“The National” at Mélange
449 K St., NW
Chef Elias Taddesse brilliantly melds two galline pleasures: the fried-chicken sandwich and doro wat,his native Ethiopia’s famed chicken stew. The slow burn of berbere spice is tempered with zingy turmeric-laced slaw and a big slather of aïoli.
Reuben at Chewish Deli
807 Pendleton St., Alexandria
The food truck turned deli has taken over the former Pendleton Carryout space in Old Town. A straightforward menu offers freshly rolled bagels, pastrami on rye, and this classic corned-beef-and-kraut sandwich (in the morning, you can gild it with an egg).
“Salami & Slaw” at Fight Club
623 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
This is not a car sandwich—this is a messy, fall-apart, 12-napkin sandwich. Andrew Markert, who runs this pop-up out of Capitol Hill’s Beuchert’s Saloon, starts with buttery toast and a ton of creamy slaw. Then he adds a stack of crispy salami, a move that’ll make you wonder why more chefs don’t throw deli meat into the fryer.
Cheesesteak at Ghostburger
1250 Ninth St., NW
The Mexican restaurant Espita, in Shaw, is still up and running, but it now has a side hustle—a separate menu of smashburgers, fries, and cheesesteaks. The star is this tightly rolled sandwich, packed with almost equal parts shaved rib eye and caramelized onions, then drenched in housemade cheddar sauce.
“Mort N’ Mootz” at Your Only Friend
1228 Ninth St., NW
At this pop-up inside the Shaw cocktail destination Columbia Room, manager Paul Taylor amps up the richness factor of the typical Italian sub. Here, a soft roll holding creamy mozzarella, fatty mortadella, and mayo is cut with briny pickled red peppers and shredded lettuce.