Thursday, December 27, 2007

jaleo

jaleo
480 7th street, NW, washington, dc 20004
tel: 202) 628-7949
hours of operation: monday 11:30 am-10:00 pm, tuesday-thursday 11:30 am-11:30 pm, friday and saturday 11:30 am-12:00 am, sunday 11:30 am-10:00 pm, brunch is served on sunday
what was consumed: lots of tapas (we usually have each person choose 2 and then share – sharing is caring!), paella, lots of sangria
one of the first places christine took me to when i first visited DC was ‘jaleo.’ i hadn’t had a whole lot of tapas in my life (which i now wonder why because i love them so much!) and she told me that this one place had some great paella in addition to the delicious tapas. she already had me at “let’s go eat ...” so i was very much looking forward to going. fast forward about a year and i finally found myself at jaleo once again, this time introducing this spanish restaurant to other friends of mine.
the meal starts off with a tapas-sized dish of olives and cucumbers. what is it about these salty goodies that draws me closer ... the bread that comes with the meal at jaleo is also very delicious. be sure not to fill up on the bread because the tapas are so tasty~
so, this is how we usually do it. each member of the party will choose 2-3 tapas (depending on how hungry he/she is). then, we will share all of our selections (making sure not to double up on any one thing, that is). the selection is high and wide! everything from the vegetarian dishes to red meat dishes to seafood. in particular, among a long list of others, i recommend the brussel sprouts, mussels (the broth of the mussels works double time as a great soup for dipping the bread), and the chorizo on mashed potatoes. delicious! be sure to make sure you leave enough room for paella, especially at jaleo! the paella with chicken and mushrooms is delicious, especially if there are non-seafood eaters in the group. personally, being partial to seafood, that is the paella i recommend. each order of paella serves quite a number of individuals – be sure to ask the server to be sure. oh, and dessert! i don’t have a huge sweet tooth, so my first inclination is not to order dessert. but the time that i did, boy was i glad! they have a lightly sweet and creamy flan – traditional dessert! and a great chocolate mousse that was light and flavorful. definitely a nice end to a grand meal.
when you go, be sure to have the sangria. the combination of red wine, brandy, vodka, and fruit in this traditional spanish beverage is so delightful! a large bottle of sangria yields about 4 glasses of sangria. be sure to ask them to go easy on the ice because otherwise, you’ll end up with glasses filled with ice instead of being filled with the fruity goodness.
now, i have only been to the DC metro location, but i imagine the others are as fine in terms of the food. i look forward to eating at jaleo again!

Friday, November 16, 2007

bon chon

bon chon
314 5th avenue 2nd floor, new york, ny 10004
6653 little river turnpike, #h, annandale, va
tel: 212) 221-2222; 703) 750-1424
what was consumed: large special chicken with half and half sauce
fried chicken in korea is awesome. i can’t exactly pinpoint how it’s different from the fried chicken in the states, but it is ... a little bit. but hey – don’t be surprised! koreans love to eat (myself included, of course). sometimes, i long for some korean-style fried chicken along with the slightly pickled radish and shredded cabbage topped with ketchup and mayonnaise (i know – sounds gross, right? “homemade” thousand island dressing. but let me tell ya, after buckets of the ketchup/mayonnaise concoction on top of your shredded cabbage, there is nothing else that goes so well. i am still NOT a fan of thousand island dressing, but ... ) that always accompanied an order ... of course, along with a cold pitcher of (albeit crappy, but DELICIOUS) korean beer.
while in seoul, i frequented a place called “kyochon chicken,” which they apparently have in queens, NY (maybe there are other locations in the states ... i should totally look it up ... later ...). they have this “special” way of frying their chicken, have a special sauce, and even have spicy varieties which i absolutely love.
people say that the US equivalent to kyochon chicken is bonchon (which may be true, but then that would totally go against the appearance of kyochon chickens ...). in any case, when my friend suggested that we go there (to appease my love/hate relationship with koreatowns), i couldn’t resist! just the thought of such lovely and tasty treats! even now, just the thought of it makes my mouth salivate just a little. the chicken is fried up in the same special way (something about it being double fried for extra crispiness) and you have the option of either light soy and garlic sauce or a spicey hot pepper sauce. you can get a smaller order or a larger order ... and usually they are really accommodating when you ask for “half and half” with the sauces. i will have to say, though, that the chicken is a little bit on the pricey side. that is, i’m sure you could get some pretty ok fried chicken elsewhere. but the chicken is really really good and worth the money (in my opinion, anyway). for me, nostalgia is an added bonus~
there are other franchise locations closer to me, but i have yet to visit the one in virginia or the one in maryland. friends have told me that it’s good there as well. next time!
*an edit of addition*
i've since also visited the site in annandale, va. similar to the nyc location, bonchon was a cross between the korean "sool-jib" and a restaurant (just the way we like it - haha). i don't know what it was about the time that i went, though, because the service could have been better and our chicken came out cold :( i still very much enjoyed it and will most likely be back, but i will be on the lookout for better performance ...
online: http://www.bonchon.com/ (korean and english options available)

