Saturday, July 30, 2011

Georgetown Scoops

Currently our fine city is under a heat wave of immense proportions. Popularly dubbed Heatpocalypse this current streak of record breaking temperatures has literally made our daily lives a living hell. The only way to I can bear out this heat wave is with a refreshing cocktail.

Unfortunately I cannot do this during work so I have to turn to ice cream to cool me down. This takes us to Georgetown Scoops, a tiny chic shop on M St.. I first stumbled upon this shop while going for lunch at Cafe-Tu-O-Tu. As I was walking I noticed a sign that said "Best Red Velvet Cupcakes in DC" and immediately began to chuckle.

This ludicrous marketing scheme worked because it drew my attention and caused me to try one of their cupcakes. I decided not try their highly touted red velvet and instead went for a cookies and cream which was fairly pleasant. I also added a small scoop of cookies and cream ice cream which resulted in a sugar overload.

Now that we are in the dog days of summer I make it a habit of refreshing myself with some ice cream or frozen yogurt. While I don't have the biggest sweet tooth times like these cause me to adjust my eating habits.

They have over 12 flavors to offer of which I have tried at least 5. Their proximity to my office makes this my go to place and far better than Ben & Jerry's. Of all the flavors I have tried their cotton candy and Napoleon are the best, so much so that I often combine them to satisfy my cravings.

They also offer a number of other options including milkshakes and sundaes which I have yet to try. You can also add a number of toppings to your ice cream to spice it up. I usually don't do this because I like my ice cream plain and am not the biggest fan of sundaes or banana splits.

(Cotton Candy & Napoleon Ice Cream)

All in all Georgetown scoops is a ok. While it is not the best ice cream place in Georgetown (I will blog about this soon!!!) the prices, location and flavors make me come back. So if you are in Georgetown skip the overpriced and overrated Ben & Jerry's and hit up this place where you can sit outside on one of their tables and people watch while enjoying this cool refreshing snack.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Georgetown Wing Co.

In the dead of summer we are in the largest void of sports during the entire year. With only our national pastime to fuel our need for competition it's easy to say attendance at sports bars is at it's lowest. For men that means that our intake of bar food is at it's lowest point of the year.

With the NFL lockout nearing it's end football is right around the corner. With this in mind I decided to submerge myself into the culinary world of sports by visiting Georgetown Wing Company to feast on the food that makes sports that much better.

Located on M St. Georgetown Wing Company is a cosy nook feeding the needs of buffalo wing enthusiasts. Sadly I had never ventured into this establishment until recently mostly due to the aforementioned lack of competitive sports available at this time of the year. Regardless of this I decided to venture for lunch to reminisce on memories past and slowly get a taste of things to come in the future.

The first dish I sampled was an obvious choice that I made by glancing at the menu for less than a second. The over-loaded tots which consist of a bed of tater tots which are covered in mounds of bacon, melted cheddar cheese, scallions and sour cream which is all drizzled with hot sauce.

Even though the dish is an appetizer I decided to go all in and order it for myself. It tastes exactly how it sounds, there is no need to sugar coat it or provide an in depth existential blurb. To say I felt guilty after trying this would be an understatement. Overcome by guilt I could only eat half of it before I threw in the towel. I was particularly happy that they did not skimp on the bacon which is surprising these days. This is the perfect starter for a group of people with no regard for their caloric intake.

(Over-Loaded Tots)

On my next visit I decided to go full circle and order some buffalo wings which have evaded my stomach for months. Per the advice of our server I decided to order the second spiciest sauce, the M St. bully instead of the inferno because I actually wanted to eat all of my wings. I ordered the lunch special which consists of 8 wings and a side of french fries or tater tots of which I ordered the latter because they were out of fries.

The wings were solid but to say the sauce was hot would be like saying fast food can be healthy. Regardless of this disappointment I was fairly please with my meal as well as the reasonable price ($9) I paid for it. They also have a number of other sauces some of which have drawn my interest for future visits.

