Food and Drink, The Features

Best Of: We Love Food 2010

Photo courtesy of
‘Lunch at the Majestic – the Aftermath’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

Last year, when we created the reader’s survey, we found out that you guys really like to read about food. I felt validated, and proud of what we’d created for food here at We Love DC. Pretty soon after that, though, I got a new demanding day job, where I wasn’t able to write much. I let the food coverage dwindle, but was continually bothered that I wasn’t able to write. I racked my brain for a new food writer for We Love DC, and thought back to Ashley Messick, who I profiled in February. I loved her blog From Komi to Marvin, where she ate her way through the 100 Best Restaurant List from Washingtonian. I knew that she had eaten a TON in this city, had a good palate, and a funny wit about her.

After a little sweet talking she agreed to join our team, and I was thrilled to bring her on to get our food coverage back on track. So I have to say, Ashley was maybe my favorite thing of 2010′s We Love Food, but since it has to be an entry, not a person, here are our greatest hits from 2010, brought to you by Ashley and Katie. (Side note: We are, again, looking to expand our food writing team, if you’re interested in joining us, let me know via email.) Continue reading

We Love Food

We Love Food: The Most Delicious Day of My Life


Pupusa at El Charrito
Yummy photos courtesy of Dan at Kitchen Geeking

Delicious is a word I use often. And by often, I mean constantly. I love the word delicious almost as much as I love the food that makes me say it. Everything about delicious is a win-win. Therefore, be it resolved, that Saturday March 6th was SO FULL OF WIN. If you don’t know just how delicious the ethnic food of DC and NoVa can be, you are missing out in the worst kinda’ way.

My Saturday started by meeting up with good friend, fantastic amateur chef and ultra foodie and blogger Dan Tompkins. We started throwing out types of cuisines, regions of the world that were a “must hit” for the day and names of hole-in-the-wall places that were favorites of mine. Just listing out the countries we could potentially consume in the hours to come lead to a very enamored and elated couple of hungry, hungry guys.

“Let’s start at the taqueria on Washington, then we have to grab some of my favorite falafel at Astor, hopefully they have koshari too…then we definitely need chickpeas from Ravi Kabob. I think a visit to Present for Vietnamese is also very much called for and it’s totally on our way out to Great Wall, the giant Asian grocery store.”

If our initial list of food stops had actually been the limits of this day, it still would’ve ranked up there with some of the most delicious days of my life. But thankfully Dan and I don’t let silly things like goals keep our food egos in check. We go all out when we get together and this day was like none other that had come before it. This, my fellow DC friends, was the most delicious day of my life. Our bellies happily danced to the tune of food induced merriment brought on by the entire world’s best dishes meeting their demise in our mouths over the course of 9 hours. Mexican, Egyptian, Bolivian, Lebanese, Pakistani, Peruvian, Afghan, American and more!

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Cheesetique

Photo courtesy of
‘Cheesetique’
courtesy of ‘angela n.’

In my humble opinion, cheese shops are too few and far between. Americans settle for the lactic crap that comes in baggies at super markets and fail to enjoy the finer aspects of one of God’s greatest creations. Sure, cheddar melted over tortilla chips has its place, but there’s so much that goes unrealized in the world of cheese.  Fortunately, there’s a place in Del Ray called Cheesetique: it purveys the wonders of excellent fromage to the greater DC area.

Cheestique is, perhaps, the brightest star in the glimmering neighborhood of Del Ray, Alexandria.  Over the past few years, this quaint area has been a haven for simple, unpretentious restaurants that serve excellent food to the many young families that occupy the neighborhood. None is as well conceptualized or executed as the Cheesetique.  By day it serves as a specialized grocery with dozens of excellent cheeses and decent bottles of wine.  By night, it’s a wine and cheese bar that is the first stop for a date night, or as the romantic destination itself. The former iteration was my first exposure to it.

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We Love Food

We Love Food: Willow

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Willow Bar & Restaurant by Addison H on Flickr

I have been known to insult Ballston from time to time. I have a deep fond love of Arlington, but Ballston seems to me to be all high rises, chain restaurants and it’s kinda got a mall. But places like Willow make me take it all back. Tucked in the bottom level of an office building, Willow is a gem of a restaurant with fresh, local, sophisticated food and perfect service.

