Semi-Locally Famous Eateries in DC – A Quick Review

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: Destination: Travel!, Everyday Me, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

 

I’m kind of into food a lot lately, not in a binge eating type of way but just as more of a hobby. I’ve gotten very into top-chef and anything else on food network (or Bravo!) that involves cooking and I even started my own blog about crop-shares! (link below or http://creativecrops.wordpress.com – well if that’s not a shameless plug I don’t know what is..).  With this mild obsession with food as of late I decided that of all the more ‘famous’ eateries in my backyard I would give a quick once over on my opinions. Bon Appetite!

Ben’s Chili Bowl
Fame Level: Travel Channel, President Obama has eaten here…

I really love chili, let me get that out there first. There is just something wonderful about a good chili. In the Fall and Winter it is warming and in the summer on a hot-dog it can spice things up just right. Turkey chili, soy chili, heck even Hormel, just heat it up and I’m usually in there! Ben’s Chili Bowl is a DC establishment. It has been standing from before the race riots that tore through DC, Bill Cosby is a hug advocate of the place, and President Obama famously dined in this very, very small place in the early days of his presidency.  www.benschilibowl.com Now that we know who has been let’s go over the nitty gritty details of this place:  

Experience:
It is directly across the street from the 13th ave  exit at the U Street metro stop, so it is definitely convenient. The hours are 10 am – 2am, clearly there is no excuse not to go! They do only allow a limited number of people into the building, so you may have to wait on a line outside, then move to a line inside and then get a seat. I was very nervous about not getting a seat after I ordered. The place was really jam-packed but everyone typically orders then scouts out seating so it worked out just fine that way, sticking with that system in there is the way to go! They also had some great music playing, seemed like a nice mix between 60s and 80s soul and pop tunes, the noise level was pretty moderate but it was all part of the experience. The staff was absolutely amazing! They were personable, friendly, helpful and quick, since you order and then they deliver there isn’t too much interaction but they made the most of the little interaction we had!

Food:
Again, I am a chili person so I may be biased here but it was delicious! I had a chili-dog with cheese and onions and boy was it good! I got fries on the side for a bit extra and that was a smart idea. The chili is extremely spicy (even for my husband who typically eats habanero and jalapeno peppers in his food). Both my husband and father in law were quick to jump on my fries when I offered them up to beat some of the spice. Overall, it was relatively inexpensive, locally owned, delicious and offered free fountain soda refills, it’s worth a quick bite if you find yourself on that side of town for sure!

 

Georgetown Cupcake
Fame Level: TLC TV Show – DC Cupcakes

I really love these cupcakes! I have been a fan of Georgetown Cupcake since before they were famous nation-wide and were just a fun little store in Georgetown. Even then the lines were up the block! Overall, after trying more than a fair share of DC area cupcakeries I still prefer this one, I’m hooked! If you are in town for just a little while, don’t feel bad missing this spot, but if you have time to kill and want to check out Georgetown, hop in line and spend a while, the cupcakes in the end are pricey, but worth it! www.georgetowncupcake.com

Experience:
With the TV show in full swing the lines at this place have progressively gotten worse. I thought it would ease up a bit when they made the move from their extremely tiny shop on a side street a few streets over to their larger, corner location. It really didn’t help. The store is much more visible and prominent now and the lines are just as long and move just as slow. They do have a lot more workers in there so it is much more efficient when you get in to get your cupcakes and drinks and mosey along. The show has really amped up their business though. Word to the wise, if you are going to go – get there early! Also, become their Facebook friend/fan so that you can find out what cupcake flavor they are giving away for free that day.

Food:
When its early in the day and the lines are short I jump on to get my free cupcake – always a delicious treat! They offer standard cupcakes everyday of the week – these are pretty basic: Chocolate and vanilla varieties, red velvet (definitely one of my favorites) and chocolate ganache – for any chocolate lovers out there this cupcake would be for you! They have daily varieties that are also quite delicious. My favorite of the daily changing ones is Lava Fudge. You bite into the middle of this cupcake and get some ‘lava’, it is such a great treat, especially warm! I also enjoy their Strawberry – nice and refreshing! Some of my favorite seasonal flavors that are offered include German Chocolate Fudge (similar to the lava fudge) and Caramel Apple (hands down my absolute all-time favorite)!

