Eat Like Me: October’s Best Dishes

Photo courtesy of
‘at vace in northwest d.c.’
courtesy of ‘staceyviera’

October wasn’t exactly a regular eating month for me. I was in China for two weeks (where I dined on delicious, delicious things that I won’t even try to identify), I spent a few days eating every random thing in my fridge to clean it out before my trip, and the rest of the month was spent mostly dedicated to Vegan Week. By all accounts it shouldn’t have been a hallmark eating month, at least not in any D.C. locations, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well I did eat.

Where I’ve Been: Pumpernickel’s, Sweetgreen, Pizzaria Paradiso, Agora, Neyla, El Floridano, D.C. Empanadas, Capital City Brewing Company, Asylum, Amsterdam Falafel, Nage, Cafe Green, Dos Gringos, Sticky Fingers, Galaxy Hut, The Source, Sticky Rice, Vace, Sushi-Ko.

Photo courtesy of
‘veggie roll’
courtesy of ‘aliciagriffin’

My Favorite Cocktail: I’ve been trying quite hard to branch out lately and order more mixed drinks. I’m realizing there is something quite unladylike about throwing back Bud Lights when everyone else is swirling their martinis. This month, I got plenty of drunken enjoyment out of the Fahrenheit 451 at Nage. Made from cucumber, lemongrass, ginger and house-infused jalapeno vodka, it is a great hot and cool combination. I probably couldn’t have three or four in a row, lest I have some serious fire in my belly, but it was a great drink.

My Favorite Thing I Ordered at a Counter: I have a love/hate relationship with Vace. I love the food, and I hate myself for not eating there more often. I have a friend who loves Vace even more than me, and with his impending move far away from their delicious pizza, we had to make the trek. The pizza has such a great crispy crust, not too much cheese and a really flavorful sauce. I had the pepperoni (I was celebrating the end of Vegan Week) and with pepperoni cut a little thicker than you’re used to from most pizza places, you get a lot of flavor in a little bite.

Photo courtesy of
‘Pizza Paradiso, Pizzeria e Trattoria Napule, Tokyo Midtown’
courtesy of ‘yuichi.sakuraba’

My Favorite Appetizer: I love a good dip. If I wasn’t allergic to almost every salsa known to man (minus Tostitos!) I would eat it for at least one meal a day. Lunching at Agora is stressful for me only because there are so many dips on the menu. My favorite has to be the taromasalata, or cured roe spread. It sounds a little gnarly, but whether it’s my Jewish deli upbringing and my love of lox cream cheese or just my need for more salt in my life, I loved it.

My Favorite Thing Between Two Slices of Bread: I’m not sure if it really counts as two slices of bread, but this month’s best sandwich-like meal goes to Amsterdam Falafel. Everyone’s had it, but few when sober, so my advice to you is to go back and try a little falafel when your tastebuds aren’t burned with rail drinks. I favor the pickled items and a little dollop of tzatziki and a little bit of something spicy, but the beauty of Amsterdam Falafel is that since you never remember how you made it the time before, it’s always different.

Photo courtesy of
‘Amsterdam Falafel’
courtesy of ‘KentonNgo’

My Favorite Entree: Okay, I’m only going to say this once because I am deeply, deeply embarrassed by it, but my favorite entree I ate all month was…vegan. Vegan! It’s unbelievable I tells ya. But the Vegan Pad Thai at Nage made me forget all my protein-deficient worries. It wasn’t by any means a ground-breaking act of food service, but it was really satisfying and rich and most of all, didn’t make me miss meat. The added little fried squares of firm tofu were the best part, crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside, it just for a second made me think I was eating a mozzarella stick. And that’s high praise if I’ve ever heard it.

My Favorite Dessert: We’ve been down this road before, and it’s still true, I am not a dessert person. But honestly, Vegan Week hit my dessert wheelhouse just right. Every time we ordered something, the chef would say something like, “well, it’s hard to come up with vegan desserts.” But the sorbet! The vegan sorbet! The best was by far the offering from The Source, with a trio of sorbets (strawberry, blackberry-pomegranate, and coconut) that was just to die for.
Photo courtesy of
‘sticky fingers bakery’
courtesy of ‘m hoek’

So in the end, Vegan Week was not the buzz kill I thought it was going to be. Turns out a lot of the best things I ate this month were vegan, whether I liked it or not. If wasn’t for Agora and Vace and their delicious, delicious pizza, it would have been a sweep.

Ashley Messick

Ashley is a born and bred Washingtonian who left for college but came running back to the District as fast as her little legs could carry her. By day she is a Capitol Hill brat, but by night she is a lean, mean, eating machine. It’s her goal in life to steal Anthony Bourdain’s job…by whatever means necessary. Contact her at Ashley (at) welovedc (dot) com or follow her on Twitter.

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