Friday, November 2, 2007

la loma

la loma
316 massachusetts avenue ne, washington, dc 20002
tel: 202) 548-2550
hours: 11am-11pm (kitchen closes at 10pm, i believe), open until midnight on saturdays and 10pm on sundays

what was consumed: quesadillas, taco salad, fajitas, ribs! salsa, margaritas …

i love mexican/tex-mex food! so, when i heard there was a place right on capitol hill that was a favorite among my friends, i was excited to make my acquaintance.

they have a wide array of mexican/tex-mex foods – enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, you name it! you walk into a pretty standard looking restaurant, greeted by your server. you can sit either inside or outside (when the weather is nice, the outdoor seating is totally packed! totally popular~). once seated, they bring out some delicious chips and salsa. the salsa has lots of big chunks of veggies and is sort of gespacho-ish (ie there’s a lot of soup/water in the salsa, so if you like it like that, you’re totally in for a treat!). ohhhhh, and their margaritas are delicious! they’re served on the rocks and by the glass or by the pitcher. i, for one, prefer them by the pitcher (haha). during the time when i was a frequent la loma goer, the moment my group would walk in, the servers would know to get margarita pitchers ready … delicious!

but one of the best things (yes, even next to the margaritas) to get at la loma are … their ribs! yes, la loma was the first time i had ribs at a tex-mex joint. so delicious! and if you order them along with fajitas, the ribs are fantastic in the tortillas. but i warn you – between the chips and the large fajita plate, even the best eater will be overwhelmed with the food (ok, so it was just me, but … you know what i mean).
come to think of it, it’s been some time since i’ve visited la loma. a revisit is due! SO excited ^_^

Thursday, October 25, 2007

five guys

five guys
what was consumed: jr. bacon cheeseburger (with extra lettuce, extra tomatoes, sautéed onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, and hot sauce), FRIES …

as much as a deny it and not admit to it, i am a so.cal girl. though not born in so.cal, i spent the majority of my childhood in so.cal and still consider so.cal “home.” as a result, i grew up eating in ‘n out burgers. even my father (who is normally less inclined to eat non-korean foods) enjoys an in ‘n out burger on occasion. and so, i have considered them to be some of the best fast food burgers … EVER.

before i came out to DC, christine kept telling me about this hamburger place. “yeah right,” i would tell her. i had in ‘n out – what more could i want?

and then (after many months of life here in DC) i finally consumed a five guys burger … and i began to think that there’s some high in ‘n out competition for the #1 spot in my mind …

now, there’s something about having a whole slew of toppings, in addition to the standard lettuce and tomatoes, to choose from as additions to your burger. there is no “special sauce,” as many hamburger places have, but that’s ok (especially for me because i usually don’t like the “special” sauce versions of thousand island – haha). someone once told me that the goal at five guys is to put as much stuff as you can onto your burger – ha! i do my best~ hahaha … i have yet to order a regular sized burger because the junior ones are enough for me.

oh, and then there are fries. YUM. even among crazy fry lovers, such as myself, the small size is plenty and will definitely satiate any and all french fry cravings! nicely salted, skins on – fries just the way i like ‘em, that’s for sure.

one more thing – at five guys, while you wait for your food (everything is made to order), they have boxes, boxes, and BOXES filled with peanuts. yes, peanuts (so all of you with peanut allergies, sorry!). while waiting, the peanuts are there for your consuming pleasure. but be careful not to fill up on peanuts! the burgers and fries are what you should be waiting for (at the same time, what is it about sittin’ and crackin’ open a few peanuts while hangin’ with friends? it’s a lot of fun at sporting events, but i think the only person i know who does that at home is my dad (he loves that sort of thing) … i guess it’s environment of gathering that makes it so much fun).

so now, i have my burgers of the west and my burgers of the east. YUM!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ugly mugg

the ugly mug
723 8th street se, washington, dc 20003
tel: 202) 547-ugly

hours: monday-thursday 11:30am-1:30am, friday 11:30am-2:30am, saturday 11am-2:30am, sunday 11am-1:30am

what was consumed: mini burgers, pizza roll, french fries, beer

the first time i visited the ugly mug was during my first visit to dc as christine took me on one of those “walking tours” of dc happy hours (little did she know i would end up staying in this town). they had a $20-all-you-can-drink beer happy hour from 6-9pm on wednesday nights (alas, that no longer is the case). we ordered mini-burgers (this was pre matchbox days) and then began to pound beers (they have some pretty rockin’ beers on tap – that night, i believe, we enjoyed many a hoegardens). oh, what a night!

