A Sandwich a Day: Traeger Smoked Prime Rib Dip at Norma’s Burger in Olympia, WA

In this great nation of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that’s what we’ll do. Here’s A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Naomi Bishop]

An old-school burger shop sits a stone’s throw from the freeway, singing a siren call to travelers up and down I-5, begging them to come in for the myriad of milkshakes and much-acclaimed burgers, but the real story at Norma’s Burger is the bulging French dip ($13.99). It’s an attention hog that steals the focus from Norma’s namesake burger and puts it squarely on a star sandwich—a sandwich whose soft, white bread walls struggle to hold back the oncoming hordes of meat, an army’s worth of smoked prime rib.

Eating the sandwich is a seemingly Sisyphean task, as with each dip more meat falls to the plate, more bites are taken, and yet the pile of meat seems to grow. Thankfully, it’s not the usual quantity over quality situation. The endless prime rib is tender and expertly shaved, and the slow-smoke, although barely noticeable, enhances the beefiness of the meat.

An embarrassment of riches, more of the meat falls into the silky jus each time the bun is dipped. The only hope is ordering it with cheese, whose stringy melts make grasping attempts to pull the whole thing together into a cohesive sandwich. “No meat left behind”—the unwritten rule of sandwich eating—goes out the window when it comes to keeping this dipper together. Any finished plate will have scraps of meat detritus sprinkled among the accompanying tater tots. Leave the wounded soldiers behind, as departing from Norma’s—an hour south of Seattle—likely involves a long car ride home with a very full belly.

Norma’s @ I-5

10322 Martin Way E, Olympia WA 98516 (map)
360-412-0333; normasburger.com

About the author: Naomi Bishop is a Seattle based food writer and marketer. Find more of her musings on her food blog, TheGastroGnome, where she claims that being a GastroGnome is not about sitting idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages. You can also follow her explorations of cooking and culture around the world at @GastroGnome.