I’ve become a regular at Willow. I’ve taken my friends, my parents, I’ve gone there for drinks, for restaurant week dinners. I basically love it for it’s calm refined atmosphere and unblemished menu. The crowd errs on the slightly old to very old side, I see some grey hair every time I go. But then again I’m never there for a scene, so this has never bothered me – if I wanted a scene in Arlington I’d go to Eventide or Liberty Tavern. I come to Willow to take a deep breath. Continue reading

Arlington, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Minh’s

Photo courtesy of
‘Day 63: Minhs’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

I discovered Minh’s pretty quickly after moving to DC. You see, I have this thing for rice paper summer rolls and peanut sauce. I love them, and I want them at least once a month. Back where I come from (cue the country song), there is this amazing Vietnamese restaurant called Lang Van’s, owned by a friend’s family. I was upset to leave Lang Van’s, so I quickly searched out a substitute. Minh’s certainly lives up.

With one of the largest menus I’ve ever seen (trumped only by Cheesecake Factory) you pretty much can’t go wrong at Minh’s. Located between Court House and Clarendon out in Virginia (where arguably all the good Asian food hides) Mihn’s is situated on Wilson Boulevard in a nondescript office building. I’ve had friends tell me that they’ve ridden past it a million times, never noticing it. I wonder how that could be, seeing as there are huge neon signs in the window, but that’s just me. (Hey, I never claimed Minh’s was trendy, or sleek, or chic!) The outward appearance isn’t the fabulous part of Minh’s, the food is. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Vegetate

Photo courtesy of
‘Vegetate Outside’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

I have a co-worker and friend named Heather. Heather is a vegetarian. She’s one of those odd vegetarians, though, that doesn’t really eat a bunch of vegetables. She likes them just fine, and she’ll eat them if you cook them for her, or bring them to her, but she doesn’t seek out vegetables the way a stereotypical vegetarian would. In fact, she tends to eat a lot of mac and cheese, and mozzarella sticks are her favorite bar nosh. Fried food is good food for Heather, especially when it involves cheese. So when I told her about Vegetate, the vegetarian restaurant in Historic Shaw, and my experience there, she said “now that’s the restaurant for me!” – and it totally is. Here is why. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Eatonville

Photo courtesy of
‘Eatonville’
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

So I’ll let you in on a little secret, new restaurants. Sometimes two of the blonde single lady authors of We Love DC hit the town together, and judge you. You can spot us, cause we ask a bunch of questions, giggle to ourselves, and take tons of pictures of our food and drinks. One of us is southern, the other northern. One twentysomething, one thirtysomething. We try and represent all demographics. We also try not to make a scene. Maybe one day we’ll get fabulous enough to don disguises Ruth Reichl-style, but for now, we aren’t particularly incognito. I’m pretty sure our server last week at Eatonville knew something was up, but he was a good sport, as we grilled him all about the menu, the best picks, and even the decor. He wound up asking us a bunch of questions back to our questions about the restaurant. Bending over our table, conspiritorially, he asked us “do you twitter?” (Yup.) “Will you tweet about this?” (Sure will.) “Even if you don’t like it?” (Uh huh.) Luckily for him, we liked it just fine.

Eatonville had come up with mixed reviews from my foodie crowd, but ever the southerner, I was excited. Jenn was ready to judge with me, and she’s always good to have around to bounce thoughts off of. We dived into the menu headfirst, ordering the two most popular appetizers, the Hushpuppy (singular, that’s right, find out why after the break) and the Fried Green Tomatoes. (I don’t think it’s in my genetics to say no to a fried green tomato!) Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Features, The Hill, We Love Food

We Love Food: Taqueria Nacional

Photo courtesy of
‘Taquira Nacional’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

The first step to healing, is admitting you have a problem, right? Well, people, here is my admission: I am addicted to Taqueria Nacional. Its draw to me is more powerful than Potbelly’s was when I used to work near 17th & L (best Potbelly’s location ever) and those of you who know me know that I adore Potbelly’s. I will forgo any lunch I’ve brought to work faster than you can say “Hey Katie, wanna go to Taqui…” I’ll dash out of conference calls, I’ll leave my boss in a lurch, I’ll do pretty much anything for a pork taco from Taqueria Nacional in the middle of the day. So this We Love Food? This one is personal, cause I’m a regular. A regular with an addiction.