(M St. Bully Boneless Wings and Tots)

All in all this place is OK in my book. The food is solid, the service was good and the prices are reasonable. The place is very small but was never full when I went for lunch. There are a couple of TV's which give it a sports bar atmosphere and would be an ideal place for anyone who wants a low key sports viewing experience.

They do serve a couple of beers including their own Georgetown Lager but I did not see any hard alcohol at the bar area. They are joined with Crepe Armour which is downstairs so you can order anything from their menu and have it brought up to you.

DC Noodles

The next stop on the U St. tour takes us DC Noodles a Thai inspired restaurant brought to you by the owners of Rice on 14th St.. DC Noodles sits on the famous intersection of 14th and U St. across the street from the Reeves center and offers it's patrons a variety of Thai dishes.

While the name may be a bit odd mainly because Thailand is not the mecca of noodles you can rest assure that the noodles they do incorporate bring a level of flavor that is unique to the neighborhood. Before venturing to this establishment my only experience with Thai food was limited to Pad Thai (hasn't everyone had it) and pineapple fried rice.

While I am interested in Thai food my limited exposure to it is mainly the result of my lack of knowledge and shyness toward diving into the culture. I first ventured here about a year and a half ago because their dishes intrigued me. I invited a small group of friends to dine here on a Saturday night. The place was at capacity when we entered but were able to snag a table within 5 minutes without a reservation.

The interior design is a consists of chic post-modern furniture with an Asian backdrop. The restaurant is the ground floor of a gutted out house so to say it can be characterized as cozy by a real estate agent (Simpsons reference). Our party was seated next to the interesting wall art you see below you.

It was a peak hour for dining so our experience was altered by the "cozy" factor as well as the fact that our table was not suited for the number of people sitting on it. We started off with an order of crispy spring rolls and pumpkin empanadas. The egg rolls were your run of the mill average roll which didn't wow or disappoint. The empanadas on the other hand were very interesting, I did enjoy them even though I am not the biggest fan of pumpkin.

I then ordered the drunken noodles which are accompanied with squid ink spaghetti. On the spectrum of outlandish dishes that I have sampled this has to be near the top. In fact trying this dish was what originally drew me to this establishment. It came in are very large bowl which comprised of a liberal mixture of seafood.

The dish itself tasted great, the squid ink noodles offered a very unique taste which is difficult to describe and the ingredients blended well. I have since ordered this dish an number of other times and is probably my favorite on the menu.

(Drunken Squid Ink Spaghetti)

On my other visits I have delved into their soups. As you may have already noticed soup is one of my favorite dishes which I enjoy year round. I stick mainly to their noodles in a spicy broth because I enjoy my soups on the spicy side. Each bowl comes of a topping of your choice. I have tried both their Vietnamese pork sausage and fish meatball, the latter of which I prefer.

The broth consists of peanuts, chili pepper, carrots, cilantro and bean sprouts. The flavors blend well with each other but the tiny hints of peanut are a little much for me, especially since I am not particularly fond of this ingredient. The soup itself is presented in a gigantic bowl which scores extra points for me. The broth itself is not hot enough for my palate so I always ask for their spice rack which ends up doing the job.

(Spicy Vietnamese Pork Sausage Soup)

While I do enjoy their soups, the fact that they incorporate peanuts turns me off. I am well aware that peanuts are incorporated in a number of Thai which is why I prefer Vietnamese and Japanese soups. I do love their noodle dishes and am intrigued to try their coconut curry dishes in the near future.

All in all this place satisfies my taste. The food is good, the prices are reasonable and the service is on par. The place is small so if you enjoy a relaxed atmosphere I would go during an off hour. If you are a fan of Thai food then this place is worth a try, the wait isn't long and their portions are large enough you are sure to leave very full.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DC Brau

As this a blog dedicated to food and alcohol in DC and it's surrounding areas I am proud to present DC Brau, the first locally brewed beer since 1956. DC Brau Brewery is operated under the steady hands of Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock, both residents of the District of Columbia with years of experience in the brewing industry.

