Penn Quarter/Chinatown


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

I’ve passed by Capital BBQ a thousand times and have heard from a lot of people that this is THE place for BBQ, but never went in until now.  Here’s their menu

  • Food: I thought I’d get food for lunch and dinner so I ordered their 2 meat plate with 2 sides.  I picked chicken and brisket and smoked home fries and cole slaw.  I figured it’d be a piece or two of chicken and a few pieces of brisket.  Umm, it was actually 4 pieces of chicken and 1/4 lb of brisket.  That’s a lot of food for $14!  The brisket was so tender and moist with bits of crunch and fat.  So awesome.  The chicken was really good too.  They asked whether you want mild or hot BBQ sauce and I, of course, ordered the hot which had a great (small) kick.  Unlike a lot of places, their BBQ sauce wasn’t overly sweet either.  Nice.  I didn’t love the smoked home fries, mostly because they were a bit undercooked.  Also, I didn’t taste the smoked flavor at all, but did taste the pepper.  I’m not a big cole slaw fan, but this one was really creamy and took the heat away from the BBQ sauce. 

Capital Q BBQ Chicken and Brisket  Capital Q BBQ Chicken and Brisket

  • Service: Good and polite.
  • Atmosphere: It’s super casual.  On the tables, they have rolls of paper towels and on the walls, lots of one dollar bills from their customers with messages. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Bottom line?  You have to go and try their BBQ.  It’s a good thing I don’t live in Chinatown because I think I’d be there all the time!  

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 AM-9 PM; Fri & Sat 11 Am-10 PM; Sun Noon-8 PM
  • Address: 707 H Street NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: 202-347-8396

Nando’s Peri Peri has certainly made a tremendous mark on the city.  I feel like it was the “It” restaurant for a few months.  Anyway, I finally went to try their chicken and to see what those of us in Golden Triangle have to look forward to when it opens.  Here’s their main menu and their take-out menu is here.

  • Food:I felt it was wrong if I didn’t order their chicken so I ordered the 1/4 chicken with medium spice (always feel like medium spice is safe) with a side of their butternut squash and grilled corn.  First, the chicken.  It wasn’t super spicy so then I got a couple of containers (when you pay, ask the cashier for it, not the person who hands you the bag).  Anyway, in the 4th photo, you’ll see I put in the hot sauce (left) and lemon & herb (right) sauce.  The hot sauce definitely had a good kick, but not crazy hot.  The herb sauce had a pungent vinegar smell and a bit of an overwhelming vinegar taste, but it’s OK.  The chicken is moist, but not as moist as La Granja De Oro.  The butternut squash side was good, but not a ton of flavor.  Next time, I’ll try some of their other sides. 

Nando's Peri Peri 1/4 Chicken with Butternut Squash & Grilled Corn  Nando's Peri Peri 1/4 Chicken  Nando's Peri Peri Butternut Squash & Grilled Corn  Nando's Peri Peri Sauce  Nando's Peri Peri

  • Service: I phoned my order in so I wouldn’t have to wait since I had limited time.  So I was pleased when I placed my order they asked if they wanted the chicken to be done before I got there or if they should wait until I arrive.  I asked to have it done before.  Unfortunately, something was lost in translation because I ended up having to wait.  But all their staff were nice and friendly.
  • Atmosphere: Their Interior is comfortable and inviting and makes one think your meal will cost way more than it actually will.  There’s a lot of seating — booths in the back and tables in the front.  The way they work reminds me of Noodles & Company except when you walk in, you are greeted with a number.  Then you put down your things and order at the register/counter.  They then will bring your food at your table and clear your dishes when you’re done. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Would I go back? Since my meal cost under $9, it’s a tasty bargain.  Does it beat La La Granja De Oro’s 1/4 chicken for under $7?  Definitely not…but it’s still good. 

Details:

  • Hours: 11:30 AM -10 PM Sun-Thurs; 11:30 AM-10:30 PM Fri & Sat
  • Address: 819 7th St NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: (202) 898-1225

I’ve been to Oceanaire a few times.  The first time it was for lunch and it was packed.  The most recent time, I went for dinner during the weekday at a peak dinner hour and there weren’t a lot of people there. 

  • Food: I went with a couple of folks who are all for eating and sharing. So we decided to order multiple plates to pass and share.  Their crab cakes are delicious because they use very little bread crumbs to keep it together.  So you’re getting a lot of crab meat (unlike some places!).  We also ordered the grilled calamari which was drenched in a very sweet pineapple sauce — not my favorite.  The oysters Rockefeller were OK, but not fantastic.  We also had escargot which were fine.  The best part of the meal?  The hash browns which were phenomenal because they were so crispy! 
  • Service: If I have a pet peeve about waitstaff, it’s to not be pushy.  When a friend was trying to determine what kind of wine, our server recommended the most expensive bottle of wine.  Now I know that servers depend on tips for their income, but seriously.  That’s when I said we’ll take a couple of minutes to take a look and we all commented on her recommendation.  Then I mentioned a story I read in the WSJ stating that at fine restaurants like this one, even the “cheapest” wine they serve is going to be good so there’s no shame in ordering it (not that you should be ashamed to order it anyway — it’s on their menu!). 
  • Atmosphere: It’s quite a large restaurant with several private dining rooms.  The interior has a nautical theme with medium-dark wood.  It’s also very brightly light.  On every table is a bucket for shells, Old Bay seasoning, and other seafood accoutrements.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: While I’ve been here a few times, I don’t feel the need to go back.  I think I’ve ordered their specialities and have tried their “unique” offerings.  While I know the fish changes regularly, I don’t have a sense that anything else changes.  There’s too many other great seafood restaurants in DC that do great (and sometimes surprising) things with fish.  But this is a good place to go with clients, especially since they have the private rooms. 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended.
  • Hours: Mon-Fri lunch 11:30 AM-5 PM; Dinner Mon-Thurs 5 PM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 5 PM-11 PM; Sun 5 PM-9 PM
  • Address: 1201 F Street NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-347-2277

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

This is only going to be a drinks and appetizer blog posting for District ChopHouse.  I still haven’t had a meal there.

But I went after work and it was surprisingly not very packed.  They have a couple of homemade beers that were 1/2 price, but otherwise not really a great place for happy hour (no wines or food).  But their extensive homemade beer list is what drew us to the place.

Happy Hour runs Monday – Friday 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Anyway, we ordered their calamari, chicken tenders, and Pancetta wrapped shrimp.  I’ll start with my least favorite and most disappointing – calamari.  It was long calamari (not rings) but that’s not why I didn’t like it.  It wasn’t crispy which is the biggest sin when talking about fried calamari.

The next was the shrimp which were really small.  The reason it wasn’t my least favorite was because anything wrapped in Pancetta is going to be good.  Pancetta solves all. 

The winner was the chicken tenders, which are usually not my favorite at all.  But these were seriously tasty.  They were crispy and the inside was seriously moist and, well, tender.  Plus, the honey mustard and BBQ sauces were pretty good. 

Side note: Onion rings passed by our table and my eyes were almost as big as they were.  They looked awesome.  Alas, we were full or we would have ordered some.  Anyone try them?  Are they as good as they appeared?

Details:

  • Hours: Mon.: – 11:00am – 10:00pm; Tue. – Fri.: 11:00am – 11:00pm; Sat.: – 11:00am – 11:00pm; Sun.: – 11:00am – 10:00pm; Sat. and Sun. Brunch – 11:00am to 3:00pm
    Address: 509 7th Street, NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: (202) 347-3434

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

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