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

I have always talked about wanting to go to Bar Louie (menu here) and just went after seeing the Sex and the City movie.  I didn’t realize, until just now, that it’s a bit of a chain!

  • Food:I ordered the Baja fish tacos which were pretty good.  The fish was seasoned very well (and not fried, yay!).  The only reason it got a “pretty good” is because the flour tortillas were soggy from the mango salad so it made eating the tacos quite difficult.  However, the mango salsa (with tomato and cilantro) was excellent.  The guacamole was decent.  We also ordered their tater tots after the bartender said that Bar Louie is famous for ’em.  The same friend who went with me to Bar Louie was with me at Tonic and we concurred that the tots weren’t as good as Tonic because they were cold and not as crispy.  My friend ordered the buffalo chicken and apparently, her food was also cold. 
  • Service: Our bartender was a little slow on the service and obviously the kitchen wasn’t exactly on it’s A game.  
  • Atmosphere:It’s very spacious and has nice outdoor seating.  It’d be a great place to go with a bunch of friends for a casual night or to watch a game.  Wow, I almost forgot to share.  Their bathroom, when we were there, clearly had a MAJOR problem.  It smelled so badly — I’m sure a back-up happened, but they should really put up a sign or something.  It was foul. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: If you want to meet up with a bunch of friends in Chinatown/Penn Quarter area, I think this is a great alternative to Clyde’s for a few beers and watch a game.  Their food is a bit of a “hit and miss,” but definitely try those fish tacos (but ask for the flour tortillas on the side or something).  I’ll go back and might try those sliders…I do love mini-burgers!

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 11 AM-2 AM
  • Address: 701 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-638-2460

My friend got discounted tickets through Goldstar for Hairspray and so we decided to do dinner beforehand at Haad Thai

  • Food:We ordered the spring rolls which were really good.  They were lightly fried and flaky.  The sweet and sour sauce were definitely canned, but it worked.  The vegetarian Pad Thai we ordered was different.  While we ordered ours with medium heat, it had no spice.  In addition, the tofu was a bit hard and not spongy like it was supposed to be.   
  • Service: Our server was polite, but very confused when we asked for more chilies for our Pad Thai.  In the end, she brought out a simple 3 jar rack with 3 different kinds of chilies — perfect!
  • Atmosphere: The walls have a tropical theme and if you visit their Web site, you can see the photos.  From the photos, it seems like you’re sitting outside, but in reality at the restaurant, you know you’re not.  However, they do have pretty big windows (perhaps floor-to-ceiling — can’t remember) so it was very light inside.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: I’d go back for their spring rolls and to try their calamari.  But I didn’t think their Pad Thai was great.  On the upside, beer is around $4 at all times so it’s almost as if they had a happy hour.  I can see why people who work in this area would like to go there for a quick lunch though.

Details:

  • Reservations not required.
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 AM-2:30 PM, 5-10:30 PM; Saturday 12 PM-10:30 PM; Sunday 5 PM-10:30 PM
  • Address: 1100 New York Ave; Washington DC 20005 (entrance is on 11th Street)
  • Ph: 202-682-1111

Two+ years ago, I went to Ceiba for Restaurant Week.  I don’t remember what I ordered, but since I haven’t been since then…well, you know.

Anyway, I do remember the inside of the restaurant was nice and when I was researching Restaurant Week, I stumbled (no pun intended) upon their happy hour information.

Here it is!  I’ll have to go back sometime and do a review on the food. 

Monday-Friday from 2:30-10:30 PM $5 cocktails (throughout the restaurant) and complimentary bocaditos (appetizers) from 4-7 PM in the bar-area only.  

  • Monday — Drink special: Mojito/bocaditos: mini pressed Cuban sandwiches
  • Tuesday — Drink special: Caipirinha/bocadito: grilled Chorizo and a Chimichurri sauce
  • Wednesday — Drink special: Pisco Sour/bocadito: ceviche & crisp flour tortillas
  • Thursday — Drink special: Sangria/bocadito: assorted Tapas
  • Friday — Drink special: Margarita/bocadito: guacamole, blistered tomato salsa, crisp corn tortillas

Details:

  • Address: 701 14th Street, N.W., Washington DC 20005
  • Ph: (202) 393-3983

Hi there, I’m P3 and am blogging today’s restaurant review.

