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

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

Details:

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

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

Details:

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

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

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

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

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

Details:

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

My friend and I had tried to go to Inti Peruvian earlier but they are closed on Mondays (something they don’t tell you on their Web site).   

  • Food: To start, we shared the chicken tamale.  I’m not usually a huge tamale fan, but this one was really good.  What I loved was that the ingredients weren’t chopped up so fine that you couldn’t tell what it was — there were nice chunks of egg, pepper, shredded chicken, etc.  Then my friend ordered the Seco a la Nortena con Frijoles which was so tender and delicious.  I thought it was a great choice!  I ordered the Picante de Mariscos and was disappointed with rubbery seafood.  But the sauce was really good, especially when I added their green chili sauce.  There were two huge mussels though on either side of the seafood which were quite impressive.  BTW, the green chili sauce wasn’t really spicy, but it did add a tiny amount of heat.
  • Service: Our server was really polite and I liked her.  She also had good timing — she was there when we needed her and otherwise, left us alone.  I like that.
  • Atmosphere: So when we walked down the steps, we weren’t sure if we should go to the door on the left or the right.  We went to the door on the right, although I think both would have worked.  Then they told us that we could sit outside.  Really?  So we were surprised that outside was an option.  Inside they have 12-15 tables but outside, they have a cute deck with 8 tables with huge umbrellas that keep you covered.  At night, they have holiday lights on the inside of the tables.  The inside of the restaurant doesn’t have a lot of atmosphere, but it works.  It seems to be comfortable and cozy, but I’d suggest sitting outside if you can.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:So other than my chewy seafood, I also have to complain about the fact that they didn’t give us any bread (even though we saw everyone else on the patio get a basket!) but we did get this interesting corn thing — kinda like corn nuts but without a lot of flavor.  Overall, I’d go back.  I love their small, but comfortable patio.  Next time, I’ll try their beef or chicken entree.  

Details:

  • Reservations not required
  • Hours: Tues-Thurs 11 AM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 11 AM-11 PM; Sun 11 AM-9 PM; Closed on Mondays
  • Address:1825 18th St. NW, Washington DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 797-0744

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

I seem to always walk by places and never go in them and Skewers is another restaurant that I’ve wanted to try. 

  • Food:I ordered the Lamb Kebob Light Combination, but light it wasn’t!  There’s a lot of food!  I ordered a side of hummus which was a perfect smooth texture and fantastic flavor.  The tabouleh was fresh with lots (but not too much) cilantro and tomatoes.  The lamb had a little too much fat for my taste, but the good news was that it wasn’t dry and was yummy.  On either end of the lamb skewer was a small piece of delicious eggplant.  Next time, I’m going to have to order it because I bet it’s yummy.

Skewers Lamb Kebob Light Combination

  • Service: I ordered to go so they were fine.
  • Atmosphere: They have Belly Dancing Night on Saturdays. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I thought they offered a lot of really good food for a good price.  The interior is pretty casual so if you want to impress, this isn’t that place. 

Happy Hour: On Mondays, they offer half-priced bottles of wine. 

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30 AM-11 PM; Fri 11:30 AM-12 AM; Sat 12 PM-12AM; Sun 12 PM-11 PM
  • Address: 1693 P Street NW, Washington DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 387-7400

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

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