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 – 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. Now that we know who has been let’s go over the nitty gritty details of this place:  

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!

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!

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.

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.

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… 

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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Opinion 2008 ….

Posted on October 30, 2008. Filed under: Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , |

Clearly it goes without say that the media has a very huge hand in making or breaking elections for candidates. Ever since the campaigns were televised the media has been important, and even before that. Yesterday I read that a small paper in New Mexico has already called the election to Obama – this is deceiving. They are realyl just stating that they predict that Obama will win and their reasons for believing this. It is interesting for a paper to throw their votes about a week prior to the election, especially  since we all know what happened with Truman V. Dewey. Seriously though, there are implications that occur from the media throwing suport to candidates.

Further when I was reading the paper last night (Washington Post) I was intrigued by the Post’s indication that Obama has many more positive articles and news pieces written about him than McCain. This was somewhat expected since the current President, Republican, has an extremely low approval rating, but it was surprising to really comprehend that it was true, that more negative articles/information is put out about John McCain. I have always found that Democrats are more passionate about vocally supporting their candidates so I expected Obama to have more of a stir surrounding him.  I am not a Republican or Democrat – I research the issues and candidates and vote for the candidate that will best represent the country. In newspapers I am for fair-reporting and ethical conduct.

I was surprised last year when the New York Times openly announced their support for Hilary Clinton. Now a newspaper in Alaska (which must really burn Palin) has announced support of Senator Obama, but how can papers publicly support a candidate? I feel that by throwing favor for one candidate over another truly jeopardizes fair reporting ability. Are journalists for the paper purposely altering their ethical news reporting to print more positive stories about one candidate and more negatives about another? This baffles me. Throughout college ethics was impressed upon me both during my time as an Undergrad and when I entered the ‘Real World’, but now it seems that the real world is allowed to choose favorites and pick sides. Again, as an undergrad on the school paper, a fellow writer was chastised for reviewing a band in an article that he happened to be Facebook friends with – he only briefly had met a member of that band through class and became Facebook friends. Even calling them ‘friends’ was a stretch but this was deemed by our editor to be unethical, so how are the editors of these papers not finding it unethical to overtly throw support to one candidate over another?

In the Post and other papers around Washington DC I was able to read about the type of cabinet that Obama will choose as President as well as who would be good in the Senate for him and congress as well. Since the election is not over until 5 days from now I was a little shocked to not see the same things written for McCain. As of now, even though Obama is leading in the polls, neither are President and neither is more of a shoe-in than another. Last election it was highly thought that Kerry would win, yet Bush was reelected, and everyone remembers Truman. McCain may be down but I don’t think it is particularly fair of the media to be completely counting him out and calling the election before the public gets to vote – unless the Media knows something we don’t. I am still an undecided voter – I would like to know more about issues still, and about their rallies and their ways of motivating their public to vote for them. If I am to read about Obama’s possible cabinet, I would also like to read about McCain’s possible cabinet and who would be likely to be in the Senate with BOTH candidates. There are still 2 people in this race, and just because the media has made their vote, I have not made mine and I want fair,honest and ethical news reporting to HELP the public like myself who has still not chosen, not one-sided stories that clearly sway the public into voting their way.

As an un-decided voter it is important that I read multiple news sources and regularly cross-reference sources. This is the only way for me to weed out the biases fed to me through ‘reliable’ news sources and find out what really matters and what is at the heart of both campaigns.

Don’t forget to get out and VOTE on Tuesday November 4 – this is the chance to voice your opinion and make it count. Every vote counts, don’t let others speak for you, and if you are wary about lines for the polls – bring a friend and chat while you wait.

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TV Just Isn’t the Same….

Posted on October 10, 2008. Filed under: TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , |

Let me start of by confessing that I am one of millions who is absolutely in LOVE with Grey’s Anatomy, but is it me or are all the TV shows starting to get a little lame? So the previews for the season premier of Grey’s was all about the twists and turns and supposedly shocking events that were about to unfold.  But after watching the premier all the shocks were jokes – surprising because I didn’t realize it was April Fool’s day….

After speaking with friends it was determined that multiple other shows also followed this pattern – why are the writers suddenly trying to shock us, and then laugh and say ‘Gotcha!’? This is not a trend I’m enjoying. Disappointing that writers think they need to grab viewer’s attentions with false hopes, generally viewership remains steady when writer’s develop intriguing story lines, not one episode stunts. But worse, it seems that producers may not know when to end shows. Go out with style and class and go out on top, don’t drag it on with the hopes of trying to pull success out of nothing.

