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
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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

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