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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

3 days with a car and at least 5 bowls of pho.  Obsessed I tell you!  Anyway, I continued to work my way through to the pho places throughout Eden Center in Falls Church.  Today’s pho bowl is from Viet Royale.

viet-royale-page-1  viet-royale-page-2

  • Food: Well, I think their broth is truly outstanding…and it might even be better than Pho Xe Lua.  But, you’ll see the beef is cooked…even though I asked and the waitress promised that the beef would be raw.  Despite the delicious broth, I thought their pho was OK.   The beef was a bit tough, onions were cut too thick, etc. 

Viet Royale - Falls Church VA  Viet Royale Pho Tai  Viet Royale Pho Tai

  • Service: I ordered to-go so it was fine.
  • Atmosphere:Interior has more character than a lot of pho places.  It’s one big room with probably 25-30 tables.  In the back, they have a small bar which is where you order your food-to-go.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price:  $
  • Overall:I’d skip the pho and order some of the other Vietnamese dishes they offer. 

Details:

  • Hours: 10 AM-11 PM Daily
  • Address: 6767 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 533-8388

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

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

Well, this was a rather disappointing recipe for jalapeno poppers to be honest with you — and from Epicurious too! 

There were multiple problems but I have some ideas on how one might be able to fix this.   But first, the problems.  One issue that isn’t Epicurious’ fault is the jalapeno itself.  The exterior is slick and there’s nothing for the breading to hold on to.  The second is that the shredded cheese doesn’t work at all.  It’s too messy. 

The breading recipe itself is great and when it was able to stay on the jalapeno, it was awesome. 

Jalapeno Poppers  Jalapeno Poppers  Jalapeno Poppers  Fried Jalapeno Poppers

I thought the baked jalapeno poppers were really good and next time, I think I’d just stick to baking them.  I think it was at 375 for about 10-15 minutes or until the breading was brown and the cheese was melted.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

UPDATE 11/1/2008— I made these again.  Here are the modifications I made:

  • I did use an apple core and carefully cut off the tops and de-seeded the jalapenos.  Then I cut a chunk of mozzarella and put inside the jalapeno. 

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • I put the chunk of cream cheese in the freezer.  While I didn’t wait for it to actually freeze, I did spread the cream cheese on the mozzarella.  But if I would have waited for it to freeze, I would have cut a chunk and put it inside with the mozzarella.

Fried Jalapenos with Cream Cheese

  • Then I took the peeler and carefully peeled pieces of the jalapeno skin off.  If you look carefully to the photo, you’ll see some of the skin is removed.

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • Next I dipped in the egg and bread crumb (though I used panko) mixture. 

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • Then I fried in vegetable oil.  If you had a real fryer, you could definitely use the grill skewers and put on the top to fry.   You can also bake them as those taste great too!

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • I fried normally, but it still worked (although it did goop out a little).

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • It was still excellent and good modifications.  I now can recommend this recipe!

___________________________________

So here are my ideas that might make this work better — I haven’t tried it yet though so don’t hold me to it!

  • Reverse the jalapeno so the outside is now the inside and the inside is now outside.  That gives it the texture  so the breading can hold on.  Don’t cut the bottom off, but cut the top off the same way you carve a pumpkin so the top can sit on top when frying — use an apple core to cut the top and de-seed the jalapeno. 
    • Or what about using wonton wrappers for the outside to seal it up and give the breading something to hold on to?  That might work too!
  • Use a chunk of cheese (e.g. provolone) to put on the inside, not shredded cheese — some recommended using cream cheese too and that sounds like that would be good.
  • Seal it up with toothpicks.
  • When it’s ready for frying, use grill skewers and put through the tops of the jalapenos so that you can dip the majority of the jalapeno into the hot oil. 

