For a complete review of all the sandwich shops visited by the FoodCourt, click here.
Download a PDF copy of the FoodCourt’s opinion: Dupont Circle Sandwich Places v. AFJ
SPRING TERM, 2011
Supreme FoodCourt of AFJ
DUPONT CIRCLE SANDWICH PLACES v. AFJ
June 15, 2011
Chief Justice Franco-Malone delivered the opinion of the Court, which was joined by Justices Brown, Fligsten, Reinhardt, Shea, Siebel, Steinberg, and Yung. Justice Siebel filed a concurring opinion. Justice Carson dissented.
This case was brought in order to finally decide where in Dupont Circle is the best place to get sandwiches for lunch. The procedural posture of this case dated back to 2009 and involves several parties not currently before the FoodCourt. Since 1989, Dupont Circlers relied upon Lawson’s Deli to get their sandwiches and salads. After Lawson’s closed in 2009, we took refuge in the liquor store deli, which became an unlikely supplier of delicious sandwiches. When the liquor store revamped its business model and cut out its deli counter, the Court endeavored to find a new establishment that could satisfy our lunch cravings.
The FoodCourt accepted petitions for certiorari and agreed to consider Bread and Brew, CF Folks, Saxby’s, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Dupont Market, and Luna Grill. Having considered the merits of each contender, the Court now rules that Dupont Market is the best place to get your lunchtime sandwich.
Dupont Market impressed the Court with its wide variety of nearly twenty sandwiches, including everything from the basics, to more gourmet varieties, to grilled sandwiches, to burgers. Most sandwiches are served on a ciabatta bread that has a wonderful chewiness without tearing up the roof of your mouth. Dupont Market’s Italian sandwich may have been the single best item put before the Court over the whole term – a generous helping of salami, pepperoni, capicola ham, cheese, and pepperoncinis, grilled and served on toasted ciabatta. Dupont Market also offered an incredible vegetarian option dubbed “the Deborah” – a surprisingly delicious combination of marinated artichoke hearts, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato pesto, served warm on toasted ciabatta bread. The FoodCourt was also impressed by Dupont Market’s subtle charm, best described as an upscale corner shop or import food market, where you can find a wide selection of olive oils, artisan chocolates, gourmet snacks, and other cooking accoutrements, all of which made perusing the shop’s wares a pleasurable way to pass the time while waiting for sandwiches to be prepared. In the end, the taste, variety, and quality of ingredients made this contender the leader of the pack.
Bread and Brew impressed the Court with its fresh produce, in-house baked breads, and high quality of ingredients. The sandwich options were very artisan and gourmet – flavors like fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and pesto, or roast beef with goat cheese on ciabatta. This is a place where you would more likely find sun-dried tomatoes than low brow ingredients like American cheese. The lunchtime diner can even find vegan cupcakes and appealing baked goods, salads, soups, and side fare at B&B. While the Court was impressed by the high quality food, the FoodCourt missed some of the more traditional lunchtime sandwich options, and the nuts and buts deli options of some of Bread and Brew’s competitors made those establishments a more appealing lunchtime choice. The Court was also less than impressed by the several shortages of ingredients at B&B. The menu was already limited to approximately 10 items, and that selection was narrowed further by shortages of basic ingredients like multigrain bread and turkey. Overall, the FoodCourt felt that B&B was the third best case of the term.
At the other end of the spectrum was Oasis Gourmet Deli, a sandwich counter tucked away in the back of a subterranean convenience store. This deli is about as basic and un-gourmet as it gets. All the basics were covered, from egg salad to roast beef, in addition to some harder to find lunchtime traditions like liverwurst. The sandwiches were made with care by a chatty and boisterous woman who will prepare your egg salad right in front of you (and even slip in an extra egg if you’re lucky). Most notable about Oasis was its exceptionally delicious and quite peppery chicken salad sandwich, generally agreed to be the best chicken salad out of all the cases the Court heard this term. Its dirt cheap prices (many sandwiches priced at or less than $5) also made this option popular among the justices, and Oasis was the second favorite choice among the Court.
Saxby’s surprised many members of the Court when it was revealed to be not just a coffee shop, but a deli, and possibly the unofficial successor to the dearly missed Lawson’s Deli. The menu featured many familiar favorites from Lawson’s, and several of the Lawson’s staff members. The sandwiches options were solid but not particularly memorable. The best feature of Saxby’s was its convenience and efficiency – Saxby’s is close by, reliably well-staffed, and reasonably priced, making it a good option when only a few minutes can be spared to grab a meal.
