deli


Variety Deli opened up several months ago, but I never went…until recently.  Here are photos of their menu. 

Breakfast menu:

Variety Deli Breakfast Menu  Variety Deli Breakfast Menu

Lunch and Dinner menu:  

Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu 

  • Food: I ordered the New Yorker sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw on perfectly toasted rye.  While I know that may sound crazy, I’ve found a lot of restaurants don’t let the bread actually toast until it’s light brown.  Instead, they figure if it’s gone through the toaster it’s “toasted.” 

Variety Deli New Yorker Sandwich

  • Atmosphere: The interior is fun with red walls and white tables and chairs.  In the back of the deli, there’s mirrors so the place seem a bit bigger than reality. 
  • Service: The woman behind the counter was very nice and was fast when she was making my sandwich. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: For a quick sandwich, it’s a good spot. 

Details:

  • Hours: 7 AM-9 PM Mon-Thurs; 7 AM-10:30 PM Fri-Sat; 12 noon-7 PM Sun
  • Address: 2120 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-234-3354

Organic To Go has taken over downtown DC (or at least it seems).  This chain has come out of no where to suddenly seem as ubiquitous as Pot Belly or Cosi.  I had to check it out and see if there was substance to the hype. 

  • Food: I have to combine service, atmosphere, and food together for this one.  First of all, from their cafe menu, it appears they have a lot of great sandwiches.  However, what they don’t tell you is that more than half of them are actually pre-made.  I hate pre-made sandwiches so that immediately removed a number of the sandwiches.  To see what is available, you have to look at the limited list of sandwiches on the board (above the cash registers) and then there’s more sandwiches at the sandwich counter (but they’re not labeled so you don’t know what kind they are).  Now that you know what sandwiches are actually available and you determine which one you want, you then order at the register and pay.  Then your sandwich can be picked up at the counter.  Anyway, I finally figured out I wanted the turkey veggie (photo on the left) and my friend ordered the turkey pepper jack (photo on the right).  The turkey veggie was good.  But my friend’s description of the turkey pepper jack was awesome — she said it was greasy and tasted like McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  Strange and relieving I didn’t order it.  Oh, and they were doing inventory when I was there (at about 11:30 AM) — kinda strange to do it at that time.  

Organic to Go Turkey Veggie  Organic to Go Turkey Pepperjack

  • Service: The cashier people were nice, but the counter people were not, so I never did find out what was in the counter sandwich display.
  • Atmosphere: See “food” section above.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I have to wonder if they thought the fast expansion through.  For being a chain with multiple stores in multiple cities, it seems they grew too fast and didn’t take the time to make sure they could actually make the food correctly.  Plus, they had a sign when I was there that said they were no longer making pizza since they couldn’t guarantee uniformity with corporate.  Before they open up any more stores, I’d suggest first streamlining the ordering process and making it clear which sandwiches are available freshly made versus pre-made.  Then we can talk about what exactly is in that turkey pepper jack that makes it taste like a Sausage McMuffin…

Details:

  • Hours: M-F / 6:30AM – 4:00PM
  • Address: 927 15th Street NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 800-304-4550

If you’re like me, you find that when you step outside for lunch from your office, you find you go to the same spots.  So thanks to this blog, I’ve been going to new places all the time.  The Brown Bag is another one of those new spots.

  • Food:I ordered the Love at 1st Bite sandwich.  There is some mayo on this tuna sandwich, but not a lot so it worked for me (and we all know I hate mayo!).  There’s a perfect combination of onion to tuna to lettuce.  The multi-grain bread is fresh, but it might be even better if they toasted it.  My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more tomato.  I bet next time, if I ask, they’ll put more on.  Sweet.

The Brown Bag Love at First Bite

  • Service:It’s merged with the atmosphere information, but basically, you never have to talk to anyone.  You can also customize your sandwich and unless you have horrible writing, you’ll get exactly what you asked for without worrying the person behind the counter misunderstood.  I like the fact you can order it online too. 
  • Atmosphere:Inside it’s cute with three different lines — one for salads, noodles, and sandwiches.  They also have a bunch of pre-made items in the front cooler.  When you walk in, determine which you’re going to order.  Then they have the laminated order cards and you circle which item you want.  There are 10-15 tables inside in the front of the restaurant.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:It’s a good sandwich place and I was shocked that I liked their tuna salad sandwich.  The shock comes because I hate mayo and normally don’t order tuna salad out because of the mayo.  I know you’re going to laugh, but I didn’t realize it was tuna salad — I thought it was just going to be albacore tuna.  I’ve never tried their pasta (has anyone else?), but would go back. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 AM-3:30 PM
  • Address: 818 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-293-0092

In the five years that I’ve lived in DC, it seems Pot Belly has taken over the town.  Yes, I know, it’s a bit like a chain…but it’s sometimes incredibly convenient/easy for me to go sometimes when it’s late at the office and grab dinner. 

