breakfast


Variety Deli opened up several months ago, but I never went…until recently.  Here are photos of their menu. 

Breakfast menu:

Variety Deli Breakfast Menu  Variety Deli Breakfast Menu

Lunch and Dinner menu:  

Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu 

  • Food: I ordered the New Yorker sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw on perfectly toasted rye.  While I know that may sound crazy, I’ve found a lot of restaurants don’t let the bread actually toast until it’s light brown.  Instead, they figure if it’s gone through the toaster it’s “toasted.” 

Variety Deli New Yorker Sandwich

  • Atmosphere: The interior is fun with red walls and white tables and chairs.  In the back of the deli, there’s mirrors so the place seem a bit bigger than reality. 
  • Service: The woman behind the counter was very nice and was fast when she was making my sandwich. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: For a quick sandwich, it’s a good spot. 

Details:

  • Hours: 7 AM-9 PM Mon-Thurs; 7 AM-10:30 PM Fri-Sat; 12 noon-7 PM Sun
  • Address: 2120 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-234-3354

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

For five years (since I moved to DC), I had been meaning to go to Super Tacos & Bakery (formerly Tacos Pepitos Bakery II).  But when I would go, they’d run out of meat for the sandwiches.  I finally made it early enough to be able to order their sandwiches.  BTW, here’s some of their menu — the rest can be found here

Super Tacos & Bakery  Super Tacos & Bakery  Cuban Sandwich  Super Tacos & Bakery Sandwich Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Sandwich Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Sandwich Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Combo Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Combo Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Combo Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Tacos Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Burrito Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Fries and Tamale Menu  Super Tacos & Bakery Breakfast Menu

  • Food:I ordered two — the Cubano (photo on the left) and Carnitas (photo on the right).  The sandwiches are absolutely enormous and I didn’t even order the large.  For $7, they are some of the best deals .  There’s fresh tomatoes and avocado — yum.  For me, there were 4 meals — 1/2  a sandwich is definitely enough! 

Super Tacos & Bakery Cubana Sandwich  Super Tacos & Bakery Carnitas Sandwich

  • Service: While Spanish is the predominant language spoken, they do understand English. 
  • Atmosphere: There’s only a few (4-5) stools inside and a couple of tables and stools outside (when it’s nice) so eating in isn’t really an option.  On the right, there’s a huge wooden cabinet full of baked items. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: For those days you’re feeling poor, I’d definitely go here and get a couple of sandwiches for a grand total of $15.40 (tax included).  The good news is that they deliver for free (with a $10 minimum) so anyone who lives in the area can get their fantastic food!  I think next time I’ll try their tacos. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Thu 8 am-10 pm; Fri-Sat 8 am-11 pm; Sun 8 am-10 pm
  • Address: 1762 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-232-7121

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

Organic To Go has taken over downtown DC (or at least it seems).  This chain has come out of no where to suddenly seem as ubiquitous as Pot Belly or Cosi.  I had to check it out and see if there was substance to the hype. 

  • Food: I have to combine service, atmosphere, and food together for this one.  First of all, from their cafe menu, it appears they have a lot of great sandwiches.  However, what they don’t tell you is that more than half of them are actually pre-made.  I hate pre-made sandwiches so that immediately removed a number of the sandwiches.  To see what is available, you have to look at the limited list of sandwiches on the board (above the cash registers) and then there’s more sandwiches at the sandwich counter (but they’re not labeled so you don’t know what kind they are).  Now that you know what sandwiches are actually available and you determine which one you want, you then order at the register and pay.  Then your sandwich can be picked up at the counter.  Anyway, I finally figured out I wanted the turkey veggie (photo on the left) and my friend ordered the turkey pepper jack (photo on the right).  The turkey veggie was good.  But my friend’s description of the turkey pepper jack was awesome — she said it was greasy and tasted like McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  Strange and relieving I didn’t order it.  Oh, and they were doing inventory when I was there (at about 11:30 AM) — kinda strange to do it at that time.  

