Lunch


I know I took a break from talking about pho, but I left the best for last.  I love Pho Saigon and it’s closely tied with Pho Xe Lua for the best pho so far.   Here’s the menu:

phosaigon-menu

  • Food: What makes this one of the best pho places? The broth was incredibly aromatic and flavorful.  The beef was super lean and razor thin.  They gave me lots of Asian cilantro, basil, etc.  The only complaint was that there wasn’t as much beef as most restaurants provide, but there were enough noodles that it was still filling.

Pho Saigon Pho Tai To Go  Pho Saigon Pho Tai

  • Service: They’re very polite.  You pay up front and I *think* it’s cash-only.  I can’t remember!
  • Atmosphere:Like most pho restaurants, there’s not much.  The interior is small with only 10-12 tables.  Over the main door, you’ll see a flat screen airing, what I assume to be, Vietnamese TV shows. 

Pho Saigon Pho Saigon

  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall:You won’t go wrong when you try this pho restaurant.  It’s just so darn delicious!

Details:

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 8AM–8 PM
  • Address: 6795-1B Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: 703-677-0523

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

3 days with a car and at least 5 bowls of pho.  Obsessed I tell you!  Anyway, I continued to work my way through to the pho places throughout Eden Center in Falls Church.  Today’s pho bowl is from Viet Royale.

viet-royale-page-1  viet-royale-page-2

  • Food: Well, I think their broth is truly outstanding…and it might even be better than Pho Xe Lua.  But, you’ll see the beef is cooked…even though I asked and the waitress promised that the beef would be raw.  Despite the delicious broth, I thought their pho was OK.   The beef was a bit tough, onions were cut too thick, etc. 

Viet Royale - Falls Church VA  Viet Royale Pho Tai  Viet Royale Pho Tai

  • Service: I ordered to-go so it was fine.
  • Atmosphere:Interior has more character than a lot of pho places.  It’s one big room with probably 25-30 tables.  In the back, they have a small bar which is where you order your food-to-go.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price:  $
  • Overall:I’d skip the pho and order some of the other Vietnamese dishes they offer. 

Details:

  • Hours: 10 AM-11 PM Daily
  • Address: 6767 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 533-8388

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

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

Astor Mediterrean - Lamb Gyro and Fries

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

Details:

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

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

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

Details:

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

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu  Queen Makeda Ethiopian Menu

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian

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

Queen Makeda Ethiopian  Queen Makeda Ethiopian

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

Details:

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

I used to go to the Safeway across the street from Pollo Granjero on a weekly basis — then the Harris Teeter opened up and well, I rarely go anymore.  But, during one of the warmer “winter” days we were having, I decided to make the hike — twice.  And, I even took a photo of their menus!

Pollo Granjero - Adams Morgan  Pollo Granjero Menu  Pollo Granjero Menu

  • Food:  The first time I ordered the 5 piece grilled chicken with fried yuca and salad (you get a choice of two sides).  The chicken was greasy with a subtle, mild flavor.  And when I opened my container, I didn’t see 5 pieces of chicken (do you?).  The five pieces cost $7.99.  In my opinion, the best rotisserie chicken is still at La Granja De Oro

Pollo Granjero Grilled Chicken

I went back a second time because I heard they had the best fried chicken.  This time, I only went for two pieces.  Their mixture is not a heavy coating, but it isn’t light either.  You can detect a slight taste of cornmeal in their batter.  The best?  I wasn’t convinced, but it was good.

Pollo Granjero Fried Chicken

  • Service: It’s fine.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a fast food-type establishment so ambiance isn’t their thing.  They do have a decent number of tables and chairs though. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I think it’s a decent place for inexpensive food.  But since it’s a bit inconvient for me to go and La Granja De Oro (and my own rotisserie) is closer, well, you know. 

Details:

  • Hours: Not sure, but I think it’s probably 10:30 AM-9/10 PM Daily
  • Address: 1742 Columbia Rd (between N Champlain St & N Ontario Rd); Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 464-4444

When I rent a car, I make the most of it.  I rented a car for three days and ate pho everyday at least once a day.  Yes, I’m obsessed with pho.  Since I am on a personal mission to find the best pho in the area, I am slowly trying each place at Eden Center in Falls Church, VA.  Today’s pho restaurant is Huong Viet (the menu is here).

