In sandwiches as in life, there is a fine line between expensive and overpriced. The threshold is different for different people, and locating it requires some calculus: How much is the best Italian sub you’ve ever had worth to you? Is it worth twice as much as the second-best Italian sub you’ve ever had?

At G, the 14th Street sandwich shop where the mean cost of the 13 non-breakfast sandwiches on the online menu is $11.90, an Italian sub will run you $13 — exactly 100% more than the adored G Man at Mangialardo & Sons in Southeast D.C. G has been open more than a year now; I’ve never fully embraced the place, and the lofty price point is a big reason why.

One thing that I’ve never questioned is the quality of the sandwiches.

G is a meat lover’s paradise, the aforementioned Italian being the boring choice on a menu that includes baby goat, suckling pig, lamb, and fried chicken thigh paired in unique and perfectly executed combinations with exotic accoutrements like romesco, lentil sprouts, harissa, and pickled onion. I can’t name a better Cubano in the city. And I’ve eaten more than a few.

Furthermore, G is the only sandwich shop in the world that at one time offered not one, but two vegetarian-friendly sandwiches that I have gone out of my way to eat: the roasted cauliflower and the erstwhile spicy mushroom panino, the former often suggested to be the city’s best meatless sandwich. (The latter has been replaced by the intriguing but ethnically questionable mushroom Reuben.)

Furthermore, G has been a champion of D.C.’s growing sandwich culture, inviting local chefs and other food scenesters to contribute to a series of rotating monthly specials, the most popular of which have been incorporated into a permanent fan favorites menu. Also they serve beer. Bonus.

Considering the expense, G is admittedly not an everyday lunch option for most of us. But if there’s a place in the world for both Ferraris and Kias, there’s a place in the world for boutique sandwich shops. The torrent of media hype leading up to and immediately after the shop’s opening was initially a turn-off, but has proven to be completely deserved. The shameless self-promotion of G’s owner and talisman, former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella, is a distasteful but necessary annoyance that I’ve come to tolerate.

Whether it’s the best sandwich spot in D.C. is a personal choice, but I’ve run out of excuses not to love G.


November 14, 2014