Giving thanks and spending time with loved ones are well and good. But if we’re being honest, Thanksgiving is all about the food, and more specifically, for me, it’s about the leftovers. If your family gatherings are anything like mine, Thanksgiving festivities are followed inevitably by a hungover Black Friday morning spent foraging through the kitchen for remnants of the previous day’s feast. If these scraps can be thrown together into the most convenient and least labor intensive unit of consumption ever imagined, all the better. Indeed, these day-after meals have featured some truly epic sandwich creations.
Here in the Beltway region, restaurants in and around the District offer sandwiches that attempt to replicate, or are at least inspired by, these makeshift morning-after meals. Although the sandwiches featured here represent an incomplete inventory of those currently available in D.C., Thanksgiving sandwiches are not nearly as commonplace as they deserve to be. If I had my way, they would become the pumpkin beers of the sandwich world; any sandwich shop that took itself seriously would have its own unique version. As it stands, if you can’t wait until Friday morning, your options are limited. The following is a random sampling of places to get your fix this week.
The Hot Turkey Sandwich, Trio
Perhaps best known these days for its outrageously boozy happy hour cocktails (full glass of jet fuel with mixer on the side, if you’re interested), Trio Restaurant has been feeding the east side Dupont Circle for decades. Buried somewhere under the heaps of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing and puddles of gravy that comprise the bulk of Trio’s hot turkey sandwich are a couple slices of untoasted white bread. That is to say, it’s not even close to a sandwich, but it’s a huge, awesome, old-school meal befitting this old-school joint. And, fortunately, it’s available year round, so if you’re jonesing for a Thanksgiving fix in July, look no further.
The Plymouth Rock, Open City
Yes, it features sliced turkey. And its cranberry mayo attempts to mimic another traditional seasonal staple. Otherwise, the Plymouth Rock, from the Woodley Park diner and coffeehouse Open City, is a Thanksgiving sandwich in name only. However, the absence of stuffing and gravy also means the Plymouth Rock needn’t be followed by the requisite holiday food coma that accompanies more typical Thanksgiving meals. Served on soft ciabatta-like roll with cucumber and lettuce, it’s light, clean, crisp; a superb sandwich for any season.
The Nobadeer, Jetties
The imposing Nobadeer from Nantucket-style sandwich shop Jetties (locations in Foxhall, Cleveland Park and elsewhere) comes closer than any other example to reproducing my own morning-after-Thanksgiving creations. Classic in every way, it’s proof that genuinely great sandwiches are more than the sum of their parts. There’s nothing fancy about the Nobadeer. Just carved roast turkey bound with mayo, stuffing, and a generous slathering of cranberry sauce on perfect sourdough bread. Yet in its ability to evoke the Thanksgiving holiday feast, it’s unmatched. And lucky for you, it’s on the menu all 12 months of the year.
The Thanksgiving Burger, BGR The Burger Joint
Like each and every of the gourmet burgers it serves, the Thanksgiving Burger at BGR The Burger Joint, a November-only special, is a specimen of perfect sandwich construction. (And yes, burgers are sandwiches, too.) This accomplishment is all the more notable considering the impressive ingredient list: a house-made turkey burger, cornbread stuffing, gravy and an unidentifiable yellowish sauce, stacked in perfect balance on a buttered sesame roll. Although the turkey burger’s bold, smoky seasoning conflicts a tad with the more savory fixings, and the $10.99 price tag is probably an overreach, the Thanksgiving Burger is a whimsical twist on one of the world’s most ubiquitous sandwiches.
English-style gastropub Mayfair and Pine, on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Glover Park, offers a robust open-faced take on the Thanksgiving sandwich. In Arlington, which is typically beyond the coverage area of this blog, the storied sandwich shop Earl’s makes multiple variations, featuring carved roast turkey, cranberry relish, bacon and other fixings. And starting Friday, Barracks Row hotdog joint DC-3 will be selling its limited-time-only Thankfurter, a turkey dog topped with stuffing, whole cranberry relish & crispy sweet potatoes.
But the sandwich I’m looking forward to most is the one I’ll make at my parents’ house in Akron on Friday morning, with bloodshot eyes and shaky hands and still full of holiday cheer. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, everybody!