Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oohh's & Aahh's

Our next stop takes us to another historic restaurant on the culturally diverse U St.. Oohh's & Aahh's has been serving patrons classic soul food for year's on end. Their unique ability to serve this popular food has made them a main stay on this rapidly transforming neighborhood.

My first experience here was in my early youth when I would go and order chicken wings with french fries with my latino friends who adored soul food. I barely remember my overall opinion but I went a number of times so I know that I liked it.

Despite my early introduction and familiarity with this establishment I took a prolonged hiatus from eating here. My next experience came while randomly watching an old episode of Diners, Drive-in's and Dives at which point my childhood memories resurfaced. After watching this I decided that I needed rekindle my long lost relationship.

Before I returned I did a bit of research and discovered that it was quite pricy now due to their celebrity status. I also read that their portions were very generous and with this is mind I decided to go a rather long run to increase my appetite. When I walked in the restaurant was a whole lot smaller than I remembered it, the walls were lined with photos of famous pop culture stars who adore the food served here similar to that of Ben's Chili Bowl.

My first observation was that each of the employes wore a shirt with Guy Fieri's face on it which to me seemed a bit excessive especially for a restaurant that is considered divy. Regardless both the exterior and interior resembled this characteristic. I decided to order the fried chicken platter which comes with two sides. I went with the mac and cheese per the numerous accolades from yelp and the rice with gravy because I was somewhat in the mood for that as opposed to the potato salad.

I stood by and watched as they made my chicken in an age old deep fryer. For every second I waited the anticipation grew and this weight increased minute after minute until I had my food in hand and began walking home. When I got home I turned on my TV, opened my box, got my Tabasco and salt and began to consume my meal.

I started with my mac and cheese which was fantastic. The flavor and consistency was very unique and while it was not the best I have ever had it does rank high. I then followed on to the rice and gravy which was very disappointing. The lack of flavor in the gravy did nothing to alleviate the bland rice. I then began to tackle my fried chicken which was divine. The meat was hot and juicy, the skin was crunchy and extremely flavorful. The chicken accelerated the level of the overall dish from good to great. This box was worth two meals for me which somewhat justified the high price I paid for it ($17.00).

(Fried Chicken with Rice & Gravy and Mac & Cheese)

I have since returned and gotten their chicken wings which are good but for $12 are too expensive for what you are getting. I haven't had their catfish but I have heard great things about it, they also have good collard greens and cornbread.

All in all, this place serves good food but it is very expensive. They are a cash only place which is one of the commandments of dive restaurants. They do have limited seating both upstairs and downstairs so I would recommend taking your food to go. They have relatively late hours so this is definitely an option for late night food. So if you love soul food I would give this place a shot, even though they are very pricy I would highly recommend going here at least once in your life.


Our U St. expedition continues with Chix, a restaurant dedicated to healthy eating and environmental sustainability. Owners Lukas Umana and Victoria Garcia built this establishment with the premise of serving healthy, natural latin inspired dishes at affordable prices.

Their two main goals are providing healthy dining options and promoting environmental friendliness. The is done by purchasing local organic products as well as using recyclable materials and wind power via clean currents. From top to bottom Chix promotes this ideology with the hope of spreading this positive message.

My first visit came on a Saturday afternoon right after a long run. I went solo so I decided to order for take-out. I was also fairly hungry so I decided to order 1/2 of a chicken which comes with 2 sides. Their chicken comes in three different marinades all of which sounded fairly tasty.

I decided to go with the Chix chicken with noodles and cheese and brown rice with beans. The meal cost me $12 which is not that bad for the amount of food you are getting. I received my order promptly and walked home to quench my appetite.

(Chix Chicken with noodles and cheese & black beans with brown rice)

I started off with the chicken which was moist and flavorful. The seasoning was spot on but flavor did not penetrate deep enough. I found the inner portions of the meat to be a bit bland which was disappointing because it had potential. What did elevate the flavor was the spicy green salsa that accompanied my meal. While not as spicy as advertised when I chose it the flavor paired well with the moist chicken.

After eating half my chicken I decided to move on to my sides. I started off with the brown rice and beans which I topped off with spanish crema. The moment my tung came into contact with these ingredients I was whisked away to my younger days when I ate spanish food on a daily basis. Next I approached the vermicelli noodles which are baked with cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. I found them to be average at best mainly because they lacked any blast of flavor.

Overall my first experience was average, there were no high points nor low points. The food was spot on but it wasn't spectacular. For my next visit I decided to try their Caribbean curry chicken wrap. The wrap consisted of chicken, brown rice and an assortment of vegetables all topped off with a curry mustard sauce.

(Caribbean curry chicken wrap)

Heres the wrap (no pun intended), overall the components were all very tasty but the curry failed to step up to the challenge. It failed to penetrate deep into the chicken (again a problem with the seasoning) and didn't mesh well with the corn and green peppers. I simply ate this meal because I needed to eat, I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.

