The first Thanksgiving I can really remember was typically anticlimactic. My dad had to work, his girlfriend was on a diet where carbs were declared the anti-Christ, and I had just lost my Gameboy privileges for neglecting to feed my goldfish (RIP Gilbert).
After a day spent plowing through a Hey! Arnold marathon on Nickelodeon and making dresses for my Barbies out of Kleenex, I challenged myself to a scavenger hunt through the snack cabinet. Half a box of croutons, two fruit rollups, and three handcrafted Ritz cracker peanut butter towers later, my dad came home to find me comatose in a whirlpool of crumbs on our living room floor.
Experiencing what he recalls as a “profound parenting facepalm,” Dad was determined to make a holiday miracle happen. He shook me awake from my sugar stupor, Velcro-ed on my light-up Star Wars sneakers, and led me by the hand to our corner deli, where we staged a supermarket sweep of what was left on the shelves: a loaf of Wonderbread, a package of Boarshead oven-roasted cold cuts, a marked down can of cranberry sauce with a questionable expiration date, and a box of Stove Top instant stuffing.
Back in our kitchen, I watched intently as Dad assembled what would be my very first Thanksgiving sandwich. Bread buttered and toasted on both sides, cranberry sauce ladled on by the spoonful, slices of turkey cushioned between billowy layers of stuffing – all smushed together and plated alongside an oversized mug of microwaved chocolate milk. We each ate two and watched exactly three old episodes of The Sopranos before the tryptophan took hold.
It was actually pretty great.
Needless to say, the Thanksgiving sandwich holds a special place in my heart – and with the countdown to Thursday in full swing, I think it’s high time we pay tribute to the turkey-tastic tradition everyone knows and treasures.
So leftover lovers rejoice! I treated myself to a taste test of all the DC holiday hoagies I could find. While this list isn’t fully exhaustive (there are only so many sandwiches even I can eat in a week), here are eleven festively-flavored sammies the District has to offer.
Jetties: The Nobadeer
The absolute best of the basics as far as classic Thanksgiving sandwiches go. Puffy sourdough bread, thickly cut slices of hand-carved turkey, vibrant cranberry jelly, and a chubby padding of stuffing. Mayo makes a cameo, but graciously doesn’t milk its screen time and lets the other ingredients stay center stage.
Taylor Gourmet: The Colonial
If kale is king of supercool 21st century superfoods, Taylor’s Colonial is the royal throne from which it should forever reign. Crispy shreds of green crowned lavishly with brie, sweet potato and sage ricotta, and herb-roasted turkey. Bow down and worship.
Au Bon Pain: Stuffed Turkey with Cranberry
Double the cranberry, double the fun – this sammie features cran both in the filling and in the bread (which is delightfully rustic, by the way). A lovely lunchtime option for those trying to break up the workday grind with some holiday cheer.
Milk Bar: Thanksgiving Croissant
Pilgrims wish they had pastries this good. Gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey roasted and shredded – all buttered up and crisped to perfection in a flaky flavorfest of stuffing-infused dough. Finger licking is highly encouraged. Line might be out the door, but the wait is more than worth it.
Cosi: Turkey Stuffing Sandwich
This stuffed turkey sammie silences any skepticism about how well a franchise can pull off festive flavors. The flatbread is crispy, the turkey is moist, and the mingle between the cranberry sauce and the stuffing makes for a heavenly mix of sweet and salty.
Breadline: Holiday Turkey
I’m always powerless before ciabatta, but the addition of sweet potato and caramelized onions is what really makes this sammie a standout. Extra brownie points for the honey mustard thrown into the mix, which adds a little snap behind the taste of the cranberry.
Capriotti’s: The Bobbie
The beauty of the Bobbie is the no muss, no fuss of its construction – a simple comfort food combo of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread, and a dab of peppered mayo. Already revered around DC as a quintessential thanksgiving-inspired go-to (Joe Biden tested, DC ‘Wich Hunt approved), this sandwich is a household name all holiday sub appreciation societies should know.
Ted’s Bulletin: Thanksgiving Ted-Tart
Ted’s beloved seasonal tart special sells itself. The casing acts as a makeshift pie crust, home to a filling of gravy, roasted turkey, and stuffing. Add on a cranberry glaze and a dollop of sweet potato frosting, I promise your stomach will be singing for strudel.
Glen’s Garden Market: The Unpardoned
Turkey lovers, this is your territory – the meat is a straight-from-the-bone kind of savory and the proportion of mayo to cranberry strikes an elusive golden ratio of succulence. The only thing really unpardonable here is how many times a week I already eat at Glen’s.
Corner Bakery: The Gobbler
The speckle of dried cranberries sprinkled in the stuffing makes for a sweet surprise throughout. Mayo is more of a leading lady here than in the others, but it makes a solid effort to keep every corner of crust moist and extra doughy.
Pret A Manger: Pret’s Holiday Lunch
Pret answers the prayers of everyone looking to keep things a little healthier this holiday season. With roasted turkey breast, classic cranberry sauce, crunchy spinach leaves, and a sweet apricot sausage stuffing, their Thanksgiving special is just as light as it is lovely. Great for grab and go!