I love french fries.  They’re right up there with chocolate for me.  Fries?  Yes please!  But they’re so not healthy…

So here’s my attempt to make them a little healthier:

  • 2 Russet potatoes, cleaned and cut into wedges (slice in half long way, then half the half again, then those in half again)
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary coarsely chopped
  • 1 /2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp minced onions
  • 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400.  BTW, make sure to clean those potatoes — check out the before and after photo! 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges

Then coat the potato wedges very well in the vegetable oil.  Mix the other ingredients (rosemary, garlic powder, onions, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs) in a separate bowl.  Now put the potato wedges (making sure they’re not touching) on aluminum foil on a baking sheet (or I used my cast iron skillet). 

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Potato Wedges

Bake for 20 minutes and then flip.  Then bake for another 20 minutes or until they’re crispy.

Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges  Homemade Oven Fried Potato Wedges

Enjoy!

I’ve been to Oceanaire a few times.  The first time it was for lunch and it was packed.  The most recent time, I went for dinner during the weekday at a peak dinner hour and there weren’t a lot of people there. 

  • Food: I went with a couple of folks who are all for eating and sharing. So we decided to order multiple plates to pass and share.  Their crab cakes are delicious because they use very little bread crumbs to keep it together.  So you’re getting a lot of crab meat (unlike some places!).  We also ordered the grilled calamari which was drenched in a very sweet pineapple sauce — not my favorite.  The oysters Rockefeller were OK, but not fantastic.  We also had escargot which were fine.  The best part of the meal?  The hash browns which were phenomenal because they were so crispy! 
  • Service: If I have a pet peeve about waitstaff, it’s to not be pushy.  When a friend was trying to determine what kind of wine, our server recommended the most expensive bottle of wine.  Now I know that servers depend on tips for their income, but seriously.  That’s when I said we’ll take a couple of minutes to take a look and we all commented on her recommendation.  Then I mentioned a story I read in the WSJ stating that at fine restaurants like this one, even the “cheapest” wine they serve is going to be good so there’s no shame in ordering it (not that you should be ashamed to order it anyway — it’s on their menu!). 
  • Atmosphere: It’s quite a large restaurant with several private dining rooms.  The interior has a nautical theme with medium-dark wood.  It’s also very brightly light.  On every table is a bucket for shells, Old Bay seasoning, and other seafood accoutrements.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: While I’ve been here a few times, I don’t feel the need to go back.  I think I’ve ordered their specialities and have tried their “unique” offerings.  While I know the fish changes regularly, I don’t have a sense that anything else changes.  There’s too many other great seafood restaurants in DC that do great (and sometimes surprising) things with fish.  But this is a good place to go with clients, especially since they have the private rooms. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri lunch 11:30 AM-5 PM; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5 PM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5 PM-11 PM; Sun 5 PM-9 PM
  • Address: 1201 F Street NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-347-2277

While there is construction occurring around Cafe Soleil, they are still open.  However, I think their outside seating is no longer being offered until the construction is completed.

  • Food:First of all, their online menu and what they offer is different.  I really wanted to order their seafood linguine, but it wasn’t available.  Once my friend and I sat down, they came around with a huge basket of rolls and they cover it up, which makes one think it’s going to be hot rolls.  They’re not.  They’re cold.  Anyway, we then ordered their fried calamari.  It was lightly breaded so that made it good.  The menu said it was coming with tartar sauce, but it was more of an aoili I think.  I ordered the lamb burger and it had a great meat-to-bun ratio.  Plus, the bun was perfectly grilled.  Despite it’s messiness, it was delicious.  There was a little too much cheese for me (overpowered the lamb a little), but it was good.  I liked it.  The sweet potato fries were crispy, but they were cold.  If they would have been hot, it would have been great.  Also, they served it with ketchup but that overpowered the sweet potato fries flavor.  I would serve it with some other sauce.  Then we shared the chocolate molten cake which was good.  It wasn’t too sweet and full of dark chocolate goodness.
  • Service: To put it bluntly, it was horrible.  Despite the near empty restaurant, the servers were absent.  We waited for what felt like forever to get a wine list and then to order our wine.  When we said we would order our food too, the guy said he’d bring our server over.  When the server finally came back to take our dinner order, we never saw him again until our plates had been cleared and we were looking around to grab the dessert menu.  Seriously not good. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s actually bigger than it seems with a lot of seating in the back.  They’ve got a small bar with about 10-12 seats. 
  • Attire: Business casual/casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I probably won’t run to go back due to their dismal service.  But I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to eating their food again.  At the end of the day though for me, service is a huge reason why I go back to any restaurant so even if they had the best food in the world, bad service isn’t worth it. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday – Friday 7:00am – 10:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 8:00am – 10:00pm
  • Address: 836 17th Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-974-4260