All in all Chix serves average food at fair prices. While their food didn't blow me away I think I will continue to be a customer there to support their ideology which aligns with my principles. They do have a great lunch special which consists of 1/4 of a chicken with 2 sides for $6.50 which is as good as you can get in this city.

On a side comment they should probably reconsider changing their logo as it looks fairly similar to the old twitter symbol. Just an observation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


For most of my life the DC sports scene has been a sad spectacle. Aside from the early success of DC United no other local team has brought home a championship since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1991. Regardless of this ineptitude I am still an avid fan of every franchise and try to watch as many games a possible with my fellow DC friends.

It was until recently that I noticed that there was no good local sports bar in the U St. area. Before I had journeyed to Chinatown or Dupont Circle to catch any sporting events. Once I had become bored of the same bars I had noticed that there was no place in my neighborhood. The only I had visited were Duffy's and Momo's, the latter of which did not specifically tailor to DC sports and has recently closed. Touchdown which has taken it's place is hopefully an answer to my prayers.

Located right in the heart of the U St. corridor I decided to try this place to see if it would fit my expectations for a local sports bar. I first visited this place on a saturday afternoon for a DC United game, the walls were covered with local sports memorabilia as well as number of medium sized flat screen TV's broadcasting a number of different sporting events. The bar was fairly occupied by a number of DC United fans as well as a couple of other people just taking in the nice day.

The bar was fully stocked and the beer selection was fairly modest. They had PBR on tap so I decided to keep it simple and have a couple of those while I took in the first half of the game. The atmosphere was fairly calm but the fans made it a great experience. I left without sampling any food but promised myself that I would when the CAPS started their playoff run.

(Dragon Fire Wings & Buffalo Shrimp)

My second experience came for game 2 of what I hope will be a deep run for the CAPS. I decided to spend the Sunday afternoon with my dad. We ordered a round of beers along with some good old bar food. I decided to order their dragon fire wings along with an order of buffalo shrimp to share. The food came out promptly and sat well with my ice cold beer.

The wings were average and not as spicy as their title would indicate. The shrimp on the other hand were a bit disappointing. While the sauce was on par the shrimp which did not play well with a spicy sauce. On this day there were more fans out as this was a more important game and their enthusiasm as well as the close score of the game prompted us to stay for the entire duration.

We were still a bit hungry so we decided to order some Touchdown fries which looked fairly appetizing. Unlike most fries these delectable morsels are double fried with duck fat and thyme, a combination I have yet to taste. I can easily say that this was the most delicious dish I had there, the people we were sitting next to agreed with me but also said that the nachos were fairly good as well.

(Touchdown Fries)

Our experience ended with a CAPS win which made the venture that much better. Overall the food was solid and the service was prompt. At this point in time the place has not finished entirely, the second floor was not yet finished so I cannot wait so see what that looks like. My major complaint was the size of all the TV's, there was no huge television or projector that makes a sports bar worth going to. But that complaint was nullified with the fact that they had Happy Hour specials on a SUNDAY!!!!

At this point my judgment is still in the stages of deliberation. I am grateful that I now have a local sports bar to go to but I am unsure whether it will be a go to place for a paramount sporting event.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Wonderland Ballroom

Columbia Heights like U St. is an up and coming area which has seen a rapid transformation over the past couple of years. The Wonderland Ballroom which opened it's doors in 2004 has carved it's niche as one of the most popular neighborhood bars in this area.

Located just blocks from the metro station this local dive bar entertains it's patrons with a lush beer garden as well as a two floor bar. The second level is primarily used as a quasi dance floor but can be rented out for private events.

Their interior is reminiscent of blue collar watering hole. With a pac man machine that serves as a table and walls covered with quirky signs this is a dive bar at it's best. They also have a fabulous beer selection as well as some of the best bar food I have had in this town.

My first visit came over a year ago when I went with a couple of local friends. When I first walked in and saw a sign at the front of the bar which said "DRINK ME" in bold black letters as well as the pink delirium elephant I knew this bar would be solid. Their beer menu is part hipster part European enthusiast which should excite any beer lover.

We decided to go because we heard that their second floor was a good place to hear solid tunes and drink good beer. The solid mixes along with the great atmosphere and beer selection left us all fairly pleased with this establishment.

(Fried Pickles)

My second time round was with two high school friends. We decided to go around 8 P.M. on a Saturday to sample their food which looked fairly interesting. The weather was cold out so we did not have the pleasure of eating out on the beer garden. Instead we were lucky enough to find a booth in the corner so we parked ourselves there and ordered a round of beers and some traditional bar food. We started off by ordering fried pickles which are a favorite of mine, we also ordered a platter of nachos to share among the group.

