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Wagshal's Deli, Spring Valley Shopping Center At 48th and Massachusetts Avenue NW since 1939


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I have to admit that I have been a fan of Wagshal's for quite some time. While their sandwiches are above average compared to most other"deli's", they have two particular items that I believe to be the best in the area-Whole roasted chickens and their Shrimp Salad. Their chicken come in two sizes, stuffed or unstuffed, and the larger sells for about $17.00.( about 5 lbs) Not inexpensive, but probably the juciest, moistest(if this is a word)well seasoned bird I have yet to find. The shrimp salad is very pricey-$20.00 a pound but made with huge fresh shrimp and swimming quite contently in a mayo-spiced-celery sauce. Add a french baguette and you are in like flynn. One note is that I rarley buy everything in one place. So if I'm getting a chicken from them, I usually go to Chicken out for Mac and cheese, not the greatest, but if I don't want to make Kraft shells and Mac, it will do. The chicken is also quite good at 3:00 in the morning with a shake of salt right out of the refrigerator. Now if only someone can suggest a place for fried chicken, which I have not had in over a year, cause I'm craving some smile.gif

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"Now if only someone can suggest a place for fried chicken, which I have not had in over a year, cause I'm craving some."

Walk around the corner to the SuperFresh, and go to the hot bar right next to the deli counter. Someone in the back really knows how to fry up some chicken.

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Wagshal's brings back some serious memories! Has anyone ever been to Wagshal's Butcher Seafood Deli on Sangamore Road in Bethesda? Does it exist now?

Wagshal's had some mean sandwiches and soup for not that cheap, but who cares. I liked Brown's Cherry Soda and they took my personal checks...

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Oh, and another thing. Many, many years ago I walked down to Wagshal's from AU where I worked and ordered a liverwurst sandwich with onions and mustard. After I had walked back to my office and unwrapped the sandwich, which I was eagerly anticipating the devouring of, I discovered on the first bite that the counter person had mis-heard me, and instead of mustard had given me...butter! Now, I'm of the school that holds that butter improves most foods, but liverwurst with butter is actually kind of repulsive. I ate it anyway.

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"Now if only someone can suggest a place for fried chicken, which I have not had in over a year, cause I'm craving some."

Walk around the corner to the SuperFresh, and go to the hot bar right next to the deli counter. Someone in the back really knows how to fry up some chicken.

risfield's in Silver Spring-a 30 minute wait because they fry it to order in a cast iron skillet.

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They've got a pretty good crab bisque there..and a favorite of Tim Russert as well. I saw him getting an order when I was last there a few months ago. Just a small aside...you know how sometimes people on TV do not look like themselves in real life, well Tim Russert looks like Tim Russert. No mistaken identity there.

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risfield's in Silver Spring-a 30 minute wait because they fry it to order in a cast iron skillet.

Thank you for the reminder. I haven't had their chicken in decades, but they make it the same way that my wife does, and nothing beats fried chicken in a skillet. Still, if the original poster is looking for something decent in Spring Valley, that market is quite acceptable.

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Wagshal's also has some excellent in-house made hot dogs. They're worth the premium price.

Those admittedly great dogs have gone up in price. We paid $10 for six yesterday. My recollection is that a few months ago, they were about $7 a half dozen. That said, they sure were delicious. Oh, people should realize that Wagshal's Deli (where the chicken and shrimp salad are) is a different establishment than Wagshal's Meats (where the dogs are); the stores are at opposite ends of the Spring Valley shopping center.

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I like the sandwiches here too. Granted there arent alot of places to get a great corned beef sandwich around here, and I grew up eating this stuff, but I think the sandwiches compare well with the other deli's I know of around here. Krupin's and the place on Grubb road are the only other places I can think of, hopefully someone on this board knows a great deli around here that I dont.

My favorite is the one that comes with the roquefort spread on it.

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I have to admit that I have been a fan of Wagshal's for quite some time. While their sandwiches are above average compared to most other"deli's", they have two particular items that I believe to be the best in the area-Whole roasted chickens and their Shrimp Salad. Their chicken come in two sizes, stuffed or unstuffed, and the larger sells for about $17.00.( about 5 lbs) Not inexpensive, but probably the juciest, moistest(if this is a word)well seasoned bird I have yet to find.