 

  • Food: I’ve ordered a lot of food at Pot Belly, but my standard is their turkey on wheat (photo on the left).  It’s toasted (like Quizno’s) and they have some good topping options.  Their hot peppers are soaked in oil which makes the sandwich greasy (boo).  They’ve recently added salads to their menu and I tried their Italian salad with non-fat vinaigrette dressing (photo on the right).  It has this great sweet tang to it and didn’t taste non-fat.  The croutons, which I am betting were homemade (what else are they going to do with all that stale bread?), were a little soggy, but well seasoned.  

Pot Belly Turkey Sandwich  Pot Belly Italian Salad

  • Service: They’re definitely efficient.  Whenever you see the line snake outside the door, it’s a little shocking.  But they are quick and even with that kind of a line, you can usually get your sandwich in under 20 minutes.
  • Atmosphere: They have live music during the lunch hour which can be fun. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Overall: It’s good food at a good price.  While they no longer offer their $3.29 sandwiches (they’re now $4.19), it’s still a good deal.  The salads are a bit more (like $5.29), but they are yummy and quite filling.  Also, when I feel the need to splurge, there’s nothing like their Oreo shake. 

Details:

  • Hours/Address/Ph: To find the local one near you, click here.

Across the street from Casa Blana is Vermont Village Cafe.  It kinda reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Babu Bhatt and his restaurant that offers a lot of different ethnic foods.  Some of their offerings can be found here.  They have a bigger menu at their restaurant (including breakfast). 

  • Food:I was in a meat mood and so I ordered a steak classic with cheese, onions, mushrooms, and tomato.  I asked for it on a wrap (no hoagie), skipped the mayo, and asked for jalapenos.  The beef was a little gristly and tough to cut with the chompers, but it was satisfying.  I think because it was a wrap and kind of looked like a burrito from the outside, I got a side of salsa and sour cream in my bag.  The salsa was a bit too sweet for my taste.

Vermont Village Cafe

  • Service: When you enter, the menu is on the right hand side of the wall.  Then you order from the guy at the register below the menu.  You grab your order and then go straight to the back to the second register and pay.  You’ll get a number and they call it out.  For folks who are dining in, they’ll bring it to you on a tray.
  • Atmosphere: They have a few outside tables as well as a nice inside dining section.  It has more charm than most cafes in the area, but it’s not going to wow anyone either. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I’d go back for lunch, but would order their chicken instead of the beef.  The burrito was filling and I thought it was pretty healthy.  Plus, it was very filling!

Details:

  • Hours: M-F 7a – 4p; Closed weekends
  • Address: 1025 Vermont Ave NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 393-3260

My friend was craving a Philly Steak sandwich but didn’t have a lot of time to run out for lunch so we decided to try out California Grill (when you click, there’s a link to the menu).  And careful because there’s a California Grill on M Street!

  • Food: I love turkey reubens like no one else so that’s what I ordered.  It was solid and decent food.  While we got it to go, the top of the bread was still toasted but the bottom was a bit soggy.  I ordered the fries (not a cole slaw person) but would definitely skip that next time.  They weren’t crispy.  But the turkey was really outstanding because it tasted like it was carved, not the shaved deli-stuff (which I like too!). 

California Grill Turkey Rueben

  • Service: I’m combining service and atmosphere here on this one.  When you walk in, the line is strange and confusing.  After a lot of questions, we finally figured it out.  When you want to order, you need to go to the counter (underneath the menu board) and order where you’ll get a tickete.  Then once your order is up, you’ll pick it up from the ledge.  Then you pay. 
  • Atmosphere: See above.  It’s definitely casual and it’s funny because directly acrosss from the cash register is their “back office” where they have their employee time clock, invoices, etc.  They do have a lot of seating, but there’s not a tremendous amount of ambiance. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I’ll go back because after the ~$6 sandwich, I didn’t eat dinner.  It was insanely filling.   

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 7 AM-4 PM; closed Sunday
  • Address: 1090 Vermont Ave NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 408-8484

I love NY-deli style sandwiches.  There’s something about that HUGE sandwich with three inches of freshly sliced meat on soft rye with a side of pickles…oh wow.  Damn, I have to get to NY. 

