Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category

Silver Diner Debuts New Local/Healthy Menu

The chef was right: the not-so-cranky strawberries made for a delightful salad. The sliders were amazing too! (Photo credit: www.staceyviera.com)

I swear I’m not going to become a food blogger. But I do love food- and apparently people notice when I write about food.

After writing about my brunch at Liberty Tavern, Silver Diner across the street invited me to a dinner with other bloggers to try out their new Fresh & Local menu. The new menu features items that are locally bought ingredients, gluten and allergy free, and health conscious.

I was surprised that co-founder and CEO Robert Giaimo was bluntly honest about the demographic of his customers. He asked how many of us have dined at one of his establishments and then asked how many of us were sober while doing so. Since I live across the street from this particular location I was proud to keep my hand up (even though I think I spent the later night of a Cinco de Mayo there as well.) However since he understands his clientele he also knows where the future of dining was going- and wants Silver Diner to lead the charge as they become the Next Generation Diner.

I was also impressed by the other co-founder and Vice President of Culinary Operations Ype Von Hengst. A chef born in The Netherlands, he was not what I pictured Silver Diner’s top food man to be. He knew how to entertain the crowd, comparing the new local produce as food that wasn’t cranky from a week long trip across the country.

Like I said I’m no food critic, if you want more informed opinions of the the new menu please consult my good friends at DC Gluttony and Every Food Fits.

I will say this though- they certainly treated us to a feast and it was good- and fellow TMG alumni Lisa approves as well.

Silver Diner is located all over Virginia and Maryland- check out their website to find out where the closest one to you is and if they carry the new menu, which is being rolled out in phases.

What’s Your Favorite DC Food Truck?

I never thought I would order food from a truck but these treats are not your typical tourist food trap.

Now that I’m working in Rosslyn I’ve become accustomed to the food carts that park themselves right outside the Gannett building.

First I tried a Gryo at the Metro Halal Food Cart, because if you know me you know I love Halal food. It’s pretty good and my former co-worker/foodie Kristen agrees.

Once I popped my food cart cherry I had to check out the other regulars, including District Taco. The breakfast tacos I had there were awesome, I ordered three which were probably more than I actually needed- good to note for future breakfast meals. (Also good for company lunches- NMS loves District Taco!)

The next food cart I’m trying to track down is Vietnamese sandwich truck Rebel Heroes. As a proud Vietnamese American, I know my mom would be delighted to hear that I’m actually actively seeking to eat Banh-Mi for lunch. New blogger friend Stacey Viera recently got to talk with owner Tan Nguyen who told her they are “revolutionizing the sub.”

Of course these mobile food providers join a growing list of DC area mobile restaurateurs. It appears that you can get everything from Pizza to Cupcakes from a truck. Even local salad chain Sweetgreen is joining in the fun with their Sweetflow truck. However some of the most well known DC food trucks specialize in more foreign cuisine.

The Fojol Brothers have been recognized as the Best Mobile Food Truck by Washington City Paper. They serve Indian dishes with flair- just visit the site and look at the family portrait!

Sauca serves up global menu of dishes and not only do they sell food from around the world but music as well.

Like many of the above businesses, On The Fly has an eye towards the planet and tries to run a green operation through electric powered GEM carts that haul their warez.

I’m sure there’s even more out there- I know that Pupatella is currently in the process to roll out around the Arlington area, what’s your favorite DC Food Truck/Cart?

Travel Channel’s Food Wars Pits Jumbo Slice Against Pizza Mart

Sometimes I get my DC news from the media, sometimes I get it from pitches.

I got this one from overhearing my co-workers that sit behind me. Hey I heard Jumbo Slice and you got my attention (even though I haven’t been since the one time I went there in 2008.)

Travel Channel’s Food Wars will be airing their Washington, DC episode which features the battle of the late-night, large-slice eateries: Jumbo Slice and Pizza Mart.

