The one thing you can’t ignore about the new Wawa on 19th Street in the District is that it’s huge.
Spacious may be an even more precise word, because while the store is large, it’s laid out to allow for good freedom of movement. That’s good, because the store has been packed ever since opening last week, marking the first Wawa store ever to open in the District.
At 9,200 square feet, this is the largest Wawa in America, even larger than any spot in the Philadelphia area, where stores are ubiquitous. It also may be one of the few Metro-accessible Wawa’s, nestled less than a few blocks from the Farragut West and Farragut North stations.
So far, the store has attracted a swarm of curious and hungry souls, as well as loyal devotees who swear by Wawa as the go-to place for sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and coffee.
Will Brode stopped into Wawa Wednesday morning to grab a breakfast burrito. He does not work or live nearby, but has visited the store six times since it opened on December 14.
“I’m a cultist,” said Brode, a native of the Philadelphia area. “Other people don’t get it at first. They think it’s a place you just get gas. They lump it in with 7-11, and it’s not the same thing.”
Brode then listed the many things he likes about Wawa. The soft pretzels. The hoagies. The iced tea. The coffee selection.
Brode said he expects the new District store to do well, as it will attract a breakfast and lunch crowd, while also satisfying the needs of hungry and drunk college students. (This Wawa is open 24 hours and also offers free wifi.)
If you don’t understand the Wawa fascination, here’s a quick primer on what the convenience store has to offer.
Hoagies - Yes, hoagies. Not subs. Hoagies. The meat and veggies are fresher than most places, and served on an Italian roll freshly baked in the store. It’s an exciting time of year when WaWa announces it’s “Hoagiefest” promotion, when its 10-inch classic hoagies are just $4.99. Even during normal times, a classic hoagie is $5.99 and a shorti is $4.79, making them cheaper than nearby competitors like Jimmy John’s or Taylor Gourmet.
Soft Pretzels - Tasty and authentic, with a perfect firmness and salt level. These pretzels are the bomb. They come in single packs or in pairs, but be aware that they will often be gone by the afternoon.
Iced Tea - The raspberry tea is great, but there’s also green tea, lemon, peach, and blackberry. You’ll blow through a quart in a day. If you’re not enamored with the store brand tea, there is an entire back section filled with nothing but cold drinks to choose from.
Coffee - There’s a great selection, and you can prepare it however you want with a variety of different creams, milks, and even irish cream and french vanilla. The varieties vary; I recently fell in love with a Guatemalan blend, only to see it replaced with an equally good coffee from Cuba. When I visited Wednesday morning, I tried the Holiday Blend, which has molasses, cloves, and cinnamon in it. What’s unique about this Wawa is that in addition to the self-serve coffee, there’s a coffee bar where you can get specialty coffee drinks, including Nitro Cold Brew.
Breakfast sandwiches - I am not nearly as enamored with Wawa’s breakfast sandwiches as its hoagies, but that may be because I don’t head there in the morning very often. There are five varieties of the “Sizzli” breakfast sandwich, usually available hot by the registers.
TastyKakes - You can’t have Wawa without Tastykakes, so I was pleased to see the store had a selection of these baked goods, including pies at 2 for $2. There’s also a good selection of Entenmann’s products.
Wawa is located at 1111 19th St. NW.
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