Remember it for lunch.
By Alex Baldinger
Friday, Dec. 2, 2011
Step inside Booeymonger in Friendship Heights, and you're as likely to see a uniformed Metrobus driver sitting down to a sandwich after a shift as you are a fashionable shopper who has just hit her credit limit at nearby Neiman Marcus. There's no need to put on airs when you stop in at one of the humble sandwich maker's four locations, as Washingtonians have been doing since the first Booeymonger opened in Georgetown in 1973.
"There was no place to get a good sandwich in the Georgetown area," said Ron Vogel, who has been part of Booeymonger's ownership since 1974, two years before the second location opened in Friendship Heights. The Bethesda location followed in 1990, and the Arlington location opened in 2005.
Being a place to "get a good sandwich" in a city saturated with Subway and Quiznos is what defines the local chain. As to the name, you won't find 'booeymonger' in the dictionary or Victorian-era book of idioms: "One of the stories we always used was that it was the third star past Never Never Land, but the utter truth to it is that [original owner] Tim O'Neil made it up when he was a little kid," Vogel said.
This isn't the trendy, nouveau-international fare you'll find at raved-about newcomers such as Fast Gourmet and Sundevich. And that's why we're taking this moment to pay homage: A good sandwich never goes out of style - and although these may not be the most inventive creations, made of organic, local meats and cheeses - Booeymonger has understood that for almost 40 years.
On the menu: Sandwiches with alluring names: The Ace, The Chalet, The Gatsby Arrow, The Scheherazade. I've been eating at Booeymonger since before I was a freshman at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1998, and although I've been up and down the menu more than once, the sandwich that keeps me coming back is the Manhattan: sliced roast beef, bacon, spinach, melted cheddar and a vaguely curried house dressing on a baguette. It's hard to put into words how well those ingredients meld to fulfill a caloric craving: "If someone asks a cashier what's most popular, they'll say the Manhattan," Vogel said.
The Chicken Rico - grilled chicken with lemon, Italian dressing, mushrooms and onions - is another favorite, while the Georgetowner - turkey with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and mayo - is preferred among Hoyas. Vegetarians can happily tuck into the Pita Pan: greens, Muenster, sprouts, mushrooms, avocado, spinach, tomato and dressing in a whole-wheat pita. There are a handful of salads, including one topped with seared ahi tuna, and a build-your-own sandwich option.
At your service: Booeymonger serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the midday lunch rush, figure on eating about 10 minutes after you place your order at the register. If you work in downtown Bethesda, expect your location to be mobbed from 10:54 to 11:34 a.m. Monday through Friday, as B-CC students flock there for lunch. You'll want to wait them out if possible. Trust me.