A great example of a show that dragged itself on is Nip/Tuck, part of FX. What an amazing show. Centered in Miami, you had drama, sex, plastic surgery, and at times action all at once. It was a great show. Near the end of it’s run the story line was very drawn out and it seemed like the characters were nearly too entangled in each other to go anywhere further. The show left you with a five – year look into the future which to me pretty much sealed the deal and let me know that the show had run its course, and I was left satisfied. As a follower of the show I was content that the show had ended and felt that all the strings were tied, which left everything nice and clean for those following the storyline. I almost fell off my chair when later that year I heard that the show was going to be re-starting in the next season, but how?! I saw the 5 -year future look, it was all OK, everything was on track, this must be a mistake. Nope, much to my dismay the show was back on, but they had left Miami and moved to LA, because we all know that LA needs more plastic surgery… Regardless I watched the premier and a few episodes that followed to see what it was about; I lost much respect for that show from that season alone. The show re-routed in a different direction, the characters were not the same, the focus was changed and it just didn’t matter anymore. The show was over, it ended the season before, and in my mind they never left Miami. I personally felt it was a bad move to restart the show in a new city wit the same cast, it was over, move on! Many of my friends felt the same way and none of us watch the show at this point, is it even still on? I really think Desperate housewives is out of a story-line and may be getting dangerously close to the fine line of something worth watching vs. something that is ready to be retired.

Now onto the ways that shows are moving away from reality. Sitcoms and TV drama’s are scripted. Many are scripted in a way that is supposed to reflect what reality in those situations would be like. Now of course we know that every character in TV shows has a better grip on irony and a better vocabulary than everyone we know combined, but it is OK, in fact we like it that way. We recite their quirky sayings and live for Meredith’s indecision and realizations that occur every episode. What I am not okay with is the sudden way that most TV shows are gripping for anything to create drama and have since moved away from reality. What chief in a real operating hospital would allow water from a leaky pipe to continue to happen in his hospital that could at any moment infect a sterile environment?! None! This puts the patients, the employees and the hospital in danger and no person in their right mind would do this. I enjoyed the drama of the episode but was a little disappointed that the writers are moving the storyline into too overly dramatic and seemingly unrealistic plots. Grey’s is a hit show and very popular, it doesn’t need all of this distraction to make it great, and I truly hope they move back into the realm of unusual diseases and strange cases, or crazy accidents to draw attention and drama, but I don’t think it serves the show well to have plots that are just simply unrealistic. Focus on the drama in the personal lives and let the cases speak for themselves. Seattle Grace gets a fair share of unusual cases to begin with, we don’t need risky decisions that would NEVER happen in real life to taint the show. I don’t believe the Chief would truly make such a risky decision, even if he is fighting to regain his above average reputation as a teaching hospital.

Regardless, it is still a great show. I just want to put a plea out to writers to keep the material original and eye-catching but spare us some of the exaggerations. Research fantastically abnormal medical cases and let our favorite interns and residents solve them, but don’t put the hospital staff into a situation where they make abnormal and obscure choices that no one in their right minds would ever make. And for the sake of Christina – please let the military man work out , I really think she needs that!

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Debriefing: The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Posted on September 16, 2008. Filed under: Personal Reviews, TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Spoiler Alert! Be aware that this is a recap of Season 1 – I will go over characters as well as plot outlines and main events, if you haven’t seen the show and plan on it – be warned that this post will uncover some of the drama that went on in the show….

Photo copyright:

 This is clearly a show geared towards families, and teenagers struggling with Puberty and all of life’s wonderful ups and downs, also airing on ABC Family it is clear the audience that they are reaching for.  Even still I found the show to be enjoyable and even compelling at points. This show is about a pregnant teenager – it is not quite as graceful as Juno’s pregnancy,  but it is refreshing to see that Juno has opened the door to similar experiences. This is ‘true’ life; pregnancies happen, to a lot of different people, and in a lot of different situations, even children of VP candidates are not immune to this. It may be chalked up to ‘kids’ feeling untouchable and immune, as well as their overall inexperience, and it may due to the education (or lack of) that they are receiving about sex. This is in no way an epidemic, but it is a topic that needs a dialogue to be opened up about it- this is not something that is going to disappear, and people need to understand and accept that, and make it known to their children that this a very real possibility and consequence.

As progressive as this show may seem, it needs to be understood that the show is very Christian focused. It is positive that the show is not abstinence only, she is pregnant so clearly that line of thinking is mostly out, but don’t think that the abstinence undertones aren’t present. As the season progressed, the very Christian messages became increasingly more subtle, but in the beginning many of the characters would flat out reference God and their beliefs. As surprising as this was to me, I understood the Christian values the show presented (this was a Brenda Hampton show, the same creator as 7th Heaven), but was surprised at the flat out presentation of these values. Many teenagers are not as spiritual or religious in school, or during social settings and this show was so bold in the beginning that I expected many teenagers to find it cheesy. Surprisingly, as the show progressed the Christian dialogue smartened up and became more subtle and more ingrained in the individual characters.