My love for Korean food continues, but I haven’t found a good sit-down restaurant in DC yet.  Now while I love the Korean cart and Adam Express, neither has real sit-down capabilities.  So when I found out Yee Hwa was in DC and had some good reviews, I was hopeful.  

  • Food:  One of the things I love about Korean food is the banchan.  Now since I went at a dinner, I was expecting more than we were given, but it was still good.  For the main, I ordered vegetable bibim bap — which was pretty good (not as good as Heebeen or Woo Lae Oak) because the egg was too cooked so the rice couldn’t get crunchy.  They charge an extra dollar for the claypot, but it’s definitely worth it (although am bummed they did that).  At the end of our meal, they provided a small cup of cold tea with honey, ginger, and cinnamon (and other spices?).

Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Vegetable Bibimbap

  • Service: Our server was very nice, although a little absent. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s a decent sized restaurant and has 40-50 tables.  The booths though need to be redone because where I was sitting, the springs were poking out. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: When you can’t get out to Virginia and want a sit-down Korean restaurant, this place is the closest I’ve found in DC to good Korean.  I’d definitely go back again and try some of their other dishes!

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm Sat noon – 10 pm Sun noon – 9:30 pm
  • Address: 1009 21st St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-1244

It had been more than a year since I had last gone here, but I just went back again.  For a good year and change, no one could talk to me about Rasika without me talking about their popcorn.  Have you had it?  It’s an amazing combination of spices, sweet, salty, spicy — it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s truly like nothing you’ve ever had before. 

  • Food:I went with a friend and we were there in time for their pre-theater menu (I think it’s from 5:30-6:30 PM and $30).  We ordered the calamari chili garlic which was not fried, but sauteed and absolutely delicious.  Then we also ordered the seekh kebab which was spicy with fantastic flavor.  For the entree, w ordered the tandoori salmon which was sweet with a hint of cardamon. 

That’s right — I ordered cardamon.  Here’s what I’ve figured — I don’t know like it when it’s overpowering which is what happens in a lot of Indian restaurants.  Not at Rasika.  It’s perfect. 

I ordered the lamb pistta korma and the sauce was phenomenal while the lamb was moist, tender and awesome.  For dessert, it was the gulab jamun.  It’s 2 dumplings with honey drizzled and super sweet with cardamon ice cream.  The carrot pudding with cinnamon sabayon was shredded carrots, cashews, raisins missed together with the sabayon holding it together.  It reminded me a bit like a carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting.

  • Service: Our server was incredibly nice and was helpful with telling us what was in some of the entrees.  Great servers! 
  • Atmosphere: There is a small bar with only 10-12 stools, but there’s also 7-10 small tables and chairs in the bar.  Then there are two main dining room areas.  With dim lighting and comfortable Indian-inspired interior, it’s an impressive restaurant to take anyone.  But it does get loud and cozy, so don’t go if you need to talk about anything you want to keep quiet!
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I love Rasika and I think I could eat here every week.  The food is always good and the popcorn is insanely unique.  I have to get that recipe! 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm, Fri 5:30-11 pm, Sat 5-11pm, Closed Sun
  • Address: 633 D St, NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-637-1222

While I’ve been to Iron Gate tons of times, but never ventured across the street to Tabard Inn — until recently.

