Last week, Food & Wine Magazine published a gallery of the 20 best sandwiches in the country. When I saw it yesterday, I was surprised to find two local establishments represented. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fine options in the area, but I would not have guessed that fully 10 percent of America’s great sandwiches come from the D.C. area.
To be fair, the list is couched as the country’s best artisanal sandwiches, and both of the local selections, the Muff-a-Lotta at Bayou Bakery and Chicken Shawarma sandwich at Zaytinya , fit that bill. And it goes a long way in explaining the absence of populist regional favorites like Pittsburgh's Primanti sandwiches or a good Beef on Weck from western New York.
But even given those rarified parameters, I need to quibble a bit. Let’s just ignore the Zaytinya offering, because, honestly, I can’t really speak much about it. Is Zaytinya secretly a D.C. sandwich powerhouse, and I’ve just been missing it? Bayou Bakery though, I can go on about. It’s not uncommon for me to stop in and grab sandwiches and some porkorn for dinner.
So let me be clear, I like David Guas’s take on the classic New Orleans muffaletta. It’s loaded with salami, mortadella and smoked ham and generously dressed with melted provolone and olive salad. But I’m not sure I’m ready to say it’s one of the best two sandwiches in the city... it’s not even the best sandwich at Bayou Bakery. For me, that distinction goes to the Arm Drip, a roast-beef and gravy charmer that absolutely earns its name.
What would I pick?
That’s a question that would require more research, and I would probably take a few trips to Taylor, Fast Gourmet and Earl’s, with a stop by Sundevich and Wagshal’s to round things out. But right now, off the top of my head, I have to go with the Chivito from the celebrated gas station shop and either the Istanbul or Beirut at Sundevich.
What about you? As our previous sandwich coverage has shown, our readers have a lot to say about sandwiches. Am I wrong? Do you agree with the folks at Food & Wine? What would you pick?