spirits/liquor


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

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

Details:

  • Reservations are not accepted, but at night and on weekends, be prepared for a super long wait! 
  • Hours: Mon-Thu,Sun 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am
  • Address: 1835 18th St NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: (202) 387-0035
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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

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

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

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 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

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