Huong Viet

  • Food:  While I have since heard Huong Viet has amazing apps and entrees besides pho, I only ordered pho.  They only offer 3 pho bowls — Pho Dac Biet (which is what I ordered); Pho Bo Vien (beef balls); or Pho Ga (chicken).  I did ask if they would serve the beef raw and on the side as one commenter suggested, the server said they couldn’t do that.  Instead, as you can see from the photo, the beef was cooked.  While the broth was good, I didn’t think it was all that memorable. 

Huong Viet Pho Tai

  • Service: Our server was nice.
  • Atmosphere: The restaurant has around 15-20 tables and a back bar.  The tables have glass tops and wooden chairs.  You can see the photos of the restaurant here.
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall:Like a lot of the restaurants in Eden Center, they only accept cash or checks (no credit cards!).  Now that I’ve been and know that they’re better known for food besides their pho, I’m looking forward to trying some of their other offerings!  

Details:

  • Hours:  Fri-Sat 10 am-11 pm; Sun-Thu 10 am-10 pm
  • Address: 6785 Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: (703) 538-7110

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

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

Not only was Et Voila a new restaurant for me, Palisades was a completely new neighborhood!  Yes, I’m afraid I’m a creature of habit and have a tendency to stick to “my” neighborhoods…meaning those that I can get to via Metro.  Anyway, P3 was so kind to take me after I cat sat for her.  Seriously, she’s entirely too generous! 

Et Voila Palisades

  • Food:I ordered the mussels in garlic and white wine and frites.  The mussels were beautiful — fat and juicy.  While the frites were good, they weren’t all that crispy (bummer).  The other problem was that I thought the broth was a little too salty.   But while the broth looked a little watery, it actually wasn’t.  P3 ordered their chicken simmered in its own broth with veloutée sauce with Julienne vegetables.  She said it wasn’t as good as the previous time she went, but I thought it was pretty good.  The chicken was moist and the broth was creamy and with the Julienne veggies, it reminded me of a cole slaw.   For dessert, I ordered the chocolate mousse which was rich with these little crunchy dark chocolate nibs.  It was knee-buckling good.  We also ordered their almond pastry on strawberry gelee with pistachio cream on top.  While it was delicious, their mousse is ridiculous.
  • Service: Our server was nice, albeit a little absent.
  • Atmosphere: It’s a somewhat long and definitely skinny restaurant.  They have pretty limited seating — probably only about 20-25 tables.
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: Unlike some restaurants, they don’t do a ridiculous mark-up on their wine.  We ordered their Domaine Guillon Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2004.  That was a fantastic bottle!  But I digress.  If I ever get to Palisades neighborhood again, I would definitely go back to Et Voila.  P3 and I chatted after our dinner and determined thatwhat we love about this place is that they rely on good ingredients and using a few spices to bring out those flavors. 

Details:

  • Reservations: They’re pretty much required if you want to get a seat, no matter if it’s a weekend or weekday.
  • Hours: Closed Mondays; Tues-Fri 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm; Sat & Sun 11 am-3 pm and 5-10 pm
  • Address: 5120 MacArthur Blvd NW; Washington, DC 20016
  • Ph: (202) 237-2300

Variety Deli opened up several months ago, but I never went…until recently.  Here are photos of their menu. 

Breakfast menu:

Variety Deli Breakfast Menu  Variety Deli Breakfast Menu

Lunch and Dinner menu:  

Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu  Variety Deli Menu 

  • Food: I ordered the New Yorker sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw on perfectly toasted rye.  While I know that may sound crazy, I’ve found a lot of restaurants don’t let the bread actually toast until it’s light brown.  Instead, they figure if it’s gone through the toaster it’s “toasted.” 

Variety Deli New Yorker Sandwich

  • Atmosphere: The interior is fun with red walls and white tables and chairs.  In the back of the deli, there’s mirrors so the place seem a bit bigger than reality. 
  • Service: The woman behind the counter was very nice and was fast when she was making my sandwich. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: For a quick sandwich, it’s a good spot. 

Details:

  • Hours: 7 AM-9 PM Mon-Thurs; 7 AM-10:30 PM Fri-Sat; 12 noon-7 PM Sun
  • Address: 2120 18th Street NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-234-3354

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

Pho is absolutely my favorite.  It’s fast and easy to make.  In fact, it’s become my “fall back” meal when my fridge is low on food. 

Anyway, I love to get out to Seven Corners whenever possible and I was able to get out there recently to try another new pho place.  This time, it was Pho Time.

