Jump to content
Rieux

Fast Gourmet, Uruguayan Sandwich Shop at 14th and W Streets NW - Closed

Recommended Posts

Surprised I have not seen a thread on Fast Gourmet. I travel to Latin America a lot for work, and many of my colleagues (all Latin Americans themselves) started talking recently about a great sandwich place in a gas station in DC. Since I love a good sandwich, I resolved to try it out yesterday.

First, the location -- it's in the "Lowest Best Price" gas station on 14th and W -- no real signage, and from the outside you would think it's a regular exxon-type grab and go place. But, inside they have made a huge effort to make it clean, appealing, and, dare I say, cool, with a neat color scheme and a cute menu with chalk drawings. There are also tables to sit at. Still, you'll know you are in a gas station, and the crowd is funny, a mix of Latin Americans (both from the neighborhood and more upscale embassy/IDB types), hipsters, cab drivers, and a few cracked-out people wandering in off the street to buy cigars from the gas station part.

The food. Oh my god, the food. The menu is a mix of regular american sandwiches (turkey, steak and cheese, etc.), salads, empanadas, and some Latin specialities. There is a supposedly good Cubano, and, in my opinion, one of the best Latin national sandwiches, the national sandwich of Uruguay, the chivito. Turns out, the owners are two Uruguayan brothers, so they know their chivitos. For the uninitiated, it is a sandwich with a thin beef steak cooked "a la plancha" on medianoche bread with mayo, ham, hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It is heaven, and, for you Spanish speakers, even though it is called a chivito it does not have goat in it.

I ordered the chivito yesterday ($12, all sandwiches come with ok, but not great fries) and it was FANTASTIC. It was as good as, if not better than the chivitos I have had in Montevideo. My partner, who had never had a chivito before, ate some of mine and proclaimed it the best sandwich he ever had. The only MINOR quibble would be that there was a lot of mayo, but that is how they like it in Uruguay, and I, too, like it that way. You may want to ask for a little less mayo if you are mayo-squamish. Also note, the $12 price tag may seem high, but this is a huge sandwich, enough for two people or two meals.

My partner wanted the cubano, but they were out of the ingredients until 2 pm, so he ordered the greek salad with lamb. We expected it to be a boring salad, but, actually it was great, with many large chunks of freshly grilled lamb.

I highly recommend this place! They are open long hours and do delivery. I couldn't find the menu online, but I did find their facebook page -- http://www.facebook....ET/103364437659

As my partner said to me when we were leaving, this might have to be the year of the chivito!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second the recommendation for this place. I can't speak to how they compare with others since I've never tried them before, but the chivito at fast gourmet is a damn good sandwich. I also really like their tuna salad, which is packed with big pieces of good quality tuna mixed with capers and raisins. Their desserts have been good, too. Kind of a bizarre place in a really strange location, but I'm very happy to have them around.

The web site is www.fast-gourmet.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, I was about to start this thread last week but my computer froze 3/4 of the way through my post and I couldn't be bothered to re-type. I third the recommendation, this place was fun, if a bit overpriced, and have a solid 3 mile radius for delivery. I had the Chivito, which I liked but had too much going on. Cook the steak a little less, get rid of the olives and hard boiled egg and we have a winner. My wife's Fish Sandwich, however, was perfect in it's simplicity. Fried to perfection with a light tartar sauce on their soft homemade bread it made me yearn for what I remember Eamonn's was a couple years back. Definitely a go to upon return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I ordered the chivito yesterday ($12, all sandwiches come with ok, but not great fries) and it was FANTASTIC. It was as good as, if not better than the chivitos I have had in Montevideo.

I had the Chivito today (it's $13, not $12), and it's one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten. My only quibble (and it's a small one) is that it could have used a bit less mayo because (as DPop pointed out) there's so much else going on.

Cheers,

Rocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the Chivito today (it's $13, not $12), and it's one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten. My only quibble (and it's a small one) is that it could have used a bit less mayo because (as DPop pointed out) there's so much else going on.

Cheers,

Rocks

What did you think of the fries? I got lunch from them today as well, and they're experimenting with a thicker cut of fry. Still not great, but better than the thin McDonald's-like ones they had before, which would get cold and limp quickly with takeout orders. I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries. So now's your time to vote if you prefer one over the other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What did you think of the fries? I got lunch from them today as well, and they're experimenting with a thicker cut of fry. Still not great, but better than the thin McDonald's-like ones they had before, which would get cold and limp quickly with takeout orders. I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries. So now's your time to vote if you prefer one over the other.

