Brunch


When I heard Mandu, a Korean restaurant was coming into Dupont, I was excited.   Mostly because I am on a Bibim Bap kick.  Yum.

  • Food:I went with a colleague for lunch and we were hungry.  So we ordered “mandu” pan-fried appetizers, two veggie, two shrimp, and two beef & pork.  The table favorite was shrimp.  Since it was lunch, we only received 4 banchan — including kimchi.  I remember one of the banchan was potato and green beans which really lacked any flavor.  Then I think it was Sigeumchi-namul and Oi sobak-i — both were good.  I ordered *surprise* Bibim Bap in the stone bowl, but I wasn’t happy that it was an extra $2 (why?).  Whatever, I was going to spend it.  When the bowl came, the egg was partially cooked on the top instead of being raw (again, why?).  Despite the partially cooked egg, the rice managed to be a bit crispy (yay!). 
  • Service: Nice server who left us alone to have a conversation while still refilling our tea and water glasses.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a small restaurant on the main floor.  Upstairs, where the bathrooms are, is a nice sized room that can seat a 20+ group.  For those who want to BBQ at the table, you can forget it here because it’s not an option.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:It’s a good place to go if you need a “quick fix” Korean and you can’t get out to Virginia.  When a friend asked where she could get Korean in the area, I said that this was the only place I knew.  She has a much more extensive Korean dining resume than I do and when she returned from her experience, she said, “It’s very American-ized flavors.  But it was fine.” 

Happy Hour:Daily from 4-7 PM offering $4.00 Sojutinis; $4.00 Rail drinks; $2.00 Beers and $3.00 Mandu.

Details:

  • Reservations accepted (and recommended if you’re going during “peak hours” — you know, weekends and weeknights between 6-9 PM).
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 AM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 11:30 AM-11 PM; Sunday 11:30 AM-9 PM
  • Address: 1805 18th Street NW; Washington, DC
  • Ph: 202-588-1540

I enjoy a good pizza and have been eating a lot of it.  In fact, I was thinking I’ve been over-doing the pizza thing until I was recently in the 2Amys neighborhood.  Then I remembered their hot, yummy wood-burning pizza and I had to get one. 

  • Food:I’ve been several times and have always enjoyed the pizza.  Most recently, I ordered a Margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella di bufala, and basil (pictures below).  The “big” thing about 2Amys is their wood-burning oven which gives the crust a unique flavor.  2Amys is the only pizzeria in Washington, DC that is recognized by the Neapolitan Pizza Police (officially called Verace Pizza Napoletana Association).  In order to be certified, they must use “only soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt may be used for the dough, and only Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh basil or dried oregano may be used for the toppings.” 

2Amys Margherita Pizza  2Amys Wood-burning Oven Pizza Bottom

While 2Amys doesn’t have happy hour, they do have a couple of “specials” that I thought should be mentioned.   Sfogliatelle is served on Tuesday nights with fiore di latte ice cream.   According to the Web site, it is a “clam-shaped pastry filled with a sweetened ricotta and semolina mixture surrounded by a flaky, crunch and shell.” 

They also serve homemade doughnuts on Saturday and Sunday at lunch. 

  • Service: They’re polite and courteous. 
  • Atmosphere: If you need to have an intimate conversation, this isn’t the place to go during their “rush hours” (which is really between 5:30-8:30 PM daily).  I haven’t ever been for lunch, but I have to believe it’s packed then too.  When you go and are told to wait (which you inevitably will be), go to the back and try to stand a spot at the bar. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Everyone loves 2Amys and it’s easy to see why with their fresh dough and toppings.  

Details:

  • Reservations not accepted (total bummer if you go during peak times, just be prepared to wait).
  • Hours: Sun 12 noon-10 PM; Mon 5 PM-10 PM; Tues-Thurs 11 AM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 11 AM-11 PM
  • Address:3715 Macomb St NW; Washington, DC 20016
  • Ph: 202-885-5700

Owned by the same people who run Cafe Bonaparte, Napoleon opened February 1, 2007 in Adams Morgan.   I had been once before and had ordered a salad which was decent.  But when a friend was in town and wanted to catch up, I thought it’d be time to try this place out again.