The pickles were the best I have had in this city and the nachos were also very good. The pickles came in large slices which to me are better than the small pieces you usually get, the batter was also old fashioned and extra crispy. The nachos were full of flavor and they did not skimp on any of the ingredients. Both dishes went great with my PBR and delirium tremens.

(The Kilimanjaro Club)

Next I ordered the Kilimanjaro club which is as daunting as the mountain it's named after. This mountain of a sandwich (get it) is pilled high with chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and a fried egg! I was slightly intimidated when it came out but the appetite I packed was up for the challenge. My other friend ordered a footlong chili cheese dog which he seemed to enjoy.

We all left feeling the weight of the gargantuan meal that we had just had. In fact I was forced to go home and succumb to the food coma that arose after completely devouring my sandwich. We all ended up paying about $20 bucks each ($60 total) for all that food and a couple of beers which in DC is a great deal.

(Footlong Chili Cheese Dog)

All of us enjoyed the food and have vowed to come again. I have since gone twice to have a couple of classic beers, I really enjoy their shot and a beer special which is being adopted by several local dive bars. My food experience was great, especially for bar food and the service was on par. The crowds were great but it does tend to get packed because this is a very popular bar.

If you are a resident of Columbia Heights then you do not need my stamp of approval on this place because you already know it is great. But for those who have yet to go this is a must try. If I resided in this neighborhood it would most likely be my go to bar.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Travel Special - Le Burger Brasserie (Las Vegas)

My next post takes us outside the DC area to Las Vegas, Nevada or it's more popular name Sin City. Known for it's ability to turn dreams into reality this west coast city is a popular destination spot for just about any form of entertainment.

I decided to celebrate my 25th birthday by taking a 3-day west coast trip that started in Los Angeles and ended up in Las Vegas. After partying it up in LA for a day and a half my cousin and I went on the infamous four hour road trip through the mountains of California and into the ominous dessert of Nevada.

During our journey we stopped for our second helping of the legendary In-N-Out Burger. Mid-way into my foodgasm I remembered a food network special on Las Vegas that featured a gourmet burger and thought that it would be a good idea to continue the burger themed weekend.

(Photo Brought to you by tripadvisor)

When we arrived I googled this burger and found out that it was served at Le Burger Brasserie inside the Paris hotel. Known as the 777 Burger this dish transforms a traditional American meal into a aristocratic entree.

The origin of the title lies in its price which is $777 which includes the burger and a bottle of Rose Dom Perignon. While I like celebrate special events with class I didn't have the budget to order that but was elated to find out that you can get the burger itself for $77.

The burger comes with a Kobe beef patty, a generous serving of Maine Lobster and is topped with caremelized onions, imported Brie cheese, and crispy pancetta which is all drizzled with 100-year aged Balsamic. If you are unaware of these ingredients then the easiest way to explain this burger is to say that it is the Bentley of all Burgers. Each ingredient in an of itself is at or near the top of it's chain.

(777 Burger)

When we were seated we simply brushed away the menus given to us and asked for two 777 Burgers without the champaign and a round of drinks. What ensued was a 30 minute period of heightened angst in anticipation for what promised to be a phenomenal dish. We were then greeted by the head chef who brought the dishes out personally, he then told us that we were sure to enjoy.

Our first couple of bites were met with looks of interest from other patrons who were completely unaware of who we were or what we had ordered. Those same emotions were also running though our minds with each bite. We were both in a state of utter shock, each bite was better than the last.

The Kobe beef was full of flavor and was complimented perfectly with the mixture of the saltiness of the pancetta and richness of the brie. The balsamic also added an extra dimension of flavor that I have never experienced. The battle of competing flavors was like a symphony composed by a musical genius. All these flavors blended harmoniously rendering a burger that has no competitor.

After finishing our meal we were asked if we wanted a custom dessert, we took less than a second to answer that question with a resounding yes. While we waited we reminisced on one of the best meals that either of us had in our entire lives and were left speechless by it's brilliance.

We were then greeted by this ensemble of European desserts by our chef who thanked us for ordering our meal. At this point we were both already full but went all out for this dessert. The crepes were fantastic. The wild berries were fresh and warm. The tiramisu was also great but not the best I have had. I am not a fan of cheesecake but was surprised how much I enjoyed it. All in all it was a great dessert but was trumped by our indescribably entree.

(Mixed Berry Crepe, Cheesecake, Tiramisu Custom made Dessert)

After our meal was complete we were both stuffed to the point were we could literally feel food at the bottom of our throats. Unfortunately the check was also that bad but as we all know you get what you pay for. In this instance I think save the dessert that we got our moneys worth both for the quality of the food and the experience. This has to be the best overall burger I have had to date and one of the better entree's I have had as well.

If you love burgers and are in Las Vegas I highly recommend trying this out. The service was great and the meal was worthy of a birthday celebration.