August 22, 2011

The Greater DC Great Sandwich Hunt: SUNdeVICH

 My friend Kim and I are busy scouring the Greater DC area for the best of the best sandwiches. I am calling it the "Greater DC Great Sandwich Hunt." Why are we doing this?  Well, I like sandwiches, and Kim likes sandwiches (and has an awesome camera), and I was realizing that I just haven't found many awesome sandwiches in DC.  So, Kim took that as a challenge, and we're seeking them out.  Not formally, and not often enough for my liking, but, well, we're on a hunt, and I intend to share my findings with you.
The Kingston at SUNdeVICH // Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu
Now that I am done with that none-too-brief introduction to the Greater DC Great Sandwich Hunt, I must admit to you that I was ready to call the hunt and name a victor on this, our very first stop.  SUNdeVICH is a little shop in the Shaw Neighborhood, a block from the Convention Center.  If you go to the address on the website (1314 9th Street NW), you will find the dry goods store Seasonal Pantry, which is basically my dream come true (except that I don't run it).  Two doors down there is an alley, and in the alley there is an old converted garage, and a black unmarked door, with two hanging flower pots.  Enter here.  You are steps away from sandwich bliss.

Owner and chef Ali Bagheri describes it as "Street food in a brick and mortar shop." The menu features have eleven sandwiches, all named after places that inspire/represent the flavors of the sandwich. (They also have salads. But who wants a boring salad?) They have some familiar offerings: the Capri is tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto; the Berlin is bratwurst, sauerkraut, and mustard, of course.  Other options are more exotic: the Beirut is skirt steak, hummus, brined veg and fresh herbs, and the Madrid pairs chorizo with chimichurri. Everything but the bread is made in-house--from the mayo to the pickles to the meat rubs to (I assume) the sausage.  (Read more about the shop and it's founding here.)

Kim and I got the Kingston and the Istanbul.  The Kingston (above) was good--slow cooked jerk chicken with a home made green slaw and a yellow tomato salsa. I was (only) a little disappointed with the flavor of the jerk spice (one of my favorite kinds of heat)--it seemed to be only hot, not full and smoky.  But the slaw was incredible, and the perfect counterpoint to the chicken.  There was just enough garlic mayo--not big globs, but a thin paste of creamy wonderfullness on each side of the roll. Kim loved this sandwich through and through.

The Istanbul, to me, was perfection.  A patty of ground lamb and beef grilled to perfection (and not at all greasy like a burger), with tomatoes, herbs, roasted onions with sumac and a tangy yogurt sauce.  Every flavor and texture balanced the others, and it was so well constructed that not a bit dropped out while I was eating it.  I have since begged 4 people to come back with me (no takers, yet), and though the rest of the menu looks good, I cannot guarantee that I won't buy the Istanbul again.  It is perfect.

1314 9th Street NW
(in Naylor Court)
Mon-Sat 12-9pm

The Istanbul at SUNdeVICH // Photo by Kim Maxwell Vu

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