bun from famed Philly deli Sarcone’s.

• How do you know there’s a great sandwich around? Take a cue from the contractor’s trucks that pull up to Mangialardo & Sons, an old-school deli at 1317 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Many a working man’s lunch is the classic Italian sub called the G-Man ($6). The traditional array of meats (ham, bologna, pepperoni, salami, mortadella and turkey) is elevated by the bread on which it’s served ‘ Mangialardo’s gets theirs from the nearby Catania Bakery. Aficionados swear by the hard rolls, all the better to hold in the generous portions.

• When Eastern Market (225 Seventh St. SE) burned in 2007, Hill residents not only feared a local landmark would be lost, but they also worried about the disappearance of the market’s signature dish, the crab cake sandwich ($8.85) doled out at the Market Lunch. Fat discs of fresh crab, crisp on the outside and held together by a bit of binding, the delicacy hardly needs the soft bun that carries it. A ladle of the pickle-laced tartar sauce is a must.

• A pricier option is Art and Soul‘s Country Pastrami Reuben ($16), a heaping mound of rye bread, pastrami, chow chow (a homemade pickle relish) and swiss cheese, served with house-made chips. Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave. NW) takes Southern dishes and gives them a modern flair. The result is both chic and satisfying.

• The Napolitano meatball sub ($9) at Toscana, the tucked-away Senate-side takeout spot (there are a few tables upstairs and on the patio, 601 Second St. NE) is a find. The braised all-beef meatballs are the star: dense but not tough, and well-seasoned with ground pepper and flecks of parsley. Provolone and a tangy sauce provide delicious backup, while a house-made ciabatta roll soaks up just enough to keep the sub from getting too messy. Which, come to think of it, the Earl of Sandwich himself might applaud.

Recent Stories

So long, Santos

EV tax credit rules tighten restrictions on foreign-made batteries

Capitol Lens | Honor This

Supreme Court to weigh 2017 tax on overseas earnings

Freshman Jackson offers bill to boost USDA civil rights efforts

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman on the Supreme Court, dies at 93