  • Food: The broth is greasy and the beef was completely cooked by the time it got to the table (boo).  But I did like that they offered Asian cilantro.  

Pho Time Tai Pho  Pho Time  Pho Time Restaurant Hours  Pho Time Restaurant

  • Service: Like most pho places, they food comes quick and they never check to see how everything is — instead, you have to be proactive to find someone. 
  • Atmosphere: There are about 15-20 tables and a flat screen TV.  The music is loud and American, but like most Pho places, they kindly greet you and allow you to sit anywhere. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: It was OK, but it wasn’t great.  Pho Xe Lua is still my favorite pho.  But if you’re going with a someone who’s not a pho fan, they do have a lot of other food options besides pho. 

Details:

  • Hours: Daily 9 AM-9 PM
  • Address: Eden Center; 6793-D Wilson Blvd; Falls Church, VA 22044
  • Ph: Not sure…sorry!

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

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

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

My love for Korean food continues, but I haven’t found a good sit-down restaurant in DC yet.  Now while I love the Korean cart and Adam Express, neither has real sit-down capabilities.  So when I found out Yee Hwa was in DC and had some good reviews, I was hopeful.  

  • Food:  One of the things I love about Korean food is the banchan.  Now since I went at a dinner, I was expecting more than we were given, but it was still good.  For the main, I ordered vegetable bibim bap — which was pretty good (not as good as Heebeen or Woo Lae Oak) because the egg was too cooked so the rice couldn’t get crunchy.  They charge an extra dollar for the claypot, but it’s definitely worth it (although am bummed they did that).  At the end of our meal, they provided a small cup of cold tea with honey, ginger, and cinnamon (and other spices?).

Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Banchan  Yee Hwa Vegetable Bibimbap

  • Service: Our server was very nice, although a little absent. 
  • Atmosphere: It’s a decent sized restaurant and has 40-50 tables.  The booths though need to be redone because where I was sitting, the springs were poking out. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $$
  • Overall: When you can’t get out to Virginia and want a sit-down Korean restaurant, this place is the closest I’ve found in DC to good Korean.  I’d definitely go back again and try some of their other dishes!

Details:

  • Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm Sat noon – 10 pm Sun noon – 9:30 pm
  • Address: 1009 21st St NW; Washington, DC 20036
  • Ph: 202-833-1244

It had been more than a year since I had last gone here, but I just went back again.  For a good year and change, no one could talk to me about Rasika without me talking about their popcorn.  Have you had it?  It’s an amazing combination of spices, sweet, salty, spicy — it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s truly like nothing you’ve ever had before. 

  • Food:I went with a friend and we were there in time for their pre-theater menu (I think it’s from 5:30-6:30 PM and $30).  We ordered the calamari chili garlic which was not fried, but sauteed and absolutely delicious.  Then we also ordered the seekh kebab which was spicy with fantastic flavor.  For the entree, w ordered the tandoori salmon which was sweet with a hint of cardamon. 

That’s right — I ordered cardamon.  Here’s what I’ve figured — I don’t know like it when it’s overpowering which is what happens in a lot of Indian restaurants.  Not at Rasika.  It’s perfect. 

I ordered the lamb pistta korma and the sauce was phenomenal while the lamb was moist, tender and awesome.  For dessert, it was the gulab jamun.  It’s 2 dumplings with honey drizzled and super sweet with cardamon ice cream.  The carrot pudding with cinnamon sabayon was shredded carrots, cashews, raisins missed together with the sabayon holding it together.  It reminded me a bit like a carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting.

  • Service: Our server was incredibly nice and was helpful with telling us what was in some of the entrees.  Great servers! 
  • Atmosphere: There is a small bar with only 10-12 stools, but there’s also 7-10 small tables and chairs in the bar.  Then there are two main dining room areas.  With dim lighting and comfortable Indian-inspired interior, it’s an impressive restaurant to take anyone.  But it does get loud and cozy, so don’t go if you need to talk about anything you want to keep quiet!
  • Attire: Business casual
  • Price: $$$
  • Overall: I love Rasika and I think I could eat here every week.  The food is always good and the popcorn is insanely unique.  I have to get that recipe! 

Details:

  • Reservations strongly recommended.
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30 pm, Fri 5:30-11 pm, Sat 5-11pm, Closed Sun
  • Address: 633 D St, NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • Ph: 202-637-1222

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