since then, the ugly mug has concluded their all-you-can-drink-beer nights (too bad!), but i still venture out to “the mug” when i can.
the location of the ugly mug is really convenient – a brisk walk away (walking to the mug is fine, though i find that taking a cab back is more likely the selection). they have quite a nice selection of beers and, of course, all of the liquors. they also have happy hour specials for each day (each is a little bit different – some things are done by day, others by whatever game is going on, etc.) mixing up “deals” on food and/or drink. and when the weather is nice, they have outdoor seating which allows for great moments of people watching. no matter what the day, though, i enjoy their pizza rolls – literally, a giant slice of pizza that has been rolled up. ahhh, i love pizza. it was also here at the mug where i had a meatball pizza for the first time (pizza with halves of meatballs as toppings). we saw some people sitting next to us order and enjoy such deliciousness, so we just had to copy and order as well.

something to note ... there are a number of places in eastern market that i enjoy frequenting that are near the marine barracks. i don't know if that plays a part in where people hang out. in my personal opinion, and with no judgement or criticism, the weekends get really crowded and sometimes too loud for my liking. then again, sometimes all you want to do is go out, yell in people's ears, and fend off drunk people (haha). anyway ...

Friday, September 14, 2007

cantler's

cantler’s
458 forest beach road, annapolis, md 21401
tel: 210) 757-1311
hours: sunday-thursday 11am – 11pm, friday & saturday 11am – midnight
what was consumed: crab (lots of crab!), fried oysters, hush puppies, beer
summertime is crab season in annapolis! christine told me about going to eat crab with my cousin when she (christine) first came into town. since then, i looked forward to sitting by the water in annapolis, drinking cheap beer, and indulging on delicious crab ... finally, on mother’s day, i got my chance! upon invitation by some mutual friends, as we drove through eastern market, we ended up heading out to annapolis to cantler’s.
when you drive out to the area and you think you’ve gone to far, that’s when you see the parking attendant for cantler’s. turns out, cantler’s is an uber popular place when it comes to good food and good atmosphere (it’s right on the water) during crab season.
the first time (in may), we sat outside and, frankly, it was chilly with the breeze blowing. but after a few cans of yeung ling (or, my fav – coors light), you forget about that. the second time, we intended on sitting outside, but it started to rain like crazy! so, we sat inside, which was fine. you order the crab by the dozen and they come out doused with old bays along with cups of lemon juice and butter. you may, then, crack open them crabs and enjoy! i can eat lots and lots … delicious!
in addition to the crab, there are a number of other side dishes that you may order – fried clams, hush puppies, etc. they even have a special menu for kids (with options such as grilled cheese sandwich and fried clams). but be sure to order the ears of corn – definitely a nice touch to the crustacean meal!
oh, i can hardly wait for the next crab season ...

cafe habana

café habana
229 elizabeth street, new york, ny 10012-5518
tel: 212) 625-2002
hours: 9 am-midnight, 7 days a week
what was consumed: cuban sandwich, salad, mexican corn, margaritas
i remember, a few months ago, stacey told me about a place she had gone to while in nyc. i remember her saying that she enjoyed the food that that when i made it out to nyc one of these days, i would have to go as well. when i finally got out to nyc a few months later, a friend of a friend also mentioned this place with mexican corn and about how i had to go there during my short stay. they were talking about café habana. well, my time has come!
over labor day, making a sort of last minute trek up to the big apple, christine, willie, and i were trying to decide what to do for the day. the conversation from the night before about mexican corn sorta suck out in all of our minds. so, we left the grimy and dingy existence of the “hotel” we were staying at and head toward soho (elizabeth and prince, to be exact) to this “café habana.”
by the time we got to café habana, the place was already packed with saturday morning brunch-goers. the entire restaurant probably holds no more than 40 people, but we were hoping that people were on the last legs of their meals (especially because there were about 4 parties ahead of us ... luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long).
café habana looks like one of those old time diners with a bar and then a few tables and a few booths. despite the space crunch, such tight quarters added to the charm of the eatery. we ordered our food (which came out in a timely manner) and indulged in such goodness!
first were our drinks – margaritas (yes, margaritas during lunch. we’re on holiday – leave us alone!), nice and strong, just the way we like it. they also have frozen margaritas normally, but not on the day we were there (which i was bummed about because i wanted a strawberry one – oh well). then came our mexican corn (note: one order of the corn yields 2 ears. now, in retrospect, i think i could have had just an order and half of corn – totally delicious!), grilled deliciously and covered with all sorts of goodies, such as chili powder and cheese (hooray for cheese!). finally came my cuban sandwich, which was delicious, with lots of goodies on the loaf of bread (pictured). i got mine with a salad, though it normally comes with fries (i ate willie’s fries – don’t worry, fries were still a part of my meal). i definitely ordered too much food, but most of it still ended up in my stomach (oh, how temporarily content i was~). delicious ...
the servers definitely looked like they enjoyed being there, dancing to the music, chit chatting with the customers, and overall looking quite happy to be there. i can see how this sort of working environment would be happy – happy customers, good food, good music, and all of this in the big apple!
café habana also has a “to go” area right next door. seeing the popularity of the place explains such an establishment as well as its success.
i look forward to more encounters with mexican corn here at café habana. hooray!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

