golden triangle


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

Post Pub is one of those places that will never win any huge culinary praise, but then again, they don’t care.  It’s about making simple American fare with pretty good beer specials.

  • Food: I’ve been here several times, but during the most recent visit, I ordered a hamburger with fries.  Unfortunately, I had to go back to work so I couldn’t take advantage of their great lunch beer specials.  I always order hamburgers medium rare, but this time, the interior was so raw it was disgusting.  It wasn’t medium rare at all.  Now I know what you’re thinking — you should have sent it back.  I don’t send food back…I don’t know what’s coming back.  But in this situation, if I hadn’t been in such a rush, I would have.  The steak fries though were hot and crispy so that helped. 
  • Service: Our server was fine, nothing memorable.
  • Atmosphere:The inside is wooden panels with antiques.  The restaurant seems a bit weird and disjointed.  Immediately when you walk in, you’re in a tiny dining area but go to the left, and there’s a pretty big bar (15-20 stools) and a lot of booths. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: It’s a perfect place to go — whether it’s for lunch or dinner when you want to go somewhere for a quick lunch with a decent atmosphere.  It’s not fancy, expensive, or loud.  Next time, I’ll just make sure to order my burger medium well. 

Happy Hour: 5-8 PM weekdays with various beer specials.

Details:

  • Hours: Weekdays 11am-12am; Sat 11am-8pm
  • Address: 1422 L St NW, Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 628-2111

I’ve been to Kaz Sushi Bistro several times, but I hadn’t been in some time (or at least since I started the blog).  They were supposed to do fugu this spring, but when I called and put my name on the list, they never did call me back.  Bummer.  I’m going to try fugu one day!

  • Food: My food friend and I decided to go to Kaz.  I ordered the blue crab sushi (top left) which was good.  Tuna and jalapeno (middle 6) which wasn’t spicy, but insanely fresh.  It was amazing because unlike some places, they did a great job of balancing enough jalapeno for a small amount of heat while not overpowering the fish.  I think this was my my favorite roll!  I also ordered the asparagus and red pepper roll (“sandwiching” tuna and jalapeno rolls).  Plus, they give you white ginger (not pink).  My friend ordered salmon teriyaki and she loved it. 

Kas Sushi Bistro  Kas Sushi Bistro Salmon Teriyaki

  • Service: When I’ve actually eaten in the restaurant, it’s been good. 
  • Atmosphere: Inside it’s a pretty small restaurant that does pack people in a bit like sardines.  It’s tight and cozy – and not the place to go if you want to have a conversation that you wouldn’t want others to hear. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Hands down, this is one of the best sushi places in the city.  Plus, it is a great place to take anyone from friends to clients to dates to parents. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended for peak times.
  • Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:00; Dinner Mon-Sat 6:00-10:00; Closed Sundays
  • Address: 1915 “Eye” St. NW, Washington, DC 20006
  • Ph: 202.530.5500

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

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

I’ve been to Vidalia several times over the years and have always had a great meal.  While I wasn’t planning on participating in the Summer 2008 Restaurant Week, I ended up going to Vidalia during this time period. 

  • Food: Before I tell you what was ordered, I need to tell you that I didn’t eat all this. I swear. But because I was going with a client who was starving and wanted to do the five course meal, I had to do the five course meal. Thankfully, my client’s super cool so I was able to try a bite and then pass it on to him. I ordered the thinly sliced raw hamachi with cucumber, Fuji apples, lime basil, and smoked scallop essence. It was very good and fresh. He ordered the house smoked Wild King Salmon with vidalia onions, salmon roe, yogurt-cucumber soup and croutons.  My client won for ordering the best first course. For the next course, we both ordered the Point Judith calamari that was stuffed with oyster sausage, avocado, tomato, and periwinkle vinaigrette – delicious. For the third course, I ordered the Maine diver scallops with surry sausage crust, chow chow, rice beans, and bouillabaisse emulsion. This was the least favorite part of the meal — the scallops were overcooked and the crust was burnt. He ordered the Tasmanian sea trout roulad with warm cauliflower panna cotta, curry-golden raisin puree, and smoked trout roe. It was awesome. 4th course, still with me? He ordered the slow roasted Shenandoah baby goat with sweet garlic confit, cucumber-yogurt riata, zucchini, and flat bread. There were a lot of smaller dishes on the plate. It reminded me of one of the Top Chef episodes where one of the chefs compartmentalized their dish too much. The flat bread had no flavor and was stale. I ordered the corned Japanese Kuroge beef brisket with yellowfin potato pave, King Trumpet mushrooms and ginger beer reduction — it was seriously delicious. The brisket was so tender and the reduction was a fantastic pairing. The final course was dessert. We ordered the “Whopper” which was meringues with malted milk chocolate mousse with condensed milk emulsion, but the winner was the Georgia pecan tart. I’m not usually a pecan fan, but this was absolutely ridiculous. It’d make a pecan tart fan out of anyone!
  • Service: They hire good waitstaff who are knowledgeable and attentive (without being annoying). 
  • Atmosphere: After walking down the stairs, you’re actually in a basement restaurant.  While there are no windows, you easily forget that when you’re eating.  The bar has 12 stools and there are 3 sofa areas for mingling and waiting for your table.  The restaurant itself isn’t large, so if you want to go for lunch or dinner, make sure you make reservations! 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I don’t know if I can do 5 courses again, but this is a great place to test all their courses.  It’s perfect for impressing anyone or for a quiet meal.  While the restaurant may be packed, they have good acoustics so it’s rarely too loud. 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm; Sun 5pm-9:30pm
  • Address: 1990 M St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 659-1990

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

Next to LIMA, I have walked by this place on numerous occassions thinking, “I wonder how it is…”  Well wonder no more.  I went to Bangkok One.

