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There’s so much great food to try in DC, so we’ve decided to take a deep dive into some of the city’s best dishes! We picked the series back up this week with La Famosa’s coquito yesterday, and today we’re checking out Espita/Ghostburger’s Carnitas & Rabe; here’s what Assistant General Manager and Partner Kelly Phillips told us:

For starters, when and/or where did the inspiration for this dish come from?

If you ask Philadelphia foodies what the signature sandwich of Philadelphia is, it isn’t a cheesesteak… It’s the Pork & Broccoli Rabe sandwich, which became famous at DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal Market. The DiNic’s sandwich is roasted pork sliced thin, broccoli rabe and provolone and a lot of people add peppers. As a Mexican restaurant, our house pork is Carnitas, so we’re doing that with spiced and blanched broccoli rabe, cheddar whiz, and smoked tomatillo salsa on a Sarcone’s roll.  I am one of those that think that the pork sandwich is the true sandwich of Philadelphia and I’m not sad about the version we are serving! 

What was the recipe development process like? Any notable trial and error moments resulting in either “AHA!” or “OH NO” breakthroughs?

After some trials, we realized that less is more – our carnitas is much richer than a traditional Italian roast pork as it’s prepared confit. We rebalanced the ratio of pork, broccoli rabe, and salsa, so that it wouldn’t be overwhelming. 

Obviously all of the elements of the dish are important, but is there one in particular (whether it’s an ingredient or technique) that stands out as especially crucial?

The smoked tomatillo salsa is essential. It ties together the flavors and cuts through the richness and tames the bitterness of the broccoli rabe. It brings everything into sharp focus. 

It’s one thing to roll out a menu item and another to know for sure it’s a keeper. What for you solidified it as the latter?

D.C. is loving the cheesesteak so much, so we thought adding another sandwich that was similar but more playful would help balance out the menu. We’re using flavors from both Espita and Ghostburger for an interesting take on the sandwich, and it’s been a huge hit thus far! 

And if someone were to order this, what are some good additional pairings (food or drink) to go with it?

We like it with a Victoria! 


Grab a Carnitas & Rabe from Espita/Ghostburger!

1250 9th Street NW, Washington, DC – Inside Espita

Mon – Thur: 11:30am – 9:30pm
Fri: 11:30am – 10:30pm
Sat: 11:00am – 10:30pm
Sun: 11:00am – 9:30pm