  • Food:I ordered C&C Risotto which was made of shrimp and duck confit with creamy risotto and green peas.  The shrimp was tough and overcooked and there were only a couple of pieces of duck, yet the creamy goodness of the risotto seemed to make up for it all.  While it was good and perfectly seasoned, I don’t know if it was $18 worth.  My friend ordered steak frites with a bearnaise sauce (that came on the side).  It was a huge piece of steak and it was really good.  Perfectly cooked and well-seasoned.  The frites were big, thick cut fries.  I prefer the thin fries that are crispy so I didn’t really like them. 
  • Service:Our server was very nice, but one of the busboys was uber attentive — and my poor friend kept having to fight to keep his plate. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s dark wood interior which makes it a comfortable spot on a cold winter day.  During the summer, they offer great outdoor seating.  At night, you can visit their Metropolitan Champagne Bar in the basement where they have DJs spinning on the weekends.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:I wouldn’t order my risotto again, even though it was decent — it’s mostly because it wasn’t worth $18.  I would definitely order the steak frites (without the frites) or try some of their other meat dishes.  Oh!  And they serve my favorite Cabernet

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Wed 5 PM-12 AM; Thurs 5 PM-2 AM; Fri 5 PM-3 AM; Sat 10 AM-3 AM; Sun 10 AM-12 midnight
  • Address: 1847 Columbia Rd. NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-299-9630

Napolean Restaurant

**Update 7/1/08 – I went again and it will seriously be the last time.  My friend, who doesn’t live here anymore, wanted to go.  So I relented.  I ordered the Cheesesteak Sliders and they were underseasoned and underinspired.  The beef was dry and overcooked.  Did they lose their chef?  Too bad.  I really liked them.** 

Hudson Cheesesteak Sliders

From left to right, it’s pepper and onion, Italian, and Philly style cheesesteaks. 

**Update 6/25/08 – I went back to Hudson’s.  Check out my experience.**

I don’t know why, but I seem to be starved a lot.  I think I need to fix that.  Thankfully, a friend of mine was also starving and so we decided to try Hudson’s (which used to be David Greggory’s) for lunch. 

Oddly enough, my friend and I had gone to David Greggory’s before for lunch so it was full circle.  We didn’t think DG was great — it was just fine. 

  • Food: As soon as we sat down, we ordered two sides.  An order of their Truffle mac ‘n cheese and hand cut french fries.  Both were fine, but nothing really special.  The 15ria mac ‘n cheese is still the best.  They also gave us a couple of rolls with a little bit of jalapeno spice (but it wasn’t spicy).  They were warm and good.  I ordered the Cheesesteak Sliders — a trio of Philly style, Italian, and pepper and onions.   First of all, calling them “sliders” is wrong — each sandwich is like 5″ long.  To me, sliders mean 2-3 bites; these were huge!  Oh but were they good.  My favorite was the pepper and onions because the flavors were fantastic.  The Italian had fresh tomato sauce and a slice of provolone cheese which made it tasty.  The Philly was also a perfect ratio of cheese and meat.  My friend ordered the ‘Shrooms brick oven pizza with Portobello, Shitake, white mushrooms, garlic confit, Brie, and white truffle oil.  When I picked up a slice of the very thin pizza, there was a bit of water so I thought it was going to be soggy (because of the mushrooms).  In reality, it was still crispy and tasted so fresh.  There was a perfect ratio of cheese, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. 
  • Service: Our server started off strong and then seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the volume of people who were in the restaurant (even though the restaurant wasn’t anywhere near capacity).   
  • Atmosphere: With almost floor to ceiling windows, it’s a great place to dine with all the natural lighting.  The restaurant has a modern flair but comfortable. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:I can’t wait to go back!  Their menu have so many other yummy looking things such as their Santa Fe Hot pizza; Jumbo Crabcakes; etc. 