w domku

w domku
821 upshur street NW, washington dc
tel: 202-722-7475
hours: monday-thursday 11am-11pm, friday-saturday 10am-midnight, sunday 10am-11pm

what was consumed: butter lettuce salad, gravlax salad, carrot and ginger soup, schopska, curried egg open sandwich, georgian eggplant caviar, cabbage rolls, pate, mussels, gravlax sandwich, gypsy kielbasa, chicken and cheese nalesniki, pierogis, red onion and cheese pie, serbian gibanica, tilapia, lamb burger, spicy grilled cheese sandwich, salmon hash, swedish (?) pancakes, bigos (hunter’s stew), goulash, and lots of beer (i love the belgian drafts and the baltika 8)

so, i’ve had a lot of stuff from the menu. but there’s a reason for that – i work as a server at domku … so please, don’t get mad if the server isn’t the bestest in the world – i’m seriously doing what i can! … usually …^^;;

christine started bartending at domku (she had mentioned, to the owner, that she was looking for a bartending gig. the owner then proceeded to ask her if she wanted to work at domku. as an individual with no bartending experience, this would be a great opportunity) and after i had visited her at the bar, the owner came and asked me if i’d like to work there (especially while i was still unemployed. make a few extra dollars while serving a few tables – sounds like a great plan, huh?). despite my current employment, i still put in a few hours a week (usually on the weekends) not so much for the extra dollars, but because i really enjoy working with some of the people that i do. even if i wasn’t working, i’d probably frequent the café/restaurant/bar.

there’s something about domku that makes it really comfortable. the eclectic array of furniture allows for people to lounge, eat, study, whatever. though there are stints of only madonna or only the police in the music selection (something that has been addressed and will be changed), the also eclectic collection of music has certainly opened my hearing eyes to other genres, artists, and types (i especially like the song about the whale and singing about “f-word” … seriously). though serving tables outside in the newly opened sidewalk café is sometimes a pain in the butt (because they're hard to see from inside and those tables are just so darn heavy), it’s a great place for patrons to enjoy the outdoors (granted, it’s the outdoors of petworth), especially on a nice night (when will we have those again? darn these hot & humid summers!).

the polish/scandinavian/eastern european collection on the menu is definitely something new to me. i had never had nalesniki prior to my experience here (and it took me about a month before i could even pronounce it!), but it’s definitely delightful and recommended. in fact, there hasn’t been a salad/appetizer/sandwich/entrée that i haven’t enjoyed yet. i’ve worked at domku since the middle of february and i still enjoy eating much of the menu, despite the many times i’ve chosen from its offerings.

for the newbies … here are a few recommendations. not being a breakfast person, i can’t say a whole lot about the breakfast items, but i’ve sampled some of the menu and what i’ve had has been fantastic. the salmon hash is fantastic (i’m a huge salmon fan and hash (sautéed (?) carrots and potatoes) is always delicious) as are the crepe-like pancakes. for other meals … the sandwiches all come with either chips or salad (which i initially always forgot to ask patrons, requiring me to sheepishly return to the table to “finish” taking their orders) and at this moment in time, my favorite sandwich is the gravlax (but i love gravlax (a cured salmon). christine thinks the gypsy kielbasa is the most fantastic while i find that the spicy grilled cheese is the most popular … i think). there are also so many great entrees to choose from. there is a slightly different menu in the winter than there is in the summer. in the winter, the bigos (hunters stew) or the goulash definitely will warm you up. and if it’s fish you want, the tilapia is prepared deliciously and it comes with some super fantastic pea risotto. as an appetizer, i’d probably recommend the eggplant caviar or the mussels (i love the mussels!). other appetizers are delicious as well, but … just personal preference. and my favorite salad is a toss up between the butter lettuce salad (which has been on both the winter and summer menus) and the schopska (stacked slices of cucumber and tomatoes, sprinkled with feta cheese and a light sauce … just on the summer menu). we usually have a range of desserts (from 0 to 5 … depending on the chef’s time availability to create/make dessert). a pretty standard staple, though, is the almond cake. definitely worth a try – delicious! sometimes (no … often), there are things that are not available that day. but no fret! there are bound to be other things on the menu that will be pleasing to the pallet.

