I’ve never been big on take-out. By the time I decide what I want, find the menu, call it in, wait forty-five minutes, go pick it up, almost drop it on the way home, and finally get home and realize they got my order wrong, I’m not really hungry any more. And the truth is that on most occasions, I can make food that tastes better than what a restaurant lets sit for 20 minutes in a Styrofoam container. And did I mention I’m cheap? All that makes for a pretty tough road for take-out purveyors everywhere.
But as we all know, there is an exception to every rule. In this case, it’s Surfside. It might have a little something to do with its proximity to my house, but what puts it above and beyond the rest of the many take-out options in Glover Park is the food. And don’t worry, people of not Glover Park, eating in at Surfside is even better than trying to eat it off my lap in front of a TiVo-ed episode (or two) of the new 90210.
Surfside comes from the folks behind the uber popular restaurants and bars (no matter what your personal take on them may be) Jetties, the Rookery and Smith Point. Say what you want about these dudes, but they sure do know how to open a successful business. Since it first opened, Surfside has been packed on a daily basis. When you first walk in, it seems like quite uncontrolled chaos. Multi-colored order forms are strewn throughout the restaurant, the cashiers hand out Olive Garden-style pagers with reckless abandon, and there is always a scared newbie wandering aimlessly waiting for someone to help them or put them out of their misery.
Now it does take a bit of confidence to order here. Things to know: first, you need to know your order before you get in line, standing and staring at the menu board will only get you jabs in the back. Second, you fill out your own order form. Just follow the signs and you’ll be fine. Now I always stick with the tacos, I think you really can’t go wrong here. I do waver back and forth on what I order though. Some days I’m fish tacos, but more often than not I’m shrimp tacos.
These bad boys are heaven on a plate (or in a Styrofoam container). Known to those who actually remember to read the menu as the Nevis tacos, they are served with a pineapple-jalapeno salsa, guacamole and lime sour cream. Seasoned and grilled perfectly, the shrimp are a bit much to fit in the tortillas, but who cares, I’m happy to finish them up with a fork.
The burritos, rice bowls, salads and quesadillas are great too, but I have a really hard time straying from the tacos. I do make sure to order up the guacamole or queso while I’m there, and if I’m feeling really daring (and hungry) I go for the appetizer combo, which includes the guacamole, queso and salsa. It’s enough for about six people, though I have been known to finish it off myself. Don’t tell anyone I told you that, okay?
Brunch at Surfside may not seem like a logical use of your Sunday morning, but just trust me on this one. They have hangover cures down to a science. I guess that has something to do with the restaurant being cousins with some pretty popular bars. The menu is an odd combination (blueberry pancakes to poached eggs with pork carnitas) but in the end, all viable options when you’re trying to kill the pain of the night before.
Though I am a huge fan of the Surfside takeaway, the restaurant itself is definitely worth a leisurely meal. Bypass the noisy downstairs dining room and head straight to the roof deck. Overlooking beautiful Wisconsin Ave. on one side, and not-sarcastically beautiful Glover-Archibold Park on the back side, it is a little oasis above the SUV-packed mean streets of Glover Park. A fully stocked bar is up there, so no need to teeter your way up the stairs holding margaritas for you and all your stupid, lazy friends. Not that I learned that the hard way.
Don’t miss out on Surfside’s specials. They change regularly but are explicitly outlined on the website. The “Kids Eat Free” Mondays is a pretty consistent special, though the “All You Can Eat Taco Tuesday” and recent free seven-layer dip night are more up my alley. Don’t forget to imbibe in your favorite festive drink while you’re there, though I tend to stay away from the margaritas. Instead, I hit the beer list pretty hard, which seems to consist of beers that make girls who sidle up to the bar and order “something that goes with Mexican” happy. As one of those girls, the choices definitely make me happy.
So there you go. Whether you take it out or eat it in, I can’t recommend Surfside enough. For food to stand up to my discerning tastes when it comes to Styrofoam and plastic sporks, that’s saying something.
Surfside is located at 2444 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The closest Metro is Woodley Park/Adams Morgan (Red Line). For more information, call (202) 337-0004.