Happy Hour: Check out their calendar to see what their Mon-Fri liquor features are — specials have included discounts on wine, beer, and special drinks.  They do have an long wine list.  In addition, they offer 1/2 glasses anytime for around $4-$6 and have a generous pour, allowing you and your friends an opportunity to sample. 

Details:

  • Reservations needed.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday through Friday 11:00am – 3:00pm; Afternoon: 3:00pm – 5:00pm; Dinner: Sunday through Thursday 5pm – 10:30pm and Friday and Saturday 5pm – 11pm; Brunch: Sunday 10am until 4pm; Late Night Menu: Sunday through Thursday 10:30pm – 1am and Friday and Saturday 11pm – 2am
  • Address: 2030 M Street NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-872-8700

I used to be a vegetarian after I read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (not Fast Food Nation, I don’t know why either…maybe I didn’t think it was as disturbing).  Then one day, I wanted a burger and I haven’t looked back since. 

But, I appreciate vegetarian food and was intrigued when I found out there was a great vegan restaurant in the Golden Triangle area called Java Green.  Vraiment?  I had to find out more.

  • Food:Well, after looking at their very tasty looking menu, I ordered the “Chicken” Ramen in veggie broth with bean sprouts, carrots, scallions, broccoli, and soy chicken (left photo).  Dear God I fell in love after the first slurp.  The faux chicken had a smoky flavor and there was a lot of it!  While I ordered the soup to go, when I opened the container, the broccoli still had a nice crunch.  The flavors were perfect — you didn’t need to add anything else.   However, I added a little hot sauce to give it a little kick.  The soup smelled fantastic too and was a perfect, filling meal on a cold day in DC.  Day 2 I ordered their special which was the Spicy Chicken Rice Bowl (middle photo).  I have to be honest — the rice was bland and dry.  The chicken was spicy (definitely a kick) and the noodles were good. 

Java Green Spicy Chicken Java Green Soy Chicken Ramen 

Update: I went back again and ordered their spicy noodle soup with ramen noodles.  The soup has kimchi, bean sprouts, scallions, seaweed, and choice of noodles — ramen, udon, or soba.  There’s also wheat and gluten free options kelp, yam, and rice noodle.  It has a tiny kick (meaning not spicy), but it was delicious. 

Java Green Spicy Noodle Soup  Java Green Spicy Noodle Soup

 

  • Service: Polite and extremely efficient.  You order on the left side of the bar, get a number and a little receipt, and the pay at the other side of the bar.  Think Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi counter, make it a little longer, and  you get the picture.  Though they do not act anything like the Soup Nazi. 
  • Atmosphere:Not only the restaurant vegan, but it’s also eco-friendly. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: If I could, I’d eat here all the time.  Their soup was fantastic (I’d order the Spicy chicken but 86 the rice) and I can’t wait to go back.  They have a great list of smoothies and other healthy drinks too.  If there were more restaurants like this, I think I’d be vegan…well, maybe not…still not convinced?  Since I started this blog, I’ve tried to eat at a new place and don’t want to go back to the same place if possible.  I’ve been here twice.  Yeah, that good. 

Details:

  • Address: 1020 19th Street NW; Washington, DC 20009 
  • Hours: Mon-Wed 8:30 AM-8:30 PM; Thurs-Fri 8:30 AM-9:00 PM; Sat 11:00 AM-6:00 PM; Sun closed
  • Ph: 202-775-8899

You could easily walk past it and not even realize, but nestled in between a rib joint and a former Chinese restaurant, here’s another great find in the area.   