Wow, I finally got around to trying their chicken. For $9.89, they sell a "half" roasted chicken, and I say "half" in quotes because it's probably got more meat on it than any half chicken I've ever seen. It's an enormous portion, flattened out, and placed atop a mound of housemade stuffing that's been sitting there under a heat lamp, soaking up the drippings from the bird, the whole thing resting on a piece of aluminum foil. The entire thing weighs several pounds.

I went right for the center of the breast, which is usually my benchmark for decent chicken because it's almost always bad. As expected, the meat was fairly dry and tasteless, but unlike with the vast majority of other store-bought roast chickens, the dry breast-meat is irrelevant, because this is a knife-and-fork dish that needs to be eaten with the juicy stuffing, the dry-rubbed skin more than filling any gap in flavor from the center of the meat. I'm pretty sure there's an overlap between Wagshal's dry-rub and some of the components in Old Bay.

An amazing deal for $9.89, and enough food for two people. Anyone who goes across the street to Chicken Out needs to rethink their strategy. Thank you for recommending this!

Cheers,

Rocks.

P.S. the shrimp salad looked good, too.

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I always used to love their #300 sandwich, which was turkey, Smithfield ham, some kind of cheese, and coleslaw. I haven't had one in probably 10 years, but if they still offer it, it's probably still good.

This is one of my favorites, and I usually get it on rye. I love living so close to Wagshal's. My husband usually gets the Mikey's Special sandwich. They have a salami and brie with mustard on baguette that is quite good. The staff is always very friendly. I also always eye the shrimp salad, but have never tried it.

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Wagshal's was even more of a madhouse than usual at lunchtime today in the wake of this week's WaPo story. I would estimate that half the people in line had never been there before (based on the fact that they were unfamiliar with the sandwich ordering process) and were there for the sole purpose of getting the brisket.

Unfortunately, they were sold out of brisket, reporting that they had sold "two hundred pounds in the two days" after the story. The next batch won't be ready until the 20th, but they are giving $1 coupons on a future brisket sandwich to anybody who misses out today.

I'm happy to see all the business coming to Wagshal's. Uncommonly nice folks serving good food. I had a very good pastrami on rye for my own lunch today washed down with a Boylan's black cherry and accompanied by some Route 11 Sweet Potato Chips. Yum.

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I read the article in the WaPo and stopped there on the way home from work. I got two brisket sandwiches and one corned beef sandwich, Unfortunately, they had run out of Rye bread but I got my sandwich on Pumpernickel. The brisket was the best I ever had! The corned beef was also excellent but didn't have the awesome flavor of the brisket.

I will be back when they have more brisket!

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Went to Wagshal's today and had the Holy Trinity....shrimp salad, Whole roasted chicken and finally got to try the Smoked Brisket sandwich...OMG-that sandwich is one of the all time best I've ever had. Full of Flavor, moist, melts like butter and just the right amount of grease :angry: This sandwich could def be habit forming!!!

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The brisket is indeed very good, a little fatty but not so much, a little peppery, maybe a tad too salty. Next time I'll ask if they can toast the rye bread first (personal preference). I don't remember Montreal smoked meat well enough to provide a direct comparison, but I can say this much: Wagshall's brisket has a distinct advantage over Montreal's smoked meat...

...it isn't 600 miles from my house.

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Finally tried the vaunted brisket sandwich at Wagshal's. It was good, but still no Schwartz's. They've got the texture down pretty well, but the spice didn't permeate the meat thoroughly enough, and Schwartz's blend is a lot more peppery. I wasn't asked how I'd like it cut, or more specifically from which end. And a real Schwartz's sandwich is generously brimming with meat.

Still, tasty stuff on good rye. Wish they offered the option of a half-sour. Plenty of love left for a place that regularly stocks a range of Route 11 and Zapp's chips, along with some scrumptious-looking pastries.

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Was by Wagshal's recently, so I stopped in and to try some of the smoked brisket. Didn't have time to eat a sandwich then, so I asked for it by the pound. They sell is around 1/2 pound or so in cryovac bags that you boil in water fro 10-15 minutes. Man was it GOOD! Peppery, super flavorful, albeit greasy and a bit fatty, but that is what you want from a good deli sandwich. I really liked how it turned out in the boil at home way, very melt in your mouth texture if you eat it immediately out of the bag/pot (I did mine for about 12 minutes).

