Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category

Why I Don’t Want You To Go To Jay’s Saloon

Photo courtesy of Flickr user lifeinthedistrict

Photo courtesy of Flickr user lifeinthedistrict

When I first moved into my current place in Clarendon my roommates and I noticed a quaint little house around the corner next to the car dealership.

It was actually a bar called Jay’s Saloon and Grille.

At first the appearance was somewhat run down and somewhere between divey and dicey. We joked about going there and drinking with all the middle aged townies that probably frequent the place. It wasn’t until I organized a roommate happy hour at Jay’s that I found out what I was missing. I’ve already written that this place maybe our McLaren’s.

The Washington Post opens their review with the exact same thoughts I had when I spent that summer night at Jay’s:

I love Jay’s Saloon & Grille so much that I don’t want to tell you about it. I don’t want you to discover it. I don’t want it to be crowded and popular. I really love this bar. I would not write in the first person otherwise.

Now I know exactly what Shayla was thinking. As much as I want to tell everyone what a great place this is, I don’t want too many people to know. What gives Jay’s its charm is the fact that in location and environment, it is truly my neighborhood bar. I love how it always has the right amount of people, so it’s sociable but not too crowded. It’s the perfect place to relax after a tough day at work or a place to start before you head out into Clarendon or DC.

After that initial happy hour, we kept coming back again and again. My roommates were already recognized by the wait staff a week or two since discovery.

The cover of the menu looks like it’s circa 1985: the pages are typewritten with handwritten notes and former items blacked out with marker. But with the retro menu comes the retro prices- which looks like they haven’t been changed since the 90’s. The fare is standard- not bad but not great either, however the cheese fries are a favorite with my house. Jay’s Happy Hour is where the place truly shines $2 domestic bottles and deals on Budweiser and Coors Light drafts: $1.50 for a frosty mug of beer or $7 for a full pitcher. House wines — from the “Wine List” — are $2.95 per glass. It’s one of the best deals around town short of heading over to Recessions.

We typically enjoy drinks in the covered patio section in front of the bar. Astroturf covers the space that is full of plastic lawn furniture, Christmas lights, and if you look carefully- hung oil paintings that gives the place a more southern feel.

Inside there’s a pool table that’s been covered and unused every time I’ve been and a ramp takes you up to a bar and table area where you can find the townies I stereotyped earlier. However the crowd is actually a jovial mix of young professionals, and other people that make up streets around Jay’s- it truly is a neighborhood bar where the mood is low-key and relaxed.

On the weekends the place will get a bit more crowded that usual but I hope that during the week I’ll still be able to walk 100 ft out of my house and into the patio without having to hunt for a table.

Jay’s Saloon has so far been Arlington’s best kept secret.

Jay’s Saloon and Grille
3114 N. 10th St.
Arlington, VA 22201
703-527-3093

Daily DC Item: Z-Burger Holding Burger Eating Contest

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael McDonough

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael McDonough

I know I just wrote about Z-Burger on Friday, but I found out that the place I just reviewed is holding a burger eating contest this Thursday on July 2nd at high noon. They are calling the competition eating event the, “Independence Burger Eating Championship.

I love it. It’s about time some burger place tried to compete with it’s sister food: The Hot Dog.

For the winner that can eat the most burgers, Z-Burger is rewarding the first place $1,500 in cash and $1,000 of Z-Burger food. Wow I don’t know what I’d do with a G’s worth of burgers…

A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to the Hope House Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps children of incarcerated parents. So at least we are eating burgers for a good cause!

The showdown will take place at Z-Burger’s Tenleytown location at 4321 Wisconsin Ave.

So if you want to see people stuff their faces be sure to come on down on Thursday, however if you want the chance to EAT LOTS OF BURGERS you can e-mail them at zburgerdc@gmail.com at and register as a contestant!

Z-Burger New Kid On The Burger Block

lAs you know I’m a fan of a good burger. So you can understand that I was intrigued when I learned from Lemmonex that there was a new burger place in town. I was so intrigued that I trekked all the way from Arlington to Tenleytown to check out Z-Burger.

The reviews of this place make lots of mentions of milk shakes, onion rings, and comparisons to Five Guys-  the golden standard of burgers around here. I drove by it and I noticed the Z logo, complete with a ribbon that resembles a superhero cape- is Z-Burger here to save us from the burger monotony?

The storefront is sleek and smooth, brushed metal describes the decor rather well and the signage explained simply what I could expect: “Z-Burgers, Z Fries & Shakes.” When I walked in the menu was rather familiar for fans of Five Guys:  Fresh burgers and toppings (that come with either 1 or 2 patties) and generous portions of fries cooked in peanut oil. What makes Z-Burger different are a few extra menu items which includes the aforementioned onion rings and milkshakes (75 flavors to choose from!) If you go to their Glover Park location you can also order salads. The Tenleytown location I visited also had a neighboring store inside called, “Sandwish” but it didn’t looked opened yet and I’m unsure of the status on that.