  • Food:  Their menu offers something for everyone.  While I’ve had their pizza, their 3.6.9 mini burgers and onion straws are my favorite.  Today though, I felt like expanding my horizons and instead, ordered their 3 mini tuna burger special.  As it was described, it was seared tuna on the toasted brioche bread.  While I know some restaurants claim their bread is toasted, Matchbox does a great job of actually doing it.  The bread was perfectly done, which means it was crunchy and soft.  Yum!  The mini-tuna burger offered a little bit of a kick and good seasonings.  They did go overboard with putting too much sauce (can’t remember what it was) on the mini-tuna burgers though.  The onion strings are my favorite, so thanks to my friend who ordered them — I was able to steal a few.  My other friend ordered the blackened chicken sandwich and said it was tasty.
  • Service: Our server was nice and gracious. 
  • Atmosphere: With 3 stories, there’s a good decent number of seats available.  However, I think there could be 6 stories and on the weekends, it’d still be packed.     
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:  They offer something that will appease everyone at a pretty good price.  They’ve also recently added brunch, beer, wine, and a late night menu.  I think it’s a fun place to go with good food.

Details:

  • Reservations not accepted.
  • Hours: Daily 11 AM-close; Fri & Sat serving late night menu until 1 AM
  • Address: 713 H Street NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: 202-289-4441

Friends, I went to Westend Bistro recently.  I didn’t go the first day they opened, but I went!  I don’t think you could have talked to me for 5 minutes without me saying, “I’m going to Westend.  You know, Eric Ripert’s restaurant.”  To say I was excited and looking forward to going is like saying, “Children like candy.”  Unfortunately, it turned out to be more like the day you found out who Santa really was (which I won’t say here, I don’t want to burst any bubbles!). 

  • Food: I was so severely disappointed with the meal, I don’t even know where to begin.  The menu had tremendous promise.  My friend and I asked our server which app to get since they all sounded fantastic and he suggested the grilled shrimp and quinoa herb salad.  The shrimp was severely over-seasoned to the point it was almost bitter.  The quinoa herb salad was interesting — glad we tried it (since it’s so  healthy) but I don’t think I’d run to order it again.  Then I ordered the skate in brown butter sauce with braised endive.  It was fine, but there was nothing on the plate that said, “Eric Ripert, 3-star Michelin Chef.”  Don’t get me wrong — the skate was cooked perfectly and the braised endive was tasty.  But I didn’t feel like any of it was special or unique.  My friend ordered the Halibut with seasonal vegetables in garlic butter.  She said it was good, but again, there was no “wow” factor.   Finally, we split the warm Valrhona chocolate cake with malted milk chocolate and rum ice cream.  This was by far the best part of the dinner.  If we hadn’t ordered it, we would have walked out sad from our dinner.   
  • Service: Our server was very polite, but I wonder if he tried any of the food on the menu.  I believe that the servers know what’s really good (or at least we used to know when I worked at a restaurant), but our’s didn’t. 
  • Atmosphere: Despite the fact we had reservations, we still waited in the bar for almost an hour.  I felt like the Seinfeld episode where the car rental service didn’t have Jerry’s reservation for a car.  I wanted to say, “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.” 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: You know, considering the prices and what we ordered, it wasn’t worth it.  I can’t believe I’m saying that — and it pains me tremendously.  I really want to love the place so I am going to try their fish burgers and/or classic burgers with an order of their fries.  I have a feeling that’s what you should get there — at least for now.

Details:

  • Basically, reservations are required.
  • Hours: Lunch (starts in Dec): Mon-Sat 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5:30-11 PM; Sunday Brunch: 11:30 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1190 22nd Street NW; Washington DC 20037
  • Ph: 202-974-4900

Sad but true, I had never been.  I don’t know what took me so long to go to Acadiana!