Equally popular was the classic DC diner, CF Folks, which features a wide showcase of sandwiches with pastrami, corned beef, and other classic deli meat (vegetarians beware – a meatless sandwich, even a grilled cheese, is a foreign concept at CF Folks). The most compelling aspect of CF Folks’ case seemed to be their grilled sandwiches, which are showcased prominently on the menu and feature generously buttered and grilled bread. If the Court were to judge on Reubens alone, CF Folks might have prevailed. Their deli sandwiches also received high marks, though some justices were a bit dismayed by the fact that adding tomato and onion cost $0.15. While this is certainly not the speediest place to grab a sandwich, the takeout service was reasonably efficient and it would be cognizable to get a sandwich on the go. When time is not of the essence, however, CF Folks has a timeless lunch counter with red vinyl barstools where one could enjoy a sandwich over a book or for an informal lunch with a friend. CF Folks tied with Saxby’s for fourth place this term.
While all the FoodCourt justices enjoyed their sandwiches from Luna Grill, it simply was not an option that most would choose for a quick work lunch and was the resoundingly agreed to be the least meritorious of the bunch. We encourage Luna to retry their case when the Court hears a more appropriate category, like good outdoor seating, restaurants that serve brunch all day, or diners.
If not for the fact that the Court heard all of the cases round the AFJ kitchen table, the outcome may have been different. If looking for a place to stay and linger with your sandwich, the charming interior of Bread and Brew, the diner style lunch counter at CF Folks, or the wrought iron cafe tables outside Saxby’s could be a more appealing choice. But if the sandwich will be taken for consumption on a park bench, on the picnic tables in front, or at your desk, Dupont Market wins handily.
The Court would like to make one final note to the parties regarding their pickle selection. Dupont Market won the sandwich term despite the serious deficiency of not including a pickle with the sandwiches. The Court was very impressed by the large and crunchy pickles at Bread and Brew, was grudgingly satisfied by the small but crunchy pickle at CF Folks, was utterly disappointed in the mushy and overly sour pickles for sale for $0.75 at Oasis Gourmet Deli, and was shocked by the complete absence of a pickle accompaniment to the sandwich at Saxby’s and Dupont. The Court was hesitant to even consider these cases given the parties’ incomplete submission. The FoodCourt considered sanctions but decided to let the winning party off with a stern warning: if Dupont Market is to retain its title as serving the best sandwiches in the Circle, it needs to start providing pickles.
Justice Siebel, concurring in the judgment.
I concur in the opinion, but write separately to note that Bread and Brew was the most vegetarian friendly place, with several options for vegans.
Justice Carson, dissenting in the judgment.
The idea that Dupont Market reigns supreme over Dupont Circle’s sandwich shops fails to consider one salient point: chicken salad. The mark of a true deli is not its extravagant accoutrements but its ability to master the classic sandwich. The Court acknowledges some evidence of this with its earlier discussion of the Italian Sandwich but what it fails to mention is Dupont Market’s disastrous attempt at the classic deli masterpiece: The Chicken Salad Sandwich. From its oversized chunks of chicken to the addition of extraneous fruit bits and lack of adequate moisture, Dupont Market’s sandwich is a colossal fail.
The notion that Dupont Market can legitimately hold the sandwich title without an adequate chicken salad sandwich option is, quite simply, irrational. The Court’s omission of this major deficiency provides no saving explanation save one, its ability to be seduced by elaborate window dressing.
It is agreed Oasis Deli, with its humble appearance and folksy demeanor, may not have access to the fancy toppings and gourmet snacks of Dupont Market but artisanal chocolate does not a sandwich make. The Deli while neither showy nor elaborate remains steadfast in its commitment to quality sandwiches at prices the average American can afford.
For the reasons stated, I dissent from the Court’s opinion and remand the case for further tasting.
Final scoring breakdowns (out of a total 60 points):
Dupont Market: 56.7 points
Oasis Gourmet: 46 points
Bread and Brew: 42 points
Saxbys: 35.7 points
CF Folks: 35.7 points
Luna Grill: 24 points
Justices’ Scores of Individual Cases:
OVERALL SCORE: 3.5 Gavels!
(Dan F.-3.5, April-3.5, Jessica-3.5, Devan-3.5, Danielle-3.5, Joe-3.5, Eva-3.5)
Taste: 4 (Dan F.-4 April-4, Jessica-4, Devan-4, Danielle-4, Joe-4, Eva-4)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 3.8 (Dan F.-4, April-4, Jessica-4, Devan-4, Danielle-3.5, Joe-4, Eva-3)
Service: 4.5 (relatively easy to call ahead and pick up)
Ambiance: Restaurant diner
Proximity: 1.5 blocks from Circle, 5 minute walk
Wait: short-none (when you call ahead)
Value/Price: $8 (more expensive than other places, but you get French fries)
Selection/Variety: 10 choices (mostly grilled sandwiches, included two vegetarian options)
Pros: Good soup, a wide variety of sides available for a $1.25 substitution, like soup, salad, fruit salad, sweet potato fries.
Cons: No pickles! Many felt disinclined to pick up a sandwich from a sit down restaurant.
OVERALL SCORE: 4.5 Gavels!