Although the DMV has a number of famous breweries including but not limited to Flying Dog, Old Dominion, and Dogfish Head there was no beer that was brewed within the city limits until now. Currently DC Brau offers four different brews three of which are sold in cans year-round and one which is a draft only limited edition.

(The Public)

The beer was made public earlier this year and has quickly made it's way throughout a number of DC bars and restaurants. My first experience with this beer was at Marvin sometime in April. At the time they were only serving The Public which is a pale ale. I am not the biggest fan of dark beers especially pale ales which are too bitter for my likeing. Despite my preferences I felt the need to support my city and give this beer a shot.

While I have tried a vast amount of different beers I am not going to pretend I am a beer connoisseur. In fact I am probably a hair above a novice when it comes to dissecting the flavors. The beer was good but I quickly went back to drinking the Hoegaarden I yearn for on a hot summer day.

(Me and my DC Brau at American Ice Company on the 4th of July)

They have only recently come out with their cans which is what delayed this post. I was completely unaware of this until I noticed it on the menu at American Ice Company. I was there with two friends on the 4th of July and decided that it was my duty as a DC native to support my city.

I ordered The Public again because they did not have any other options. My support was exponentially higher especially on a day that celebrates democracy and freedom in the US. Being a DC resident we do not have the same rights as the rest of the country, our slogan is "Taxation without Representation" because we are not afforded the rights that everyone outside the area has in voting for their representatives which in turn allocate the tax's that we pay.

I hope in the future to try their other flavors even though they are all pale ales and will continue to support DC Brau Brewing because they share the same animosity towards our current voting situation. If you are a fan of pale ales or a DC resident then stand up and show your support and join the grassroots campaign and maybe we will produce a watershed moment similar to that of a DC Brewery reemerging after over 50 years in limbo.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Qdoba Mexican Grill is our next stop on the chain restaurant tour. A direct competitor to Chipotle which opened it's doors two years earlier Qdoba offers it's patrons a variety of Mexican dishes. Coincidentally both Qdoba and Chipotle originated in Denver, Colorado and have grown into nationwide chains with numerous dedicated followers.

The main aspect that separates Qdoba from their arch rival is the array of options. While Chipotle limits itself to burritos and tacos Qdoba serves a number of other dishes including but not limited to quesadillas, nachos, and soup. This characteristic is what initially drew me to dine here and has made me come back several times afterward.

My first visit was pure by coincidence; I was bored with my regular lunch routine in Georgetown so I decided to explore the outer parts of the area. I decided to order the Ancho Chili BBQ burrito which consists of a burrito with your choice of toppings and is smothered with their Mole BBQ sauce. The burrito was average, the ingredients were fresh and the Mole was good but for a burrito I would have to side with my Chipotle allegiance.

Next I decided to order their taco salad which comes inside a deep fried tortilla. While not the healthiest salad you can get in the area it is a long time favorite of mine. The flavors are all there and the chicken was solid.

(Roasted Chicken Taco Salad)

Aside from the taco salad which is my go to dish their quesadillas are average but the best you can get in the Georgetown area. Their nachos on the other hand are a big let down. They come in a three cheese sauce which is alright which I paired with the pulled pork. On that topic I will have to say out of all of the meats to chose from their pulled pork is the best.

(Pulled Pork Nachos)

All in all Qdoba is a solid destination for those who like to stick to the fast-food chains. Their prices are average, the food is solid and there is no where near the same ghastly lines that you see at Chipotle during the lunch rush.

While I think the food is better at Chipotle I still go here from time to time because of the different options they offer, mainly the aforementioned taco salad. If you are in the mood for a tacos or a burrito then I would advise you to stick with Chipotle. However if you are in the mood for a good taco salad or a quesadilla then head on over.