My friend and I went to Central Michel Richard at 5:30, before theatre (even though they don’t really have a pre-theatre menu) and it was already starting to fill up fast.

  • Food:To start with, I ordered the iceberg and bleu cheese salad which had too much bleu cheese dressing and the lettuce was chopped (instead of the wedge).  Plus, it wasn’t icy cold.  I did like the nuts they added on top though.  My friend ordered the Caesar salad which he said was OK but was nothing out of the ordinary. It was served with a big crusty crouton.  Since Washingtonian had ranked it as one of the best, I ordered the cheeseburger. It came with fries, which were very good and crispy with a nice seasoning spice. The burger was just OK. Honestly, I think Columbia Station (the jazz place in Adams Morgan) has a better burger. But that might be because I like charbroiled burgers and this didn’t have it.  The burger came with crispy wafers of potato on top, which is interesting, but not enough to make me rave about it.  My friend ordered the mussels with white wine and garlic which was also just OK. Not a whole lot of flavor, but it was a very nice portion size. We got a side of creamed spinach which was bland. We kept tasting it and shaking our heads “No.”  
  • Service: When we arrived, I had to leave my car, with the keys, on the street with three other cars b/c the valets were so busy. (Very trusting of me, I know, but we were running late and fortunately nothing happened this time).  Our waiter was friendly, attentive and considerate of the fact that we mentioned we needed to leave in time for a 7:30 show. 
  • Atmosphere: The Web site says “playful, contemporary” — I guess I agree.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I’m afraid it was another one of those scenarios — heard tons about it, know it’s the “it” place to go, wanted to like it, but Central Michel Richard was mostly a disappointment.

[Ed. note I haven’t been, but Central apparently has great beer offerings.  They have Blusser (only available on tap in 4 places in the U.S. and DC has 2 of them), a German beer bottled exclusively for Richard.] 

Details:

  • Reservations recommended, though they say they accept walk-ins.
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Monday – Thursday, 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday Hours: Dinner 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Address: 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-626-0015

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

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

Details:

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

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

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

Details:

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

Located in Chinatown, Zengo is a great place to go with clients, parents, dates, friends — pretty much everyone!  Always serving great food, you can’t go wrong with this restaurant. 

I’ll write a restaurant review later, but for now — here’s the deal on happy hour.  It’s from 5-7 PM Monday-Thursday with a variety of discounts on their cocktails and appetizers.

When you walk in, you’re immediately on the ground floor bar (there’s another small bar on the 2nd floor).  The tables (and bathrooms) are on the 2nd floor.

Details:

  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:00pm-10:00pm, Friday-Saturday 5:00pm-11:00pm; Bar/Lounge: Sunday – Monday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm, Tuesday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 11:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 5:00pm – 12:00am
  • Address:  781 Seventh Street NW; Washington, DC 20001
  • Ph: 202.393.2929

Thanks to Penn Quarter Living for alerting their readers to Zaytinya’s celebration of being in business for 5 years (a lifetime in restaurant years) with $5 specials on drinks, mezze, and desserts. 

It’s running from October 22-29th.  In addition:

Monday, October 22, 2007, 5-7 pm

Happy Birthday!

Join us for a cocktail party marking our fifth anniversary!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Zaytinya continues its fifth anniversary celebration with a night of premier Lebanese wines from Chateau Musar featuring special guests wine authority and importer Bartholomew Broadbent and acclaimed winemaker Serge Hochar

  • Vertical Tasting, 5 pm

Featuring Chateau Musar Blanc 1994, 1998 and 2000 and Chateau Musar Red 1978, 1988, 1995 and 1999

$100 per person, gratuity and tax not included, reservations required

  • Wine Dinner, 7 pm

A special four-course menu created by Chef Mike Isabella with wine pairings by Serge Hochar

$150 per person, gratuity and tax not included, reservations required

Can join both the tasting and wine dinner for $200.

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

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

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

Chips and Salsa (and Oyamel margarita)

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

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

Details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Details:

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

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

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

  • Ph: 202-347-6848