Anyway, I had heard a lot about Loebs Deli and thought I had to try it out for myself.  A restaurant that’s been around for 49 years — that means they have to serve something pretty good right?

  • Food: I ordered their pastrami on light rye and matzo ball soup.  The pastrami was warm and had a bit more fat on it than Eli’s, so that means it was a bit juicier.  It was really good.  The matzo ball soup was pretty good too — though the two baby carrots were a little strange (Right?  Or is that just me?).  While the sandwich was good, it wasn’t exactly like a NY-style deli sandwich, but it was close (so is Eli’s).  BTW, this is definitely not a Kosher restaurant (they serve cheeseburgers).   My friend ordered a side of fries and they were these huge thick cut steak fries.  I’m usually not a fan of such fries, but these were really good.  They were crispy and hot.  Yum!

Loebs Deli Pastrami Sandwich  Loebs Matzo Ball Soup

  • Service: Knowing it’s a family-ran joint made the experience even that much more fun.  It did feel like you stepped into a NY deli with their thick NY accents.  They were really nice and we got our food in 15 minutes.
  • Atmosphere: Inside there’s about 20 tables making it a pretty big lunch spot.  When you walk in, you can either go straight to order if you’re staying in (which means you grab a tray) or you go to the right where you can put in your to go food. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Be prepared — they only accept cash or American Express.  If you’re looking for a menu, here you go: Loebs Deli Menu.  The food is really good and I’d definitely go back.  Would I rather go to Eli’s or Loebs?  Hmm, tough decision…

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday breakfast from 6 a.m.-11 a.m.; 11 AM-4 PM lunch
  • Address: 832 15th Street NW, Washington DC
  • Ph: 202-371-1150

You already know I went to Breadline once before.  I felt like going again to try their Oyster Po Boy sandwich since I heard so much about it. 

As you can see from the photo, the sandwich was very creamy.  I hate mayo, so for me, it was too much remoulade sauce.  The good stuff in the sandwich was the freshly fried oysters and the little heat (spice).

Overall, I wouldn’t order it again because of the remoulade sauce, but if you like mayo, you’ll love it.

Breadline Oyster Po Boy

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Address: 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-822-8900

My friend suggested I try out this place for lunch one day and also was kind enough to go with me on my first visit. 

  • Food:He recommended Panini D’Amour which comes with turkey, pesto mayo (except I asked for no sauce), red onions, artichokes, provolone, and avocado.  As you can see in the photo, it was cheesy!  It was crispy and I loved the addition of the avacado in the sandwich.  It also had a subtle garlic taste which didn’t overwhelm the senses (thankfully).   

Dickey's Turkey D'Amor

  • Service: They are polite and quite efficient.  You can get in and out in 15 minutes.
  • Atmosphere: Inside it’s very small, but they have a few stool seats available, but it’s definitely more of a “grab-and-go” place.
  • Attire:Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I have never tried their custard (only offer chocolate or vanilla) but I am looking forward to trying their low-fat versions.  Regardless, the sandwich was really good and quite filling.  I’d definitely stop back here for the panini! 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM-5 PM
  • Address: 1710 I Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-861-0669

When my best friend from college came into town, she mentioned there was a kosher deli in Dupont.  I, of course, was intrigued and was looking forward to trying it out.  Unfortunately, we had just eaten breakfast so I wasn’t ready to order anything else.  Instead, I went with a friend for lunch a few weeks later.

  • Food: I don’t know about you, but to me — pastrami or corned beef were the two sandwiches I was looking forward to trying.  I kept waffling and finally ordered the pastrami which was a great sandwich.  It came with chips and a pickle.  I think it might have been a homemade pickle because it had a distinct, yet salty and sweet yummy flavor.  While the sandwich wasn’t as big as I thought it was going to be (like you get in NY), there was still enough for 4 sandwiches! 

Eli's Pastrami on Rye 

I’ve since gone back and gotten their Reuben.  Pretty good stuff and there was “cheese” (it’s a Kosher restaurant so it wasn’t real).  Still though, nothing like So’s Your Mom Reuben.  I think I’m no longer ordering Reubens unless I’m at SYM. 

Eli's Reuben

  • Service: We ordered to go, but they were nice. 
  • Atmosphere: The interior reminds me a bit of Cheers, but with more sunlight.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I think it’s a great sandwich place and would absolutely go again.

Details:

  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 AM-9 PM; Friday 11 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1253 20th Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-785-4314

After hearing so many great things about Breadline, I had never gone to try it — until recently.

