Over the past year we’ve served up a fresh slate of craveable sandwich options every quarter. In the final, summer installment of City Paper’s seasonal guide to D.C. sandwiches, you’ll find newbies, old favorites, and, hopefully, something to look forward to trying. Hungry for more? Catch up on the fall, winter, and spring offerings.
POGI-O-Catfish at PogiBoy ($10.95)
1100 Vermont Ave. NW, (202) 681-7516, pogiboydc.com
This fried catfish sandwich that mimics McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich comes on a Grimace-colored bun. PogiBoy chef and co-owner Paolo Dungca says he uses ube (purple yam) flour to create the fluffy, bao-like bread that’s getting a lot of play on Instagram. Ube is ubiquitous in the Philippines and PogiBoy is inspired by Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee.
The POGI-O-Catfish comes with a comically oversized fish filet that hangs over the bun, shredded lettuce, pickles, melted American cheese, and a “secret” sauce. It’s not that secret—Dungca says it starts with Duke’s mayo and also includes banana ketchup, cornichons, and Filipino chili vinegar. “It’s kind of like Filipino Thousand Island meets tartar sauce,” he says.
At first, Dungca and co-owner Tom Cunanan made the sandwich for themselves and their employees, but they eventually added it to the menu for all to sample. PogiBoy is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
Burnetta at Little Food Studio ($12.50)
849 Upshur St. NW, littlefoodstudio.com
Chef Danielle Harris has a strategy that makes her sandwiches stand out at Little Food Studio, located in the former Cuzzin’s & More carry-out space in Petworth. Instead of using predictable condiments to add moisture and richness to her creations, she crafts spreads from scratch, like the olive cream that lines the Burnetta sandwich made from Castelvetrano olives blended with olive oil. The focaccia sandwich contains the classic Italian combination of creamy burrata and mortadella streamed with fat ribbons and studded with pistachio halves. “Mortadella is bougie bologna,” Harris jokes, if only because it’s fun to say. She finishes the Burnetta off with pistachio spread and a spicy Calabrian chili relish.
“This sandwich is named after my mom’s mom,” Harris says. “I try to name all of the sandwiches based on what I think that family member would like to eat. She passed away in 2010. I really think she’d love this sandwich.” Little Food Studio is currently open Tuesdays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or whenever the small shop sells out. Sandwiches become available at 11 a.m.
Baker’s Daughter Breakfast Sandwich ($13)
1402 Okie St. NE and 675 I St. NW, (202) 729-6990, bakersdaughterdc.com
Chef Matt Baker may have earned a Michelin star for his delicate work at Gravitas, but he doesn’t dig dainty breakfast sandwiches. He likes them to have multiple meats and a “20 percent messy factor” that makes you feel like you’re indulging in something special. The breakfast sandwich at Baker’s Daughter is the best seller at the growing local brand that will soon have three locations. The third one is set to open inside the Eaton DC hotel downtown in August.
The sandwich layers Applewood-smoked bacon, ham, baby arugula, espelette pepper aioli, pungent Gruyère cheese, and a runny fried egg. During the recipe testing process, Baker tried 20 ham varieties and settled on a “low-sodium, low-moisture Virginia-style ham that doesn’t sweat too much when you cook it.” Baker builds his sandwiches with symmetry in mind and promises there won’t be “pockets of bad bites.”
While he currently sources the sandwich’s sourdough from Lyon Bakery, he soon hopes to make breads in house for Baker’s Daughter and his forthcoming restaurant Michele’s. The Ivy City and Chinatown locations of Baker’s Daughter are open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and you can order breakfast all day.
South Philly at Buffalo & Bergen (¼ lb $12.50 or ½ lb $19.50)
240 Massachusetts Ave. NE and 1309 5th St. NE, (202) 525-3350, buffalobergendc.com
It’s possible not even Philadelphia has thought to forgo a hoagie roll and pile its signature sandwich on a squishy bagel instead. Enter Buffalo & Bergen owner Gina Chersevani, who has been making cheesesteak bagels for about seven years. She has some tips for acing your order. “We ask everybody to do it on a sesame bagel,” she says. She also encourages diners to add pickled hot peppers and pair the sandwich with a root beer. “I have a lot of staff that put a scrambled egg on top and eat it for breakfast. For me, it’s a little too much,” she says.