The food itself was great and honestly, kinda hard to tell apart from Five Guys. I ordered the seasoned fries which gave an extra kick out of the fries I’d usually expect. All in all, Z-Burger makes a solid product but I’ll need repeat visits to see who has the edge. I’ll also need those visits to try their other menu choices as well.

Z-Burger is definitely made a splash jumping into the Five Guys dominated DC burger market, but time will tell if this town is going to be big enough for the two of them.

Z-Burger
4321 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 966-1999

2414 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 965-7777

http://www.zburger.com

Daily DC Item: Get Your Water On At Union Station

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Victoria Belanger

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Victoria Belanger

Now I’ve had my own experiences with keeping hydrated but it looks like Crystal Light would like to encourage women to drink more water, and is launching their own Water Way Challenge. I prefer the challenge I took on last month but for those that are going to be around DC and Union Station should be on the lookout for, “CONVERTibles” cruising around town giving away free bottles of water.

Given today’s temps are going to reach the mid 80’s, I say it’s a deal you shouldn’t pass up.

UPDATE: All these things will be going on next Tuesday, so be on the look out next week!

WMATA kills my "Eating on Metro Dream"

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Siiigghhh.   WMATA has shot down the proposal I wrote about a few weeks ago regarding vendors at Metro stations-well, food vendors anyway.  The discussion regarding dry cleaning etc. has been tabled.

Well, not really-I’ll just keep eating on Metro like I always have (carefully and cleaning up after myself).  I guess Metro just doesn’t want any of the money I spend on food and drink before I get on the train.

Oh right, they could fine me I guess-but in 7 years of living in this city and riding the train I have never even seen someone get in trouble for eating on the train-let alone been fined myself.  Metro’s very own paper bag law-as far as I can tell, as long as they don’t see it they don’t care-and that’s the way we’ll continue to play it.

This does seem to be, however, what the people want so I will keep my complaining to a minimum.  Hopefully the revised proposal without food will pass and other types of vendors will be allowed in a few of the stations.

DC Daily Item: Vintage VA Weekend!

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Edit (I forgot the date and time-D’oh!):

Saturday, May 30th – Sunday, May 31st, 2009
11:00 am – 6:00 pm each day

Okay, so Patrick usually does these and my brain is a little fried from yesterday’s 8 hour car ride back from Bethany Beach, Delaware (hopefully you all found something a little bit better to do on your Memorial Day).  This exhaustion might explain why today’s DC Daily item is both on a weekend and in Virginia-but hey, this is what you’re going to get out of me today.

The Vintage Virginia wine festival is awesome, even if you hate wine (although, you’ll probably have less fun if you don’t like wine).  Each year what seems like nearly every winery in the Commonwealth (I counted nearly 50) comes to a big old field in Centerville and puts on a party.  There are performers, food vendors, massage therapists, artists and, oh yeah, wine.

And if you’re worried that this is some sort of stuffy wine tasting event with everyone standing around in fancy clothes eating cheese and talking about palettes and stuff-well that is sort of true, but not stuffy really.  Vintage VA definitely is more of a PARTY than a party, but not obnoxious-enough people running around to make you feel like a part of something and yet enough space to just be with your group.

And the wine is amazing.  50 some odd vendors x 4-5 bottles of wine to sample at each vendor=please have a designated driver.  It also means rock bottom prices on bottles of wine.  My usually plan of attack is to visit a bunch of vendors early, mark which ones I want and then limit myself to buying no more than a case total (I make it last most of the year, don’t worry).

Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the gate) and cheaper for kids, DDs and other non-parkaters of the grape.   They include a tasting glass and all the wine you can taste.

And for you “I’m scared of Virginia” folks, let me assure you that it is not nearly the drive you think it is and they leave the DC/VA gates open all weekend, so you’ll be able to get home.   So get your car group together and draw lots for who’s going to be sober-should be a great time!

Daily DC Item: Free Pop Tarts At California Tortilla

caltortlogoIf you have a hankering for a breakfast pastry make sure you stop by California Tortilla today for their 15th annual “Pop Tart Day” celebration. You can stop by and get a free Pop Tart.

According to their monthly newsletter, Taco Talk, they hope to give away 20,000 Pop Tarts. The only rule is you have to deal with whichever flavor they give you.

Not only are they giving away Pop Tarts, but one lucky winner will find a golden ticket which will entitle the winner to a free burrito every week for a year! That’s better than any tour Willy Wonka could offer up.

I’ve been trying to stay in shape (and doing a bad job of it) for a beach trip this upcoming weekend- but I may indulge a sugary breakfast if I could win free burritos for a year.

To find your closest CalTor location check out their store locator.

