Skip the Burger but Eat EVERYTHING Else at Fast Gourmet


Gas Grub.

It's a bit embarrassing it took us this long to hit up Fast Gourmet, the greasy-spoon-in-a-gas-station in the U Street corridor. But we finally did and it was just about everything we hoped it would be. Once you step in the door, it's evident this isn't your typical joint. The space itself is a bit dirty (but that's all part of the charm) with punk rock music blaring --and I mean blaring-- over speakers while a single TV shows whatever hot-ticket soccer match is on. The menu, drawn out on a large chalk board above the front counter, lords over the room of people huddled in the close-bordering-on-cramped seating. Others loiter around, waiting for the shout letting them know their orders are ready. Dive-y. Dirty. Unpretentious. This is our kinda place.

Our previous high point with gas station grub was an MTO from Sheetz (with a 3 a.m. bag of Funyuns running a close second) so it's not like the bar was set very high. But Fast Gourmet vaulted clean over that bitch. And then some. Let's get this out of the way up front: we won't be ordering the burger on follow-up visits to Fast Gourmet (we'll save that for nearby 1905, thankyouverymuch).

Not so well done.

It's not to say it isn't any good. The seasoning of the Angus beef patty was done well and the flavor was there, but the execution was off. The burger was cooked decisively past our order of medium rare and we had to add ketchup to the mix because the meat was too dry. We hate that shit. Fortunately, just about the entire rest of the menu is so damn good, even we won't miss the burger here. The crown jewel of Fast Gourmet's menu is, without a doubt, the Chivito.

The Uruguayan sandwich hooks up thin sliced filet mignon, black forest ham, bacon, green olives, a freakin' hard-bolied fried egg, melted mozzarella, red peppers, lettuce, tomato, onions and a healthy dose of mayo. All that meaty, cheesy, mayonnaise-y goodness comes in a loaf of in-station fresh-baked bread and after one bite, you can't help but wonder how you made it so far in life without experiencing the joy of the "baby goat" before. We have to echo everything BYT said when they deemed it a SILF-- this thing rocks. Now, we'd be giddy if this was the only takeaway from our trip, but oh no, there's so much more that made our faces squeal with delicious delight. How about some chili dogs? Re-damn-diculous.

Butterflied, doused in chili, mustard and onions on a toasted bun, they're served up in pairs along side a pile of fries. Believe it our not, they're even better than they look. These dogs were so, so good, they were inhaled. Back on the sandwich front, another creation Fast Gourmet executes to a tee is the Cubano: smoky, slow roasted pork butt, black forest ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard pressed between two halves of crusty, Cuban bread. It can't match the Chivito, but this Cuban is the real deal. 

And what was called "the best fish sandwich ever" by one member of the Crew, is Fast Gourmet's fat hunk of beer-battered haddock slathered with tartar sauce, slapped together with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions on more of their fresh-baked bread. The crispy and hot, golden crust gives way to light and flaky haddock that beats the hell out of any fried fish sandwich we can ever remember eating. On those rare occasions when we bypass the meat and go fish, this is the fish we want.

This ain't no Filet-O-Fish.

In addition to the straight up deliciousness, all these sandwiches share another thing in common: they're massive. It's safe to say you won't be hungry after a tummy tango with any of them. Each also comes with a side of fries, though we thought it odd we received different versions on our two visits. It might have only been a temporary stock hiccup, but we did find the thinner, shoe-string spuds we got the first time a good deal tastier than their fatter fries we got during Round 2. A word of warning: they do sell out of certain menu items-- both the Chivito and their beer-battered eggplant were unavailable during our most recent visit. But with so much quality on the menu, any back-up plan is sure to do you right. Though Fast Gourmet may be a bit of a misnomer (when they get busy, it can take a hot minute to get your order), our only real gripe with the joint is that they don't serve beer. But, then again, that's probably a good thing 'cause if they did hook up the boozers, we'd probably never leave. *Full disclosure: We weren't too keen on their falafel, however, after pondering our order for a second, we realized that no one should be happy with ground chickpeas when there's meat on the menu. So take that as you will. Fast Gourmet | 1400 W Street NW | DC |  

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