Deli City

A popular lunch spot for overstuffed sandwiches.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

The only thing harder to find than good deli is a good overstuffed sandwich that doesn't sell itself as "gourmet" and leave you feeling overcharged.

That accounts for the popularity of this faded-orange building in Northeast DC, where all the cultural strands of the city converge–black and white, young and old, white-collars and blue-collars and no-collars.

The sandwiches include Polish ham, a thinly cut roast beef that tastes as if it's been soaking in its own jus, a corned beef that could use more spice but is luscious without it, and, above all, the house-made pastrami–a generous portion of meltingly tender, well-smoked meat cut from the navel of the brisket and served on good if soft rye bread. It might not eclipse anyone's memories of the definitive version at Katz's on New York's Lower East Side, but it's plenty good.

The name "deli" is something of a misnomer, especially for those who might be inclined to look for the likes of black-and-white cookies by the counter. The rest of the menu is taken up with reliable versions of soul food, from smothered pork chops to fried haddock. And although there are several tables and chairs, most customers are here for carryout.

Whether you eat in or opt for takeout, a part of the charm is the people-watching: businessmen stroking their ties as they pace, colorfully hatted grandmothers sitting with hands folded primly in their laps, and sunburnt construction workers streaming in to take lunch back for the crew.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.