I'd never even heard of this place until Rieux posted, so today's the first time I went. This sandwich is so hearty that it benefits from the thicker, non-dainty fries I had today (Peter Smith may disagree) - add the fact that many people will be scarfing this food in their cars, and your point about retaining heat becomes even more important (unless, of course, you're like me and finished the entire thing in about ten minutes. :)) Having had only one item here, I can't vote across-the-board, but I liked these fries with the Chivito; I can see thinner ones going better with the tuna salad, in theory.

Cheers,

Rocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone ever try to get delivery from them? I tried the phone number (which they've made as hard as possible to find) and it goes right to VM. Little help? I'm jonesing for one of those Cubanos.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I've gotten delivery. It was a bit of a disorganized effort--they decided to substitute a slice of chocolate cake for the spinach pie we ordered when they discovered they were out (admittedly after trying and failing to reach me at the phone number I gave them, but still...chocolate cake for spinach pie?) and forgot a part of the order which they then had to go back and get, but we did eventually get our food. I guess they're still ironing the kinks out of that part of the operation, but they are trying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since it's not on the website, here is the phone number they have listed on the FB page: 202-448-9217. Not sure what the issue was today, I'll try them again another day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries.

It looks like they're sticking with the thin fries. I prefer a thicker cut personally but the matchsticks were crisp, well seasoned, and perfectly fine.

But you're not coming here for the fries. You're here for the chivito (PROTIP: you can sub the hard boiled egg for a fried egg and really take things to the next level). You're here for the incredibly tender lamb wrap. You're here for the cuban, which I'd put up against any in the city right now. They are knocking things out of the park at Fast Gourmet, and it's really fun to watch them do it. I wish I lived closer.

Just as a heads up - if you come for lunch don't expect particularly fast service. It's not slow per se but they can get a little backed up, especially as take out orders keep increasing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First we got the pizzas. Then we got the burgers. Now the people of DC get the last piece of the holy trinity of casual American food; the sandwich. Between this place, Locolat, MGM Roast Beef & Co, and to a lesser extent, Taylor's and Italian Store, we finally have several outstanding options when it comes to getting a good old fashioned sandwich.

The Cuban is better than the Chivito. And that's not a knock on the Chivito. Just sayin.

I had a conversation with the guy at the counter about the fries and they said they started with the shoestrings and got a lot of complaints from the delivery customers that they were soggy and limp by the time they got there so they switched to the thicker, frozen fries. He told me that most of their business is in store and the regulars clamored for the thin ones and they have them back for good, most likely. This is a good thing. FYI they put sour cream and bacon on the chili cheese fries (oink oink!).

My not-so-bold prediction for 2011; once the Logan Circle/U Street/Columbia Heights/Dupont yuppie crowd hear about this place you will have to wait an hour plus on weekends during lunch and dinner for a sandwich. The staff are as nice as it gets but the place is not built to handle high volume and I get the impression that they are very laid back. As Don is fond of saying, GO NOW, as this is the best this place is ever going to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My not-so-bold prediction for 2011; once the Logan Circle/U Street/Columbia Heights/Dupont yuppie crowd hear about this place you will have to wait an hour plus on weekends during lunch and dinner for a sandwich. The staff are as nice as it gets but the place is not built to handle high volume and I get the impression that they are very laid back. As Don is fond of saying, GO NOW, as this is the best this place is ever going to be.

I agree, this place is going to catch on fire (hopefully not literally since it's a gas station). Also, I asked the gentleman working the register what I should try next time - he said the Cubano. Then I met Manuel (one of the two brothers; the other is the cook), and asked him the same question - he said (to my surprise) the tuna which is made with yellowfin. But man, it's going to be difficult to stray from that Chivito.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had the Chivito today. Love the saltiness from the ham and olives. There are a ton of ingredients on this enormous sandwich, but thankfully, it all stays between the bread. I think this is a great quality in a sandwich.

Would love a different type of lettuce or something else to give it more crunch. The green leaf lettuce on my sandwich today was perfectly fresh, but lost any crunch it may have had due to the warm ingredients from the rest of the sandwich (took it "to go", however, which likely played a role in the lettuce's demise). Definitely up there with the Pattison Avenue as one of the better sandwiches in town (we need more - ANY - of these places in Alexandria).

I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had the Chivito today ... I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

Say hi next time.

My sandwich similarly had the escabeche more to one half than the other. I actually flipped a few mushrooms to the other half, because you really need that vinegar to cut the fat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so psyched that others are liking this place. I want it to have a long existence for selfish reasons -- I want to be able to eat a chivito without the 12 hour flight to Uruguay!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

Say hi next time.

