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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Restaurant Review: Olazzo in Bethesda Maryland

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

If you’re looking for a nice Italian meal out in a small but wonderful restaurant along the cute streets of Bethesda then just turn yourself into this treasure on Norfolk Ave. Olazzo surpassed my expectations and I can not wait to dine here again! The restaurant has a great ambiance overall, the lighting is moderately dim but I didn’t feel like I was sitting in the dark at any point. It is family friendly to a degree, since I don’t have a family I don’t know if I would take my kids here but there were 2 other families with children in the restaurant while we dined. It was a very quiet place overall but had a great feel.

After first walking in I immediately notice that there is a cute fire in the back, and my boyfriend sitting at a table next to it – just adorable! Well then upon closer inspection it is not a real fire, nor any fire: it’s a moving picture of a fire but it did make me feel warm inside! It was a wonderfully displayed ‘fire’ in the corner of the restaurant. There were only a few tables and I hear that they do not take reservations, we went on a Thursday night in the winter so we didn’t have much of a problem but I would imagine that on other nights it may be crowded, but again I have no idea (I’ll just have to go back and find out for you!).

Our waiter is very attentive and friendly and the staff overall was very pleasurable to be around. The menu was pretty varied and had very good options to choose one. I was torn between the Pasta Primavera and the Chicken Cardinale, I chose the chicken dish. As a starter they brought us wonderful home-made bread with a side plate of oil and vinegar for us to munch on. The bread was absolutely delicious and the oil and vinegar to dip was a nice change from the restaurants only offering oil as a dipping. We ordered an appetizer (it was my birthday – why not?!) to start our meal with, we chose the Fried Calamari. This restaurant hands down is my favorite for food presentation for their way of presenting the Fried Calamari. They delivered to our table a large, grossly over sized martini glass filled to the brim with calamari and a good portion of sauce for dipping in the center. Truly something that was good for the mouth as well as for the eyes, and I won’t lie – it was fun having such a large glass full of calamari at my table. The calamari was also perfectly breaded and fried and we had a very good size portion to share. Additionally, the calamari was all rings, and none of the other parts you sometimes get at restaurants.

After this large helping of seafood and bread we were brought salads. The house dressing was great, simple but good and the salad overall was very nice to eat. At this point I started to wonder how I was going to fit in any of my actual meal. The boyfriend ordered Chicken Parmesan. I tried it, of course, and the sauce was really great! It tasted very fresh and very full of tomatoes and seasonings. I really did enjoy the sauce and would consider getting that next time we venture over there. My chicken was great – cut into great sizes and overall very tasty! The pasta was also quite delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed the cream sauce that came on mine. It was a nice tomato cream, which I think is a bit off the beaten path at many Italian restaurants, but it was tasty! The food was really superb, so superb that there was no room for dessert!

Again between the great food, wonderful presentation and the overall ambiance of the restaurant I think this is a great place to go for a nice meal. The restaurant is decorated in a great way with cute little photos, etc on the walls, and of course the ‘fire’.  Overall it is a very small place but good things come in small packages.  Their website is http://www.olazzo.com/and apparently they also have a restaurant in Silver Spring aside from the location I visited in Bethesda. Olazzo is a worthwhile place to enjoy a very good Italian meal.

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