Sure it may not be the definitive food battle here in DC (no Peruvian Chicken battle? How about cupcakes, burgers, or Ethiopian food?) but the show should tackle a choice I never really thought much about when I am drunk and roaming the streets at 3 AM. I usually pass up Pizza Mart and go straight to the place named after the product I want to eat.

You can catch the episode tonight at 10 & 11 PM on The Travel Channel. Complete schedule can be found here.

Northside Social Told In Three Visits

An early construction photo of Northside Social reveals many places for sitting as well as a countertop that I've grown to enjoy.

In my lifelong quest for finding places where I can blog, I gave Murky Coffee in Clarendon a try and found it to be the perfect stereotypical coffee spot: kind of divey, free WiFi, and always overcrowded due to it’s perfect environment for studying or looking like a hipster.

When Murky became defunct last year, I was not so interested about a bakery opening up in it’s place, but when the plan evolved into a new coffee shop run by the folks at Liberty Tavern- I was more than excited to find another place to write my blog posts.

The new coffee shop, Northside Social, opened up this week and I was more than excited to walk down the street and give it a try.

Visit One: Tuesday April 6th

I walked into the old Murky space and saw that it was anything but. Fresh coats of off-white paint; metal buckets used as lighting fixtures; and green and white accents give the place a country/farmhouse look. The handwritten menu completes the feel that I’ve walked out of Arlington and into a place hundreds of miles further.

The place was busy but not crowded; it was only the second day of business for the shop and it helped that I walked in well after most 9-5ers were in the office. I took a brief walk around the place and saw that the back room was still there, however the furniture looked less like it was acquired from Goodwill. Upstairs I found a bar and additional tables. I decided to pull up a stool at the long counter-top and pull out my netbook. I was excited about the fresh new look and was eager top write about it. However I was disappointed to see that neither of the store’s two WiFi networks were functioning. I overheard an employee say that the WiFi, “was still evolving.”

Still I grabbed an ice coffee and pulled out some papers on my reading list. While I was there I met Marianne Tolosa, Northside’s director of coffee, who gave me more insight on the new space. During the day Northside hopes to be a premiere coffee stop during the day, and at night open up the upstairs bar and serve wine at night.

Visit Two: April 10th

I decided to give Northside another go after my first experience, I walked over on Saturday morning and grabbed another spot on the counter. I was happy to see that one of the two WiFi networks were working and I was soon busy typing away on my keyboard.

The crowd has certainly grown- a quick look at their Facebook page reveals a lot of buzz from the media and locals.

I started to write this post but my phone rang and I had to suddenly leave. A return visit on Sunday was a possibility- perhaps a necessity to finish this write-up.

Visit Two: April 11th

Something I learned about Sundays: forget about hitting up a coffee shop- the DC brunch crowd makes it impossible to find an open seat.

I decided to take the risk and walk down to see what the crowd would be like on Northside’s first Sunday in business. Just as I expected a line spilled out the door and the outdoor patio was well stocked with Arlingtonians. I peeked inside and saw that the counter, my new home at Northside, was completely open. I guess people didn’t want to sit next to the long line of customers but I’m not picky. In fact I’d welcome anybody that wants to read this write-up over my shoulder.

Clearly Northside Social is enjoying a fantastic opening crowd, and for good reason. A great location, refreshing new look, and the people of the Liberty Tavern restaurant group all come together to form a new coffeehouse that will be a complete success.

Despite some growing pains, I will enjoy the place much more after they get their WiFi up and running at full strength and perhaps the music is a tad on the loud side, there’s nothing wrong with Northside Social and from the long line behind me as I type this- I’m not the only one that thinks so.

Northside Social
3211 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, Virginia 22201
http://northsidesocialarlington.com

Washington City Paper Unveil’s Best of D.C. 2010

It’s time again for the Washington City Paper‘s annual Best of D.C. The 2010 edition is dedicated to “the newcomer,” as Erik Wemple writes:

“In the best spirit of civic journalism, we are dedicating this issue to the newcomers. We want the rest of the city to stand up and look at what you folks are doing for this town, and at the same time, we want to impart advice on what’s worth checking out around here.”

