Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, the space-themed D.C. company that has built a strong following around thick creme brulee doughnuts and crispy chicken sandwiches, has entered the virtual cheesesteak race. In a bid to create a new revenue stream during the COVID-19 crisis, Astro has launched a new ghost kitchen (takeout and delivery only) called Satellite Sandwiches that allows the company to restaff the dormant kitchen at the Astro Beer Hall it opened downtown about a year ago.
Satellite started accepting orders over the weekend, and Monday, October 19, marks its official opening. Chef Chris Kujala created an all-day menu that offers a variety of shaved ribeye sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, chicken wings, gyros, and huge, doughy, baked-to-order cookies.
Kujala builds his subs on rolls baked at Baguette Republic in Chantilly, Virginia, and toasted in garlic butter. Processed cheese purists might bristle at his answer to whiz, a smoked gouda and cheddar sauce Kujala compares to the base for mac n cheese. A “Philly Classic” cheesesteak ($12.50) comes with ribeye, caramelized onions, and a choice of that sauce or melted provolone.
There’s also a pizza steak sandwich ($14.50) — with ribeye, pepperoni, fried mushrooms, marinara sauce, onions, and peppers — and a pepper steak ($13) with bell peppers and pickled banana peppers. There’s a cheesesteak hoagie loaded with veggies ($13.25) and a build-your-own option that includes 10-cent surcharges for chile rubs in mild (cayenne), medium (habanero), or hot (ghost pepper).
“We were looking for something that travels well and delivers well, and it holds up to that process,” Kujala says.
“It plays into the comfort food hat we’ve had success with,” Astro co-owner Elliot Spaisman adds.
Kujala says he wanted to make gyros, too, because they’re a personal favorite, and he hasn’t seen a lot of options for delivery pitas in the area. He uses a mix of lamb and beef he cooks on the griddle, not with a vertical spit. From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., customers can order a steak-and-egg sandwich, an egg-topped BLT, or a breakfast burrito stuffed with sausage, eggs, and hash browns.
With cookies that are 4 inches wide and 6.5 ounces, Satellite is producing a hefty treat with similar specs to the ones at popular Levain Bakery, which recently opened its first D.C. location in Georgetown. Satellite’s cookies come in double chocolate chip, dark chocolate salted caramel, cake batter funfetti, and pumpkin snickerdoodle. They come with reheating
“Personally I don’t like crispy cookies,” Kujala says. “I like more fo a chewy, melt in your mouth texture.”
Satellite Sandwiches follows two other virtual cheesesteak shops in town. Espita Mezcaleria’s Ghostburger sells “A Real Philly Cheesesteak” with a cheddar “whiz” on a roll from Philadelphia bakery Sarcone’s out of its Mexican kitchen in Shaw. Chevy Chase pasta place I’m Eddie Cano has a ghost kitchen called Jimmy’s Philly Steaks that sells sandwiches with cheddar whiz, as well as roast pork subs, sausage and pepper subs, and meatball hoagies.
At the Wharf, sandwich shop Grazie Grazie has found fast success with a Philly Special built with grass-fed beef and Cooper brand sharp provolone.
Satellite Sandwiches (1308 G Street NW) is open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 3 pm. Sunday. Order online here. Astro Doughnuts is still operating locations downtown and in Falls Church.