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[Photograph: Brian Oh]

The first quarter of 2013 saw the opening of not one, but two brick and mortar locations of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group's butcher shop, Red Apron. Once confined to famers' markets and the back of Planet Wine in Del Ray, Red Apron's rapid expansion also brings with it a full blown offering of sandwiches. With meats from Nathan Anda and fresh baked baguettes from Birch & Barley pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, Red Apron's sandwiches are crafted by Neighborhood Restaurant Group all-stars.

At both the Union Market location and the newer shop in the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Virginia, you'll find a deli case and a sandwich counter. The most popular choice at the latter is the Porkstrami ($8). The innards of the Porkstrami are pastrami-style pork (seasoned with black pepper, coriander, and other spices after brining for 14 days and smoked for 8 hours and finally dipped in pork jus just before serving), bacon, mustard aioli, and bacon-braised sauerkraut. With basically every ingredient a form of pork, besides the mustard, each bite is dripping with meaty, salty pork flavor. Balancing notes of sour and sharp flavors from the mustard and sauerkraut help to round out the potent savoriness. To top it off, the baguette in which the tender, oily pork medley is housed is more than equal to the task of containing it. MacIsaac's baguettes have a toasted, crisp crust, but are soft and chewy inside, and are flavorful enough on their own to stand up to the pork flavor bomb they enclose. They're also great for soaking up and retaining the copious amounts of pork juice run off. The Porkstrami is a sandwich that is unapologetically a love note to diehard pork fans.

Since you're definitely going to be thirsty after this sandwich, you'll be happy to hear that more Neighborhood Restaurant Group heavy hitters, wine director Brent Kroll and beer director Greg Engert, are curating the wine and beer selection at Red Apron. If Union Market and Fairfax, VA are a little too out of your way, Red Apron is also coming to Penn Quarter later this year, so you won't have long to wait.

Red Apron Butcher

8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax, VA 22031 (map)
703-676-3550; redapronbutchery.com

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