 

Filomena Ristorante of Georgetown
Fame Level: Politicians, Diplomats and Men in Tuxedos…

Like any ‘good’ Italian – I love Italian food more than any other variety. Good pasta can never let you down, it  is comfort and it’s my go-to food of choice. At Filomena you can watch the ladies making the fresh pasta in the front of the store. It is tucked in a side-street but is very delicious. www.filomena.com

Experience:
Get ready to part with your wallet – this place is extremely pricey! I will be honest, I will not go to this restaurant unless it is restaurant week where I can score a price-fixed meal at something more reasonable. It is expensive, the food is good, but I just don’t have that kind of cash to spend on a dinner. It is decorated in an over the top Italian way. Fake flowers and plants, big statues, it looks like what would happen is someone let my Grandma design a restaurant. That’s part of what makes it cozy, special and real though. It backs up to the canal so if you sit near the windows you have a lovely view of the canal… 

Food:
If this place were in my budget I would definitely visit more often. The food was excellent! The pasta was fresh and tasted great! The meat was cooked perfectly. Everything was just right, and they even throw in the free after-dinner drink like any good Italian place would as you are paying. It was worth the extra money for something special. Looking to impress someone and have a fancy night on the town – come here. The food is wonderful and you will enjoy it and be treated well! 

 Any I’ve left off that you think I should include? If so – let me know!

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Well Hello Again!!

Posted on January 10, 2011. Filed under: Books, Destination: Travel!, Everyday Me, Movies, Personal Reviews, TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Hello all!

Sorry that I have been gone for almost a year! I lost track of blogging but alas – I’m back!! A lot has gone on in that year, and many many books have been read, a handful of movies watched. But I am back in action and ready to lay my opinions on you!

Lets start back with a quick synopsis of my 2010 favorites:

Favorite TV Show: Big Love – hands down my absolute favorite! I love watching this family and seeing their drama unfold. They start up again in a new season this week, unfortunately I dont have HBO so I’ll have to wait to report on the new advancements until my library has the DVDs

Favorite Book: This category was a little more difficult, there wasn’t one book that really stuck out in my mind over another, so I’ll have to come back to this one…. I’m thinking it is most likely going to have to be Zeitoun , that was a really great book.

Favorite Movie: The Town – amazing! Great story, harsh language (that was a minus) but overall just excellent. There were quite a few other contenders in this category including Love & Other Drugs, An Education, Black Swan and Going the Distance. Reviews on some of these to follow!

Favorite Column: From the WashingtonPost Magazine (weekly) I cannot get enough of Gene Weingarten. He has a great way of writing that really draws you in. I can ‘hear’ his voice and I love it!

Favorite DC Restaurant: Founding Farmers – this is truly great food! It’s an amazing atmosphere and a fabulous restaurant. I cannot wait to write a review on this to tell you more!

Favorite Trip: Asheville, NC. What a beautiful place to go! We had such a fabulous time visiting Asheville and the surrounding BlueRidge Parkway. If you are ever nearby or passing through please do yourself a favor and stop. It is SUCH a great place! I really cannot wait to go back and explore more!!  

There were lots of favorites in 2010 but for now that will do. I have some reviewing ideas on tap and will post as I get them ‘penned in’. Sorry for being such a lame blogger but I promise you – I am back!

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Local Watering-Holes …

Posted on February 5, 2009. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here is a quick, short list of a few DC bars that I frequent and think are worth your while if you’re in the area:

Brickskeller – Located up in Dupont Circl this is a dive kinda place. You travel down 2 flights of stairs to have a choice of over 100+ different kinds of beers from all different countries. Be aware – they do not have all the beers listed on the menu at any given time! http://www.lovethebeer.com/brickskeller.html It’s a great place to go for a different beer – I had the blueberry ale and it really did taste like blueberries! You can come here, get a brew or two and relax with friends over a bite of food, the burgers were good (though it takes skill to mess up a burger) Definitely worth a visit!

Madhatter – Again located near Dupont Circle/Golden Triangle (go to Dupont Metro stop) this is another out of the way place that draws some attention. On the two occasions I visited the Madhatter there was at least 1 Bachelor/Bachelorette party going on making it extra fun. The atmosphere is fun, but small. There are 2 small bars seperated by stairs but there are a ton of tv’s for sports watchers and then a DJ comes in for the dancing crowd. It was fun, both nights there was a good mix of 80s tunes with today’s music making for a really fun event overall! Don’t go anticipating food – I believe they have a kitchen but have never seen a table or anyone eating for that matter..http://www.madhatterdc.com/

Union Jacks – Bethesda. This one is located in Bethesda and is another fun place. They have a large room for billiards and then again a ton of TVs for the sports-minded. There is also a nice dance floor with a DJ for those who have good moves (or any moves, I’ve seen my fair share of terrible moves on that dance floor). The food is well priced there and is tasty as well! Thursday is ladies night and the specials are 50% off wine – always a steal! Some nights, I have no clue which they have the beat the clock when they have their beers for $1, $1.50, etc… It’s a really fun place to go, I find there to be a good crowd most nights and always enjoy Union Jacks.   http://www.unionjacksbethesda.com/