  • Food: Seriously, do you even have to ask?  I ordered pad thai with tofu and medium spice.  When I opened my container to dig in, the TOFU pad thai smelled like seafood which I thought was weird.  Then when I started to dig in, I realized there were three shrimps included.   Thankfully, I’m not allergic to seafood, but heads up in case you are.  Once I started eating, I noticed there was a great balance between sweetness because the instant I thought, “Oh, that was really sweet” I’d get hit with the spice.  But what was the most disappointing was that I ordered pad thai with TOFU and there was no tofu.  You can see in the photo.  Seriously, do you see any tofu in there?  The restaurant wasn’t very busy so I have to admit that I am surprised at the bad order.  It was a bit greasy, but not too bad at all.  There was only 2-3 bean sprouts (no lie) and a couple of green onions.  If I had to guess, they had an order for pad thai with shrimp and when I put my order in, they decided to double up in the wok.  So to the person who ordered the pad thai with shrimp, I think your order got the good stuff.  Mine stinks.  It was basically noodles.  Where was the tofu?  Bean sprouts?  Green onions? 

Bangkok One Pad Thai

  • Service: They were very nice when I ordered to go.  If you’re ordering to go, walk straight back to the bar. 
  • Atmosphere: Inside there’s 30-40 tables.  The walls are painted sea blue and while the decorations aren’t the greatest, it’s not bad.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: Well, considering I ordered pad thai with tofu and there was no tofu, this was a disappointment. There were no bean sprouts or green onions either.  And the to-go container only had a fork and no chopsticks.  Bummer.

Details:

  • Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:30 am – 10:30 pm; Sat: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
  • Address: 1411 K St NW; Washington, DC 20005
  • Ph: 202-393-6277

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

**Update 1/09 – I was walking by one day and noticed their happy hour sign.  It’s Monday-Friday from 5-7 PM for $5 sushi (select) and $4/5 beer or select cocktails.** 

Dragonfly has been closed for years (or at least it seems like it to me), but it is open again for business.  Last night was their opening. 

The name of the restaurant/bar has changed to Current, but there’s few other details available.  The interior is more open and modern.  And since this is a food blog, here are some photos of their (limited) menu. 

Current Menu  Current Menu  Current Menu  Current Menu

Have you been?  Is it fun?  Do you like it better than Dragonfly? 

Details:

  • Address: 1215 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 5:30 pm-1:00 am; Fri 5:30 pm-2:00 am; Sat 7 pm-2:00 am; Sun 7 pm-1:00 am
  • Ph: 202-331-1775

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

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

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

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

Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu  Pasara Menu

Details:

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

I 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

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

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

I know, I know — Morton’s is a chain, but unlike some other chains (ahem, none to be mentioned here but take a look at the list of “Restaurants I’ve Been”), they’ve managed to still be pretty good.

  • Food: First, let’s talk about their enormous (freshly baked?) onion bread they plop in front of you.  It’s the size of a half of a soccer ball and the top has onion flakes.  It’s really yummy.  Then to be healthy,  I ordered the salmon salad which was pretty good.  I wanted to order a steak, but for a mid-day meal it seemed too much!  Then we ordered a slice of the S&S Cheesecake, which we were told gets FedEx’ed to Morton’s on a daily basis from the Brooklyn store.  It was absolutely amazing — creamy, rich, moist, and perfect.   We also ordered Morton’s Legendary Chocolate Cake which was thick, dark, and also amazing. 
  • Service: We had a very nice server who knew exactly when to approach the table — a tough task but one he did very well!
  • Atmosphere: In earlier times when you’d see or hear about those smoke-filled rooms, this is one of the places I feel they’re talking about — with the dark interior and huge booths — you can tell this was (and is?) a place politicians, lobbyists, and business people go to talk shop. 
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall:  Unlike other chains, Morton’s has still managed to churn out good food.  Their offerings and service remind you that this was a place for “movers and shakers” to make deals.  While I would never come here on my own, I’d have no problem taking clients.   

Happy Hour: Monday-Fridays from 4:30-6:30 and 9:30pm to 11pm, they offer “Bar Bites” for $5 per plate.

Details:

  • Reservations recommended/needed.
  • Hours: Monday – Friday 11:30am to 11pm; Saturday 5:30pm to 11pm; Sunday 5pm to 10pm
  • Address: 1050 Connecticut Ave NW # 2, Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: (202) 955-5997

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