Organic to Go Turkey Veggie  Organic to Go Turkey Pepperjack

  • Service: The cashier people were nice, but the counter people were not, so I never did find out what was in the counter sandwich display.
  • Atmosphere: See “food” section above.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I have to wonder if they thought the fast expansion through.  For being a chain with multiple stores in multiple cities, it seems they grew too fast and didn’t take the time to make sure they could actually make the food correctly.  Plus, they had a sign when I was there that said they were no longer making pizza since they couldn’t guarantee uniformity with corporate.  Before they open up any more stores, I’d suggest first streamlining the ordering process and making it clear which sandwiches are available freshly made versus pre-made.  Then we can talk about what exactly is in that turkey pepper jack that makes it taste like a Sausage McMuffin…

Details:

  • Hours: M-F / 6:30AM – 4:00PM
  • Address: 927 15th Street NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 800-304-4550

You’re going to be mad at me when I say this…but the first time I went to the Greek Deli, I wasn’t a fan.  But my office neighbor said that I had to go back and try it again, so I agreed.  Their menu can be downloaded here.

  • Food: Before I tell you what I ordered, I want to tell you what my office neighbor ordered because it looked SO good (and she said it really was).  She ordered the meatballs in this cream-like sauce.  The meatballs were the size of baseballs (alright, a little smaller but not much smaller!).  I went on the safe side and ordered the chicken gyro.  First, the bad.  The chicken was dry.  But there was enough feta cheese that made it juicy but the cheese was very thick so there was no dripping.  There was an abundance of dill and that added a great flavor to the gyro that most Greek places don’t add.  This was one of the better chicken gyros I’ve had in DC.

Greek Deli Chicken Gyro  Greek Deli Chicken Gyro  Greek Deli Chicken Gyro

  • Service:The line, when you go at 12 noon (or anytime after), is out the door and a quarter of a mile.  It’s crazy.  But what I love is you can tell they know and remember their regulars.  The chef, Kostas Fostieris, is always at the front and is the one who assembles your meals. 
  • Atmosphere: With Greek food items on either side of the line, the restaurant isn’t very big.  You order and pay with the cashier.  To try to help speed up the line, once you’ve paid and ordered, move to the left.  You can eat outside, but there’s not a lot of tables so most people just grab and go. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I’ll definitely go back and branch out to other items.  But seriously, I’ll only go before 12 noon so I miss the line.   

Details:

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 7am-4pm; Closed on Saturday and Sunday
  • Address: 1120 19th Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 296-2111

If you’re like me, you find that when you step outside for lunch from your office, you find you go to the same spots.  So thanks to this blog, I’ve been going to new places all the time.  The Brown Bag is another one of those new spots.

  • Food:I ordered the Love at 1st Bite sandwich.  There is some mayo on this tuna sandwich, but not a lot so it worked for me (and we all know I hate mayo!).  There’s a perfect combination of onion to tuna to lettuce.  The multi-grain bread is fresh, but it might be even better if they toasted it.  My only complaint is that I would have liked to see more tomato.  I bet next time, if I ask, they’ll put more on.  Sweet.

The Brown Bag Love at First Bite

  • Service:It’s merged with the atmosphere information, but basically, you never have to talk to anyone.  You can also customize your sandwich and unless you have horrible writing, you’ll get exactly what you asked for without worrying the person behind the counter misunderstood.  I like the fact you can order it online too. 
  • Atmosphere:Inside it’s cute with three different lines — one for salads, noodles, and sandwiches.  They also have a bunch of pre-made items in the front cooler.  When you walk in, determine which you’re going to order.  Then they have the laminated order cards and you circle which item you want.  There are 10-15 tables inside in the front of the restaurant.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:It’s a good sandwich place and I was shocked that I liked their tuna salad sandwich.  The shock comes because I hate mayo and normally don’t order tuna salad out because of the mayo.  I know you’re going to laugh, but I didn’t realize it was tuna salad — I thought it was just going to be albacore tuna.  I’ve never tried their pasta (has anyone else?), but would go back. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 AM-3:30 PM
  • Address: 818 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202-293-0092

I love The Diner.  It’s like those old jeans that are perfectly broken in.  It might not be fancy, but it’s just good and you know what you’re going to get at all times.  So imagine my joy when they opened Open City.  Oddly enough though, I hadn’t gone until just recently.

  • Food:I ordered the chorizo scramble which was pretty good.  There was lots of chorizo in the eggs.  The hash browns were shredded and I was bummed because they weren’t crispy.  But they did have good flavor.  And the coffee they served was in the big cappuccino mugs, like what they serve at Tryst.  I wonder why they don’t do that at The Diner.
  • Service: Our server was fine, but like The Diner, they’re a bit scattered.  Sometimes you get a refill on coffee, sometimes you don’t. 
  • Atmosphere:They have horrible acoustics so don’t go with a low talker!  It’s really loud and I kept having to ask, “What” when I was trying to talk with my friend. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Unlike The Diner, Open City has outdoor seating which is really nice.  But Open City has more options than the standard breakfast and that makes me a fan.  Plus, I love the big mugs of coffee.  Like The Diner, expect a line on the weekends!  But here’s a tip — if you get there before 10 AM, your wait won’t be too long.

