Need to try something different for lunch? Next time you’re on your way to District Taco, try a casual Foggy Bottom deli joint instead.
Maso, located on 19th Street between L and M streets, serves affordable salads, sandwiches and smoothies in a Chipotle-style setup.
The restaurant offers traditional deli items in a chic environment. Green, leafy plants grow in wooden boxes that adorn the walls by the entrance, and the seating area features a wall-to-wall, chalk-style mural of quotes and patterns, with the word “happiness” written out in the center.
The seating is somewhat limited, with just one long, high table and about a dozen two-tops, but luckily, Maso wasn’t crowded on a Friday afternoon. Warm lighting from spherical bubble light fixtures and soft pop music added to the light atmosphere – perfect for an afternoon stop.
Customers order coffee and smoothies at the front entrance and can order sandwiches and salads at the back counter. Sandwiches and salads are made to order, though there was also a case full of pre-made sandwich options.
Many of the salads looked tempting, like the nicoise ($8.49) that includes tuna, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, red onions and parsley, topped with lemon dressing.
However, I tried a sandwich instead, partially because they’re a little cheaper. The tartines, or European open-face sandwiches, were the most expensive at $8.99 and included three variations: baked salmon, shrimp salad & avocado, and roast beef.
I tried the taleggio melt ($7.25) because I had never heard of taleggio cheese, and I was won over by its combination of roasted zucchini, roma tomatoes and arugula-walnut pesto. The fruity tang of the cheese complemented the pesto well, and the strong flavor of the walnut balanced out the crisp acidity of the arugula. The service was fast and friendly – I received my sandwich right away.
If you’re craving something sweet at the end of your meal, try an amaretto brownie ($1.75 half, $3.50 whole) or a slice of lemon cake ($2.00). While these aren’t as fresh as the main items, they’re a worthwhile dessert – the lemon cake was springy and moist.
Maso opens up at 10 a.m. exclusively for coffee and smoothies, which are cheaper than both Whole Foods and South Block ($5.99). The Green King, Very Berry and Yellow Lemon varieties are all just $4.99, whereas the Pineapple Basil and Banana & Figs are both $5.49.