2605 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 2220
Earl's on Urbanspoon

I have a confession.  I am not Joey Tribbiani.  About half of you just went, "Who the f*ck is Joey Tribbiani?"   Some of you are thinking, "Of course you're not a character from a TV show that went off the air 8 years ago".  Then there's the three...um...two of you saying, "Yeah, you don't seem like a sandwich guy".  If you're still confused, here's one more hint:  "Ms. Chanandler Bong".  But, yeah, I'm not a sandwich guy.  I could be a burger guy but I don't consider them in the same food group as sandwiches (an inadvertent hint!).   It's not that I don't like sandwiches but they would never be my first or even third choice for a meal.  I think it's just a simple case of preferring hot food over cold food and I've always associated sandwiches with cold food unfair as that may be.

While, I'm not a sandwich guy, I am a French Dip guy.  It's one of those guilty pleasure foods that always seems to hit the right spot.  When I think of French Dip, I think of a crusty toasty bun with steaming slices of roast beef piled on high, melted cheese and a side of 'au jus' for dipping and making a mess.  You can usually find it in your typical Greek diner, burger dive, bar food, greasy spoon establishment.  One of my favorites is at Scotty's Diner near Grand Central.  I've had a hard time finding a go-to French Dip place here in DC so when I stumbled upon Earl's over the interwebs, I saw they had a French Dip Sandwich (Earl's French Dip), I had to go get some.

Earl's is on Wilson and if you're heading west from DC, its on a strip of Wilson that's the calm-before-the-sh*tshow that Clarendon traffic and congestion has become.  The big difference between Earl's and any other run-of-the mill deli/sandwich shop is that they make everything in the store.  All the meats are roasted in-house and most of the other non-sandwich items are all made from scratch.  I don't know if the bread is made in-house but it was just as tasty.  You already know what I ordered, of course, but I also got a small bowl of their gumbo and a side order of fries.

The gumbo had that deep, dark, rich (and honestly almost off-putting) color that I look for in my gumbo.  It had plenty of sausage and vegetables to give it a nice hearty and robust flavor.  I did expect it to pack much more heat than it did but I also didn't add any hot sauce or other condiments that were available to me.  The fries, unfortunately, weren't quite as good as the gumbo.  They were dried out and overcooked and lacking any flavor besides brittleness and salt.  I actually ended up not finishing these fries and if you can't tell for all my previous posts, I'm a big fan of the french fry so this was definitely a sad occurrence.

Now, to the french dip.  It was served on a nicely toasted crusty ciabatta roll, check.  The roast beef was plentiful and came out with a nice pink color, check.  It was served with some field greens, tomatoes, and caramelized onions....whaaaaaattt???  There was crumbled blue cheese on top, huh?  The au jus tasted slightly vinaigrettish (it's a word.  trust me), whoa?  This was not what I was expecting but it was plenty good anyway.  The roast beef was moist and flavorful, the caramelized onion gave off a nice sweetness which was balanced out well with the bitter of the blue cheese (more of a sour taste but alliteration won that sentence).  I dipped the sandwich into the au jus but it felt more like a dip in salad dressing rather than that extra oomph of cholesterol but nonetheless still flavorful and gave the sandwich some nice depth.

Even though it's obvious that the France from where Earl's Dip sandwich comes from is much different from my France, it was still a really good sandwich.  In fact, just looking over the menu, if the rest of the sandwiches come from the same kind of quality as Earl's French Dip then I may be channeling my inner Joey Tribbiani much more often than usual.  Not only are the sandwiches fresh but the offerings look like they have a good mix of the traditional and the really creative.  Kinda like a cross between a hipster and a preppy.  Is that a hippy?  Um.  So, I think I've found my go-to sandwich (you can't ignore a food group) shop but where can I find that ever-elusive French Dip Sandwich?


  1. Found your blog via your 'Assorted Roast Mushrooms' on flicker. + Glad I did!
    Great blog :)


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