what’s also great about domku is their beer selection. yes, many a day we are out of certain beers, but, again, there is bound to be another that will suffice. the owner has a good sense of her drafts and not only are the bottled beers significantly larger than the “standard” everywhere else, they are mostly eastern european in origin (when else are you gonna get to try those?). for the more adventurous, i’d recommend a beer with some of the fruit syrups. though that sounds a bit strange, all who’ve tried come back for more.
come join us at w domku in petworth!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

bagels & baguettes

bagels & baguettes
236 massachusetts avenue NE, washington, dc 20002
tel: 202)544-1141
hours of operation: mornings? i think they open for business around 6am and probably close in the early afternoon …

what was consumed: sun dried tomato bagel with light vegetable cream cheese, roast beef bagel sandwich, chicken salad bagel sandwich

on my walk to church (i currently attend national community church and attend the services at union station), i always pass this little, almost hole in the wall, bagel and bread shop. in the back of my mind, i always told myself that i should check it out (sometimes, i crave the californian/new yorker goodness that is a bagel, both in sandwich form as well as with shmears, as they call it at noah’s). now, not being a huge bread person, i wasn’t naturally inclined to look for a great bagel/bread place right off the bat. but when jess (christine’s bf … i think it was him who mentioned it to me first) had said that he read some great reviews of it in the washingtonian (i think it was the washingtonian), i knew i had to check it out.

i think the first time i ate at bagels & baguettes was when my parents were in town back in february (2007). while walking to church, christine and i mentioned how the place was supposed to be good and on our walk home, my parents suggested that we try it out, sort of as a “snack.” good suggestion, parents!

upon entering this little eatery, one will notice that there is hardly any seating. i imagine most people order to go and then eat at stanton park, just a hop skip and a jump away … or just at home. they have a nice variety of bagels to choose from and just as many ways to have the bagel prepared – breakfast style (which eggs, cheese, ham, turkey stuff, etc.) as well as sandwiches for lunch (or those who prefer that sort of thing for breakfast, i.e., me). and their bagels are delicious! not too soft, not too hard, not too chewy. just right (do i sound like goldilocks?). in any case, i could probably eat the bagel just by itself (which is to say a lot because i normally prefer some sort of spread/topping accompanying my bread, when i eat bread at all), but the fillings definitely add great flavor as well. i enjoy the sun dried tomato bagel (that has always been my favorite), but have also had the combination (i think that’s what it’s called), sesame, and plain (all delicious). i have also tried a number of different fillers – honey wheat something (a little bit sweet, but great for those who have sweet tooths (teeth?) on a plain bagel), lox and cheese (always a favorite), and … some others, but they have currently slipped my mind. point is, every time i go, i try to order something different and i have yet to find something to be “just” average.
a downside, if at all? they only take cash (some people find this to be a huge inconvenience), but because the eats are not horrendously expensive (i personally find them to be rather affordable – nothing out of the ordinary … pretty standard fare for breakfast and lunch sandwiches), so i can usually scrounge up a few dollars in cash to cover the cost of such deliciousness. YUM …

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

cosi

cosi
1350 connecticut avenue NW, washington, dc 20036
tel: 202) 296-9341
hours: monday-thursday: 6:30am-midnight, friday: 6:30am-1am, saturday: 8am-1am,sunday: 8am-11pm

what was consumed: tuscan pesto chicken sandwich, lentil soup, soda

one of the dominant coffee/sandwich shops in the area (from what i've seen) – cosi! wherever i turn here in DC, i see a cosi (among other places, that is). i had always wondered about their food, but never really took the opportunity to see what they had to offer. now, in retrospect, i’m glad that i did!

there’s a cosi next to the school i teach at in dupont circle (mind you, there are many cosi locations; i just frequent the one in dupont circle). prior to this, i would have lunch/dinner at baja fresh, especially if i was in a crunch for time. one day, though, i wanted to eat soup and decided that that would be the day to give cosi a try.

cosi has a pretty large menu, including soups, salads, pizzas, and sandwiches as well as a number of different (what they refer to as) shareables and even some entrees! they have a wide variety of sandwiches which are made to order (so if you don’t want something in the sandwich, the sandwich maker may accommodate – that’s always a plus). i very much enjoyed my sandwich – sun-dried tomato pesto spread with grilled chicken and romaine lettuce. what i really enjoyed was the bread that my sandwich came on. it was this sort of flat bread, cut into half, stuffed with all of the goodies that made up my sandwich. i’d imagine that this is great for the carb counters and people like me who are bigger fans of the inside of sandwiches (yum!).

i also had the soup of the day, which was lentil soup that day. i not as familiar with lentils as i am with other things so while i was a little hesitant about having lentil soup, i decided upon ordering the soup because i could already smell it, and it smelled delicious. in fact, the smell matched the taste – delicious! the size of the soup bowl was smaller than i thought it would be. so you can be sure i totally gobbled it all up! next time, i want to try their vegetable soup …

on top of the food, the relaxed atmosphere of cosi as well as the indoor and outdoor seating available (in dupont circle) as well as their free wifi is what i’m sure draws individuals back to cosi. i know i’ve been a couple of times since my first visit and will surely visit again!