  • Food: Instead of a typical bread basket, you get biscuits with this fantastic butter, honey, and spices mix.  The biscuits are hot, flaky, and buttery.  The butter, honey, and spice mix with the biscuit — forget it.  So good!  Then we ordered.  First, one dining companion ordered the Grilled Gulf Redfish with seafood jambalaya while the other ordered “USA Today Top 25 Dishes 2005” New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp .  Both were good.  I left my order to the last because I have a lot to say about it.  I ordered the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes with creamed corn maque choux, Benton’s Smoked Bacon, and Green Onion Remoulade.  Holy cow.  First the bad — they didn’t pick out all the shells from the crab.  I’d think at this kind of place, they’d be more careful.  But the rest of it was fantastic!  One friend who tried the crabcakes took a moment of silence in their honor.  Yeah, seriously.  That good.  The creamed corn maque choux, Benton’s Smoked Bacon, Green Onion Remoulade –tremendous!  I don’t think there was one spec of food left on my plate.  We then ordered the beignets du vieux carre with chocolate pudding, chicory coffee gelee.  They were good, but wouldn’t say they were “stop you in your tracks.”
  • Service:Our server was polite and offered great suggestions.  Everyone loved what they ordered (though I definitely ordered the best!).  When we all ordered the same type of wine, she ordered a bottle since we had said we’d each have 2 glasses.  While she was attentive, she wasn’t annoying.  She was a great server! 
  • Atmosphere: It’s actually a pretty big restaurant that seems to hold a lot of people.  The place isn’t a jeans and sneakers kind of joint, but it isn’t a super fancy one either. 
  • Attire: Business casual 
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:I’ll definitely go back! I am looking forward to trying the crabcakes again (with the hopes that they’ll keep the shells out).  I’m also looking forward to trying the fried green tomatoes.  Yummy!

Details:

  • Reservations recommended (especially on weekends).
  • Hours: Mon-Thurs lunch 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; Mon-Thurs dinner: 5:30 pm – 10:30 pm; Friday lunch:
    11:30 am – 2:30 pm; Friday dinner: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm; Saturday dinner: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm; Sunday
    Dinner: 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm; Brunch Sunday 11:00 am – 2:30pm
  • Address: 901 New York Avenue, N.W.; Washington, DC  20001  
  • Ph: 202.408.8848

Went to 15ria with a couple of friends who love food more than I do. So when we get together, watch out! Ha ha, just kidding. But it is always fun to go out for food with them. 

Here’s something else — you can bring your own wines (corkage fee applies). 

  • Food: For the table, we ordered the $3.50 sides of Lobster Mashed Potatoes and Mac and Cheese.  Two of us ordered the Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad (Balsamic Apples, Chevre cheese, crispy onions, port vinaigrette) and the other ordered Smoked Beef Brisket (Ciabatta bread, Fontina Cheese, caramelized red onions, roasted tomato mayonnaise).  I liked the steak salad — it was light and I felt like it was healthy.  We all tried the brisket sandwich was good and very creamy.  I agreed with the friend who said it needed salt.  It was cooked well though.  The Lobster potatoes were very good, but the star of the meal was the mac and cheese.  So creamy, bacony, and smokey — YUM!  I would definitely order that mac and cheese again!  And I can see craving it too!

Steak Salad   Brisket  Lobster Mashed Potatoes  Mac & Cheese

  • Service: Good, but our server was way too attentative.  We were trying to catch up and he kept trying to clear plates that we were clearly working on.  Then when we said we were working on it, he asked about dessert. 
  • Atmosphere:  It was casual and they definitely offer the comfort food. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Their mac and cheese is quite possibly one of the most fantastic items I’ve ever tasted.  The rest of the food was decent, but there’s no doubt I’ll be coming back for the mac and cheese.

Happy Hour: Daily 5-7:30 PM; $1 off all beer, wine, liquor

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Breakfast M-F 6:30 AM-11 AM; Sat & Sun 7-11 AM; Lunch M-F 11:30 AM-2 PM; Dinner 5:30-10 PM daiy; Sunday Brunch 11:30 AM-3 PM
  • Address: 1515 Rhode Island Ave, NW Washington DC, 20005 (It’s in the Doubletree Hotel)
  • Ph: 202/742-0015 

A few weeks ago, I went to Las Canteras with a friend.  Not knowing what to expect, we went with low expectations.  I came away knowing that I really enjoyed my meal while my friend wasn’t too pleased with her order.