  • Food: They offer a bread basket with a few different types of bread.  I tried the kalamata olive bread and it was pretty good.  I ordered the fried catfish tacos with house-made tortillas, jicama salad, refried beans, mango salsa.  Instead of the jicama salad, they put a huge scoop of guacamole.  Now this was pretty good stuff with big chunks of avocado (although not as good as mine…).  While the fish wasn’t crispy, the coleslaw-type topping (cabbage and carrots without mayo) was delicious.  The black beans were over-salted though.
  • Service: Our server was nice and my ice tea was refilled when needed.  Good stuff.
  • Atmosphere: If Iron Gate is the perfect place to go in the summer, Tabard Inn is the great place go to in the winter.  With fireplaces all over the restaurant and inn, it would seem like it’s a bit like Russia House.  But to be honest, I think Tabard Inn would be even better than Iron Gate for the summer too because they have a decent sized porch with 10-15 tables and a huge mesh cover for the top that helps shield the sun (photos here).  With hardwood floors,  low ceilings, and a comfortable bar — it seems almost like you’re in a person’s house. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: With a decent menu and a good atmosphere, this is a fun place to go.  I’d gladly go back to try other items.

Details:

  • Reservations recommended (although they keep a few tables open for walk-ins)
  • Hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri 7 AM-10 AM, Sat 8 AM-9:45 AM, Sun 8 AM-9:15 AM; Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Dinner Sun-Thurs 6 PM-9:30 PM, Fri & Sat 6 PM-10 PM; Brunch Sat 11 AM-2:30 PM, Sun 10:30 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1739 N Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-2668

When I went to the grocery store last weekend, I happen to be in the spice aisle and noticed they sold a guacamole spice packet.  There’s no need!  Here’s a very simple and authentic guacamole recipe. 

Now when I say authentic, I had invited a couple of friends over for fajitas and beer.  I happened to make this recipe and one of my friends who was born and raised in Mexico, said it’s the closest thing she’s had that tastes like her mom’s recipe.  Wow.

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 super firm medium tomato (or 1 seeded tomato)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Put the first 4 ingredients in a blender until chopped.  Then add the tomato and avocado. 

To get the good stuff out of a avocado, cut in half.  Then take a spoon and scoop.  To move the pit, carefully take your knife and hit the pit.  It’ll get stuck and then turn slightly.  Now you have the pit stuck to your knife.  Keep the pit — it’s part of the trick to preventing guacamole turning brown! 

Now chop the tomato and avocado with the other ingredients.  I like to leave some chunks so I don’t put them in the blender for long.  Taste it to see how much salt to add, but be careful to not add too much! 

Serve, but if you find you have leftovers, make sure to put into a plastic container.  Put the pit in the middle and cover the guacamole (so there’s no air remaining) with plastic wrap.  It’ll stay good in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Homemade Guacamole  Homemade Guacamole  Homemade Guacamole

Seriously, I think you’ll love this guacamole.  And yes, I forgot to buy a red onion at the store so I had to settle for the yellow onion.  While it works, red onion is definitely better.

So I accidently participated in Summer 2008 Restaurant Week.  Let me explain.  I think RW, when it first started, was a lot of fun. It was exciting and people — from the waitstaff to the restaurants to the attendees — enjoyed it.  After my January 2008 experience, I decided I was done.  Some of the restaurants that participated offered such limited options; their waitstaff clearly hate this week; and it stopped being fun. 

That being said, I went to Grillfish.  It was a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, but it’s also pretty inexpensive if you go besides RW.  So whatever, it gave me a chance to try three different courses.  Unfortunately, when I went at 12:30, they had ran out of a lot of the options so choices were limited. 

