vegetarian


Next to So’s Your Mom is Astor Mediterrean, a neighborhood joint that prominently thrives on takeout orders.  Here’s their menu.

  • Food:I’ve ordered a lot of their chicken kebobs and lamb (or chicken) gyros in the five years I’ve lived here.   Despite their sometimes dry chicken, it’s still delicious.  The fries are super crispy and hot — a must in my book.   

Astor Mediterrean - Lamb Gyro and Fries

  • Service: When you walk in, they have a large display case with their various sides and above that, a huge menu of options.  When you’re ready to order, go to the cash register to order and pay.  Then you huddle around the counter (or run other errands) while you wait for your number to be called.
  • Atmosphere:In the summer, they have 3-4 tables and chairs, and if you like to people watch, it’s a perfect spot to go.  You’re on the sidewalk by the Bank of America ATM line.  They did a renovation to the restaurant a few years ago, which greatly improved the interior, but it’s still not that conducive to sit-down dining.  Instead, most pick-up their food orders and take it back to their respective homes. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:If you’re new to the Adams Morgan neighborhood, this is a must.  And if you’ve lived here for decades, chances are you’ve visited this nondescript restaurant because the food is good and reasonably priced.  At least that’s why I keep coming back. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11 AM-10:30 PM; Sun 11 AM-9:30 AM
  • Address: 1829 Columbia Road NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-745-7495

A few years ago (2-3), I went to Odeon Cafe and had a really great Italian dinner.  The food was delicious, service was good, and had an overall positive experience.  When a couple of friends wanted to go to brunch one Sunday, I didn’t hesitate to mention Odeon Cafe since a different friend had recommended the place.  Since I enjoyed my meal the last time I was there and so did she, I thought this would be a great brunch…

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

Details:

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

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

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

Details:

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

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu  Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian  Queen Makeda Ethiopian

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

Details:

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

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

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

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

Details:

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

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

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

Next to Java Green (the best vegan place), Cafe Chopsticks opened.  Well, actually the restaurant opened in July 2008 and after giving them a month to sort out any “bugs,” I thought it was about time I tried the place out.  BTW, here’s their menu:

   

  • Food:I ordered the veggie ramen which at first, was delicious.  I’ll talk about my initial thoughts on the food first, then go into the after-thoughts.  The broth wasn’t too salty and had a little heat.  The ramen noodles were cooked perfectly.  The problems with the vegetable ramen?  There weren’t a lot of veggies — a couple of bean sprouts, spinach, and tiny shreds of what appeared to be carrots, zucchini, and green onions.  I slurped my way through the bowl and while I was incredibly full, I also felt there was a weird after-taste.  Is there MSG in their soup?  Does anyone know?  And while I was there, I saw someone’s bento box.  It was huge!  Think the size of a cafeteria tray — wow, a lot of food I think!

Cafe Chopsticks Vegetable Ramen Soup  Cafe Chopsticks Vegetable Ramen Soup

  • Service: When you walk in, you can either look at their board or at takeout menus.  Then you order and pay at the counter.  They give you a number and you wait until it’s called.
  • Atmosphere:The interior is quite spacious and comfortable — a bit Zen-like.  Unlike some restaurants, they don’t cram too many tables and chairs.  Plus, they use eco-friend containers and utensils, recycled napkins, etc.  All good stuff!
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:I really liked the veggie ramen, but would love it even more if they had more veggies in there.  Also, I’d love to know if they add MSG to their soup.  I think for now, I’ll stick to Java Green’s “chicken” ramen.  But I’ll go back to try their very reasonably priced sushi and a bento box.  BTW, they do offer delivery, but only within a 3 block radius, a $70 minimum order, 5% delivery charge, and 24-hour notice. 

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 AM-9 PM
  • Address: 1020 19th Street NW; Washington DC  20036
  • Ph: 202-429-1705

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

I love what has happened with Columbia Heights.  There’s a great energy to the area.  I love visiting and checking out the new places.  So while I know Logan @ The Heights isn’t new, it was to me!