  • Food: I ordered Camarones a la Limena (sauteed shrimp in garlic, butter, and white wine with cilantro).  I thought it was good, but I realized I could have made it myself at home.  My friend ordered the mixed greens salad which was fine.  For dinner, I think my friend ordered Aji De Gallina, shredded chicken in a sauce of bread, peanuts, and yellow pepper.  But she hated it compared to my dish.  I have to admit, it was fantastic.  I ordered the Pescado Al Horno, which is fresh fish baked or broiled, served with mashed potatoes and quinoas cakes.  Those cakes were ridiculous. 
  • Service: Very courteous.
  • Atmosphere: It’s on the 2nd floor with beautiful red walls.  We were fortunate and were able to sit by the front window.  It’s definitely casual, but it’d be cute to go with friends or a date. 
  • Attire: Business casual/casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: The quinoas cakes are really good.  I’m looking forward to going back and getting those cakes!  I definitely wouldn’t order what my friend got, but I think it’d be good to go back and try some of their other offerings.

Happy Hour: Tuesdays 1/2 priced bottles of wine.  They offer only about 15 different varieties so the selection is limited.

Las Canteras

The building is actually a light purple, but you can’t tell from my photo. 

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted.
  • Hours: Closed Mondays; Lunch 11 AM – 3 PM; 5 PM – 11 PM; Sat & Sun 11 AM – 4 PM
  • Happy Hour: 6-8, Tuesday through Saturday. Specials Daily.
  • Address: 2307 18th St. NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-265-1780

**Update 11/20/07: I went.  Click here for my review.**

Super Chef Eric Ripert’s Westend Bistro will be opening on November 8th.  No doubt the line will be ridiculous, but it will be worth it.

His new restaurant, according to Zagat buzz, is going to be “classic French and American fare (think fish burgers with saffron aïoli and roast stuffed chicken).”

As if I didn’t love him already, he has this great quote on his Web page, “A cook and a chef are different entities.  A Chef is a title…but when you are a cook, that is who you are.  It’s your spine and your soul.”

I will definitely being going shortly after it opens, hopefully, I can convince a foodie friend or two to go with me. 

I promise to give you all a full report!

Details:

  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: Lunch (starts in Dec): Mon-Sat 11:30 AM-2:30 PM; Dinner: Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5:30-11 PM; Sunday Brunch: 11:30 AM-2:30 PM
  • Address: 1190 22nd Street NW; Washington DC 20037
  • Ph: 202-974-4900

My favorite Mexican (not Tex-Mex) food is at Mixtec in Adams Morgan.  I’ve been numerous times and have never been disappointed. 

While I know they were closed recently, they’ve re-opened with a little grocery store next door.

  • Food: Seriously, favorite Mexican food.  I don’t care what you get, but you MUST order the fried plantains.  They are the best here.  The tacos are real tacos on corn tortilla, meat, cilantro, and limes.  I have never gotten bad food here (nor have my many, many dining companions).   It’s always a filling, but inexpensive meal.  They’re known for their sandwiches, but I’ve never gotten one.  The only “bad” thing here is their sangria. 
  • Service: Good, although sometimes it’s hit and miss.  It doesn’t even matter if it’s slow or busy. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s incredibly casual and seats only about 40 people.  It’s definitely a little crunched and during busy periods, it’s loud.  But I think it adds to the atmosphere. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Amazing.  Favorite Mexican in DC.  Get the plantains and love them.  You will crave this food.  Oh so good!  Here’s their menu — click on the photo to see a bigger picture.  I’ve only posted a few of the photos here, but on my flickr page you’ll see the entire menu (including brunch). 

Mixtec Brunch Menu 2 & 3  Mixtec Soup, Chips & Salsa, and Nacho Menu  Mixtec Tacos and Mexican Tortas  Mixtec Seafood and Dessert Menu 

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted, but usually not needed.
  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11 am- 10 pm Fri-Sat 11 am- midnight
  • Address: 1792 Columbia Rd. NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-332-1011

I really wanted to like Oyamel.  I did.  I was looking forward to going for a long time.  There were a couple of problems, but the number one was that there were so many fruit-flies swarming around our food, that we kept having to swipe at them to keep them away.  This is not the way I want to start my meal.  I should have realized it was going to go downhill after that.