The list is expansive as ever, with a wide variety of categories from Best Brunch to Best Strip Club.

I read over the complete list and here are my thoughts:

  • Best Brunch: Tabard Inn, Twist Dupont at the Carlyle Suites Hotel, Open City – now I’m not a brunching person but two out of the three “best brunches” at a hotel just sounds little bit snobby to me. What’s wrong with Matchbox or Kramer’s?
  • Best Coffee Shop: I was hoping for something other than Tryst when I saw the results- Tryst is fine but it’s also a hybrid lounge/bar that happens to be open late at night- I would never go there at night to do coffee house-like things- like write this blog post. I’m happy the staff pick was Chinatown Coffee Co. – place I’ve blogged in.
  • Best Dive Bar (Staff Pick): Cafe Wazobia – now I don’t go to shaw all the time but this list of reasons Amanda Hess has provided sold me:
  1. Mysterious drink pricing
  2. Negotiable cover
  3. Music videos displayed on the bar’s TV screens do not correspond to the music actually being played
  4. Aggressive neon signage
  5. 50-50 chance that the only other person at the bar will vacate her stool when you arrive, as she is your bartender
  6. Meat on a stick
  7. Bar design consists of a bunch of alcohol bottles stacked on a table
  8. Poorly lit
  9. Though plenty of glassware hangs behind the bar, drinks are served in red Solo cups
  10. Extremely low name recognition among D.C. residents
  11. Disco ball in back
  12. When asked for a house special, a bartender served me a cup of cranberry juice and Hennessey.

I don’t know if I want to go here or stay away for fear of death.

  • Best Way To Pronounce “Pho”: The WCP staff may say, “any damn way you want,” but I say I’m more than ok with ditching the correct Vietnamese pronunciation and using my last name instead. I do own all the Pho shops in DC after all- my name is Pho!
  • Best Electronics Shop: The top choice was Best Buy- but really where else are you going to go?
  • Best Wizards Player: Really? Gilbert Arenas?

My final note: everybody appears to be in love with ChurchKey. I guess I should check it out.

Full Kee The Darling Of Chinatown?

I’m not from the most culturally diverse place.

Despite this however sometimes I’m surprised at the selection of eateries in Washington D.C.’s “Chinatown.” I find it funny that I can find numerous Mexican, steakhouse, and fast food cuisine- with an Asian restaurant mixed in the mis-matched bunch. Chinatown back in my hometown of Boston blows DC’s version out of the water.

Granted there are some Asian touches that I suppose makes Chinatown a Chinatown: Asian lettering on the Ruby Tuesday’s, shady “trading company” stores where my friend Adam can buy herbal remedies made out of bee venom and tiger balm, and I suppose that big ol’ arch also effectively marks the neighborhood as Chinatown-like. Still I’m not too experienced when it comes to eating Chinese food in Chinatown.

So when I found myself in Chinatown after the Georgetown game this past Saturday, my friend Adam and I decided to actually find a Chinese food restaurant to have some lunch. After consulting Yelp we settled on Full Kee, who’s reviews were more polarizing than Avatar. We knew we were going to eat at the best, or the worst restaurant in Chinatown. It was a risk I was ready to take for my friend, and my loyal readers.

We were lucky to grab a table before the post-game rush came through the door. The cozy little place isn’t very pretty, but most restaurants in a Chinatown type district aren’t. The place fit the typical Chinatown image- complete with a butcher at the front window chopping up ducks.

While we ordered and waited for our meals my friend Wendi stopped in, hoping to get lunch before a Chinatown bus ride. She told me Full Kee was her favorite place and that we made a great choice. Her opinion was backed up by the long line that had already formed out the door.

The food was everything I expected out of a Chinese food restaurant: the chicken was covered in some sort of brown sauce, the duck was crispy, and the whole meal was certainly fat and greasy. It certainly wasn’t bad but I may need a repeat visit to decide if it is particularly good.