Friday, June 8, 2007

dukem

dukem
1114 - 1118 u street (12th street NW), washington, dc 20009
tel: 202) 667-8735
hours of operation: sunday-thursday 11am - 2am, friday-saturday 11am - 3am (kitchen closes 1hr before closing time); carry out: 9am-midnight

what was consumed: combination sampler platters consisting of lamb, beef, chicken, and vegetables

i really really REALLY enjoy enthiopian food. A LOT. if there's ever mention of it, i'm totally game and will go high and wide (more or less) to consume of its deliciousness.

now, according to a number of sources (some professional, some personal), one of the best places to enjoy ethiopian food is here - dukem. found in the u st. corridor (one of the up and coming hotspots of dc), dukem offers a variety of dishes until the wee hours of the morning, as well as carryout services. delicious!

the first time i tried to go to dukem, my parents were in town and they had never had ethiopian food before. with dukem's reputation, i knew that it was a safe bet. too bad everyone else in the world thought so too. the entire restaurant was packed, with a wait of almost an hour (whoops). granted, it was dinner time. i had thought, earlier in the day, to make a reservation (which they take), but foolishly thought that it would be ok. i was mistaken and my family and i decided to venture to another location (which we totally enjoyed).

so, the first time i actually went to dukem, my friend, stacey, was in town. she had never had ethiopian food either (though she's had multitudes of dishes from all around the world, being the world traveler that she is). it was a monday night, there were 2 of us, and it was well before dinner time, so i (once again) did not make a reservation. luckily, my thoughts about the circumstances were correct and we were quickly shown to a great spot next to the window. since stacey had never had ethiopian food before, she left the ordering to me. too bad i had no idea what i had had in the past. our server, though, graciously pointed out the combination section (a sort of "set" menu with a variety of different things), which we quickly decided upon. the combinations have a variety of different options, so for newcomers as well as veterans to this cuisine, it's a good way to go. anyway, we got 2 "combinations," a combination of lamb, chicken, beef, and veggies. when the food came out, we knew that we were going to eat to our hearts' content and still have left overs. between the injera (which i ABSOLUTELY love ... i can't get enough of it!) and the different dishes, there was definitely enough to feed twice the number of people at our table (and still have some left over).

the next time i went to dukem, it was with my friend, angelina, and a larger party of individuals. because of our number (there were 6 of us), i made sure to make reservations. the servers were accommodating (though they thought my name was "rice." yeah, i don't know where that came from) and were seated pretty promptly. the restaurant wasn't too packed, yet, but it was a good thing the reservations were made because we would've had to wait a good amount of time before being seated. again, this time around, we ordered a number of different combinations. if i recall correctly, we ordered 4 combinations (or was it 5? point is, it was fewer than six) and the six of us were able to eat until our bellies were totally filled (we also had a couple beers each, adding to the fullness that we felt).

dukem also has a line of "raw" foods. we didn't know what that was and asked our server if we should order it. she sort of gave us a look that said, 'well, you would know if you wanted it,' so we decided to pass (seeing that some people, aka angelina and also jess (i believe), were having ethiopian food for the first time). but next time, i want to try! even if it's only to taste ...

now, about ethiopian beers. whenever i go, i always forget which beer i enjoyed the previous time and end up having a number of different ones, only to conclude that i find myself enjoying the same one over and over again. of course, it's always the last one i try. oh well~ so, i finally just took a picture of the ethiopian beers that were available (that is, the ones that we chose, one of which was the one that i like most). but now that i look at the picture i've taken, i forget which one i liked! darnit. it's either the meta beer (on the left) or the harar beer (in the middle). i want to say that it's the meta beer, but if i am incorrect, it won't be the first time. but heck, it's beer! definitely a nice compliment to the meal at hand. enjoy!

online:
http://www.dukemrestaurant.com/

Sunday, June 3, 2007

matchbox

matchbox
713 h street NW, washington, dc 20001
tel: 202) 589-4441
hours: monday – friday 11am – close, weekends 12pm – close (the kitchen closes at 11pm)

what was consumed: mini burgers; salad (tuna, calamari, apple pear, spinach); pizza (spicy meatball, matchbox, flat-iron steak, q-special); pepperoni & meatball roll; salmon; steak; pasta; beer

when people come to visit, and i’m looking for a nice little place for a nice little meal, one of the first places that comes to mind is matchbox.