The good?  The Oyamel margarita. Wow, it was smooth without being overly sweet.  I would definitely go here for the margarita!

  • Food:OK, now the bad.  It wasn’t bad, it was just fine.  And who goes to a restaurant for just “fine” food?  If you click on the photo below, you can see the group of Oyamel photos.  We ordered the antojitos, or small plates.  Each photo has a description of the food from the menu and my critique.  Other than the margarita, the chips and salsa were the best part of the meal (and those are free).  To summarize, there was nothing special or memorable about any of the dishes.  Instead, they were flat.   Oh, and the red circles around the menu are the chef’s recommendations for the evening.

Chips and Salsa (and Oyamel margarita)

  • Service:Our server was really nice and very attentive.   When asked, she offered her favorite dishes.
  • Atmosphere:It had a casual feel with high ceilings.  Out on the floor was a woman who made ceviches.   Odd though that there’s only one bathroom in the entire place.  
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I’d come for the margarita and chips and salsa.  Otherwise, forget it.

The wine menu isn’t impressive, but it’s fine.  Go with the Oyamel margarita.  You’ll love it. 

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted and recommended during “peak hours”
  • Hours: Sun and Mon 11:30 am to 10 pm; Tues through Thurs 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; Fri and Sat 11:30 am to Midnight; Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm
  • Address: 401 7th Street NW; Washington, DC 20004 
  • Ph: (202) 628-1005

**Update 11/18/08 – Les Halles has closed!**

Quite possibly one of my favorite restaurants in all of DC is Les Halles.  It’s not just because I think they have great mussels, French onion soup, and escargot.  Or the great steak and frites.  Or their alfresco seating.  Nor is it because Anthony Bourdain is associated with the restaurant (though important to note that he’s not the chef of the DC restaurant and is considered “chef-at-large” for the five restaurants).   It’s because I always have great memories and experiences when I’m there.  Whether I’m with one friend or with a group, we always have a fantastic time.   

My idea of a perfect Saturday or Sunday in DC is to eat alfresco at Les Halles around 2 PM with friends.  When you go at this hour, they have a tendency to leave you alone so you can catch up and leisurely eat.   

  • Food: It’s simple, yet fantastic French cuisine.  I’ve never been to France (traveling is something that’s on my list!), but I have to believe it’d be a little bit like this.  The frites can sometimes be a bit soggy (as they were when I just went on Saturday), but you can usually pick out a few crispy ones.  Overall, I have yet to be disappointed by their food and my dining companions have also always enjoyed their meals.  If you only come to DC once, you should order the mussels (white wine, shallot, and garlic) and the steak and frites.  You won’t be disappointed!   
  • Atmosphere: I’ve never sat inside to eat – always alfresco.  As an avid people watcher, Les Halles is a perfect setting for such an activity.  I think you get a decent amount of room between tables so you don’t have to worry about if the guy next to you can hear what you’re saying (unless you’re loud, which, I am sometimes).   
  • Service: Moderately slow.  This is definitely not a place to go if you’re in a rush.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had to wait for various things such as a fork, more bread, etc.  They are good about getting the food out in a reasonable amount of time.  They’re just not speedy when you need something “extra.” 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I only order the mussels and the steak and frites.  Plus, I only go when it’s beautiful out.  But I love this place!

Check out the tags to see if this would make sense for your dining experience.  This is not a great place for vegetarians (unless they eat fish).  And of course, they have a great wine and beverage list.

Details:

  • Reservations are accepted and are strongly encouraged when you go during peak hours. 

  • Hours: 7:30am – 11:30am, Monday – Friday for Breakfast; 11:30am – midnight 7 days a week serving Lunch and Dinner; Saturday & Sunday Brunch

  • Address: 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20004

  • Ph: 202-347-6848

 

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