Where Am I Going? 2 Amys

Pizza in The District is often associated with late night jumbo slices in Adams Morgan. Not the classiest of situations.

However there classy places to enjoy a slice, and 2 Amys in Woodley Park has been long reputed as one of those places. A few weeks ago I had the chance to trek up there and see what it was all about.

Tucked away just off Wisconsin Ave. next to Cactus Cantina, the restaurant was already packed with a wait on a quiet Sunday evening. My lady friend and I didn’t mind the wait, and joined the crowd outside since the back corner bar was already overflowing with patrons. The dining room was quite chatty when we were finally seated. When you open the menu you won’t be finding words like pepperoni or sausage. Instead we ordered a Calabrese (Tomato, onions, anchovy, fresh mozzarella, parsley, olives) and a Ripieno Extra stuffed pizza (Ricotta, grana, salami, prosciutto, pancetta, tomato.)

The Pizzas were fantastic, I was impressed how much I could enjoy a pizza with anchovies on it. I must be growing up. The Pizzas come in an interesting size that’s larger than a personal pizza, yet smaller than a Papa John’s large. I was skeptical about ordering two pizzas for two people but it appeared to be the norm around the place.

A good meal at 2 Amys proved to me why the small shop attracts large crowds when it comes to Pizza.

2 Amys
3715 Macomb St.
Washington, DC 20016
202-885-5700
http://www.2amyspizza.com

Velocity Five Flying Not So High

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Velocity Five at Court House before Opening

I was sad to see it go.

Even though many of my co-workers were ho-hum towards King Street Blues on Clarendon Blvd, I was a fan. However it has since closed down, the space bought by entrepreneur Jim Speros so he could use the location to expand his Velocity Five restaurant chain. Even though I was disappointed to see King Street leave, I was anxious for Velocity Five to finish their renovations and open. I was eager to see what the new kid on the Court House block had to offer. The chain’s location in Falls Church appeared to get ok reviews.

I walked up with a friend to the new Court House location after it opened, Speros signed a 15 year lease when he purchased the property from King Street; and it’s proximity to the nearby Metro station made it worth every penny.

Walking inside I was immediately surrounded by rich mahogany.  The ambiance had a more refined feeling compared to Summer’s down the street. The layout of the space remained the same, it looked like King Street with sports memorabilia and flat screen TVs. The place opened right before March Madness and it looked like a place I’d want to go to catch my favorite sports teams.

However those are all the nice things I have to say about this place.

I walked up to an empty hostess station where waitresses openly counted their tips while ignoring our presence. We waited for 10-15 minutes until we were acknowledged by someone on the wait staff. I am a pretty patient person and I wasn’t going to make a big deal of it until I saw during the course of the night, other people walk inside to an empty station and wait like I did- some waited to the point they just sat themselves.

The lack of service didn’t end there- we were served water but then ignored and forgotten by the waitress for almost half an hour. Again I would love to say that the place was packed and we got lost in the shuffle, but my table was only one of three occupied tables in the entire restaurant. The waitress was busy flirting with the guys at the table across from us. I overheard some of their conversation and apparently someone at that table was a pro-athlete:

Guy #1: You have to guess what my buddy here does, I won’t tell you but I will tell you that he’s a professional.

Waitress: Hmm, well your friend is tall- is he a basketball player?

Guy #2: No but I get that a lot…

So while Pro-athlete guy was getting all the attention he needed I was slowly dying from starvation. I ordered a burger but I’ll be honest- the service experience really made the rest of my experience there pretty forgettable.

Now I really wanted to like this place, if I was treated a little better I’m sure I would of had great things to say probably, but Velocity Five at Court House needs to get their ducks in a row. I’m a pretty nice guy and I’ll eventually give you guys another chance- but til then you are on notice!

Velocity Five
2300 Clarendon Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 243-4900
http://www.velocityfiverestaurant.com/

Metro UPDATE: Retail on the Way!?

food-fast

Okay, well I’m glad somebody at WMATA is reading my posts-now if they’d only give me some credit!

NBC Washington is reporting that as early as this fall Metro might feature retail stores at 12 Metrorail stops.  Everything from dry cleaning to food will be available if things go according to plan. 

A plan they clearly got from my post a few weeks ago.  Okay-maybe we just had the same idea, but I’ll take credit for it until someone shows me different.

Here it is though, commuters of DC;  there isn’t much separation between selling food and drinks and being able consume them on the trains.  My opinion was made pretty clear in my last post, but just to restate it-I think the eating and drinking ban was pretty ridiculous anyway and at least Metro will see some money out of it.  Sadly, my gut says that it won’t bring a reduction in fares-but maybe it will keep prices from going up any time soon.

The  idea will be brought to the Metro Board later this month and, if approved, proposals for retail shops will be solicited in June.  Shops could start as early as late this fall.

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