  • Food: I ordered the mixed greens with jicama and orange vinaigrette.  The salad was good and refreshing, but I think it’s because I love jicama.  I also ordered ginger fried calamari.  The sauce was too sweet and the calamari wasn’t crunchy at all.  Quite disappointing.
  • Service: We ordered at the bar so our service was lacking.  While it wasn’t that busy, he kept disappearing. 
  • Atmosphere: I love the interior.  It’s simple and comfortable.  There’s dark wood and tons of seating. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: While the ginger fried calamari was disappointing, I really liked this restaurant.  It has a great neighborhood feel.  I’ll definitely go back to try out some other food.  It seems like simple cuisine is going to be the best bet.  Oh, and if you’re looking for a place with the most Bloody Mary options, you’ve found it.

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4-7 PM at the bar with cheaper food; Sam Adams $3.50 and Brooklyn Lager $3.75; wine for $3.25.  To see the full menu, click here.

Details:

  • Reservations are taken Sun-Thurs Dinner & Weekday Lunch: Any size, any time; Fri & Sat Dinner: 7 – 10 pm, Parties of 5 or more only; Weekend Brunch: Parties of 5 or more only
  • Address: 3115 14th St. NW, Washington DC, 20010
  • Hours: Dinner: Mon-Fri, 5 pm; Sat & Sun, 4 pm; Lunch: Mon-Fri, Noon – 5 pm; Brunch: Sat & Sun, 11 am – 4 pm
  • Ph: 202-797-7227

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 had been to Thai Chili/Sushi Go Round once before a few years ago and recently stopped by again for a quick bite. 

  • Food: The sushi conveyor belt has 4 different color plates — blue, yellow, green, and red.  They clearly label the prices each plate color cost (but I can’t remember their prices).  I think the most expensive is around $5 and the cheapest is $2-3.  I’ve tried a lot of their sushi and it’s good.  They offer a good selection, but as with all sushi conveyor belts, you do have to know your sushi/nigiri!  Otherwise, you may end up paying for something you don’t like. 
  • Service: I’ve only eaten at the Sushi Go Round, but they are quick to clear any garbage you have and the covers to the sushi plates.
  • Atmosphere: It’s like there are two different restaurants.  Neither one has a lot of seats, but the Thai side has 10-12 tables and chairs while the Sushi Go Round has 20-25 stools around the conveyor belt.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If you’re in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area and are looking for something quick and healthy without going to a chain, I recommend trying this place out.  It’s decent sushi and let’s be honest, the conveyor belt is fun.  Ha ha.   

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 AM-10:30 PM; Fri 11 AM-11 PM; Sat 12 noon – 11 PM; Sun 12 noon – 10:30 PM; Delivery Hours: Mon-Fri 11 AM-3 PM, 5-10 PM; Sat & Sun 5-10 PM (min $20)
  • Address: 701 7th Street NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: (202) 393-2905, (202) 393-2906

It was raining and crappy and so my friend and I decided to order in.  Plus, I had a bottle of Rose that I wanted to try. 

I don’t like Rose.  I never have.  But for some reason, when I was in the liquor store to buy some sparking wine (loved this one he recommended — Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain), the liquor store guy told me that even though I don’t like Rose, I’d like Juno Rose from South Africa. Now why is it that even though I know I don’t like Rose, I still ended up buying the wine?  Regardless, my friend was a super trooper and joined me in trying this bottle.  It was fine, but I didn’t love it and won’t buy it again.  The Cava was dry (but not too dry) and was a great sparkling wine to cool down from the humidity!

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain  Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava from Spain  Juno Rose from South Africa

Anyway, we decided to order from Jyoti.  Menu here.

  • Food:I first need to tell you that I don’t like cardamom.  I never have.  So ordering Indian is a bit of a challenge, but I do like Indian food!  I just need to be careful.  My friend ordered paneer makani (the orange container) which had a strong cardamom flavor.  I ordered the lamb rogan josh which was really good.  Then we got a side of roti and raita.  I thought it was really good!  They also gave us a huge portion of rice — look at it! And yes, their naan was better than the one I make (but they have a tandoori!). 

Jyoti Restaurant  Jyoti Restaurant

  • Service: Our delivery took over an hour.  And we were starving.  So it gets poor marks for taking more than an hour. 
  • Atmosphere: No idea, they delivered!
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:I was excited to hear that there’s Indian delivery ($15 min).  On their menu, they tell you it’ll take 45-60 minutes to deliver and if it’s bad weather or traffic, it’ll take longer.  My next order is going to be chicken tikka and samosa. 