Details:

  • Reservations not accepted.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 6 am – midnight Sat-Sun 6 am – 1 am
  • Address: 2331 Calvert Street NW; Washington, DC 20008
  • Ph: 202-332-2331

Yes, I made out to Virginia!  I was putzing one day and was surprised when I found myself at Seven Corners.  But also so happy because I knew I was in store for outstanding pho!  I decided to go to Eden Center and I wandered into Pho Xe  Lua.

  • Food: They only serve pho but I ordered my standard — Tai pho and an iced tea.  The beef was raw and so paper thin it was awesome.  I slurped my way through the meal and I was contemplating getting a second bowl for the next day.  It was delicious and it’s my favorite bowl of pho so far!

Pho Xe Lua Large Tai Pho  Pho Xe Lua

UPDATE 10/2008: I went again but ordered it to go.  This time, they had ngo gai — Asian cilantro that’s prickly with a kick and awesome.   This is still my favorite pho place…

Pho Xe Lua To Go Pho  Pho Xe Lua To Go Pho

  • Service: There is an older guy who seated me, took my order, and ran the cash register.  There was an older woman walking around as well and a busboy.  They leave you alone to linger as long as you’d like, but this also means they’re not stopping by constantly to refill your soda or ice tea glass. 
  • Atmosphere: There’s 15-20 tables and the interior won’t impress anyone.  When I first sat down, it wasn’t busy but by the time I left, it was almost completely packed.  And in the corner, there was a table of men playing some sort of domino-type game. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Bring your cash because it’s cash-only!  The large bowl of pho and ice tea was about $11, but it was seriously amazing.  I can’t wait to go back!

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 7:30am- 8:00pm
  • Address:Eden Center; 6755-A Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: 703-533-3130

I was originally planning on going to somewhere on M Street for lunch, but when I saw the tables both inside and outside of California Grill packed, I had to try it.  And of course, watch out because there’s a California Grill on Vermont Ave too!

 

  • Food:I ordered their special, the beef burrito, which was pre-made.  I rarely order anything that’s pre-made and I was reminded why.  You can see the photo for yourself.  I can’t lie — it was horrible.  The salsa was really sweet and had this weird tang.  The beef was hard and overcooked.  The rice was also overcooked.  While it may have been $5, I would have much rather eat a $5 from the new burrito cart guy.  So since I had such a dismal experience the first time, I had to go back and try it again.  This time, I ordered their turkey Reuben and while it was good, I think So’s Your Mom is better.

California Grill Beef Burrito  California Grill Beef Burrito  California Grill Beef Burrito 

California Grill Turkey Reuben  California Grill Turkey Reuben

  • Service:They are really nice.  Depending on what you want to order (salad, sandwich, pre-made, etc.), you order from the guy behind the right sign at the counter. 
  • Atmosphere: Inside it reminds me a bit of a Wendy’s (I think — it’s been so long since I’ve been in one!) with their light wood panels.  It’s a pretty big restaurant so they have a lot of seating inside.  They also have 4-6 tables outside. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: If your office is super close, I can see going here a lot since they are so nice and they serve decent sandwiches.  For the days you’re in a rush, they can make your sandwich and get you out in less than 10 minutes which is great. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 6 AM-4:30 PM; Sat 7 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1720 M Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-463-4200

I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been to The Diner.  I usually go for breakfast, but have been a couple of times for lunch/dinner. 

  • Food:I usually order some variation of the eggs, home fries, and toast with a side of coffee and hot sauce.  They have always cooked the eggs perfectly, but if I get the poached eggs, sometimes there’s a bit too much vinegar in their water.  If they serve you the hot and crispy home fries — delicious!  I’ve also had their pancakes, Croque Madame, and multiple omelets.  All good, diner-esque food. 
  • Service: The service can definitely be spotty.  Some of the waitstaff are really good and others, not so much.  I am judging this on how often they come by for refills on coffee. 
  • Atmosphere:It’s a pretty big restaurant, but it’s almost always busy.  You usually see a mixture of the neighborhood eating here — cops, recent college grads, families — everyone is here.  It is also really loud so be prepared to say “What” or to talk louder.  Bad acoustics. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:The Diner is open 24/7 and it’s clear that they definitely fulfill a niche in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.  They serve solid diner food at a good price.  They also have a liquor license. If you want to avoid the lines on Saturdays and Sundays, go before 10!  Otherwise, be prepared to wait!

