Forget the Golden Triangle—we’re renaming the neighborhood between the White House and Dupont Circle the “sandwich triangle.” Within the past year we’ve seen the opening of the New Orleans Po Boy Shop; branches of Taylor Gourmet, Jetties, and the Portuguese chain Sweet Diablo; and, most recently, TakEatEasy, an Argentinian-Uruguayan joint from the former co-owners of Fast Gourmet. Now it’s time to welcome Bub and Pop’s—a Philly-style eatery that just debuted at 1815 M Street, Northwest.
Just below sidewalk level, the no-frills spot isn’t too far of a cry from the place it’s modeled after: a West Philly grocery/deli belonging to Mae and Irv Wagner, the original “Bub” and “Pop.” You’ll find their descendants hard at work. Daughter and co-owner Arlene Wagner works the register and chats with customers, while grandson and chef Jon Taub creates an array of sandwiches and pizzas in the kitchen.
It doesn’t say “chef-driven” anywhere on the chalkboard menus (thank goodness), but you can see it in many touches, such as the house-made pickles proudly on display. Taub, a Philadelphia native, worked his way around Washington kitchens over the past five years, including stints at Adour, Art and Soul, Pound the Hill’s dinner pop-up, and the Ritz-Carlton. Sandwiches are a hybrid of hometown loyalty and fine-dining experience: You’ll need a heap of napkins to take down the braised beef brisket sandwich dripping in its own juices, the result of slow-cooking the meat in house-made veal stock and red wine. It’s topped with apple-studded horseradish cream—once served alongside the Ritz’s beef Wellington—and slivers of aged Gouda.
The desk-bound office crowd may gravitate to half-sandwiches, available on every option and plenty hearty, especially the meatier finds like roasted porchetta (bacon-wrapped pork) with hazelnut gremolata and pork jus. Salads and soups, such as chicken with slow-cooked matzo balls, are among the lighter options, as are the thin-crust pizzas topped with grilled vegetables or garlicky shucked clams. With only 30 seats and no liquor license, Bub’s is a good pit stop or takeout option before hitting the many area bars and clubs—and certainly a destination for late-night funnel cakes and summertime water ices (sorry, no cheesesteaks as of now; Bub’s isn’t trying to be Pat’s or Geno’s). On Friday and Saturday, Taub cooks well-past a bub or pop’s bedtime, serving until 3 AM.
Bub and Pop’s. 1815 M St., NW; 202-457-1111. Open Monday through Thursday 11 AM to 7 PM, Friday and Saturday 11 AM to 3 AM, closed Sunday.