Welcome to the BYT feature that screams, “I love bread!” Our 18 Sandwiches for 2018 feature is here for all of the people that gave up on their New Year’s Resolutions and no longer care about looking good for Valentine’s Day.
Before we dive in, there are some debatable omissions and inclusions in this piece.
Burgers are sandwiches but since we have a Burger Guide, we did not include burgers in this list.
Pitas are sandwiches because unlike pockets and rolls, they are not closed.
Dessert sandwiches are on this list.
So here are 18 of our favorite sandwiches available in the D.C. metropolitan region. If you’re wondering why some obvious choices aren’t included, consult out 2017 and 2016 editions. We eat a lot of sandwiches.
At Bread Furst, the muffaletta steals your attention – stacked high, overflowing, a sight to behold. But the unassuming jambon beurre steals your heart. Long and slender and hidden within a white sheet of paper, it’s a tribute to utility. Every ingredient here matters: ham via Heritage Foods USA, creamy Gruyere cheese, butter, a smear of Dijon mustard, and the Van Ness bakery’s crusty, caramelized bread. That’s it. That’s all there needs to be. No mystery sauce(s). No crispy onions. No seasonal flare. Just meat and cheese and the so-wrong-but-so-right addition of butter. When you start on the journey of eating one, you think: 1) I will not be able to finish this sandwich, and 2) even if I could, I will lose interest it before I am full. Ten minutes later, you realize you were wrong on both counts. Keep it simple, stupid. -Phil Runco
$18 for a sandwich is objectively a lot of money, but considering the gargantuan proportions served up at Bob and Pop’s you can probably make two meals out of this one. And I say probably because that would require more self control and discipline than I have ever had in my entire life. The Philly Special is their take on the sandwich real Philadelphians eat (apparently), and it’s a wonderful combination of grilled porchetta fattiness, melted sharp provolone, and crunchy, lightly sautéed broccoli rabe. Get it with or without hot peppers and build in some time for a nap. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
In our First Look we compared Capo to the best place to get an Italian sub in D.C., A Litteri. Is it as good as A. Litteri? No way. But Capo is a very good option and a great choice if you’re anywhere near Shaw. Their Italian Combo with salami, hot cooked capicola and provolone is exactly what you want when you envision an Italian sub. -Brandon Wetherbee
The difference between a Media Noche sandwich and a Cubano is all in the bread, but oh, what a difference it makes. Colada Shop’s sweet roll – similar in texture and flavor to a nice challah – is the perfect vessel for ham, slow roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, mayo, and house made pickles. The team over there does a great job in putting together a sandwich that wouldn’t be out of place on Miami’s Calle Ocho, and every time I’m there I can’t help but say “dale!” and get a cortadito to go along with it. I might actually walk over there and get one right now. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez
My qualification for the perfect sandwich is that every element be perfect; if the bread is mediocre, why eat it as a sandwich and if the filling sucks then it ruins good bread. The chicken biscuit hits all the marks. In my mind there’s no better bread product than a biscuit. Yes, biscuits can go wrong. Biscuits are not healthy and nobody should try to make a dietetic one. Luckily, Due South makes a delicious, buttery biscuit. The filling is top notch. Their fried chicken is moist (that word doesn’t scare me) and perfectly battered. In my mind, there doesn’t even need to be anything more than chicken and a biscuit to make a good sandwich, but Due South elevates it with home made bread&butter pickles, Nashville hot sauce, Alabama white sauce, and (because everything is better with an egg) a fried egg. Sometimes too much of a good thing can go wrong, but this sandwich is not the case. This delight is served at brunch and the only downside (which to me is a bonus) is that you’ll need a cozy, long nap post sandwich. Especially if you pair it with a brunch cocktail. Pro tip: also ask for some of Due South’s hot honey on the side for dipping. You might think that’s overkill, but you’d be wrong. -Diana Metzger
One of my ex-boyfriends has a fun rule about trying new things at restaurants: If a menu features a species of animal he’s never consumed before, he orders it. Rabbits, crickets, alligators — there’s a lot more than just beef and pork out there, after all. If you’ve never eaten the flesh of a goat before, the wood-roasted sandwich at G by Mike Isabella is a terrific introduction. Goat meat is tangier that the more famous lamb, with a stronger base note. G’s spiced baby goat sandwich pairs that savory darkness with the heat of harissa and fresh oregano for a Persian-inspired treat that is served all day at the corner of 14th and W. Let it get your goat. -Tristan Lejeune
Based on a every loose estimation of countless hours/days spent at Garden District, I’m pretty sure that I’ve had every menu item at least 20 times. And while I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of this “accomplishment,” I’m totally serious when I say that the fried chicken sandwich is my low-key favorite. Slathered in spicy jalapeño coleslaw and a pinch of mayo, the fried chicken sandwich is perfectly fried and bursting with flavor. Add in the delicious house pickles to add nice briny snap, and you’ve got yourself a perfect sandwich for a day drowning in liters of beer. -Ruben Gzirian