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: 2453 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-232-8800

In the five years that I’ve lived in DC, it seems Pot Belly has taken over the town.  Yes, I know, it’s a bit like a chain…but it’s sometimes incredibly convenient/easy for me to go sometimes when it’s late at the office and grab dinner. 

 

  • Food: I’ve ordered a lot of food at Pot Belly, but my standard is their turkey on wheat (photo on the left).  It’s toasted (like Quizno’s) and they have some good topping options.  Their hot peppers are soaked in oil which makes the sandwich greasy (boo).  They’ve recently added salads to their menu and I tried their Italian salad with non-fat vinaigrette dressing (photo on the right).  It has this great sweet tang to it and didn’t taste non-fat.  The croutons, which I am betting were homemade (what else are they going to do with all that stale bread?), were a little soggy, but well seasoned.  

Pot Belly Turkey Sandwich  Pot Belly Italian Salad

  • Service: They’re definitely efficient.  Whenever you see the line snake outside the door, it’s a little shocking.  But they are quick and even with that kind of a line, you can usually get your sandwich in under 20 minutes.
  • Atmosphere: They have live music during the lunch hour which can be fun. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Overall: It’s good food at a good price.  While they no longer offer their $3.29 sandwiches (they’re now $4.19), it’s still a good deal.  The salads are a bit more (like $5.29), but they are yummy and quite filling.  Also, when I feel the need to splurge, there’s nothing like their Oreo shake. 

Details:

  • Hours/Address/Ph: To find the local one near you, click here.

The evening started out rough when we went to Hudson and no one waited on my friend and me.  We were both dressed business casual (coming straight from the office) yet NO ONE WAITED ON US.  We sat there for 15 minutes and nothing.  And in case you’re thinking, “Well, they were busy/short-staffed.”  No, there were about 5-9 employees who stood/sat there and only about 10 total people in the entire restaurant.  Wow. 

So then we decided to go to M Street Bar & Grill

The food was uninspired, yet we ordered a lot of it! We tried the prosciutto crisps, Angus sliders, bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits, mini pulled pork sandwiches, and handcut fries.  The winner out of the bunch was definitely the pulled pork because there was a little heat and balanced well with the sweetness from the BBQ sauce.  The burgers were dry and flavorless (and too much bun to meat ratio).  The fries were soggy.  There are too many problems to mention with the prosciutto crisps.

But the reason I’m writing about this place is because they have a pretty good happy hour.  It’s $19 for a pitcher of house mojitos or margaritas from 5-8 PM.  Now that’s a good deal! They also have beer and house wine on special.  On Wednesday nights, they have 1/2 priced wine with dinner.  Thursdays are live jazz nights from 6-9 PM. 

This is a good place to go for a few drinks with friends because you can talk (and hear) each other.  Although there were points throughout our evening where we realized the music was too loud, which we wouldn’t have noticed as much except they have a bad stereo system so it was rather annoying.

Details:

  • Hours: Breakfast – Monday – Friday: 6:30am – 10:30am, Saturday & Sunday: 7:30am – 10:30am; Brunch: Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm; 21 M lounge: Open For Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM Cocktails Mon-Sat 5 PM- Closing
  • Address: 2033 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 530-3621

My quest for the best pho (easily accessible by metro) continues.  So I thought I’d try Pho 75 (after hearing so much about the place!).

  • Food: When I ordered the tai bowl of pho to go, I asked if I could get the beef raw.  I was told that they never serve raw beef (boo!).  Once I got home, I opened the bag of sides they gave me which included jalapenos, bean sprouts, basil leaves, and a lime wedge.  Then they also had a small take out container of rice noodles with green onions and cilantro.  There was also a small container with a mixture of hoisin and sriracha sauce.  Since it took me a little bit to walk home, I opened the container of broth and put in the microwave for a few minutes.  I was disappointed I couldn’t smell any star anise like I could with Nam-Viet/Pho 79

