Review of D.C.'s Stachowski's Deli
PHOTO: Turkey sandwich at Stachowski's Deli (c) Sery Kim
Buried deep within the expensively historic area of Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood is Stachowski’s Market & Deli ("Stachowski's"), the storefront of famed locale butcher/food guru Jamie Stachowski.
Since 2009, Jamie has been providing a “wide variety of handcrafted gourmet fresh sausages, cured meats, a wife assortment of gallantines, pates, terrines and meats of the highest quality.” And as the popularity of handcrafted, locally produced items surged through our food-obsessed culture so too has the popularity of Stachowski’s. In the ensuing seven years, Jamie has opened six storefronts, partnered with three major food distributors and has seen his product sold in some of D.C.’s most popular restaurants (Le Diplomate, Boqueria, Founding Farmers, etc.).
But the existence of this D.C. favorite remained a mystery to me until I was willingly lured to this tiny market one hot summer afternoon.
Upon entering, the original Stachowski’s Market registers as simply quaint. The entire space could not be more than the size of an efficiency in New York City, without even soaring ceiling heights to add depth and dimension. Instead, the almost bare bones basics of fruits clustered in one basket, a wall of crisps, an open-faced refrigerator with beverages and, of course, the mounted deli space encompassing the real attraction of the room -- broken neatly in two by an aisle to walk in-and-out of -- speaks to letting the food (rather than the décor) speak for itself.
“It’s really cute!” I exclaimed to my picnic date and instantly I was smitten by this tiny glimmer into the sort of casual dining my luxury food and travel writing prevents me from fully engaging in. I then turned to the menu written on the wall and barely knew where to start when it came to the abbreviated menu. I queried my date and he mentioned, “The sandwiches are a popular option. But we can get a bunch of things and go from there.” A man with a plan … excellent!
Quickly our basket filled with options including the Stachowski’s Turkey Club sandwich ($10.99), some pickles (chosen individually from a barrel casing filled with whole pickles), crisps (I can’t eat sandwiches without crisps or, as they are better referred to in the U.S. “chips”), a slice of pie and some bottled water – wine is not an option at Stachowski’s, probably due to the stringent liquor licensing requirements of the D.C. beverage authority.
We set off with our purchases, with a pit stop for a bottle of Oyster Bay (a cheap, bright Chardonnay which does not taste young but rather refreshingly fruity without that lingering abrasiveness emblematic of cheap Chardonnays), to a nearby park in Georgetown whereupon we proceeded to delve into our sandwich.
The enormous height of Stachowski’s sandwiches are meant to be shared, as well as eaten, with a kind of messy glee only a toddler could truly appreciate. Firm bread, more akin to a baguette, groaned under mounds of medium-slivered turkey as well as accoutrements such as avocado and tomato. No lettuce for the uninitiated. Sandwiches, for me, are meant for hearty slivers rather than flaky bits and lettuce most definitely falls under the “flaky bits” category.
Eyeing the precarious balance of the unwieldy ingredients of the turkey sandwich, I grasped my half like someone who locates a Chanel bag in a sales bin for $200 instead of the normal $3500. Thankfully, my aforethought made the first bite tasty rather than an Andy Warhol splatter of food all over my face, my dress and the picnic blanket. Filling rather than extraordinary, the Stachowski's sandwich felt like the ideal second date: comforting yet unexpected pleasing. I enjoyed it immensely and was left fully satisfied after even half a portion.
My sole disappointment with Stachowski’s was in the dessert. The pie was mushy, a catastrophic failure for pie since the crust should remain demonstrably flaky and firm even under piles of whatever fruit is used. Stachowski’s pie had the consistency of a cotton ball soaked in fruit and sugar, without any residual taste of anything sugary at all. We managed a bite each before giving up on it all-together.
Other options at Stachowski’s include just pieces of meat, as well as favorable sides such as potato salad, cookies, brownies, and the like, but for those who prefer simple sandwiches for lunch and live in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. this is a good, mostly affordable option.
1425 28th St NW (corner of 28th and P)
Washington, DC 20007