Editors' pick

So's Your Mom

Deli
$$$$ ($14 and under)
'

Editorial Review

There's a lot to be said for a simple, old-fashioned sandwich.

Yet in an exceptionally eclectic neighborhood such as Adams Morgan -- where there is no shortage of Ethiopian injera, Latin American arepas, newfangled American diners and trendy late-night watering holes -- one might not expect a decent sandwich to be the most sought-after fare.

But the plain paper bags clutched by sidewalk passersby around 18th and Columbia at lunch hour tell a different story. Whether the hankering is for tuna salad on white or pastrami on rye, neighborhood regulars know to go to So's Your Mom.

A mom-and-pop type of establishment with strong New York leanings, So's Your Mom offers meat and pastry cases that include everything from chopped chicken livers and halvah by the pound to rugelach and hamantaschen.

The narrow storefront is less than inviting with its off-putting metal bars and glaring neon signs. Instead, the allure is in its imposing menu board of 48 straightforward sandwich options. (Er, make that 66 including add-ons.)

The sandwich most commonly wrapped in butcher paper and plunked on the counter by owners Frank and Helen Ko is turkey and avocado with mayo, lettuce and tomato on sourdough. A close second is the Bronx Pastrami with deli mustard on seeded rye (not to be confused with the No Nonsense N.Y. Corned Beef with mustard).

Other stalwarts include anything with the specialty spicy mustard, the Italian hero and chicken salad by the pound -- a staple for neighborhood Atkins followers. (Actually, the carbophobes may be onto something since most of the sliced breads are rather boring; the sub roll is the safest option.)

Though the original owners left long ago -- leaving no reminder of how the name came about -- not much has changed in the past two decades. Not the name, not the decor, not the sandwiches. And there's nothing wrong with that.

-- Renee Schettler (The Washington Post, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2003)