The sandwich is already rich. Buffalo & Bergen soaks the onions in dark beer before straining them and mixing them with a generous amount of butter. The onions hit the griddle with thinly sliced beef and American cheese. Cheesesteak traditionalists will reject that the restaurant finishes the sandwich with mayo and lettuce, but live and let live. You can choose between a quarter pound of beef or a half pound of beef. The latter spills out of the bagel in a big way.
In addition to its new Capitol Hill shop, the South Philly is also available at Buffalo & Bergen’s Union Market location. The shops keep identical hours: Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (The bar remains open until 5 p.m.)
Smoked Salmon at Crazy Aunt Helen’s ($14)
713 8th St. SE, (202) 750-8140, crazyaunthelens.com
A standard lox and bagel sandwich wouldn’t have been out of place at this Barracks Row newcomer specializing in comfort food. “I’m Jewish. I love my smoked salmon,” Chef Mykie Moll says. “I wanted to have it on the menu, but have a different twist on it.” He went Mediterranean by pairing the smoked salmon with housemade tangy goat labneh, pomegranate seeds, cucumbers, and pickled red onions. The secret to the sandwich, though, is the sumac. “It’s one of my favorite spices to use. It’s very earthy and has a little bit of acidity to it,” Moll says.
Moll selected pan de baston as the vessel. The sub roll comes from Lyon Bakery. Moll first used them when making sandwiches for Bird’s Eye—Doi Moi’s former daytime cafe. “It gets a nice crisp on the outside but doesn’t fall apart on you and it retains its warm gooey center,” he says. The sandwich is served with housemade potato chips that he reports diners are already obsessing over. The smoked salmon sandwich is currently available during lunch, served Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
BBQ Jack at Shouk ($12)
395 Morse St. NE and 655 K St. NW, (202) 313-7671, shouk.com
The contents of this pita sandwich hail from Sri Lanka or Thailand. That’s where Shouk is sourcing the fibrous jackfruit that stands in for pulled pork in its latest menu item. The plant-based restaurant brand is branching out. “We’ve shifted away from just being Israeli or Middle Eastern to global street food,” says co-owner Ran Nussbacher. “This is our first big culinary move in that direction.”
Since they’re new to the barbecue game, Shouk asked Money Muscle BBQ pitmaster Ed Reavis for advice. “He gave us some pointers on flavor profile and mouthfeel,” Nussbacher says. It paid off. The sandwich—with “pulled” jackfruit slathered in a mesquite-smoked barbecue sauce, crunchy red cabbage slaw, and crispy shallots—has quickly become a fan favorite. Tack on an order of fries with a side of the barbecue sauce so you can taste its smokiness with more of a blank canvas. Both Shouk locations are open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Chicken Schnitzel BLT at Girl & The Vine ($13)
7071 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, (301) 272-1230, the-girl-the-vine.square.site
The chicken schnitzel BLT sandwich was an early hit when The Girl & The Vine opened in Takoma Park in April 2019. They’ve improved upon it recently by swapping out a fried chicken thigh for a thin, pounded cutlet that’s more reminiscent of the schnitzel you’d find in Germany. It crackles when you bite into it, but isn’t dry. Co-owner Jocelyne DeHaas‘ favorite touch is the pickled green tomatoes that are firm enough to have some snap. The sandwich also comes with tomatoes, baby greens, bacon, and dijonnaise on a brioche bun from Lyon Bakery.
The wine and sandwich shop has ample outdoor seating and just opened its indoor bar again for customers who are 21 and up. Visit Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, only snacks are available after 3 p.m. The schnitzel sandwich is most definitely not a snack. It’ll fill you up for the day.
Spicy Aubergine at Duke’s Grocery ($14)
1513 17th St. NW and 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, (202) 733-5623, dukesgrocery.com
Less is not more at Duke’s Grocery, where the British sarnies have always been about addition. The sandwiches are heaping piles of flavors that play well together, but you typically need a massive jaw to complete a bite. The vegetarian option has many components, but isn’t exceedingly tall. It features panko-coated eggplant and squash, smoked gouda cheese, charred red onions, pickled jalapeños, fennel walnut pesto, green chili purée, and coriander. The fried veggies aren’t greasy and the verdant spread that coats the ciabatta bread is herbaceous and light.
The spicy aubergine sandwich is available at both Duke’s Grocery locations, which are open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can also get it at sister restaurant, Duke’s Counter, by the National Zoo. It’s open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.