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Still Not Sick of Turkey? Consider the Hot Brown

Where to spot Kentucky’s comforting and saucy sandwich 

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Southern Efficiency’s hot brown sandwich

In the days following Thanksgiving, leftover turkey piles high as temperatures continue to lower. Many eaters take that as a cue to assemble Kentucky’s signature open-faced sandwich called the hot brown. Originally launched in Louisville’s Brown Hotel, the hot brown was designed to satisfy late night diners who were plagued with drunken munchies.

The typical recipe places a piece of bread in a cast iron skillet, piles it high with juicy turkey, ladles on creamy mornay sauce, and tops the heap with crispy slices of bacon and roasted tomatoes. An ideal hot brown is served still bubbling from the broiler, with the skillet almost overflowing with saucy goodness.

While a few spots like Barrel, Acadiana and the Willard’s Round Robin Bar only offer the dish during Kentucky Derby season, a few restaurants in Washington are committed to serving hot browns all year.

Here are four places where fans can consistently find the comfort food. Spotted the hot brown elsewhere? Send sightings to

Southern Efficiency

1841 7th St. NW

Southern Efficiency, one of Derek Brown’s three craft cocktail bars on Seventh Street, offers a unique take on the dish. This hot brown features rolled oysters instead of turkey, and comes with bacon mornay and cheddar cheese. Order it for $15 and enjoy temporary ambiance of holiday decor as part of the Miracle on 7th Street pop-up promotion.

Martin’s Tavern

1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW

According to tavern owner Billy Martin, this legendary Georgetown eatery has been serving hot browns since the Reagan administration, called “Martin’s Delight.” After Martin’s father first tried the sandwich years ago, it has been offered for brunch, lunch, and dinner ever since. Priced at $15.95, Martin’s take on the dish includes toast, sliced turkey, rarebit sauce, sliced tomato, bacon, and parmesan cheese in a cast iron skillet.

Martin’s Delight at Martin’s Tavern


1836 18th St. NW

The modern tavern in Dupont is known for its crazy burger concoctions and keeps its “answer to the Kentucky hot brown” on the “between the bread” menu. The $13 Rebel Yell stacks smoked turkey breast, white American cheese, North Country bacon, beefsteak tomato, and mornay sauce on sourdough bread.

District Commons

2200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

This modern American Tavern in Foggy Bottom specializes in “cool comfort” foods, including their brunch version of the hot brown. For $13, the crispy “Kentucky Colonel” hearth flatbread provides an interesting vessel for traditional hot brown ingredients: roasted turkey, smoked bacon, oven cured tomato, and mornay sauce.

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