If you go to the Valero gas station at the corner of 14th and U St. NW, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise when you enter the adjacent store. There is food and drink for sale, but not your typical U.S. gas station fare—no chips or Slim Jims or Gatorade. Instead, you’ll see a counter with a blackboard menu hanging above and a few tables and chairs. It doesn’t look like much, but give it a try because this is a sandwich joint taken to Latin gourmet heights.
Created by two brothers of Uruguayan descent, Fast Gourmet sells burgers, sandwiches, and wraps for dine in or to go. Their best seller and my favorite is the Chivito, a classic Uruguayan sandwich. Between two halves of a soft roll, lightly shmeared with mayo, sit warmed slices of beef tenderloin, Black Forest ham, and bacon. Add to that, green olives, hard-boiled egg, mozzarella cheese, all nestled below lettuce, tomato, and onion. The sandwich is then grilled so the outside is crunchy and the cheese all melted and gooey. It’s served simply with a side of shoe string fries. One bite and they had me at “chivito”! My other favorite is the Cubano. For sides, there are yucca, plantains, and beer-battered eggplant, among other veggie offerings all cooked with a Latin touch.
You are in a gas station store, so don’t go looking for ambience or artwork. Just enjoy the yummy food.