  • Food:The “must try” dishes at Breadline, it seemed like to me, were the French Madrange Ham Sandwich and the fries.  So I ordered both of them.  On the counter where you order was a big bowl of mustard & horseradish mix (homemade perhaps?) and I grabbed a glob to put on my sandwich — such a good idea because it was a great addition!  Wrapped in butcher paper, the baguette was HUGE.  The bread was extremely crusty on the outside while not overpowering the flavor of the ham and cheese.  For a few brief moments, I felt like I was sitting in France…and then I snapped back into reality with the fries.  Double-fried, to me, means that they would be crispy.  Instead, they were pretty greasy and so soggy.  To say they were a disappointment is an understatement.  I would definitely skip the fries.  Oh, and in case you’re thinking I went at a weird time (which I am known to do), I went at 12 noon on the dot. 

Breadline French Madrange Ham Sandwich  Breadline Fries

  • Service: My lunch partner and I commented that it felt like the Soup Nazi, but that the staff were nicer.  There’s definitely a process and if you don’t know it, you’ll feel a little frazzled.  When you walk in, you’ll see two lines.  The one on the left is for salads while the one on the right is for sandwiches and soups.  Then the counter (with the mustard/horseradish mix) where you’ll pick up your food.  There are three checkouts — two next to the counter and there’s one by the beverage cooler (a little hidden). 
  • Atmosphere:With high ceilings and 3,500 sq feet of space, this place is big.  They have some seating in the back of the restaurant where you can grab your order, your laptop (free wi-fi), and get some work done.  Their bread offerings look really good too and I bet when they’re baking, the aroma is amazing.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:Loved the sandwich, but skip the fries.  My lunch partner ordered the black bean quesadilla.  She said it was flaky and delicious.  I’m looking forward to coming back and trying other items.  Their Thursday Cuban Sandwich and Oyster Po’ Boy both sound really good.

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
  • Address: 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-822-8900

I had only been there for bagels (not sure where they get them from) because they are quite tasty.  I hadn’t tried their sandwiches, until recently.   And check it out — I took photos of their menu! 

So's Your Mom Menu  So's Your Mom Menu  So's Your Mom Menu  So's Your Mom Menu  So's Your Mom Menu

  • Food: While they offer 66+ different sandwiches, it’s the one that isn’t on their menu that I tried — the Reuben.  While I have no idea why it isn’t on their menu, they make it and oh so well.  The Reuben is on light rye which was perfect because the bread wasn’t overpowering but one can still taste the rye goodness.   When you’re eating the sandwich, there’s no dripping of sauerkraut, dressing, etc.  How did they do that?  With the light rye taste and no dripping, this is definitely one of the best Reuben sandwiches.  

So's Your Mom  So's Your Mom Reuben 

And after hearing so much about their breakfast, I ordered an egg and cheese sandwich on a toasted sesame bagel.  There was a lot of eggs on the sandwich!  I did love the bagel and will definitely order those by the dozen…oh, with smoked salmon, red onion, capers, and shmear…forget it…

So's Your Mom Egg and Cheese on Sesame Bagel

I also recently ordered a corn beef sandwich with dijon mustard on rye.  Delicious.  So’s Your Mom rules.

So's Your Mom Corn Beef  So's Your Mom Corn Beef

  • Service: They’re very polite and fast.  So if you’re in a rush but want a good sandwich, go here.
  • Atmosphere: There are no tables, so you’ll have to grab your sandwich and eat it somewhere else. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: The Washington Post says that they have “simple, old-fashioned sandwiches,” and it is true.  Their ingredients are fresh and have great pairings (#1 most popular sandwich is their turkey, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on sourdough).  I’m looking forward to going back and trying their other sandwiches.  BTW, make sure to bring cash because they don’t accept credit cards or checks.  Of course, there’s the Bank of America ATMs right next door too.

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM-8 PM; Sat 8 AM-7PM; Sun 8 AM-3 PM
  • Address: 1831 Columbia Rd NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-464-3666

Firehook Bakery has 11 locations in the DC and VA area.  They’re best known for their baked goods, but they also offer sandwiches, soups, etc.  I have eaten many baguettes from Firehook — they’re a perfect combination of crusty and chewy.  With a hunk of brie cheese and prosciutto?  Forget it!  So tasty!