  • Food:I ordered the fried calamari which was hot (temperature wise), but had the weirdest batter ever.  I can’t describe it.  It wasn’t right at all for calamari.  The tomato sauce they included wasn’t complimentary to calamari (with a couple of new spices added, it would have been better over meatballs and pasta) and had too many large tomato chunks that made it awkward to dip the calamari.  For my main course, I ordered the shrimp po boy which was such a disappointment I can’t even begin.  First of all, the shrimps were so tiny (alright, more small — they weren’t the canned stuff).  Then when I started to eat it, the sandwich was ice cold.  There was way too much mayo which overpowered the shrimp.  The fries were really crispy though and hot.  So cheers to them for serving some good fries.  Then I originally wanted to get their chocolate bomb cake, but they were out.  So I ordered their chocolate cake with ice cream.  Good cake, but nothing too memorable.
  • Service: Our server was fine. 
  • Atmosphere:The interior reminds me a little bit like Logan @ The Heights (and yes, I know it’s owned by the same restaurant group) with very high ceilings and a comfortable atmosphere.  They have giant chalkboards that list the various fishes of the day. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Hmm, not sure what I think of this place yet.  I definitely wouldn’t order what I had this time again, but would try some of their grilled fish.   

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4 PM-7 PM and Saturday and Sunday 5 PM-7 PM with half-priced appetizers and drink specials.   

Details:

  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 12 noon-4 PM; Dinner Sun 5 PM-10 PM, Mon-Thurs 4 PM-10 PM, Fri 4 PM-11 PM, Sat 5 PM-11 PM
  • Address: 1200 New Hampshire Ave NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 331-7310

First, let me just say that for the last five years, I thought I didn’t like Ethiopian food.  I had gone to this one restaurant twice and didn’t like it.  I thought I had tried it and it wasn’t for me.  I had been talking with a friend and we agreed we wanted to try Ethiopian — specifically, Etete.  Well, I used to not like it.  But then I went to Etete.  I love it!  Here’s their menu.

  • Food: First, we ordered Sambusa with lentil.  This was delicious!  The fried pastry was hot (temperature and spice).  I can’t remember exactly what the title of what I ordered was, but it was the spicy lamb while my friend ordered the spicy beef.  My lamb was awesome.  It was tender and spicy.  The beef was good, but I definitely think I ordered the best!  On the side, were given sauted cabbage (in butter?) with carrots which was yummy.   Then there was a plain iceberg salad with tomatoes and lots of oil.  I ordered an ice tea which had a strong but yummy nutmeg and cinnamon flavor and smell.   And here’s the shocker — it also had cardamon but I liked it.  BTW, I’ve been here twice with the same friend.  We still ordered the sambusa but changed our main entree.   I ordered the Etete Kitfo with minced meat and it had a sutle but good kick.  I really liked it.  My friend ordered the vegetarian Goman and it was good. 
  • Service:  Despite the fact the restaurant wasn’t busy, our server was frequently MIA.  We had to find her to ask for a refill on water and get another round of beer.
  • Atmosphere: Inside it’s very comfortable and cozy.  Be prepared to have neighbors listen to your conversation — at least we did!  Seriously, they didn’t talk to each other at all during their meal.  Instead, they listened to our conversation.  Funny.  The downstairs has a bar with 10 stools and there’s a few tall tables and stools as well.  There’s a wall of wooden bench seats which are higher than the chairs.  So if you’re sitting  in a chair, you’re going to be shorter than the person on the wooden bench.  Photo gallery is here.  Upstairs there’s more seating, another bar, and another bathroom.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Can you tell I ws surprised to love Etete?  I talked to my friend post-dinner a few days later and we concurred that we must go back and soon!  I’m starting to have a serious craving for Ethiopian.  Etete is absolutely one of the best Ethiopian restaurants — if not THE best.  It changed my opinion of Ethiopian food!

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 11 AM-1 AM
  • Address: 1942 9th St NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: (202) 232-7600

So another friend is leaving the city and so we went out for a last DC meal.  Now she has promised she’s coming back to the city and I am going to visit her, so that will work out.  But it still stinks.

Anyway, we were feeling indifferent on where to go and so she picked Rumba Cafe.