the first time i came was after i had already eaten dinner. granted, that hardly ever stops me from eating again, but i probably didn’t eat as much as i would have liked/could have. my friends had been waiting there for a while (probably close to an hour – very rarely have i not waited. if there was no wait, it was because i arrived at an off hour, such as right when they open, just before they close, etc.), but they said it was worth the wait. i totally agree. there’s a whole history behind how matchbox got its name, how it started, how it expanded, etc. i read up on it while waiting for the bathroom. (how fantastic is it that there not only is reading material to keep you preoccupied while you wait, but also, it makes you forget that you’re waiting to use the one restroom for patrons in the entire place! ok, so maybe that’s not too fantastic …) anyway, i had a few beers and tasted their mini burgers for the first time. yes, mini burgers are available at a number of different eateries; however, the mini burgers at matchbox are so delicious! the thick patties, the variety of cheese options, the buttered buns … YUM. they also come with these string-y friend onions that have been sprinkled with salt and cheese and stuff (i don’t know what the other stuff is, but …) so delicious! this was then followed by the grilled tuna salad – seared tuna in a bed of greens with a nice vinaigrette.

matchbox has a great selection of beers on tap. a couple of belgian drafts, widmer hefeweisen (which is often my choice … after a few belgian beers anyway), and so on. some of the beers are seasonal while others are there year round. they also have this really cool beer glass cooler that they put your glass on before serving your beers. another cool thing that they have is a dumb waiter between the bar on the first floor and the seating area on the 2nd and 3rd floors. keeps the beers cold! just the way i like it~ they have a couple of happy our specials as well, but it’s usually so crowded in there that i opt to be seated. (but that’s just my preference.)

since my first time at matchbox, i’ve returned to the eatery a number of times. each time, i try to get something different, though the same dishes often seem to find themselves before me. the people i tend to go with are also big advocates of “sharing is caring,” so i’ve been able to sample quite a wide variety of their menu options as a result. so, whether it’s for a date or just some friends out to grab a bite, matchbox is definitely one place to put on the “must eat” list.

Monday, May 21, 2007

capitol city brewing corp.

capitol city brewing co.
2 massachusetts avenue NE, washington, dc 20002
tel: 202) 842-beer (2337)
hours of operation: 11am – 10pm (10 is when their kitchen closes … i think …)

what was consumed: fish ‘n chips; salad … BEER

cap city is supposed to be the first microbrewery located in the city (the city being washington, dc) since the end of prohibition. at least that’s what they’ve written on their website. but that doesn’t really matter to me …

so, my first official meal in DC, after my 7+ hour bus ride into the city from pittsburgh, was here at cap city. christine and i had just attended our first service at national community church (in union station) and we were looking for a nice bite to eat afterwards. of course, church got out earlier than the opening of the restaurant (that’s how i know they open at 11), but we waited just a bit and sat ourselves down in the capitol hill edition of capitol city brewery (they have multiple locations, the one in “downtown” DC being the first).

christine had been here a couple of times before and recommended it’s food (a huge plus in my book). they have a wide array of “bar food” type things (i’ve had the fish and chips, fries, chicken wings) before and they’re all pretty solid. what’s neat here at cap city (regarding food) is that they have
a pretty selection of other things as well. there's a thai-ish pasta that’s delicious as well as their hummous appetizer … and some really amazing salads! i like the mediterranean mix, among the others (or maybe it’s just that that’s the one i remember off the top of my head, though the others, if i remember correctly, were pretty delicious as well). i haven’t had any of their sandwiches or burgers, though they look delicious and i’ve heard some good things about the entrees.

the “must try” at cap city, however, is their beer (duh – it’s a micro brewery). they have their seasonal and standard beers, all of which are nicely described in their menu. cap city also has knowledgeable servers (well, the servers i had were knowledgeable, anyway) who know their beers. so, if you’re not a been connoisseur but enjoy beer (as is my case), they are more than happy to talk to you about their selection and find a local brew that fits. each time i go, i always forget which beer i got the time before and that i enjoyed. so, i usually end up starting with the capitol klosch or the pale rider ale. ahhh … this makes me want to drink beer RIGHT NOW ^_~

online:
http://www.capcitybrew.com

Friday, March 16, 2007

busboys and poets

busboys and poets
2021 14th street NW, washington, dc 20009
tel: 202) 387-7638
hours of operation: sun-thur (10am – midnight), fri-sat (10am – 2am) ... more or less ...

