The Healthiest (and Scariest!) Sandwiches and Salads at Taylor Gourmet

Plus: the vegetarian option that’s even worse for you than the meat offerings.

Registered dietitian Jennifer Reilly says to err on the smaller side and fill up on veggies at Taylor Gourmet, a popular DC deli. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user

Taylor Gourmet is a tasty deli founded by two friends from Philly looking for a proper “hoagie” in Washington, the land of cupcakes and tapas bars. In 2002 they opened doors and began sharing their fine-aged cheeses, artisan-cured meats, and perfect Italian rolls. Their ingredients are top quality and you won’t find a drop of mayo here (unless you request it).

But for all its careful crafting, Taylor Gourmet isn’t the most transparent place, nutrition-wise; since the stats aren’t shared, this installment posed a challenge for our expert, Jennifer Reilly, RD. But by examining the ingredients available, she says, “It reminds me of those old-school delis with the fattier cold cuts and cheeses, but without the new trendy toppings like tofu. There aren’t a lot of low-fat options.”

If you’ve got this sandwich shop in your sights for lunch today, check out her analysis of the menu.


• WORST–Church Street: With spicy Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and sharp provolone, there simply aren’t enough veggies on this sandwich. “Sausage is high in cholesterol and saturated fats, and though many meats on the menu are [also], this one had nothing going for it,” Reilly says. She also points out that it’s unclear whether the peppers and onions are raw or cooked.

• BETTER–Sansom Street: The restaurant’s signature homestyle roasted turkey, sundried tomatoes, and sharp provolone are a decent combination. The low-fat meat and sundried tomatoes (which are a great topping as long as they aren’t packed in oil) are good choices, but the cholesterol in the cheese burdens the meal.

• BEST–Rittenhouse Square (grilled): This simple sandwich of grilled (not Italian-breaded) chicken cutlets, tomato, and pesto packs a lot of flavor without the help of fatty toppings. “What I liked is that there’s no cheese,” says Reilly. “You don’t need it for protein–there’s already a little in the pesto, but it’s prepared in a low-fat way.”


• WORST–Tasker Street: Since we’re talking about those dairy slices, this vegetarian cheese-bomb isn’t your friend: Arugula, provolone, parmesan, mozzarella, and goat cheese do not a sandwich make. Our expert says, “This is more unhealthy than a meat sandwich in terms of saturated fat and cholesterol.”

• BEST–Christian Street: With portobello mushrooms, arugula, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese, this sandwich is as good for you as it sounds, and tasty, too. “This one is great,” Reilly says. “It’s got different veggies to make a lot flavors [ . . . ] and, if you swap the goat cheese for hummus, it becomes a virtually cholesterol-free sandwich.”


• WORST–Reyburn Park: “You usually think of a salad as mostly vegetables, but this is [ . . . ] almost a high-fat sandwich in a bowl,” Reilly says. The ingredients? Arugula, pastina, salami, sopressata, capicola, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and sharp provolone–that’s three processed meats, three veggies, pasta, and cheese. Although it’s topped with vinaigrette, this salad doesn’t quite balance out in your favor. “This one is not the right veggie-to-meat ratio.”

• BEST–Lanier Park: This meat-free option also includes arugula and pastina, but adds roasted red peppers and goat cheese. “If you hold the cheese it would be even better,” Reilly says, “but even so, the serving size [of the goat cheese] is probably not so large because it has really bold flavor.” If you want, swap in chickpeas or cannellini beans.

As with most sandwich shops, you can order a six-inch or a foot-long, but you should err on the smaller side. If you get the foot-long, Reilly recommends eating half and saving the rest for later. “No matter how healthy a place is, you want to eat in moderate portions–every two hours is ideal,” she says.

You also want to fill up on veggies, since “it’s hard to eat too many,” according to our expert. Stick to the new FDA guidelines, and reserve half your plate for greenery. Finally, wash your sandwich down with water–a highly underrated part of eating well, says Reilly. “Water helps regulate our appetite and keeps us functioning properly.”

Jennifer Reilly is the author of Cooking With Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish!You can follow her on Twitter or contact her via her blog, Bitchin’ Dietitian.