  • Food: We ordered an appetizer to split — the Arepa de Carne Flour corn cake with mild beef stew.  It was pretty good.  My friend ordered the Ropa vieja shredded beef stew with a huge yellow plantain, and rice and beans.  The beef was tender and had good flavor.  I ordered the Mero entomatado which is a filet of Red Snapper with garlic, bell pepper, red onion, tomato, and white wine.  I thought my meal didn’t have a lot of flavor. 
  • Service: The servers have a tendency to hoover around the tables, but they are very nice.
  • Atmosphere: There are 8 very closely put together tables outside, but it is nice place for a leisurely meal.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: While the food was decent, I thought it was a bit more expensive than necessary.  There are lots of other yummy Latin American restaurants I’d rather drop $30-40/person. 

Details:

  • Hours: Restaurant Mon-Fri 5 PM-12 midnight; Sat & Sun 11 AM-12 midnight; Weekend Brunch 11 AM-4 PM; Bar Mon-Thurs 5 PM-2 AM; Fri 5 PM-3 AM; Sat 11 AM-3 AM; Sun 11 AM-2 AM 
  • Address: 2443 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 588-5501

I continue with my quest for finding great Thai in DC.  To be honest, so far, it’s been a bleak with a few bright beacons.  Anyway, I finally tried Thai Kingdom (menu is on their Web site).

  • Food: Surprise, I ordered Pad Thai (no peanuts and medium spice).  I also ordered the squid salad.  I think I’m going to stop ordering squid salad at Thai places because it seems that all squid salads use cardamon.  While their salad was totally different from Pasara, I think I liked Pasara’s better.  The Pad Thai had a lot more veggies included than I’m used to and I liked it.  There was a good amount of heat and flavor.  There was more grease than I like to see in my Pad Thai, but I did like it. 

Thai Kingdom Squid Yum  Thai Kingdom Pad Thai  Thai Kingdom Pad Thai

  • Service: I ordered to go, but I do applaud them for including chopsticks! 
  • Atmosphere: Inside there’s a lot of decoration.  When you walk in, on your right is an elevated (only by a foot or so) platform with a wall that’s all window so it makes the restaurant seem much bigger.  There’s about 10-15 tables.  Then on the main floor, there’s another 20-25 tables so it is a big restaurant.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If you’re looking for a casual and comfortable dining atmosphere, I’d check it out.  It’s decent Thai at a good price. 

Details:

  • Reservations are unnecessary
  • Address: 2021 K Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30 PM; Dinner Mon-Thur 5-10:30 PM; Dinner Fri 5-11 PM; Sat 12 noon-11 PM; Sun 12 noon-10 PM;  
  • Ph: 202-835-1700

I was excited to see the Golden Triangle was getting a new Thai restaurant, Pasara.  Pasara has a restaurant in Alexandria, but as we all know, I rarely get out to NoVA (or Maryland).

  • Food: I ordered their grilled calamari salad and pad thai with tofu (and no peanuts).  First, the calamari salad had some great heat.  It was a bit heavy on the seasoning and I think there was some cardamom in there too.  So I wasn’t completely in love with the salad.  Now to the pad thai.  It was good because of the hot (temperature) but not spicy at all (my fault, forgot to ask for the heat!).  However, it was a bit greasy — you could tell see the grease on the plastic fork they gave me (no chopsticks – boo). 

Pasara Grilled Calamari Salad  Pasara Grilled Calamari Salad  Pasara Pad Thai Tofu

  •  Service: I ordered to go.
  • Atmosphere: When you walk in, their entrance isn’t big (shockingly small actually) which is forgiveable since they offer so much seating.  There are two stories with the 2nd floor overlooking the 1st floor.  While there’s a lot of seating, it’s not too squished.  On the right hand side, you’ll see 12-16 stool bars on the right hand side.  The interior is beautifully arranged and designed.  It’s a medium dark wood interior with great accent pieces throughout the restaurant.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Overall, I am glad Pasara moved into the Golden Triangle.  It’s another good dining option in the area.  At the same time, there’s too much grease for me on their Pad Thai.  Now that I know how to make it, I don’t understand the grease.  Also, here’s the menu

Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu

Details:

  • Hours: Sat & Sun 12 noon-10 PM; Mon-Fri 11 AM-10 PM
  • Address:1219 Connecticut Ave NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 223-3777

I have always talked about wanting to go to Bar Louie (menu here) and just went after seeing the Sex and the City movie.  I didn’t realize, until just now, that it’s a bit of a chain!