Pho 75 Soup  Pho 75  Pho 75

UPDATE 8/2008– I went again and sat down to eat the bowl of pho tai.  They are incredibly speedy!  I liked it, but it’s not my favorite bowl…plus, is it just me or does it look greasier than the others?  For right now, it’s Pho Xe Lua.  I’d buy a car just to go there…

Pho 75 Tai Bowl

  • Service: I ordered to go (and was charged an extra $0.50 for it).  When you order to go, just go straight to the back counter to order and pay.  Also, they only accept cash so make sure you’re prepared!
  • Atmosphere: When you walk inside, there’s rows of tables and chairs so you’ll be eating family style.  The atmosphere will not impress anyone, but it’s simple.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Overall:I have to be honest — I didn’t like Pho 75 nearly as much as I did like Pho 79.  It was the broth’s lack of star anise flavor and the fact the beef was cooked.  I have heard the Pho 75 in Rosslyn is better so I’ll have to try that one out sometime.  BTW, when you take the metro, it’s about halfway between the Clarendon and Rosslyn metro stop.  I walked out the Clarendon metro and then walked downhill to catch the Rosslyn metro. 

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 9 am-8 pm
  • Address: 1721 Wilson Blvd; Arlington, VA 22209
  • Ph: (703) 525-7355

Across the street from Casa Blana is Vermont Village Cafe.  It kinda reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Babu Bhatt and his restaurant that offers a lot of different ethnic foods.  Some of their offerings can be found here.  They have a bigger menu at their restaurant (including breakfast). 

  • Food:I was in a meat mood and so I ordered a steak classic with cheese, onions, mushrooms, and tomato.  I asked for it on a wrap (no hoagie), skipped the mayo, and asked for jalapenos.  The beef was a little gristly and tough to cut with the chompers, but it was satisfying.  I think because it was a wrap and kind of looked like a burrito from the outside, I got a side of salsa and sour cream in my bag.  The salsa was a bit too sweet for my taste.

Vermont Village Cafe

  • Service: When you enter, the menu is on the right hand side of the wall.  Then you order from the guy at the register below the menu.  You grab your order and then go straight to the back to the second register and pay.  You’ll get a number and they call it out.  For folks who are dining in, they’ll bring it to you on a tray.
  • Atmosphere: They have a few outside tables as well as a nice inside dining section.  It has more charm than most cafes in the area, but it’s not going to wow anyone either. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I’d go back for lunch, but would order their chicken instead of the beef.  The burrito was filling and I thought it was pretty healthy.  Plus, it was very filling!

Details:

  • Hours: M-F 7a – 4p; Closed weekends
  • Address: 1025 Vermont Ave NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 393-3260

My friend was craving a Philly Steak sandwich but didn’t have a lot of time to run out for lunch so we decided to try out California Grill (when you click, there’s a link to the menu).  And careful because there’s a California Grill on M Street!

  • Food: I love turkey reubens like no one else so that’s what I ordered.  It was solid and decent food.  While we got it to go, the top of the bread was still toasted but the bottom was a bit soggy.  I ordered the fries (not a cole slaw person) but would definitely skip that next time.  They weren’t crispy.  But the turkey was really outstanding because it tasted like it was carved, not the shaved deli-stuff (which I like too!). 

California Grill Turkey Rueben

  • Service: I’m combining service and atmosphere here on this one.  When you walk in, the line is strange and confusing.  After a lot of questions, we finally figured it out.  When you want to order, you need to go to the counter (underneath the menu board) and order where you’ll get a tickete.  Then once your order is up, you’ll pick it up from the ledge.  Then you pay. 
  • Atmosphere: See above.  It’s definitely casual and it’s funny because directly acrosss from the cash register is their “back office” where they have their employee time clock, invoices, etc.  They do have a lot of seating, but there’s not a tremendous amount of ambiance. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I’ll go back because after the ~$6 sandwich, I didn’t eat dinner.  It was insanely filling.   

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 7 AM-4 PM; closed Sunday
  • Address: 1090 Vermont Ave NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 408-8484

Right across from City Place Cafe is Sunrise Cafe.  While they don’t have a menu available (just a big board when you walk in), they do offer a wide variety of options.  One day, maybe I’ll feel adventurous enough to take a photo.

  • Food: One of my favorite sandwiches is their chicken gyros ($6 includes tax) because the chicken is always moist, the pita bread is good, and they put enough feta to taste but not too much.  The sandwich while it seems it might be “drippy,” it never is!  And it’s really filling.

