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I know how many feel about Lauriol Plaza.  And I am one of those who groans and rolls her eyes when the restaurant comes up as a dinner choice.  But when it was clear I wasn’t going to get out of going this time, I decided to suck it up and go.  Besides, maybe it would be better than the last time I went…

  • Food:  I can’t lie.  Lauriol Plaza is a good place to go when you have a large group of people.  Their chips are always hot, thin, and fresh out of the fryer.  Plus, when you add the fact they’re free — who doesn’t appreciate it?  They offer two sides of salsa — one pico de gallo and the other is a hotter mixture.  Their guacamole is decent with good flavors and chunks of avocado.  I ordered their steak fajitas, which when you think about it, you can’t really mess up.  good.  But make no mistake, they really serve Tex-Mex food.
  • Service: Once you get a table, they are good about getting your order, serving your food, and cleaning up quickly. 
  • Atmosphere: There’s actually three levels and outside seating.  It’s a huge restaurant and can be super loud when it’s packed.  The bar is usually jammed as well. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:  Is it worth the long lines at night and on the weekends?  I’m not a wait in line kind of person so I say no.  If you’ve never been to DC, I’d say to pass this place.  But after living here for five years, it makes sense that you’d try it at least once. 

Details:

  • Reservations are not accepted, but at night and on weekends, be prepared for a super long wait! 
  • Hours: Mon-Thu,Sun 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am
  • Address: 1835 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 387-0035
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A few years ago (2-3), I went to Odeon Cafe and had a really great Italian dinner.  The food was delicious, service was good, and had an overall positive experience.  When a couple of friends wanted to go to brunch one Sunday, I didn’t hesitate to mention Odeon Cafe since a different friend had recommended the place.  Since I enjoyed my meal the last time I was there and so did she, I thought this would be a great brunch…

  • Food:I ordered the Cafe Odeon Benedict eggs.  The entire plate was cold and the poached eggs were terribly overcooked (the yolk was completely hard).  The potatoes had no flavor.  One friend ordered the salmon crepes which was the loser of the table.  The crepes were too thick, doughy, and chewy.  There was no salmon flavor whatsoever.   The winning plate was the salmon egg white omelet, but it was also cold.  However, the eggs were nicely cooked with a nice salmon flavor. 
  • Service: Despite an empty restaurant, the server rarely appeared.  When he did stop by the table, he was nice.
  • Atmosphere: There are two stories and in the summer, the windows in the front open.  On the left-hand side, there’s a bar (about 12-15 stools). 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Did the restaurant change owners?  Did they get a new chef?  Who knows?  Stick to the egg white omelet with salmon for brunch and it’ll be OK.   I haven’t been in a long time for dinner but would love to hear from you about your experiences…

Details:

  • Hours: Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:30am – 4:00pm; Dinner: Nightly: 4:00pm – 12:00am
  • Address: 1714 Connecticut Ave N.W.; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 328-6228

For the last five years, I had been dragging my feet in going to Rosa Mexicano.  To me, when you’re repeatedly told that there are only a few good things on the menu, it’s not exactly a great endorsement.  Well, after reading numerous reviews and since I wasn’t paying, I finally went.

  • Food: We ordered guacamole which came with thick chips which were good.  There were nice chunks of avocado, but I still think my recipe would win in a guac contest.  I ordered the short ribs since it was the only thing that received constant praise and I was not disappointed.  They were so tender and made a knife completely unnecessary.  There are three HUGE pieces of short ribs on the plate.  Next time, I’d split the ribs with a couple of friends since it’d be more than enough food.  They brought black beans to the table which I thought were under-seasoned while the rice was completely over-seasoned and had too much lime juice. 
  • Service: Our server was OK, but as the restaurant got busier, he became more and more absent.
  • Atmosphere: The interior has bright colors and a comfortable atmosphere.  The bar is packed after work for happy hours (I couldn’t find any information that they offered drink/food discounts). 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$/$$$
  • Overall:  Since I didn’t pay for dinner,  I didn’t care.  But I think if I ever go back, I’d definitely order the short ribs again to share with others…and yes, the guacamole.

Details:

  • Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-3pm; Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 11am-3pm; Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday: 4-10:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 4-11:30pm; Sunset: Daily 3:00 pm-4:00 pm
  • Address: 575 7th St NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: (202) 783-5522

Thanks to Etete, I love Ethiopian now.  I had heard the other great Ethiopian restaurant was Queen Makeda, conveniently located across the street.   It was hard to not go back to Etete, but one day my only friend who likes Ethiopian and I decided to try it.  Here’s Queen Makeda’s menu:

Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu  Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu

  • Food:  We ordered the lamb and vegetarian plate.  The lamb was a bit grisly and I thought some of the vegetarian options were a bit bland. If you look at the photo of the plate, here’s what I thought of the food (and apologizes because I don’t know the names of everything…well, of anything really): starting at 12 o’clock (at the top), not a fan.  It was a cabbage and carrot thing that was bland.  At 1 was kale that was bland; at 2 was a spicy thing that was awesome and delicious; at 3 was a corn thing that was also awesome and I loved it; at 6 the yellow thing I wasn’t such a fan of but my friend loved it; and finally  the other red thing was yummy.