If you order Great Balls of Fire, there’s a good chance you’ll be met with a note of caution. The last time I did, the Glen’s employee behind the counter said, “You sure you want to do that? It’s pretty spicy.” He let me try a sample, and he wasn’t fooling: their marina sauce is a Trojan Horse of hot insanity. It starts off pretty mild. You might think, “Oh, that’s not too bad.” By the end, however, you won’t know to go for another bite or a full glass of water, and you WILL be sweating. Aside from the spice, the sandwich bursts with flavor: the bread is perfectly crispy, while the meatballs are creatively seasoned. This is not just a satisfying sandwich; it is a satisfying experience. You just may want to eat it without anyone else watching. -Alan Zilberman
My first encounter with Alex McCoy was at a rugby practice, over a decade ago. At least, I think that was my first time meeting the man. My first encounter with his Hot Tiger Bun was last year at a hockey game. He’d taken over LaunchPad, the food incubator inside the then Verizon Center, and was slinging his burgers (all of which are amazing, some of the only burgers in D.C. to rival nearby Rebellion.) And while I’d spent many a Sunday evening hoarking down double cheeseburgers at the Lucky Buns pop up at Alfie’s (née Mothership, which will soon become Call Your Mother, a Jew-ish deli by Dani Moreira and Andrew Dana of Timber Pizza Co.) I’d never tried the spicy fried chicken sandwich. True, McCoy came up with the menu for Crisp in Bloomingdale, including its dang fine approximation of Nashville’s hot chicken, but it wasn’t unique.
By contrast, his first iteration of the Hot Tiger Bun in Chinatown was merely dangerous. Now it’s a devastating chicken thigh, covered in tongue numbing Sichuan pepper paste, with onions and mayo and a hot Chinese mustard. It’s messy and it hurts. It should come with surgical gloves, so as to keep the napalm-sticky pepper paste off your fingers and on the bun. So you know, this sandwich will make you cry. Sometimes tears of joy, sometimes tears of pain, always though, some form of catharsis. It’s therapy, in the form of hot chicken, which is my favorite kind of therapy. -Jeb Gavin
Let’s be real. Sometimes a traditional sandwich just isn’t what you want, so you go out for Mexican food. As you’re stuffing yourself you take a glance at the dessert menu, because life is just like that sometimes. Your options are good: flan, tiramisu… and torrejas. I think there’s a fourth, but I got tunnel vision when I read the menu’s description of the torrejas:
Dulce de leche.
Vanilla ice cream.
Toasted bread? Check. Multiple foods piled on top? Check. Sauce? Check. A giant scoop of ice cream? Check. This is an open-faced sandwich described as Mexican French toast. Is this a traditional torreja? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I have driven from the ‘burbs to Petworth more than once just to indulge in this ridiculously sweet treat. -Vesper Arnett
When I first tasted the Smoked Salmon BLT at Neopol I knew I stumbled onto something special. I even remember looking around in bewildered astonishment after my first bite like Wee-Bey in The Wire in that one scene with Stringer Bell. Smoked salmon is not everyones cup of tea, and the immediacy with which I can order this sandwich in a crowded Union Market is a testament to that. But really you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t give this masterpiece of flaky smoked salmon, crispy rich bacon, crunchy greens, and an effervescent lemon-dill aioli a chance in between your regular go-to of overpriced poke bowls. -Ruben Gzirian
No, I ‘m not talking about the Olive Garden. The Olive Grove is a quasi Italian restaurant in Linthicum, Maryland. I say quasi because one of its main entrees are crab cakes (surprise). But forget the restaurant proper, right next to the restaurant is a little take out / general store called the Little Olive. They have candy and snacks and shitty liquor… But most importantly, they have sandwiches, including the best Italian hoagie I have ever had in my life. It’s the bread. I’m pretty sure the meat is the exact same lunch meat I could buy at any grocery store, but their bread is out of this world. It’s got a good hardy crust, a soft, chewy inside and it doesn’t fall apart as soon as you pick it up. Oh, and the dressing… If they would let me mainline their beautiful oily vinegar-y dressing, I would. For the low price of $6.40, you too can get a taste of heaven on earth. If only I could get them shipped to D.C. -Kaylee Dugan
This is a sandwich that’s going to take you back to basics, a sandwich to satisfy the minimalist in you. Pepe’s Serrano y Manchego isn’t breaking any boundaries or starting any trends, but its simplicity is a breath of fresh air in a city where Duke’s Right Proper Burger, piled high with toppings, reigns supreme. This is a sandwich that will recalibrate your taste buds and rejuvenate your mind. When the rich, bursting with flavor manchego meets the thin, delicate layers of serrano, it’s paradise plain and simple. Our favorite iteration of this sandwich comes from ThinkFoodLab, which adds some tomate fresco and throws it all on pan de cristal, but the Pepe version with olive oil also gets our seal of approval. Think of it like a meditative experience between bread.
