What makes a deli a deli and not just a run of the mill sandwich shop? Is it cold cuts, sandwiches in paper, sides/add-ons/condiments, a distinct ethic leaning? Yelpers have been asking that question for years with regard to So’s Your Mom, a delightfully cramped little sandwich place located in Adams Morgan. Some have lauded it as “the closest thing I’ve found to a NY deli,” while others have lambasted it as “nothing original or exciting.”
Part of what makes the philosophy of delis so interesting in DC is that our city doesn’t seem to have many of them. Sure, there are myriad sandwich shops clustered near office buildings, but they have lost much of their original charm and distinctiveness. Many of the best delis are found on the outskirts of the city, like Wagshal’s on Mass Ave. and Parkway Deli in Silver Spring. (And, yes, A. Literri’s, which I’ve covered before and would consider in a category of its own!)
That’s why So’s Your Mom is a delightful find. Whether or not it fits your definition of “deli,” the place has killer sandwiches. The options make up two whole chalkboards, ranging from corned beef to liverwurst to some flavorful vegetarian options like my own emmenthaler and avocado combo. Additionally, it features interesting additions like knishes and stuffed grape leaves. It also has (arguably) some of the best bagels in DC that you can adorn with interesting flavors of cream cheese. And, of course, sides by the pound—what would a “deli” be without mayo-slathered macaroni and potato salad?
So’s Your Mom also stocks provisions that are at home in any deli—fancy dried pasta, many different kinds of capers and other pickled veggies, and Ferrero Rocher candies. The decorations are marvelously tacky and out of date—a photograph of the 1988 Northwest Softball League Champions hangs triumphantly by the doorway. The place has changed hands many times over the last twenty years, and try as I might, it was very heard to dig up information on the origination of the joint and its name. The current family who owns it has had it for about five years.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether So’s Your Mom qualifies as a deli in your book. It certainly has many of the trappings, like Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, pastries from Philly, etc. But there’s no way to determine without visiting!
To visit: 1831 Columbia Rd NW, (202) 462-3666. M-F 7 am – 8 pm, Sat and Sun 8 am – 7 pm. Short walk from the Woodley Park-Adams Morgan Metro, or on the 90s, 42, and L2 lines.