Sunrise Cafe Chicken Gyro

  • Service: They’re polite and pretty quick.  I can usually leave my office, get a sandwich and be back in my office in 15 minutes (or less).
  • Atmosphere: With a couple of outdoor tables and chairs and only 5 or 6 stools, this is definitely more of a “grab-and-go” kind of place.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: As an alternative to some of the other places, I’ve started to add this my list of rotating lunch places.  They offer frozen yogurt (hard yogurt, not soft serve) and ice cream; pizza pitas; gyros; burgers; deli sandwiches; etc.  Their prices are very reasonable and good portions.

Details:

  • Hours: 7:30 AM-maybe 2 or 4 PM (?) Monday-Friday
  • Address: 17th and L Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: Not known

As I mentioned, I’m in a poached egg mood and order it where ever I go.  But I felt like trying my hand at making them so I did and they turned out really well.

Poached Eggs Cooking  Poached Eggs

Using this guide, here’s how I did it:

  • Used room temperature eggs
  • Put 2 tsp of vinegar into the water and a little salt
  • Boiled the water then brought it down to a simmer (when there are only tiny bubbles that don’t break the surface)
  • Using a small bowl, gently put the egg into the water.  If you’re making two, then use two different bowls. 
  • Cover with a lid and turn off the heat.
  • For a medium-firm yolk, let it cook for 3 minutes. 
  • Remove with a spoon with a slit and make sure there’s no water.
  • Serve and enjoy!

After hearing so many great things about Blue Duck Tavern, I finally went. Why did it take me so long to go?

  • Food:I went with a client and thankfully, a cool client that’s into sharing! So we ordered their braised barbecue beef “long rib”, crab cakes, triple fried fries, and glazed baby carrots.  The fries were more like logs (like when you cut tofu into eighths). But they were still insanely crispy!  And readers, you know I don’t like thick fries but damn, these were so yummy! The crab cakes were definitely some of the best in town – full of crab with a little breadcrumbs to hold it all together.  You know, the way crab cakes are supposed to be made.  Plus, there was a remoulade sauce on the side that didn’t overwhelm.  The beef was insanely tender and fell off the bone so easily.  The barbecue sauce tasted like good, homemade sauce.  Now on to my favorite course, dessert.  We ordered the chocolate cake with a side of vanilla ice cream (had to order this separately).  Our waiter made the vanilla ice cream sound like it was mind blowing good – but it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong – the ice cream was good – rich, creamy vanilla, but it wasn’t earth shaking.  The chocolate cake wasn’t overly sweet and had a fantastic dark chocolate with a light rum flavor.  Yum. 
  • Service: Our server was nice, but a little pushy.
  • Atmosphere: It has a wide open feel and hundreds of people could easily be in the restaurant and you’d never know.  While they have a very open kitchen, the chefs/cooks are very quiet!  The interior has dark wood tables and chairs (and accent pieces on the walls), but the floor is very light and balances out nicely.  It’s comfortable and beautiful — definitely an impressive place to dine! 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: Here’s another restaurant that would easily impress even the toughest critics.  The food was cooked simply but so wonderfully!  Oh and don’t be surprised when you pull up to the Park Hyatt — this amazing restaurant is on the first floor of the hotel. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Breakfast in the Lounge: 6:30am – 10:30am; Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Weekend Brunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: 5:30pm – 10:30pm
  • Address: 1201 24th Street NW, Washington DC 20037
  • Ph: (202) 419-6755

I haven’t had pancakes in forever and one evening, I was hungry.  But I’m trying to be good so I decided to make them healthy — and so I made up a recipe.

Here it is:

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 all purpose flour
  • 6 tsp of baking powder (so they’re nice and fluffy!)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk
  • 9 TBSP of apricot sauce (I wanted to use up the remainder in the jar, but would say you need 3 TBSP of applesauce)
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar

You can use either canola oil or spray the griddle with Pam (make sure the griddle is hot!).  Then cook, making sure to flip only once each side.  You’ll know when to flip when there are bubbles.  This recipe made about 12 small pancakes. 

Healthy Pancake Batter  Healthy Pancake Cooked

Readers, I think you know I don’t like healthy food that tastes like healthy food.  But while these did taste (a tiny bit) healthy, the sweetness of the apricot and brown sugar made it really good.  Plus, they were so incredibly fluffy.  But be warned — don’t make the pancakes too thick or you’ll have a burnt exterior with a half cooked interior!

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