Details:

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 12 PM-10:30 PM; Fri & Sat 12 PM-12 AM
  • Address: 2433 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-518-5892

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’ve walked by The Indian Experience (formerly Ascot Resturant) a lot whenever I go to Naan and have always said I wanted to try this place out.  I finally went!  And by the way, Ascot and Naan are owned by the same people. 

  • Food:I went with their buffet.  Now we know how I feel about buffets, but as far as buffets go, this was not bad.  The food they served was pretty good and the naan was freshly made throughout the meal.
  • Service: Not great…they’re a little gruff and unfriendly.  I went with 3 other people and they put a 15% gratuity on our bill.  I wasn’t a fan of that at all. 
  • Atmosphere: You walk downstairs and they have a pretty big restaurant.  On the left-hand side, you’ll see an elevated level with the buffet and tables.  The decor is a bit worn and the chairs are pretty comfortable, albeit a little low for the tables. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If I remember correctly, the buffet was $12.  If someone wanted to go to their buffet, I would be fine with that.  But my aversion to buffets remains so I’d prefer going to Naan for my chicken tikka and veggie samosa. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-9 pm
  • Address: 1708 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 466-6404

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.

Yet again, another new dining experience!  This time, it was the Bombay Club, owned by the same folks who own a favorite restaurant of mine — Rasika

  • Food: With my love of spicy food, I asked the waiter what would be better — green chili chicken or the Tandoori chicken chops.  He said the Tandoori chicken chops was spicier than the green chili chicken.  So not feeling like having a running nose and tearing eyes, I ordered the green chili chicken.  I went with a couple other folks and one of them ordered the other “spicy” dish.  Folks, my dish was a thousand times spicier than the Tandoori chicken chops.  I had tears and my sinuses were definitely cleared.  But, I did like it — even though the spiciness overpowered the cilantro and mint.  We also ordered a basket of their assorted breads which were very good (and helped ease the heat).
  • Service: Our waiter was very nice, but he was dead wrong on the spicy food.  Thankfully, I have a pretty strong spicy food tolerance, but it was still hot. 
  • Atmosphere: The interior is classic, simple elegance. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’ll definitely go back to try some of their other dishes like their chicken tikka or some of their lamb dishes. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 2:30pm; Dinner: Monday – Thursday: 6:00pm – 10:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 6:00pm – 11:00pm, Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:00pm; Sunday Brunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
  • Address: 815 Connecticut Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: (202) 659-3727

I had gone to Tonic for a drink before when a friend and I were waiting for a couple of seats to open at Adam Express.  We decided to go back when Thai Fest Day was cancelled due to the rain.  Although we didn’t know that and so we drove up there.  Then when we realized there was no one else and no tents, we drove back and remembered Tonic was on our way home.

  • Food: I ordered the BBQ chicken sandwich with the BBQ sauce on the side.  The chicken sandwich was good, but a little on the dry side.  Thankfully, the BBQ sauce and the beer helped it all go down easily.  But the key was the tater tots.  Yes, the same little golden potato nuggets the school lunch lady served you.  First of all, I don’t know a lot of restaurants that serve “tots” in DC.  But whatever because Tonic serves ’em right — meaning they’re crispy and hot! 
  • Service: I love these bartenders.  They crack me up with their dry wit.  If you can’t take sarcasm, then don’t sit at the bar. 
  • Atmosphere: I’ve never been to the main dining room floor because we always (that’s the two times I’ve been) go to the bar in the basement.  It’s a comfortable bar with three flat screen TVs (sometimes they’re on various sports games or sometimes, it’s on random movies/TV shows like Charlie’s Angels).  It’s also dark so it’d be a perfect place to spend a rainy, crappy day. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: The “tots” are reason enough to come back for more.  But add the fact they’ve got a nice selection of beer and fun bartenders and you’ve got a perfect neighborhood bar and restaurant.   

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 5-7 PM: half price draft beer, drinks and burgers.  Tuesdays: get a free bottle of select wines with a purchase of two entrees.  Wednesdays: kids under 12 eat free from the kid’s menu 5-8 PM with the purchase of one entree.

Details:

  • Hours:Restaurant Sun-Thurs 5-10:30 PM, Fri & Sat 5-11 PM; Brunch Sat & Sun 10 AM-3 PM; Bar Sun-Thurs 5-2 AM; Fri & Sat 5-3 AM; Pick-up available 5-11 daily
  • Address: 3155 Mt. Pleasant Street; Washington, DC 20010
  • Ph: 202-986-7661

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

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