Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fast Gourmet

Whoever has had the delightful experience of going on a road trip or an extended bus ride has most likely had the pleasure of living off of food from rest stops or gas stations. By pleasure I mean horror of eating greasy, processed snacks that are bearable for only so long.

Couple this axiom with the fact that DC has a severe shortage of dependable sandwich shops and you are left with the following rule of thumb. You will never find good food, specifically sandwiches at any gas station in DC. But as we all know there is an exception to every rule which brings us to our next stop.

Fast Gourmet opened in late 2010 by two brothers who wanted infuse DC with traditional South American food. Located inside the Lowest Price Gasoline Station on 14th and V St. this tiny sandwich shop has blossomed into one of the best places to grab a quick bite in the entire city!

Word of this establishment spread exponentially among the more prominent food bloggers who had rave reviews on the quality and taste as well as the numerous options. At that point I decided to bump this up to one of my places to try.

My first visit came early last year when its popularity was still in its infant stages. I decided to grab a quick dinner after my workout at a nearby gym. Entering the gas station I could not help but chuckle. The combination of a sketchy crowd, bullet-proof glass and inner city junk food brought back childhood memories of life in the ghetto.

(Image via Yelp)

I took my time scanning the expansive menu and decided to order the Big Mason BBQ sandwich and a side order of beer battered eggplant. The Big Mason consists of grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, onions all topped with BBQ sauce. The sandwich was fantastic, the chicken was juicy and the combination of ingredients yielded a delightful meal. The deep fried eggplant was also a pleasant surprise. It came with ketchup to dip but was good on its own.

My first experience prompted me to jump on the bandwagon. My next visit came a few weeks later with a friend after a night of bar hopping on U St. Since they are open until 5 A.M on the weekend you could imagine both the line and crowd that it consists of (hint drunk people wanting something to munch on).

(Cuban Sandwich)

This time I decided to order a Cuban sandwich to see if the owners could replicate the brilliance of Latin cuisine. My semi-drunken experience with this staple of Cuban cuisine left me speechless. I cannot recall having a better Cuban sandwich in my life. Timid by the possibility of a drunken bias I decided to return an order another one in a state of pure sobriety.

To my delightful surprise my initial synopsis was correct. The sandwich was pure bliss; the pork was moist and flavorful, the cheese and pickles combined to add that distinct flavor combination that makes it one of the best sandwiches on the planet. DC does not have an expansive selection of Cuban cuisine so putting it on top is not an amazing achievement but I will put it on par with Cubans I have had in Miami which is something to gloat about.

For all the praise I give the Cuban it is not the most popular dish on the menu. This accolade belongs to The Chivito. The Chivito (which is Spanish for “baby goat”) draws its origins from Uruguay. The sandwich consists of beef terderloin, black forest ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, green olives, a hardboiled egg, and escabeche. For those who don't know escabeche is a slaw that consists of onions, garlic, and peppers and is used in many Latin dishes.

(Chivito Sandwich)

At a hefty $13 this sandwich packs a huge punch of size and flavor that is sure to tame any appetite. My first experience with this monstrous mound of meat came two weekends ago after a long workout I needed to justify consuming this meal. Having played football for three hours and not eaten anything my appetite was ready to conquer this behemoth.

My first bites were met with utter amazement. The shear chaos of flavors somehow managed to blend very well. I was a bit weary at first of how all the meats would blend together but the sandwich was executed very well. The tenderloin was full of flavor and the ham played off well with the slaw and aforementioned tenderloin. I managed to consume a little over three quarters of the sandwich before I had to throw in the towel. The result was an hour long food coma which was pure bliss.

All in all fast gourmet is a must try if you are in the District. The sandwiches are fantastic, the prices are about average and the quality of food is superb. The dining area is relatively small so I would recommend taking it to go. Lines can be a little long now due to their popularity and it does take some time to get your meal but it’s a price you can pay for deliciousness.

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