“What do you mean it’s inside a gas station? You mean it’s next to the gas station?”
“No, dude, that’s the convenience store. Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Are we really going to eat a sandwich from here?”
These questions form the popular refrain around Fast Gourmet, the now not-so-secret sandwich shop tucked into the otherwise unremarkable gas station at 14th and W Streets; it says something that even the station’s signage doesn’t reveal a discernible name, just a list of words you might use to describe the establishment (Lowest Price, W, Express). At the very least, the queries above were my then-roommate’s incredulous thoughts as we walked past the pumps and through the shop to arrive at the eatery.
If you’ve never been, then put aside any preconceived notions you might have, and, as Barney Stinson might say, “Open up your brain-tank, brah, for some premium octane knowledge.” Fast Gourmet isn’t some rundown taquitos-on-rollers operation; quite the contrary.
For one, it’s cleaned up, with black and electric green accents and a surprising amount of seating options. For another, it has a chalkboard menu with about 25 different options.
And perhaps most importantly, the meals are absolutely stellar. The shop’s signature sandwich, the Chivito, a pressed sandwich of pork tenderloin, mozzarella, black forest ham, bacon, green olives, egg, and escabeche marinade, is a high-speed collision of flavor packed inside a roll. It bursts with pleasant levels of salt, and is the kind of meat gluttony that makes you feel like you’re stealing the restaurant blind for the $13 you’ve paid them.
Even better, despite the hype surrounding the sandwiches, the shoestring fries are for me the real treat, crispy and salted well. For the vegetarians among us, a falafel sandwich eaten on a recent trip stands up well to its Amsterdam contemporary.
So, even when it doesn’t necessarily live up to its moniker, the sandwiches are well worth the wait and the adventure.