(Marissa-5, April-4.5, Jessica-4.5, Liz-4, Eva-4.5, Devan-5, Brian-4, Danielle-4.5, Joe-4.5)
Taste: 4.7 (Marissa-5, April-4, Jessica-5, Liz-4, Eva-5, Devan-5, Brian-4, Danielle-5, Joe-5)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 4.6 (Marissa-5, April-4.5, Jessica-5, Liz-4.5, Eva-4.5, Devan-4.5, Brian-4, Danielle-4.5, Joe-4.5)
Service: 3.9 (Marissa-4, April-4, Jessica-4, Liz-4.5, Eva-3.5, Devan-4, Brian-3, Danielle-4, Joe-4)
Ambiance: Gourmet/Imported Foods Market
Proximity: 5.5 blocks, 5-7 minute walk
Selection/Variety: 20 choices (including a wide variety of ingredients and types of sandwiches)
Pros: Charming, appealing menu, wide variety of gourmet grocery items, outdoor seating.
Cons: No pickles! Cramped, crowded, forced to “hover” while waiting for sandwich to be prepared.
OVERALL SCORE: 4 Gavels!
(Liz-4 Joe-4 Dan-3.5 Eva-4 Danielle-4.5 April-4)
Taste: 4 (Liz-4 Joe-4 Dan-3.5 Eva-4 Danielle-4 April-4.5)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 3.75 (Liz-3.5 Joe-4 Dan-3 Eva-4 Danielle-4 April-4)
Service: 4.3 (Liz-4 Joe-4.5 Dan-4 Eva-5 Danielle-4 April-n/a )
Ambiance: Old school convenience store with sandwich counter in the back
Proximity: 1 block from the Circle, 5 minute walk
Wait: None (but only one person making sandwiches so slow for groups)
Value/Price: $4-6 (.50 extra for cheese)
Selection/Variety: 10-15 choices – all the basics
Pros: Variety of soups, salads, and other side orders, very friendly, long history in the Circle, big sandwiches that are a good value, only place so far that offers liverwurst.
Cons: The giant pickle available for .75 was very subpar and mushy, brie is no longer available but remains on menu, ran out of “the best” lentil soup.
OVERALL SCORE: 3.8 Gavels!
(Joe-4, Eva-4, Devan 4, Brian-3, Danielle-4, April-4)
Taste: 3.7 (Joe-4, Eva abstained, Devan-4, Brian-2, Danielle-4, April-4.5)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 3.6 (Joe-4, Eva-3, Devan 3.5, Brian-3.5, Danielle-3.5, April-4)
Service: 4.2 (Joe-4.5, Eva-4, Devan 4.5, Brian-4, Danielle-4.5, April-3.5)
Ambiance: Coffee shop
Proximity: 1 blocks from the Circle, 5 minute walk
Selection/Variety: 20-25 choices (10 specialty + 10 deli, plus wraps and salads)
Pros: Reminded people of Lawson’s, very close by, cheaper than other sandwich places nearby, has the yummy “Dirty” chips.
Cons: No pickles! Sandwiches may be slightly smaller, less extras like desserts and sides, no seating
OVERALL SCORE: 4.1 Gavels!
(Joe-4, Eva-4, Devan 4.5, Liz-4, Marissa-4, Danielle-4, April-4)
Taste: 4.3 (Joe-4.5, Eva-4.5, Devan-4.5, Liz 4.5, Marissa-4, Danielle-4, April-4)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 4 (very good) (Joe-4, Eva-4, Liz-4, Marissa-4, Danielle-4.5, April-3.5, Devan 4)
Service: 4.2 (Joe-4.5, Eva-3.5, Devan-5, Liz 4, Marissa-5, Danielle-3.5, April-4)
Ambiance: Old school, classic Washington diner (tiny)
Proximity: 2 blocks from the Circle, 7 minute walk
Selection/Variety: 20 choices (10 specialty + 10 deli); but heavy on the beef and classic deli meats.
Pros: Pickle (small but crunchy), nice selection of specials like brisket and meatloaf, desserts, buttered and grilled bread with some sandwiches
Cons: Pickle did not come with crab cake sandwich, must pay extra for cheese/tomato/onion, no vegetarian option
OVERALL SCORE: 4.3 Gavels!
(Joe-4.5, Eva-4.5, Jessica-4.5, Marissa-4, Danielle-4)
Taste: 4.3 (Joe-4, Eva-4, Jessica-4.5, Marissa-4.5, Danielle-4.5)
Quality/Freshness of Ingredients: 5 (excellent)
Service: 5 (excellent)
Ambiance: Crunchy granola (clean)
Proximity: 2 blocks from the Circle, 10 minute walk
Selection/Variety: 10 choices
Pros: Tasty pickles, cupcakes and other yummy baked goods, quiche, availability of combos, green certified
Cons: Shortages of several ingredients (turkey, multigrain bread)