The basic characters were a very diverse group of students. All of them also had very conflicting morals but were seemingly intertwined within each other in this small(or maybe large, it’s unclear about how big the school and town are, though it seems to not be more than 1square mile with tons of picket fences) town. Amy, pregnant, met Ricky, the father, at band camp and thus the child was conceived (goes to prove that American Pie’s good ‘ole band camp really is all its cracked up to be!). Amy’s two best friends give her conflicting advice on talking with her parents, and telling people at school. Lauren, one of the friends, is no longer allowed to socialize with Amy outside of school but encourages Amy that abortion or adoption may both be acceptable options given her situation but that ultimately the decision should be made between Amy and her parents.  Madison, Amy’s other best friend is a devout Catholic who thinks abortion is a sin and that Amy should not even consider those words, or say them because, the baby can hear that after all. Even with the pregnancy, Amy’s new boyfriend Ben is deeply devoted to her and has posed marriage as a solution to the pregnancy. It was made clear by Amy’s parents that marrying Ben at the age of 15 was not the answer (which was a very good take-home message for young girls).

Christian good-girl Grace spends her time either pining over the preacher’s son Jack, or convincing him that waiting until they are married will make sex the best for their relationship. She dons a purity ring, and encourages Jack, and everyone she encounters and discusses the subject with, that sex can wait.  Adrian is a spitfire Spanish girl, with dangerous curves and an absent Mom. She is desperate for attention, and even though she has top-notch grades she craves sexual attention and finds love through meaningless hook-ups.  She wants Ricky’s attention and feels that Amy’s pregnancy is in the way and interferes with her own agenda and relationship with Ricky. Grace is sweet as pie to everyone and doesn’t think Amy should get an abortion and is very much in support of her dealing with the pregnancy and becoming a parent, she doesn’t want Amy to be shunned within the school and goes out of her way to voice her opinions on the matter.

The first few episodes focus on what Amy will do about her predicament – should she tell her parents? Should she keep the baby? Should she tell Ricky that he’s the father and that she’s pregnant? It’s a very big up and down emotional roller coaster for Amy and the emotional walls she has built start to slowly crumble as she tells her sister her secret. From there it is clear that entire school is talking about her, and of course her boyfriend and Ricky the father – such a love triangle for 15 year olds! This is a scary situation for teenagers and it seems that her life slowly gets a little better as she lets her parents know what is happening and really goes through the motions of exploring her options. Of course then the issues of ’shipping’ her to her Grandmother’s or a boarding school for pregnant teenagers enters the conversation of what to do next, as well as adoption conversations. The parents are very supporting and struggle within their own relationship on how to handle this obstacle. As Amy deals with her pregnancy, the ultimate consequence of sex, other characters are left to deal with their own sexual and teenage issues, problems and dilemmas.

Adrian’s reputation catches up with her biological father and mother and they make it clear that it is not becoming for her and start to really reign in on this teenage sex kitten who has had limited parenting and rules until now. Ricky determines that Grace will be his next sexual conquest and does not see the harm in mindlessly using girls for his own pleasure, and does not have the conscious to prevent himself from emotionally tricking Grace into trusting and believing in him. Grace struggled through her relationship with Jack and often found herself defending her right to wait and her respect for God and her parents that was made within her decision to wait for marriage but has trustingly started to fall for Ricky. Ben’s best friend Henry takes the plunge with his girlfriend and decides that sex is the next step in their relationship and the show highlights how this decision did not leave either of them feeling any better or more adult in their relationship. This was the show’s way of ending the entire season with a message of; sex can wait – it’ not the next step, but in a subtle way of course.

Each episode throughout the season ended with Amy’s character letting teens & parents know of the amount of teenagers who have become pregnant. Her take-home message and advice is to talk with your parents and children about this, and be sure that everyone is open and discussing. It is a hard topic to broach, and having a main character encourage this dialogue may be the best way of getting the message out there. It encourages parents to share their morals, values and opinions on teenage sex and pregnancy with their children and ensures that teens also share this with their parents. While the show focused on abstinence, the show also made a point of showing the guidance counselor giving out free condoms, which did encourage sexually active teenagers to use protection – such a big message there! If you are going to have sex, which many teenagers do – be smart and safe about it!

That should have been the tag line of the show! Honestly, we know that abstinence is good in principal, I mean there truly is no better way to prevent pregnancy then not doing it, but when teenagers are having sex, then abstinence education is not helping them and teenagers then need to be educated on safety and prevention.

It is a show worth watching for middle to older aged teenagers, I feel that it was a little brass for the younger crowd unless you’re ready for that very open exposure. While it is geared to be a family show, I could not imagine watching it alongside my parents between the ages of 13 and 17, just a pinch embarrassing to think that your teenage world is exposed, even though most parents have done the same, if not worse things themselves at that age. The show was definitely worth catching during the sleepier summer TV schedule. I don’t know if it is a show that is worth having a second season for, but it was popular among teenagers and even won a Teen Choice Award, so there is a following.

As part of the non-traditional viewing crowd for the show, it definitely had drama and entertainment value. If I were in the teenage age group I could see how this would easily be one of my favorite shows, and while I wouldn’t want my parents to watch alongside me, it would a show worth discussing with them, it would have made the ‘growing up’ talks a bit more comfortable in the end, if its even humanly possible for those talks to be comfortable. 

Rating: ***/5 – Worth Watching 

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