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Somehow I had never made it to Wagshal's before, probably because it is about as far from my house as possible while still remaining in the district. Now I'm just angry that I hadn't made a special trip out there before. We got two sandwiches, the Mikey's Special ( smoked turkey, muenster, oil and vinegar, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers) and the smoked brisket. The Mikey's Special was good, although nothing special. The smoked brisket sandwich is the best sandwich I've had in the city. Smokey, fatty, peppery and delicious. Didn't need more than the mustard to compliment it. I will assuredly be back.

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I love Wagshals. It's a place with as much character and quirk as most anywhere in DC in my humble opinion. The whole chickens are still totally worthwhile. Likewise the brisket, corned beef and pastrami sandwiches. The shrimp salad. Also the freshly made tomato cuke salad. And the matzo ball soup--only available Tuesdays and Fridays and, I'm convinced, the best version of it available in MD, DC or VA. And one of the best spots to advance order a super Thanksgiving or holiday turkey...or ham...or goose.

Today, Wagshals was open early and for lunch when many other spots around NW were still getting their post-Sandy bearings. I hadn't been in in a couple of months so headed over. Their bread vendor hadn't yet arrived so I had to get a corned beef on pumpernickel but that was more than okay.

The main thing, however, that prompts this post, was the shocking news I learned today immediately upon entering the store.

Those who know Wagshals well know its quirks and its characteristics. The old photos of so many US Presidents, cabinet members and military generals on the walls. The ultra-narrow short counter with 4 or 5 stools. The hot lunch bar next to the four soup pots which all rotate each day. The great staff like Pam the Butcher in the Market (a few doors down from the deli in the same Spring Valley shopping center (itself a historic landmark).

And, the process...

Wagshals was founded nearly 90 years ago in downtown Washington and moved to its current location in 1939. For nearly all that time, they've used a somewhat unconventional ordering process. You approach the deli counter by lining up alongside the glass case which fronts it. After ordering from someone who'll likely make your sandwich, you're given a receipt with an order number. Then, maybe you go grab a drink from the cases at the back. Or some soup from the pots down on the right across from the cheese case. Inevitably, since it's usually busy, you join the throng milling about in the open area by the registers, waiting for your number to be called. Many first timers find this all a bit nonsensical. The lines aren't clear. People waiting to order unintentionally block others waiting for orders or waiting to pay. And, most of all, if you're waiting for an order while a bit loaded down with other lunch items, no paying allowed even though you have the order receipt in hand. That was a fast rule set by Sam Wagshal himself. This doesn't make sense to many. It requires patrons to wait on line twice--to order and then to pay. When asked, staff would explain the policy was for "security" but, how paying a cashier while waiting for order fulfillment is a security risk isn't clear. All that aside, by the second or third visit, you realize resistance is futile and this is just the Wagshal's way.

Sometime, about 2 or 3 weeks ago, they changed the policy!! There are signs posted around the deli that say "for the first time in 87 years, pay now or pay later."

I was a bit stunned. "WTF?!?!," I thought to myself, almost feeling betrayed that, seemingly out of nowhere, Wagshals decided to make the process easier and more efficient. I had to ask. And I was told it was because they had some new software. Uh, okay, whatever.

Sandwich was still great. Likewise the salad and soup.

But that policy change--the first change in nearly nine freakin' decades--seemed like the deli equivalent of the Red Sox finally getting it done in 2004.

Change is okay. Good even. Wagshals has modernized in a few other ways. For example, today they are online and the website has a lot of the background/story about the place. And Wagshals is opening a new spot with lots of seating (for 100) in the old Balducci's space on New Mexico Ave in early 2013.

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Wagshall's was my last "pre-hurricane" stop this weekend. I too noticed the "pay now or pay later" signage and it's a change for the best as I think it will help minimize the sometimes barely controlled chaos around the sandwich counter at peak times.

Had the brisket sandwich for the first time and really liked it. Moist and smokey the only change I'd make to it was to see if they had a sharper mustard (it appeared to be just yellow ballpark mustard) next time. The rye bread was excellent as well.

Also popped into the market and picked up a few odds and ends as well as a loaf of bread. Was in and out in minutes vs. the lines at the grocery stores at the time.

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