What do you think? Is Full Kee the best Chinatown has to offer or is there another place I should try?

Full Kee
509 H St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 371-2233
http://www.fullkeedc.com

Buy A Keychain, Get Free Frostys For Entire Year

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alana Elliot

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alana Elliot

The title doesn’t lie. As you know I love to talk about free food and this deal is almost too good to be true.

But it is.

Goodwill of Greater Washington and Wendy’s are kicking off an incredible fundraiser: Between January 4th and February 28th, 2010, any customer who purchases a Frosty-shaped key tag at participating Wendy’s in the Greater Washington, DC region for $1, will receive a free Frosty with any purchase at Wendy’s for the remainder of 2010.

$1 buys you free dessert with your Wendy’s meal for all of 2010. How sweet is that?

DavCo Restaurants based in Silver Spring, owns over 155 Wendy’s restaurants and has the exclusive rights to the metropolitan areas of Baltimore MD, Washington DC, and St. Louis MO.

“At Wendy’s we understand the dignity, independence and self sufficiency that come from work”, commented Rick Borchers, DavCo Restaurants’ Chief Operating Officer. “In the midst of a recession, partnering with Goodwill just made logical sense. We are excited about the opportunity to help our local community.”

Approximately 80 cents from every key tag sold will benefit Goodwill.

“Given the magnitude of this promotion, and the critical importance of Goodwill’s job training and employment services in today’s challenging economy, we believe the Frosty™ fundraiser will have a measurable impact on our community”, said Brendan Hurley, Goodwill of Greater Washington VP of Marketing & Communications. “We are very grateful for Wendy’s generosity and philanthropic spirit.”

You should be able to purchase your key tags at participating Wendy’s restaurants and local Goodwill retail stores.

Brendan Hurley from Goodwill sent me an e-mail telling me that the campaign has done great in it’s first couple of weeks- so be sure to grab your key tag and enjoy Frosty’s for all of 2010!

Screwtop Wine Bar & American Flatbread Headline New Face Of Clarendon

Screwtop Wine Bar one of many new additions to the Clarendon area

Screwtop Wine Bar one of many new additions to the Clarendon area

Watch out, Clarendon is about to get a whole lot hipper.

The Arlington neighborhood is already popularly known as the place to live if you are a young professional and the area is expanding with construction cranes filling the skyline, working to complete another apartment building. Along with additional residential projects, additional retail businesses are also sprouting up. On the corner of Washington & Fillmore, a few hundred feet from my door step, a new corridor of stores and restaurants are now open for business.

The Fillmore alleyway used to be a one-way street with nothing of note besides the local ABC store on one end and Harry’s Tap Room on the other, with a whole lot of nothing in between. Now a sleek new Gold’s Gym and a Le Pain Quotidien are in place and two new restaurants are ready to accommodate the locals.

Screwtop Wine Bar adds a new dimension to the already packed Clarendon food scene. Only six days old, the bar has actually been online for awhile, with a construction blog active since August. Screwtop offers a wide selection of small production wines and microbrews, which makes it the perfect place to find a try and taste something different. The restaurant also offers a Wine club where subscribers receive two bottles of a selected wine and cheese, charcuterie or chocolate for pairing.

Besides it’s angle for wine, what makes Screwtop a really interesting destination is the story behind its owner, Wendy Buckley. A former AOL executive, she left her six figure job at AOL to open the bar and has been since profiled in an AOL online reality series.

Another new face on Fillmore is American Flatbread, which offers an interesting variety of flatbread pizzas. Some of the specials include a Roasted Beet and Carrot Flatbread made with organic swiss chard, topped with all natural mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and pizza made with Virginia Ham, Apple, and Cheddar. American Flatbread is a part of Franchise that was founded in Vermont.

As more apartment complexes reach completion we can expect even more additions to the already bustling Clarendon scene.