Taqueria Nacional opened in 2007 amidst a flurry of rumors (it’s in an alley, it’s only a takeout window, it only has tacos) in the foodie scene. Clearly we did not have Twitter to quickly spread the truth, and it took a while for everyone to get on the same page – but here it is: Taqueria Nacional is tucked away behind Johnny’s the Half Shell, in the corner of the courtyard of the CSPAN building. It hides as a little standing-room-only takeout shop with a line that usually reaches halfway across the courtyard. Ann Cashion and John Fulchino are behind this little taco place, which bodes well for the new Mexican fare at H Street Country Club (Cashion’s new venture), and the standards are high. The tacos are five bites of heaven, the salads are fresh with high quality lettuce, the agua frescas are creative, and my stomach cheers at the thought of the fried yucca. Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Food

We Love Food: Black’s Bar & Kitchen

Black's Entrance BEST

Known as  one of the best happy hours in the northern Metro area, Black’s Bar & Kitchen is situated a few blocks from the Bethesda Metro station. WLDC author Acacia and I were headed to Bethesda to review Menopause the Musical (which you can read all about) and we decided we could make it a double feature – a We Love Arts and a We Love Food, all in one trip.  I would recommend you replicate our Bethesda trip, I enjoyed the play, but I will probably look back with even more fondness on our eats.

We stepped into Black’s and basically halted, it was absolutely packed. The interior is sleek, stylish and clean. The bar features two and four-seater booths are built into the back wall with a few free standing tables between the booths and the bar. Large windows look out onto Woodmont Ave. and the patio featuring a small modern pond. We couldn’t find a seat in the bar area, and it was one of those pre-spring days too chilly to sit outside, but we had plenty of time to waste before the show so we decided to wait it out. Soon thereafter a table opened up, but the wait gave us time to survey the crowd. Around 6 p.m., we were bringing down the median age – it was mostly a 35-55 aged crowd, complete with power suits and ties. But by the time we left around 7:15,  the average age had lowered considerably, and there were plenty more jeans and after-work twenty-somethings mixed in the crowd.

Black’s is also an oyster bar, with the goods laid out on display when you walk in the door. I was eager to try the seafood, so we grabbed beers and gave our order. Continue reading

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Dino (II)

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Dino Sinage by Shawn.L on flickr

Last August, Tom and Tiff checked out Dino for Restaurant Week. I was jealous. It sounded delicious, and the menu changes seasonally, so a group of girlfriends and I chose Dino as our big Restaurant Week pick this go-round. We certainly weren’t disappointed. Dino, unlike most other places, was offering their entire menu for RW diners, along with crostini and a complimentary glass of grappa, limincello or muscato. It was a truly thrifty deal, and cheesy tasty to boot! Plus I love it when places embrace Restaurant Week for what it is, and make it worth the diners time by allowing us to try anything we want off the main menu. It enables a place to show off, and I always think it’s admirable when a restaurant  decides it can handle whatever the crowds throw at it.

We sat down at Dino and were immediately impressed- the menu is huge, and the choices can be overwhelming. There’s antipasti, oggi, pasta, formaggi, secondi, and plentiful options for dessert. The menu is rustic Italian featuring the flavors of Venice and Southern Tuscany – we were in for a treat. Continue reading

Downtown, Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: Equinox

Photo courtesy of
‘proof.glass.2′
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

Situated on Farragut Square in the Downtown corridor, Equinox is unassuming on the outside. With a glassed-in atrium, it looks like it was once a lunch eatery or an after-work bar spot that has been transformed, to the best of an interior decorator’s ability, to an upscale dining room. After having a wonderful time at Equinox in the fall, partaking in the fall happy hour, I was dying to try Equinox for a full meal, and Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse.

We were sat, and the meal started out with bread. I love bread – it has the potential to set the tone for the entire meal. Bread can be a warm welcome, a fabulous place for a meal to start, and unfortunately Equinox’s bread fell flat. Well, not the bread so much as the hummus that came with it. I’m a big fan of interesting spreads (hello, honey butter, yogurt dill cheese or herb butter) and so I was excited to try the hummus that came with a pastry puff bread and some sort of fruit and herb bread slices. It was bland. It was mostly tasteless, with sort of a weird aftertaste. I tried it with or without the bread, and have to say, that hummus was a mistake for the chef to send out. I could have gotten better hummus at Trader Joe’s. But luckily, the hummus was the worst part of the entire meal, and everything just got better from there. Continue reading