Taylor near Mt Vernon Square, courtesy of M.V. Jantzen

Something to celebrate for the new year: Taylor Gourmet will open their new location at 14th and T the first business day of 2012. Delicious sandwiches for all for the new year!

This new location will also mean an expanded delivery zone for the sandwich shop, before those of us living north of U Street (me included) technically weren’t in their delivery zone. Now, that will expand up to Columbia Heights and to the west in Dupont Circle.

Perfection, courtesy of http://www.ShootJoeC.com

I love Taylor Gourmet sandwiches and often travel for them, so you know I will be in trouble when they are mere minutes from where I live. The news broke in June that Taylor would be opening in the Ruff & Ready space (sob) and now we have an ETA on the store: November.

Thanks to Tim Carman over at a Washington Post for providing more details: they will start demolition work this week on the 14th Street location and it should open in mid-November. In other news: they are now allowing condiments on their sandwiches, which is great I guess – but they are pretty good without them.

No word where Ruff & Ready will re-open, but I hope they find a new space soon.

Amazing Cuban sandwich from Fast Gourmet

Did you ever think you’d get good food at a gas station? Me neither. When Fast Gourmet opened at the gas station at 14th and W this summer, I assumed that it was a pre-made sandwich place that was at best mediocre. It’s in a gas station after all!

Well, I was wrong. A reader wrote me singing their praises, I saw this SILF piece in BYT – and it was decided, time to check out the gas station sandwiches. The owners are Uruguayan, and while there menu is quite extensive – we decided to go with the Cuban sandwich ($8.50) based on BYT’s recommendation and the Chivito ($14) the Uruguayan national dish.

My boyfriend’s father is from Cuba, and boyfriend’s spent a good amount of time in Miami and loves Cuban sandwiches. His standards were set high – but Fast Gourmet didn’t disappoint. They make their own bread and you can tell, it’s what makes the sandwich. They also slow roast the pork for 7 hours (amazing). Boyfriend pronounced it the best he’d had outside of Miami.

But the real star? The Chivito. I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised given the owners are Uruguayan, but MAN is this a sandwich. It features steak, ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, olives, slices of hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and peppers. I couldn’t finish my half, but it was amazing. It is $14 but it is worth it.

The portions were huge, and the sandwiches came with fries. Honestly, the fries weren’t good and weren’t necessary, the sandwiches were plenty filling and spoke for themselves.

Fast Gourmet is open till 5:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays – let me tell you this is some great drunk food. Seriously, go there now – the food is great, the people are friendly, and since the location is so out of the way it hasn’t gotten crowded yet. I can’t imagine that will last much longer.

Grand Opening in... stars 2010

I noticed that the sign announcing ChiDogO’s opening in the summer had been amended. Now Missy Frederick of the Washington Business Journal wrote about them opening and linked to their website. ChiDogO’s plans on opening in mid-October. Now, unfortunately they have not rethought their name (and are writing it ChiDogO’s – cringe) but their website has a lot of information.

The guy opening it is Chicago native Bob Hisaoka. The menu has hot dogs and Italian sandwiches, with prices ranging from the affordable $1.79 to $13.99 for a combo meal. They will also be serving Goose Island beer and fried pickle spears.

Philly cheesesteak, you don't need to go Philly anymore

Philly cheesesteak, you don't need to go Philly anymore

Hi, all you people who have been searching for JJ’s Philly Cheesesteaks and finding my blog. There are a lot of you, so people must be excited about this place opening. I stopped in for lunch today and am here to report on the place. First of all you can see the menu on their website. Prices are $5.75 for a sandwich and a buck or two for fries or a drink. I had the Ben Franklin, aka a classic Philly cheesesteak with steak, onions, Cheeze Wiz, and provolone. It’s not a sandwich for the un-hungry. Now, let me say, I have never had a Philly cheesesteak from Philly, I am no expert. I can only tell you what I tasted: cheesy, well-seasoned, very filling. This is perfect drunk food, people (I’m sure those of you from Philly already know this).

The interior is nice, a lot of exposed brick, hardwood floors, leather chairs, minimal decorations. It was pretty empty when I went in, but for 2 pm on a

Seating at JJs Philly Cheesesteak

Seating at JJs Philly Cheesesteak

Friday at a place that hasn’t officially opened yet, I wouldn’t expect it to be much more crowded. Also, to be noted: they’re only accepting cash now. And, you can call in your order and get takeout.

They are having their official grand opening tomorrow and in celebration are having a special from 12 pm to 12 am, $1.99 sandwiches. They were handing out cards to receive the promotion, but I bet if you walked in without one you could still get it. They plan on staying open until 4 am on Saturday so this will definitely be a late night spot.

Aroma bakery

Aroma bakery

A few weeks ago, I noticed Aroma Bakery had opened, only after a couple of weeks after the Dollar Store had closed. It is, indeed, as I had guessed, still owned by Steve Tekle, the local business owner who also owns the U Wine and Beer store across the street. The bakery doesn’t offer breads by the loaf, but does have a decent selection of deli sandwiches, salads, assorted pastries/deserts, coffee, snacks, and a nice selection of more gourmet-type sodas and juices.

I spoke with Steve while picking up some sandwiches for a Sunday lunch. He told me that he had been planning for a while to close the Dollar Store and open something that would fit in more with the current dynamics of the neighborhood. He thought that the neighborhood could use, and support, a business that would attract different customers than a dollar store would. Similar to what he’s done with U Wine and Beer, which went from a convenience store to a pretty nice beer/wine store, he decided to open a nicer, but decently priced bakery, focusing on lunch fare.

The space is nice, bigger than I thought it would be from the street. The bakery is airy and open, with a few tables to stand by and eat if you desire. The menu is fairly priced, with sandwiches ranging from $4 to $6.50, salads from $5 to $6.50. They even have a sandwich named after Jim Graham. The sandwiches we had, an Italian sub and a Reuben, were good. I liked the Reuben better, more because I like corned beef and the pumpernickel/rye bread that it was served on was very good. So good that it was better than other bread I’ve had on deli sandwiches in the area. The Italian sub was a nice rendition of the classic sub. Servings were big enough that I had leftovers to bring to work.

A very good Reuben

A very good Reuben

What I especially appreciated when speaking with Steve was his willingness to adapt to his customer’s needs and wants. He said that he was open to changing nearly anything about the bakery if a customer asked. He wants to serve the neighborhood and what it wants, which is something that I find really likable in a business owner.

So, definitely stop by for a sandwich, salad, coffee, or pastry at Aroma Bakery – it could easily become a go-to spot to get lunch or a quick dinner in the neighborhood.  And check out some more photos of Aroma Bakery, including the menu, on my Flickr photostream.

Blogger note: Once I asked to take photos of the bakery, I was soon outed as “U Street Girl” and offered sandwiches on the house, which I accepted. I was certainly hoping the sandwiches would be good enough so that I wouldn’t have to write something unfavorable about a local business owner I like. And thankfully, I didn’t.  They still would have been good if they weren’t free.