Taylor Gourmet

In the pantheon of foods that DC lacks sandwich shops rein supreme. The lack of delis and sub shops have had such a burdening effect that Subway, Quiznos and Potbelly are seen as the top places to get a sandwich in this city. I for one am deeply embarrassed by this and have been calling for a monumental change in the landscape.

Fortunately there is a small beacon of hope which is known simply as Taylor Gourmet. Taylor Gourmet was founded in 2008 by Casey Patten and David Mazza, long time friends and natives of Philadelphia. Noticing this void they set to work and opened shop in the up and coming Atlas District popularly known as H St. Both devoted years of research into constructing their vast menu of hoagies built with fresh ingredients and masterful flavor combinations.

(Image brought to you by Yelp)

Each sub is the product of countless culinary experiments. The precision behind all of their hoagies is unparalleled. From the bread that is made daily in house to the selection of cured meats and aged cheeses each sandwich is tailored (no pun intended) to meet a certain flavor combination.

I first stumbled upon their Chinatown location when it was first opening. The unique design also caught my eye. The pain bucket lights, wood panel interior and a garage door that offers an open space to the outside are truly unique to this establishment.

I approached with caution as I have been traumatized in the past with sandwich shops in this city. Within seconds I was mesmerized by their extensive menu. With so many options to choose from I was trapped in a state of panic to the extent that I froze for a few seconds.

I eventually composed myself and decided to order their JFK Boulevard which consists of a chicken cutlet which is either breaded or grilled and served with portobello mushroom and goat cheese. My friend ordered a Benjamin Franklin Parkway which consists of a chicken cutlet which is adorned with marinara sauce and sharp provolone cheese. We also split an order of their risotto balls and fried ravioli.

We took our seats and watched as the cooks doled out sandwich after sandwich with ease. Once our order was finished we took our seats and started to dig in. The ingredients were fresh and blended well with each other. The breaded cutlet was juicy; the Portobello and goat cheese blended well with each other and the soft bread wrapped it all up. The risotto balls and fried ravioli were equally as good. The former had a slight bite to it which I fancy. If forced to choose which one I would prefer on a regular basis it would have to be the latter. I left feeling both satisfied by my meal and curious to explore their menu.

(Rocky's Risotto Balls)

Since my initial baptism I have become a full fledge follower of the Taylor cult. I have introduced friends and family, shared meals and ordered out so many times that it is difficult to count the total number of times that I have visited. If you are a virgin to Taylor I must advise you that like any religion there are a set of rules that we consider dogma. First and most importantly No Mayonnaise or Mustard, no sandwich of theirs should be covered even slightly with these condiments. I was a bit weary of this at first but easily accepted it once I joined the commune. You will also only be served with fresh bread that is made daily and not stored in a freezer for days on end. Lastly you will be served Boylan soda which is made by natural ingredients, no artificial preservatives or flavors.

During my experiences I have formed a bond with these sandwiches. Whenever I visit my order is based on a variety of factors including my mood, the time or day and even the weather. I have yet to sample the entire menu which consists of 39 different sandwiches but am close to half way through. One of my favorites is the Lombard Avenue which can be seen below. This sandwich consists of sopressata, geona salami, roasted red peppers, pesto and fresh mozzarella.

(Lombard Avenue)

The flavor profile in this sandwich is flawless; each ingredient plays off on the other and no ingredient overpowers the dish. I am also a big fan of their Philadelphia Landfill which comes with roasted turkey, ham, geona salami, roasted red peppers and sharp provolone cheese. It is similar in taste to the Lombard but a bit more sophisticated.

Every time I visit H St. for a night on the town my last stop is always Taylor to quench my drunken munchies. In my state of inebriation I always feel a bit guilty because I am not able to fully appreciate the complexity of this sandwich but I still find it necessary.

Of all the sandwiches there my favorite has to be the Callowhill which is their take on a meatball sub. The Callowhill consists of house made spicy meatballs, marinara sauce and sharp provolone cheese. Meatball subs are one of my favorite sandwiches so I put high standards on them and I am glad to say that the Callowhill not only meets but surpass my rigid criteria.