  • Food:In the mood to grab something quickly and after hearing about their fantastic ciabatta bread, I felt the need to go and try out their sandwiches myself.  I thought you’d order at the counter, but then realized when I walked in that the sandwiches were all pre-made.  I’m not a fan of pre-made sandwiches…and I was reminded why when I ate mine.   First, my side.  I picked-up their lemon orzo salad with cucumber, feta cheese, red and yellow peppers, basil, and lemon vinaigrette.  I thought it had a light yet decent flavor (though didn’t really taste any lemon and needed a little salt).  Oh, you’ll also see in the photo that there was only one red pepper and no yellow ones.  On to the sandwich.  I thought their other sandwiches looked good, but they were on plain bread (not homemade) and since I wanted to try their own homemade ciabatta — the Portobello mushroom, arugula, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese on Firehook’s ciabatta bread was my only choice.  I love goat cheese, but there was way too much on the sandwich.  The worst offense?  The bread was soggy.   And I went early (around 11ish) so that sandwich couldn’t have been sitting around that long!  

Firehook Orzo  Firehook Sandwich

  • Service: You grab your food and then pay at the counter.
  • Atmosphere: They usually have a couple of tables and chairs at their locations.  It’s very casual.
  • Attire: Casual 
  • Price: $
  • Overall:Skip the sandwiches and go for the baked goods.  It makes me nervous to try any of their other sandwiches, although they did look good.  I wonder why all their sandwiches aren’t made on their homemade bread?  I think the side was good though. 

Details:

  • Hours: Varies by location
  • Address: To find out the location by you, click here.

Similar to Capitol Ground, City Place Café has been a good addition to the Golden Triangle area. They offer good, fresh food at a reasonable price. While it is busy during the lunch hour, you can usually get in and out in 10 -15 minutes.

  • Food: When I went, for some strange reason, I decided to order their special. It was grilled salmon on sourdough baguette with lettuce, tomato, and vinaigrette. I couldn’t help but think of Anthony Bourdain’s “don’t eat fish on Mondays because it’s probably fish from Friday,” even though it was a Tuesday. I feel like he also said to not order fish when it’s the special – something about how it was old and they couldn’t sell it the previous day. In this case, it could have been possible – or the person who cooked the salmon didn’t realize that salmon cooks quickly. It had a nice lemon flavor and the baguette itself was soft inside with a crispy outside, but the salmon was definitely dry. Had it not been for the vinaigrette, it would have been really bad. Regardless, it was fine and it was filling. But, definitely recommend next time staying away from the fish. I’d stick to the turkey, chicken, salad, soups, etc. Those are safe and quite good.

** Update 2/24/08 — I went again recently and tried their LA Wrap.  My new favorite sandwich!  Unlike a lot of places, they don’t use mayo for their tuna sandwich.  I couldn’t help but feel healthy when I was done!**

City Place Cafe LA Wrap

City Place Cafe 

 

  • Service: The folks who own this restaurant are very nice. You order quickly and pay just as fast. It’s a great “quick” stop.
  • Atmosphere: They have a few tables inside and out. I think inside is too loud with all the folks who are waiting for their lunch so if it’s nice, I’d go and sit alfresco. I think most people who come to this place are just “grabbing and going” back to their offices.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I like it.  It’s a perfect quick lunch stop.  But don’t get the salmon.   If you want to see their menu, it can be found here: Menu Page 1 and Menu Page 2

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM-4 PM
  • Address: 1101 17th Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-466-4665

It’s called Capitol Grounds, but it’s really known as a “great little sandwich/salad/soup place.”  If you work in the “Golden Triangle” area, you’ve probably visited.  If you work in the area and you’ve never been, you must!  Menu can be found here: Menu Page 1, Menu Page 2, Menu Page 3

  • Food: They always use fresh ingredients, so you know you’re going to get good food.  My favorite is the “Cobbie” which has avocado, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, etc (photo on the right).  I always order it on a wrap instead of the roll; otherwise, I feel it’s too much bread-to-meat ratio.  Today though, I felt I needed to get some veggies and went with their “Veggie” in a jalapeno wrap (photo on the left).  It has avocado, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, and mustard.  This is another restaurant that no matter who I go with, no one has ever had a “bad” meal. 

Veggie on Jalapeno Wrap  Capitol Grounds Turkey Cobbie Sandwich

  • Atmosphere: You can’t sit down to eat, unless it’s a nice day.  Even then, there are only two or three tables outside so it’s a bit of a gamble on whether you’ll get one.  This is much more of a “grab and go” type place.
  • Service: Very good.  Yesterday I was actually standing in line outside the door, but I got my sandwich and paid in less than 10 minutes.  
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: It’s good and is a perfect lunch spot.

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 7 AM – 4 PM
  • Address: 1010 17th St NW, Washington DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 887-8231