This Thing You Should Try: The Real Obama at Bub and Pop’s

March 21, 2013

Competition for your lunchtime dollar is heating up between Farragut North and Dupont Circle. TakEatEasy, Boloco and Taylor Gourmet have arrived on the scene in recent months, but they've already got serious competition from a little basement deli called Bub and Pop's.

The Real Obama
The Real Obama is a Chicago-style sub with slow-braised beef brisket, house-made giardinera and pieces of aged provolone cheese. (Alex Baldinger/The Washington Post)

Open for just over a month, the homey little restaurant specializes in overstuffed Italian hoagies and braised brisket sandwiches. Chef Jonathan Taub, formerly of Adour and Pound the Hill, was inspired by his grandparents "Bub" and "Pop" Wagner, who opened a deli in Philadelphia after World War II.

The standout on the menu right now has nothing to do with the City of Brotherly Love, though. The Real Obama, pictured above, is a take on a classic Chicago-style brisket sandwich: rich and juicy braised brisket topped with shaved pieces of sharp aged provolone and a spicy house-made giardinera. The giant "whole" size is almost too much for one meal, especially when paired with a paper bag of the house-cooked kettle-style potato chips, which are seasoned with black pepper and sea salt. (A whole sandwich runs $12; a half is $8. Competitive eaters in training can double the meat for $5.)

Next time I'm at Bub and Pop's, I might get a half sandwich, so I can enjoy more of the house-made pickles. The $4 special of the day was a plastic container full of white and green asparagus and egg with blood orange juice and white truffle oil, which delivered a citrusy tang. Paired with an exotic selection of sodas – who else in D.C. has Sioux City Birch Beer and Sarsaparilla? – you're not looking at cheap lunch. Sandwich, chips, pickle and soda set me back $23 with tax. But it's one you'll be talking about for days.

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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