(Callowhill Street)

The meatballs are spicy and scrumptious; the marinara also packs a bit of heat since they are simmered together and the provolone tames it down a bit. The mere simplicity of the sub makes it spectacular and an all time favorite of mine.

All in all Taylor gourmet is fantastic, its quick growth in popularity has pushed it to open shop in Bethesda and soon to U St. which will be my ultimate demise. Their ingredients are always fresh and I have yet to have a sandwich that I disliked. I will have to say that this greatness comes at a price in the form of cost and lines. Both are not grueling but they may cause a slight inconvenience at times depending on your threshold. Definitely a must try for anyone who shares my enthusiasm for good sandwiches.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Restaurant Judy

Before it's current revitalization 14th St. mainly in the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods was heavily influenced by latin culture. As these neighborhoods are rapidly transforming you can only catch glimpses of what it used to be. One of the remaining pieces happens to be one of the best restaurants on the entire block.

Restaurant Judy lies alone on a street whose transformation is like night and day. Restaurant Judy offers it's patrons a glimpse of traditional Salvadorian and Mexican cuisine. A brief look at the decor and you would think you stumbled in hole in the wall restaurant and that there is no reason to be here. But this is an instance in which you would have to use the age old adage of not judging a book by it's cover.

One quick glance at Yelp or Urbanspoon will have you scratching your head in bewilderment. Restaurant Judy is one of the highest rated restaurants in the U St. area which contains a number of great establishments such as Ben's Chili Bowl, Birch and Barley, and Masa 14.

Back in my early years my parents would take us to a number of Spanish restaurants including this one. At the time our neighborhood was inundated with restaurants similar to these. But I remember this one standing out among the rest which may be the primary reason why it is one of the few left standing.

I visit Restaurant Judy from time to time and chuckle each time I see a group of yuppies that are taking in the experience as the rest of the patrons look with the same enthusiasm at these gringos (Spanish for white people) thinking, what are these people doing here?

(Taco De Lengua)

Eating here reminds me of my young days. Whether it's a family BBQ, a reunion or even back in Honduras visiting my extended family. The food tastes that authentic. Every dish I have had here is spot on, from quesadillas to tacos I have never been dissapointed with my meal.

For those who's knowledge of Spanish cuisine stops at Taco Bell let me share with you some traditional dishes that are some of my all time favorites. We start off with the tacos of which everyone has tried. But I will take a gander that little to no one has tried a beef tung taco.

While it may sound unappealing let me tell you that beef tung has some of most flavor you will find in any cut of meat and is definitely worth a try. You should also try the tamales which are a personal favorite of one of my best friends. She, like Michelle Obama has an unending passion for them.

(Pupusas Revueltas)

If none of these plates floats your boat then I highly recommend sampling their pupusas. Pupusas are a traditional Salvadorian dish which compose of tortillas stuffed with a variety of ingredients including beans, cheese and pork. Pupusas in the pantheon of my all time favorite foods. This dish is so good that I would include at least one in my final meal.

Luckily Restaurant Judy serves up some of the best pupusas in the town. My favorite type is revuelta which consists of mixture of cheese and chopped pork which are to die for. Thinking about them makes me want to get up and get 3 or 4 even though I am currently stuffed. Take my word for it, if there is one Latin dish that you must try it is a pupusa, you will become addicted.

All in all Restaurant Judy lives up to the reputation that the masses have give it. The food is authentic and very cheap, the service is good and there are no gaudy lines unlike most of the neighborhood restaurants. The decor and atmosphere is dive but there is nothing to fear. I would however eat here relatively early especially on the weekends because at night it becomes a pseudo dance club where immigrants who are brand new to this country meet to relive life back in the old country. This sight may be a bit odd to the average person but if you want to experience Latin America then go for it.