The Reuben sandwich, a classic combo of rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, can inspire fierce loyalty in some and an urge for creativity in others. We sent city editor Vivi Mazarakis to try the offerings at two of Washington, D.C.’s notable eateries. Here are her findings.
The bread: Both Reubens come on toasted rye. I thought A&D's rye was great until I tried the rye at DGS. Buttered and ultra-toasted, it’s the rye that dreams are made of.
The beef: A&D uses beef tongue in their version, and I liked this creative twist to the more traditional corned beef that's used in DGS’ version. Both the corned beef and beef tongue were flavorful. The beef tongue was much more tender, yet I also enjoyed the crispy edges of DGS’ corned beef, formed from where the beef had kissed the grill during the toasting process.
The accoutrements: Both versions come with sauerkraut. A&D uses a special "house" sauce and skips the cheese. DGS’ comes with Emmenthaler cheese and Russian dressing. One would think DGS' version would be slightly heavier, yet I found the opposite to be true. A&D's Reuben was swimming in sauce, so much so that I had to actively look for an un-sauced piece of beef tongue just so I could taste it in its unadulterated state. On the other hand, I thought that DGS included just the right amount of cheese and dressing to accentuate the corned beef but not overpower it.
The sides: A&D serves their sandwich with a bag of chips and DGS serves their version with a dill pickle. I much preferred the chips rather than the sad, soggy pickle that DGS gave me.
Had I not also ordered the DGS pickle plate ($5), I'd have said that DGS should seriously rethink calling itself a deli of any sort, but the plate came with a wonderful assortment of sour and sweet pickles, pickled turnips and radishes, and half a pickled, fuchsia-tinged egg.
Overall, I preferred DGS' Reuben ($13.50), which is saying a lot given how unimpressed I was with their overhyped pastrami sandwich (check out my review on Forking DC here). That said, A&D's Reuben is not too far behind, and at only $10, it understandably might be the preferred option for some.