what was consumed: the first time i went, i had grilled chicken sandwich and salad ... did i also have nachos here? i don’t remember. i just remember definitely enjoying my meal ...

since my first visit to busboys and poets, i’ve returned a number of different times. but no matter the occasion (i.e., whether you come for a meal with friend, on a date (ooh-la-la!),for drinks, or just to hang out), this is a place that accommodates a number of different tastes that all needs of included parties will be met!

the first time i came to busboys and poets was to meet some of christine’s friends (who have in turn become my friends). i knew nothing of the up and coming “u street corridor” and proceeded to wonder what sort of placed called “busboys and poets” would be like. i walked through the doors only to be greeted by a long line of people waiting for a table in the midst of a business that is part bookstore, part coffee shop, part bar/café, part restaurant with seats that match the respective section of the place. right away, i felt the great vibe and totally dug the ambiance. after waiting for some time (i.e., giving ample time to consume alcoholic beverages at the bar), we were seated in the midst of a bustling dining area. at first glance, one may see the pretty standard american menu (appetizers, salads, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, that sort of thing ...), but upon closer inspection, one will see the almost fancy shmancy-ness of the menu. christine and i had quite a time trying to figure out what on the menu we should order simply because so many things sounded so excellent and delicious! in the end, as is our way, we decided upon sharing a couple of dishes. and i’m glad that i did! sharing dishes allowed for me to consume quite a number of delicious dishes that were definitely more than the standard chicken sandwiches, salads, and nachos. good food, good beer, good ambiance ... excellent! ... and then, we headed off to “halo” ...

anyway, what struck me the most about busboys and poets was how it began. according to both the menu and the website, we are reminded that the name of the place is in honor of the great poet langston hughes. hughes was a DC resident in the 1920s and, some may say, this poet got his “start” while working as a busboy ... get it? i find it rather clever and quite an amazing person to honor through a hip and happenin’ joint! additionally, busboys and poets hosts a number of different cultural events (such as independent movie showings and gatherings for up and coming writers and artists) as well as having venues to host events for a number of different groups, organizations, and causes.

i look forward to future visits to busboys and poets~

online: http://www.busboysandpoets.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

awash

awash
2218 18th street NW, washington, dc 20009
tel: 202) 588-8181
hours of operation: mon-sun 11am-2am
happy hour: daily until ... 8?9? buy one beer, get one free

what was consumed: frankly, i don’t remember because all of the names are in ethiopian. but they have some great spicy dishes ... yum! i totally love the bread-y thing that you eat the dishes with. i can’t get enough (seriously). and they have a not-sweet ethiopian beer which i enjoyed the most (of the 3 that they have available, that is).

the first time i came here, i can honestly say it was all in a haze. after spending the full happy hour at l’enfant café (see previous entry), we headed to awash for som
e late night eating. that is, after going to yet another bar and realizing that all we wanted was to eat. we order a whole bunch of things, though i don’t remember what (not only because all of the names are in ethiopian, but ...). what i DO remember is that they had some really spicy dishes that i couldn’t get off my mind. and the bread-y thing! lightly sour and just the right texture to wrap all of the other dishes. i may not be a fan of eating with my hands, but this first experience with ethiopian food was a total hit! just be careful not to get any of the spicy sauces on your hands because they will definitely stay with you for a while no matter your efforts of removing it. at the same time, maybe you should get the sauce on your hands to be a constant reminder of ethiopian deliciousness!

a number of weeks later, after going to another ethiopian restaurant (that i didn’t enjoy as much as awash) and we
eks of craving ethiopian food, i finally got my sister to come out with me to eat ethiopian food. my friend, min, hadn’t really had it before, so it was a great opportunity to reconnect with her and also consume some food that i had been craving. between the bread-y thing and the spicy dishes, there was nothing more that could have satiated my hunger (haha).

so, all of the reviews you read online are pretty true. the place isn’t all fancy; rather, it’s sort of hokey and reminds me of those early chinese/korean restaurants. most of the people look like native ethiopians (though i don’t really know what that is) – english is definitely not their first language (which, actually, is totally cool and a plus, as far as i’m concerned). but the food here is totally great and the chill atmosphere makes this a place i will frequent. besides – they’re open until 2am, giving ample time for inebriation prior to massive ethiopian food consumption. what fun!
update (23 february 2010)
i was just thinking about ethiopian food (which i haven't had in some time - i should go!) and looked back at how my ethiopian preferences have changed. since my initial visits to awash, i haven't really gone back. this is primarily because there are so many ethiopian options in DC. i also went once with a friend who was not a fan of spicy dishes, and was a little bit disappointed with the fare, though their injera was still super delicious. i'll have to make my way back to awash and see if my opinions have changed at all. to be continued!