Queen Makeda Ethiopian

  • Service: They are incredibly nice and welcoming.  When you enter, you’re immediately greeted.  The servers are nice and polite. 
  • Atmosphere:You can sit upstairs or downstairs with the flat screen TV and faux fireplace.  We chose to sit downstairs and it felt like I was in a person’s house — it’s very comfortable.

Queen Makeda Ethiopian  Queen Makeda Ethiopian

  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:While the food and service was good, my friend and I concurred that the best Ethiopian is Etete

Details:

  • Hours: 11 AM-1 AM Monday-Sunday
  • Address: 1917 9th St, Washington DC 20001
  • Ph: (202) 232-5665

When I rent a car, I make the most of it.  I rented a car for three days and ate pho everyday at least once a day.  Yes, I’m obsessed with pho.  Since I am on a personal mission to find the best pho in the area, I am slowly trying each place at Eden Center in Falls Church, VA.  Today’s pho restaurant is Huong Viet (the menu is here).

Huong Viet

  • Food:  While I have since heard Huong Viet has amazing apps and entrees besides pho, I only ordered pho.  They only offer 3 pho bowls — Pho Dac Biet (which is what I ordered); Pho Bo Vien (beef balls); or Pho Ga (chicken).  I did ask if they would serve the beef raw and on the side as one commenter suggested, the server said they couldn’t do that.  Instead, as you can see from the photo, the beef was cooked.  While the broth was good, I didn’t think it was all that memorable. 

Huong Viet Pho Tai

  • Service: Our server was nice.
  • Atmosphere: The restaurant has around 15-20 tables and a back bar.  The tables have glass tops and wooden chairs.  You can see the photos of the restaurant here.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Like a lot of the restaurants in Eden Center, they only accept cash or checks (no credit cards!).  Now that I’ve been and know that they’re better known for food besides their pho, I’m looking forward to trying some of their other offerings!  

Details:

  • Hours:  Fri-Sat 10 am-11 pm; Sun-Thu 10 am-10 pm
  • Address: 6785 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 538-7110

There are a handful of restaurants that I can honestly tell you that I’ve been more than 10 times.   Heck, more than 20 times.  Cafe Asia is one of those few places.

  • Food: Their fried tofu is pretty good and crispy except they put a couple of tofu pieces into a soy sauce with other seasonings so it gets soggy.  But the sauce and tofu is good.  I’ve ordered tons of their sushi and it’s also good. 
  • Service: They’re usually nice, but sometimes they’re extremely absent.
  • Atmosphere: From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t look as big as it actually is.  It’s two stories with high ceilings and a contemporary feel.  Check out their photos here.Their tables are a bit low and in the first floor, none of their chairs have backs — it’s all low stools.  They do have a few booths though.  On the second floor, there’s chairs with backs…it’s good to know how long you’re going to stay since backless chairs can get to be a bit tough to stay in for a long period of time.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Here’s what I like about Cafe Asia – it’s not fancy and there’s usually not a wait.  You can chill at the their tables and participate in their happy hours (unlike most places where you have to stay in the bar area). 

Happy Hour: $1.25-per-piece nigiri, $2 sake and $2.50 beers at both their downtown DC and Arlington location daily from 4:30-7:30 PM

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm; Fri 11:30am-12am; Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-11pm
  • Address: 1720 I Street NW; Washington, DC
  • Ph: 202.659.2696

I’ve been to Kaz Sushi Bistro several times, but I hadn’t been in some time (or at least since I started the blog).  They were supposed to do fugu this spring, but when I called and put my name on the list, they never did call me back.  Bummer.  I’m going to try fugu one day!

  • Food: My food friend and I decided to go to Kaz.  I ordered the blue crab sushi (top left) which was good.  Tuna and jalapeno (middle 6) which wasn’t spicy, but insanely fresh.  It was amazing because unlike some places, they did a great job of balancing enough jalapeno for a small amount of heat while not overpowering the fish.  I think this was my my favorite roll!  I also ordered the asparagus and red pepper roll (“sandwiching” tuna and jalapeno rolls).  Plus, they give you white ginger (not pink).  My friend ordered salmon teriyaki and she loved it. 

Kas Sushi Bistro  Kas Sushi Bistro Salmon Teriyaki

  • Service: When I’ve actually eaten in the restaurant, it’s been good. 
  • Atmosphere: Inside it’s a pretty small restaurant that does pack people in a bit like sardines.  It’s tight and cozy – and not the place to go if you want to have a conversation that you wouldn’t want others to hear. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Hands down, this is one of the best sushi places in the city.  Plus, it is a great place to take anyone from friends to clients to dates to parents. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended for peak times.
  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:00; Dinner Mon-Sat 6:00-10:00; Closed Sundays
  • Address: 1915 “Eye” St. NW, Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202.530.5500

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