Jack’s Famous Deli

501 3rd St NW #2
Washington, D.C. 20001
202.783.8989
locationJack's Famous Deli (Washington D.C.)3 stars

Situated right in the heart of Washington DC, Jack’s Famous Deli isn’t a flashy place, despite being mere blocks from the Capitol and the National Mall. Between Judiciary Square and the many office buildings that populate the heart of DC, there is a huge lunch crowd. Fortunately, Jack’s delivers with a cafeteria-style selection with sandwiches any way you want them, soups, light cuisine, and a large central spot where you can pick out one of dozens of items of food. But what really gets people coming here seems to be the sandwiches, and for good reason.

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So the top sandwich that catches your eye when walking into this DC deli is “Jack’s Famous Pastrami.” The spot maintains a pretty low profile, and even its logo is small on the awning outside, so when you step in and are greeted by a neon sign that calls the sandwich famous, you might as well give it a try. And this pastrami is excellent. It’s shaved razor-thin and topped with a simple dressing, not too tangy, that carries the flavor of that pastrami a long way. It’s a delicate dish, served on a bread of your choice sans crust, for a really great sandwich. Not too filling, either.

Washington is filled with many more chain restaurants than it used to be. This makes sense, especially in the lunch realm, because so many people from around the country work here, and so a lot of regional tastes are represented. That said, it’s a huge nod to a place like Jack’s that it competes against them so well with economical but homemade foods. Take the other great thing I tried, the Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s not canned, or frozen. It’s made with skin-on chicken with light and dark meat, loaded with vegetables until it’s practically a stew. Even a small bowl of this stuff is filling, and it’s no wonder the spot sees such an influx of people of different types; high-status professionals, blue-collar workers and everything in between.

In a very complicated city, Jack’s has mastered the art of simplicity with its down-to-Earth American deli cuisine. It’s a small chain itself, but a low-key one that focuses on good food. It almost feels a little lost in time, as the fancier places and bigger chains move in to compete. But don’t count this place out. What it offers is really great. Definitely worth considering if you’re on this side of town. 

Recommendations

  • The sandwiches are what really draw people to this spot, so I would suggest getting one of those for a first experience here. 
  • Also popular here is a huge serve-yourself cafeteria-style station with dozens of different foods to try at once. It’s got a variety of things I can’t begin to describe all of, but varied tastes will be satisfied. 
  • The spot has indoor dining and patio seating, but food is conveniently priced to go, also. 

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