  • Food:I ordered the Baja fish tacos which were pretty good.  The fish was seasoned very well (and not fried, yay!).  The only reason it got a “pretty good” is because the flour tortillas were soggy from the mango salad so it made eating the tacos quite difficult.  However, the mango salsa (with tomato and cilantro) was excellent.  The guacamole was decent.  We also ordered their tater tots after the bartender said that Bar Louie is famous for ’em.  The same friend who went with me to Bar Louie was with me at Tonic and we concurred that the tots weren’t as good as Tonic because they were cold and not as crispy.  My friend ordered the buffalo chicken and apparently, her food was also cold. 
  • Service: Our bartender was a little slow on the service and obviously the kitchen wasn’t exactly on it’s A game.  
  • Atmosphere:It’s very spacious and has nice outdoor seating.  It’d be a great place to go with a bunch of friends for a casual night or to watch a game.  Wow, I almost forgot to share.  Their bathroom, when we were there, clearly had a MAJOR problem.  It smelled so badly — I’m sure a back-up happened, but they should really put up a sign or something.  It was foul. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If you want to meet up with a bunch of friends in Chinatown/Penn Quarter area, I think this is a great alternative to Clyde’s for a few beers and watch a game.  Their food is a bit of a “hit and miss,” but definitely try those fish tacos (but ask for the flour tortillas on the side or something).  I’ll go back and might try those sliders…I do love mini-burgers!

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 11 AM-2 AM
  • Address: 701 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-638-2460

Brasserie Beck.  I was supposed to go a couple of different times but things kept happening that prevented my visit.  I finally made it with a couple of friends. 

On a total personal side note, both of my food-loving friends (who are always up to try new places and cuisine) are leaving DC!  Ugh, it’s so depressing when cool, fun people leave this city.  Damn.  Now who am I going to go out to dinner with? 

  • Food:The bread they sit in front of you when you first sit down was crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  The butter was so incredibly rich and smooth.  Wow.  Outstanding!  Huge statement is about to be made — I think their mussels and frites are the best in town.  The frites were incredibly crispy with three sauces — aioli, curry, and tomato.  The mussels were hot (temperature wise) and so good.  As my friend pointed out though, there were a few that were a bit gritty, but it is so hard to get all the grit out.  I’m kinda used to it by now.  I also loved taking chunks of the bread and dipping into the mussels sauce.  Yum.  My friends ordered the chicken waterzooi and beef carbonnade.  Both were good, but neither one were better than my mussels! 
  • Service: Our server was really rather irritating to be quite honest.  I’m going to be nice and say that she was perhaps having a bad day, but she was very much “off her game” the evening we went.  She was absent when we needed her and rarely checked in to see how things were going.  Although when she did check in, it was two seconds after our food was delivered so we had yet to try the food.  Yeah, definitely bad timing!
  • Atmosphere:They have huge outdoor patio and while there’s little atmosphere outside (lots of concrete), it’s another restaurant that offers outdoor seating (yay).  We sat inside and the tables are smooshed together so it is a bit crowded.  But it is a relaxed atmosphere so I like it.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$/$$
  • Overall:While Belgian food isn’t my favorite, I loved Brasserie Beck’s mussels and frites.  I would absolutely go again.  And make sure to read the comments below — thanks to Ralph who reminded me about their vast beer offerings.  Here’s a link to their beer menu

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-5 PM; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5-11 PM and Fri & Sat 5 PM-11:30 PM; Brunch Sundays 11:30AM-8 PPM
  • Address: 1101 K St, NW, Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 202-408-1717

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