Caddies on Cordell – Again in Bethesda, this is a great Football, or any sport watching bar. There is an outdoor bar as well as a very large  upstairs. It shows a ton of football games during the season (and I even saw Titantic on a tv of theirs once…) and they have nice booths that each have personal HD TVs to tune to a game of your choice and preference.  They also have some lighter types of fare – we have gotten mostly food to munch on while watching games. It is a very fun place to head to watch sports games and draws a good sized crowd – fun times for all!     http://www.caddiesoncordell.com/start.asp

Buffalo Billiards – First word: wow! This bar is located in Dupont Circle again but is more for the sports crowd. This restaurant is absolutely massive. Each time I go there I find more space and more TVs! During the football season this bar will have different rooms/TVs to highlight different games. There is usually a few big screens in every room and the other games will appear on smaller TVs around the room. The food here is good – nothing gourmet but great sandwhiches, wings and hot sauce. You could come here for an entier day and hang out in all different sections of the bar. There are a few actual bars inside, as well as couches, billiard tables (judging on the name you’d hope so) as well as tall top tables, regular tables, etc. This is a great place to take the sports person – it draws a huge crowd of different types of fans, be sure to get here early to get a seat to watch your game! Seats go quickly – if you leave your seat during a game be sure someone is still saving it for you! http://www.buffalobilliards.com/dc/

Pour House – Located in DC & close to Capitol South Metro stop this is a Pittsburgh Bar. It is a place for the Pittsburgh Steelers “nation” and is another great place to watch games. If you are a Steelers fan you have to experience a game here – you will be surrounded by fellow Steelers. There is an upstairs as well as a downstairs but get here early to get a good spot by a TV. They do have food available but it is typical bar food and nothing amazing at all. The beers are good and they have some decent specials, though none during football games. its a fun place to go that really feels like it doesn’t belong in a city like DC. Worth going to if bleed gold and black.   http://www.pourhouse-dc.com/PourHouseHome.php

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Fans Who Push the Limit

Posted on January 7, 2009. Filed under: Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I am a Boston fan. There it is – it’s out there. I like the Red Sox and I love my Bruins. Take me or leave me that’s who I am. On the same side of the argument though I am a sports fan. While I am true to my teams, I am also true to sports. This past weekend at the Capitals V Rangers game there were more than a few Rangers fans who really pushed the limit as to being a fan and acting like jerks. Even though they were escorted out of the game it really made me think about how often it is that fans cross the lines at sporting events and really take some of the fun out of seeing a game live – they really kill the mood for most people in the stands around them sadly enough.

 Relocating to the DC area I have become a partial season ticket holder for the Washington Capitals and have a great time going to their games – when the Bruins came to down I donned my Black & Gold instead of my Ovechkin shirt, but most of the other games I’m all for the C-A-P-S, Caps, Caps ,Caps!! Boston fans are known to be a bit on the obnoxious side – as are many Philadelphia fans and fans of the Evil Empire (Yankees) as well. But there is definitely a limit – I know when being a fan crosses lines at sporting events and I think most fans stay on the safe side of that line but I am thoroughly disgusted at how some fans cross it so effortlessly.

The term fan is short for fanatic, so should we not expect crazy behavior from such an aptly named group? I don’t think being a fan is any reason to interfere on another persons right to cheer for their team, especially when you’re in their home stadium. This past weekend at the Capitals V. New York Rangers game there were quite a few groups of rowdy and down right rude and disgusting Rangers fans that took to the stands. In my opinion throwing out the “Lets go Rangers” chants and the “Caps suck” chants, etc are fine, but at no point should your behavior include swearing in the stands, throwing objects or liquids and being downright disgraceful .

In one particular section there were Rangers fans who were all thrown out of the game before the close of the 3rd period for this terrible behavior and to be honest I’m appalled at how people show up to sporting events to start fights with other fans instead of watching the game. They ruin it for everyone. I went into the game thinking that Rangers fan were classy, and a decent bunch to watch a game with and left disgusted by them. I blame much of the problem directly on the ushers at the game who let them get too drunk and too obnoxious in the first place and secondly the blame is on those who continued to serve openly drunk people more liquor – when do you cut them off? But mostly its the fans. If they wanted to watch the game they could cheer on their team, next to Caps fans and cheer and root and support their team. Instead they focused their attention and energy on being rude to home-team fans and ruining the game for not only themselves but for the fans who went there for the game as well. Absolutely uncalled for. Not only were they classless but they left the section they were sitting in littered (and soaked) in liquor and garbage – that is no way to treat any stadium.