Also, it’s not cheap. And it’s not currently available. The ThinkFoodLab is currently between concepts. We’ll let you know when Pepe returns. Sorry. -Kaylee Dugan
Yes, I know. This is a trip to the ‘burbs. But it’s seriously worth it and it’s right down the street from the Wheaton Metro stop. At the spot that was formerly called Saigonese (same ownership though, just new straightforward name), they serve up really solid, no-frills Vietnamese. Their bahn mi is the real thing: tasty grilled pork with pickled carrots and daikon on a baguette. I lived in Vietnam for two years and this sandwich takes me back there–especially with the price. One sandwich costs just $3.50, but they always do good 2 for 1 deals at lunch. Even with the Metro fare this is probably less than you’ll pay for a really good sandwich anywhere else. -Diana Metzger
One of the best sandwiches we ate in 2017 came from a location we did not associate with sandwiches. Pitango’s newest location in Adams Morgan is more than gelato. In fact, I’d rather eat their sandwiches than their gelato. Their meat is fantastic and their bread is the hearty enough to handle their generous servings.
Columbia Road in Adams Morgan is saturated with great sandwiches (neighbor So’s Your Mom is packed most every weekend morning due to their bagel sandwiches). Pitango is a valuable addition to the sandwich landscape. -Brandon Wetherbee
I’m serious about lunch. It’s my favorite meal of the day and sandwiches are the pinnacle, so when I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I want to be full by the end of the experience. I’m a pretty small person, so if my stomach is still rumbling after visiting your sandwich joint, something has gone desperately wrong. I was worried that would happen at Shouk. It did not happen at Shouk. What did happen is that a little more than halfway through the black bean pita, I realized my body was at 90% capacity and if I continued much further, things would not be good. Considering I eat probably half of what a normal person eats, this is great news for you. You’ve heard us wax poetic about how delicious the pita is at Shouk, but the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes takes it to a whole different level. Throw in some red pepper and tomato to cut through the hardiness of the beans and the potato, then add a touch of spicy harissa to bring it all together and you’ve got a solid lunch option for those days when you need a little more fuel and you want to get it in a slightly healthier way. You wont miss the meat. I promise. -Kaylee Dugan
Smoke & Barrel cares about me. Well, they care about vegans and that feels like the same thing. A rustic, meaty, whiskey-slinging BBQ joint also has some of the best vegan options in D.C. Their vegan fried chicken sandwich with pickles, onions, coleslaw, and bbq sauce is clearly not an afterthought on their meat heavy menu which makes you not feel like–well a vegan in a bbq restaurant. While it’s true I’d eat anything that’s vegan and fried, this sandwich is sweet, crispy, and worth it. Don’t you dare pass on the vegan chicken wings either. I’ve heard from many meat eaters that they actually prefer them over their bone filled counterparts. Just sayin. -Anna Stevens
This limited edition Korean-inspired hoagie is tops. The Taylor and ChiKo collaboration is a Kimchi marinated chicken breast, with white American cheese, furikake (Japanese seasoning), DK fire sauce, herbs, and crispy onions on Taylor’s signature bun. It’s a nice little take on the Korean chicken katsu sandwich. I get it without the cheese (I know, I’m a weirdo, but I’m not a big cheese gal) but friends of mine have gotten the sandwich with no exemptions and either way it’s super solid. I’m having a love affair with Korean food lately and this is a nice fast casual lunchtime version. It’s comfort food without feeling too heavy (the regular size is the perfect size). Also all proceeds of the sandwich go to Chance for Life, a pediatric cancer research charity. Feed your face and your soul; that’s a darn good deal. -Diana Metzger