My sandwich similarly had the escabeche more to one half than the other. I actually flipped a few mushrooms to the other half, because you really need that vinegar to cut the fat.

For years, I have vehemently denied being a "food geek," but I now have to admit that I have contributed to the creation of an environment where people feel comfortable criticizing the uneven distribution of vegetables on a sandwich that was purchased inside of a gas station.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had the Chivito today for lunch, with the fried egg variant. Love it! It does have a lot of flavors going on.

Will be back to try other sammies quite soon. And I agree that now's the time to go. It'll be interesting to see how they manage once more folks are in the know & they become busy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Todd Kliman just wrote a nice description about this place on his chat, so I guess I'll be waiting awhile before heading here....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Todd Kliman just wrote a nice description about this place on his chat, so I guess I'll be waiting awhile before heading here....

['Twas a fait accompli after Rieux's convincing post over a week ago, my good lady; it was a matter of "when" and not "if."

Sometimes I wonder if people here fully understand the reach of what they write (and why I'm such a stickler for personal responsibility). Please understand that the reason I'm saying all this is because I want to encourage people here to write substantive, meaningful posts, just like Rieux did. I promise you they have impact.]

Cheers,

Rocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

['Twas a fait accompli after Rieux's convincing post over a week ago, my good lady; it was a matter of "when" and not "if."

Sometimes I wonder if people here fully understand the reach of what they write (and why I'm such a stickler for personal responsibility). Please understand that the reason I'm saying all this is because I want to encourage people here to write substantive, meaningful posts, just like Rieux did. I promise you they have impact.]

Cheers,

Rocks

To be fair, some local blogs deserve credit as well, since they been hyping this place for about a month now. I personally didn't hear about it until this thread started, but I was surprised to find a number of blog posts dated well before this. They almost always seem to involve an email from someone singing the restaurant's praises (much like in Kliman's chat). If it's the same person sending these emails, then s/he deserves A LOT of credit for spreading the word.

That being said, I did get a chance to try the chivito, and it was as amazing as advertised. My gf wanted to try the cuban, but unfortunately, they were out. The cashier recommended we try the falafel. I only tried a couple bites, but I remember it was very good with a nice assortment of toppings. Honestly, I was too enamored with my chivito to focus on anything else...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair, some local blogs deserve credit as well, since they been hyping this place for about a month now. I personally didn't hear about it until this thread started, but I was surprised to find a number of blog posts dated well before this. They almost always seem to involve an email from someone singing the restaurant's praises (much like in Kliman's chat). If it's the same person sending these emails, then s/he deserves A LOT of credit for spreading the word.

That being said, I did get a chance to try the chivito, and it was as amazing as advertised. My gf wanted to try the cuban, but unfortunately, they were out. The cashier recommended we try the falafel. I only tried a couple bites, but I remember it was very good with a nice assortment of toppings. Honestly, I was too enamored with my chivito to focus on anything else...

Thanks, Don. I hadn't seen any blog posts on this, and it came to me by word of mouth at work, but it's nice to see this place getting recognized in multiple venues and from multiple sources. (I wouldn't dare to think my little post had anything to do with Kliman's mention). This place just struck a chord with me. As someone who works on small business development in Latin America, I want to see the Uruguayan guys make it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds great--thanks for all the recommendations! FWIW: Why bother with fries at all with a substantial sandwich that just about everyone here loves--especially when there's such a disparity in quality? Charge $10.00 instead just for the sandwich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I'm getting a little DanCole-fanboyish in this thread, but I have to pop in to say that that is one pretty fucking awesome Tuna Sandwich. Not close to the stuff you get out of the can, these are big chunks of either pan-fried or grilled (didn't ask) yellowfin tuna, dressed delicately with mayo, capers, red onions and raisins. They said it came on a 'brioche' but what I got was two thin slices of white bread, which was a little disappointing but didn't detract from the overall experience enough for me not to get this again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I'm getting a little DanCole-fanboyish in this thread, but I have to pop in to say that that is one pretty fucking awesome Tuna Sandwich. Not close to the stuff you get out of the can, these are big chunks of either pan-fried or grilled (didn't ask) yellowfin tuna, dressed delicately with mayo, capers, red onions and raisins. They said it came on a 'brioche' but what I got was two thin slices of white bread, which was a little disappointing but didn't detract from the overall experience enough for me not to get this again.

Some people work their whole lives to try to get a reputation...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...