How does a group of people pay $50+ / seat to go to a game, get drunk for another $8+/beer and then get kicked out without batting an eyelash. Maybe it’s the liquor talking but as a fan I can say that at no point does ruining another’s time at a sporting event make the game better for me. I want to sit and enjoy and cheer on – I LOVE sitting next to fans from visiting teams doing the chatter about our teams and short quick jabs back and forth that makes it great and it really shows a true fan that can laugh and defend their team. But sitting with a group of rowdy, classes drunks isn’t quite the night out I was looking for when I bought a ticket to a hockey game.

In the end be a true fan to your team: defend them, love them, and have class. Represent the team well and respect everyone else. I just don’t understand why there is no respect anymore, can’t we all just go to a sporting event and actually watch the game?! Let your team do the talking and throw out chants but don’t cross the line, please have courtesy for those of us who love OUR teams and the sports they play more than hearing your drunk comments.

 And lastly: Lets go Bruins!

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Restaurant Review: Pasta Mia

Posted on October 31, 2008. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Everyday Me | Tags: , , , |

There is a lot of hype about this restaurant that is positive. But other websites like yelp.com feature reviews that bash this restaurant for their food, service and wait-times. I decided that it was about time I got out and experienced a true ‘city’ meal at a real ‘local’ restaurant, I’m a local now so I can do this!

It was my Mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday!!) so we got together a ‘party’ of 5. It was great. We were all excited to try this place out. While I was excited to try it, I was also nervous banking off of the terrible reviews some people leave of this restaurant. I’m not sure if they just went on a bad evening or had different expectations but I loved it and can not wait to go back. Let me break down for you the ‘rules’ for Pasta Mia, which will set up your first and general expectations for your evening:

Arrival time is essential. If you are even there 5 minutes too late you will not be seated for quite some time. Be sure to arrive ‘on time’. Pasta Mia doesn’t actually open up for dinner or seating until 6:30pm but be ready! There is a Starbucks across the street, so if you really want to be sneaky you can go to Starbucks, hawk the door from the window and as soon as one person lines up you run, RUN, out of Starbucks, through the busy intersection and get yourself on that line, because people flock here! Your spot on line can make or break your evening, it’s that simple.

Now that you’re on the line waiting, get comfortable; Bring a friend, or a book, or chat on your phone to occupy yourself while you wait. Be sure that the entire group of people you want to eat with is there – because if they aren’t with you when they are ready to seat you, you are eating alone! They will not wait for others in your group to show up, so be prepared. Depending on the size of the parties that are also in line only a handful actually get to make it in to eat at 6:30. On the night I went there were only 10 parties that made it inside,the line was down the block that night. Supply and demand is huge.

2001-05-22 - Washington, DC - Pasta Mia by bewarenerd.

This quaint treasure is run by a small Italian family – the Mother/Wife is likened to the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. She is serious and she knows she has a good product, additionally – she makes the rules and you have to play by them, that’s how this restaurant works. If she comes to your table to take your order – be ready to go! Otherwise you could wait another 30 minutes to put an order in. And don’t expect any special orders.

There is only 1 chef in the kitchen so be prepared to wait. Order a salad or other appetizer to fill up the time and be sure that you are with exciting people who can carry a conversation. The food is worth the wait. If you want sneak a peak at the amazing kitchen – sneak down to the bathroom. You will be in awe of the magic this man creates in a kitchen that small. They do give you bread and oil on the table to munch on while you wait.

The food is wonderful and worth the wait. It is good homemade pasta – you can taste the quality of it! While I was waiting in line we saw the groceries get delivered and brought it fresh for that evening’s meals. Just amazing at how this family feeds ‘the big family’ in their small restaurant. If you want to get on the Wife’s good side as she combs through the restaurant inspecting you eating your food, compliment the food, tell her how great it is, and you will see the faint cracks of a smile on her face. She has plenty of time to walk through and watch everyone eating – they feed you about 3lbs of pasta (maybe a slight exaggeration). You will definitely have leftovers though regardless of what you order here.

And of course you MUST have a bit of room in your stomach for dessert. They only serve espresso or cappuccino and the 2 dessert choices are tiramisu and tartuffo (Pardon my spelling it is most likely very far off). Both are amazing. I love a good piece of Tira Misu and boy did they hit it on the money.

As you can tell my evening here was great. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bad reviewers may have just hit it on a bad evening or didn’t expect what I laid out above. You have to anticipate the wait, the long lines, etc in order to enjoy the delicious food. It was a great meal and very reasonably priced (Entrees are about $15 – $20 each). Be sure that you have cash with you! This place ONLY ACCEPTS CASH. For your convenience there is a Wachovia across the street. Pasta Mia is truly a gem in downtown Adams Morgan. I really can not wait to go back for seconds!

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