Every big city has at least one great, local bagel place. For whatever reason, this has been missing from the District for as far as I can remember. In the past couple of years, a couple of bagel slingers have filled that void. One of them is Call Your Mother Deli, which has a corner spot on Georgia Avenue and Lamont Street in the Park View neighborhood. It has earned buzz and a growing fanbase locally, helped by its presence at seven farmer’s markets throughout the week. It has even garnered praise nationally, with Eater recently calling Call Your Mother Deli one of America’s Best New Restaurants.
Andrew Dana, Founder and “Chief Dough Boy” is the reason why the eatery calls itself a “Jew-ish” establishment. Simply, his father is Jewish, while his mother is not. This dichotomy manifests through ambience and the menu. The place prepares bagels in a traditional way and offers tastes you’d expect out of a top-notch bagel shop, so you can’t knock it on authenticity. It is the way they combine these traditional components that differentiate their products from others.
They offer plain, sesame, or everything bagels as expected, but they also offer bagels made out of chocolate and za’atar – a Mediterranean spice mixture that typically includes ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Their bagel sandwiches are cleverly named, drawing from a wide spectrum of pop culture references. The Rihanna-Flex, Efron, Mila, and Andre are obvious to me, but other sandwich names are more obscure. Is the Amar’e named after the borderline NBA star forward Amar’e Stoudemire (Suns and Knicks), and is the Shyne named after the once-promising Bad Boy rapper imprisoned for assault in the early 2000s? Those who recognize the root of their sandwich’s name from the jump have another reason to eat with a smile, while others will be revving up the Google machine.
Call Your Mother is a quaint shop that has an old school diner feel. By “old school,” I specifically mean the 1980s, with pastel blues, yellows, and pinks adorning its outside facade and interior decor. If you’re feeling antisocial, you can sit along a bar with a window view of Georgia Avenue; if you are feeling extra friendly, choose a seat at one of the communal style tables; or, when it is busy (which I hear is often), just take whatever seat you can get. Fortunately, I arrived at a sweet spot when an early rush of diners just left and before the neighborhood parents with kids arrived. The order taker/cashier was super friendly and talked me through a few items on the menu after I revealed it was my first time. Once you pay for your food, they give you a number to place on your table, and someone brings your food out when ready.
I ordered the Shyne bagel sandwich, which was an everything bagel containing pastrami, bodega-style egg, American cheese, cheddar cheese, and spicy honey. The pastrami and spicy honey made the sandwich unique and drove the sweet/salty-dominant taste. While I enjoyed and fully appreciated what was inside the sandwich, the highlight was the bagel itself. It came out freshly toasted from their wood-fire oven, enhancing the flavor of the sesame seeds and poppy seeds. The bagels are legit and I can confidently say they are the best I’ve ever had in the D.C. Metro Area. I am eager to try more of the cleverly named concoctions in future visits. I’m looking at you, Efron!
One thing that I desperately wanted to like but could not get on board with was the Jew-ish taco with the pastrami. I spent my childhood on the West Coast, grew up into a full-grown taco snob, and nowadays, only sublime taco offerings register with me. That being said, I give Call Your Mother major props for innovation and taking a chance. The cashier told me it is her favorite item on the menu.
One more thing to note is they serve coffee from Lost Sock Roasters, based in Brightwood Park in D.C. I ordered the iced latte, and it was a smooth drink with nutty notes.
Conclusion and Rating
To my fellow Free Range Kings visiting DC, I urge you to go to Call Your Mother Deli for your bagel fix. If your business is catering for a morning meeting, skip that wack Panera dozen that you can get at every city in America, support the local economy, and most importantly, support your local belly that needs a good bagel every once in a blue moon!
CALL YOUR MOTHER INFORMATION
MORE WASHINGTON, D.C. CONTENT