Screwtop Wine Bar
1025 N. Fillmore St.
Arlington, VA 22201

American Flatbread
1025 N. Fillmore St.
Arlington, VA 22201
703-243-9465

Ben Ali, 1927-2009

Today we got the sad news that Ben Ali, founder of DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, passed away Wednesday night of congestive heart failure.   Ben and his wife Virginia opened the restaurant in 1958 and it quickly became a fixture.  Its casual atmosphere and unforgettable chili half-smokes have been a favorite of visiting entertainers, DC luminaries, and everyone else in the city for more than fifty years.  It’s been an attention-getter for decades, and was the only business to remain open through the 1968 riots — and has remained a force in the neighborhood, non-stop, through all the changes U Street has seen over the years.  One thing that hadn’t changed for the past twenty-plus years was the sign behind the counter that read:  “List of Who Eats Free At Ben’s:  Bill Cosby.  No One Else”; that is, until the sign was changed to add the Obama Family (with the notation “but he paid”).

Ben’s has been featured in just about every travelogue related to DC that one can think of!   Recent expansions include the new Nationals Ballpark and Ben’s Next Door.

We at DC Metblogs want to express our heartfelt condolences to the Ali family.  Rest in peace, Ben, and thanks for creating such a great place for us Washingtonians to love.

Bens on U Street (wikimedia).  Thanks for everything!

Ben's on U Street (wikimedia). Thanks for everything!

Charity Spotlight-Business-Best Buddies Happy Hour Thursday

So, very recently, I’ve stepped up my charitable responsibilities here in the District.  Now, while I think it might be a bit…much…if I were to suddenly start using this platform as a way to trumpet my own causes (Just in case you are curious), I do think it is a great opportunity to talk about your causes.  We invite you to write to dcmetblogs@gmail.com to let us know about upcoming charitable events that benefit the DC area you think our readers might be interested in attending or participating in.  Each week we’ll try and pick one or two to showcase, so be sure to let us know why your event should be the one chosen!  Now, on to this week’s highlighted event:

September10HappyHourEvite[1]

It’s fall-so it’s football.  Thursday night marks the opening of the NFL season, and while Patrick has been fantasying it up, and I’m in near hysterics watching my team make questionable move after questionable move-I think we can both safely say that we are looking forward to Thursday.  Maybe you are too-and maybe you’re looking to celebrate the new NFL year with friends, loved ones-or to make some new friends or loved ones, or you’re looking for some end of the year charitable donations to make as an offset to all of the money you won in Vegas on the Super Bowl this year.

If any of these are the case, might I suggest the Business Buddies Mid-Atlantic Region Fall Happy Hour, which just so happens to coincide with the Thursday night festivities.  Business Buddies Mid-Atlantic Region (BBMAR) will host a “Reality Bites” themed fundraising happy hour at Front Page in Arlington, VA on Thursday, September 10 from 4:00pm-8:00pm. The organization of charitable minded young professionals will raise funds for Best Buddies Virginia (BBVA), a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of intellectually disabled individuals. Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at www.BestBuddiesVirginia.org/Events and proceeds will benefit BBVA.

The Arlington Front Page, right next to the mall in Ballston, will offer half-price appetizers and burgers, as well as $2 Miller Lights, $3 draft beers, $2.75 rail drinks $3.25 house wines and $4.50 John Daily’s (firefly & lemonade).

If you were going to go out to the bar to watch the game anyway, then maybe try and make a detour out to the Front Page and support BBMAR and BBVA.  You might just build good karma (for you or your team).

More about BBVA: Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

More about BBMAR: With many young professional organizations in the area, this one is unique in that it offers the opportunity to support an organization with a population that is often neglected and misunderstood. Through BBMAR, professionals in their 20s and 30s can engage with like-minded individuals and raise support for programs that enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through friendships and in the workplace. BBMAR will provide opportunities to attend networking events, professional development seminars and, most importantly, interact and participate with Best Buddies members in the various schools in the area.

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