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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Breaking her fall – Stephen Goodwin

Posted on February 4, 2011. Filed under: Books | Tags: , , , , , |

What an excellent novel! I had been out of sync with novels for a few months now, found a few I liked but none that I loved and then this gem came along! This is a story about family, about love, about the relationship a father has to his children, about growing up and being a teenager and it is a story about how quickly life can change.

Tucker Jones is a father with a modest company who is definitely in the upper class of society. He lives and works among the wealthy in Washington DC and his ex-wife is among the even more wealthy in NYC. Tucker has primary custody of his children and this story starts with a jarring phone call. You are immediately swept up in the drama of the trouble his daughter, Kat, is in just across town. From this point, this night is the turning point and feature of the story, it was a pivot point for many of the characters. Tucker cannot take back his actions that night and it seems that he can’t fully explain them either.

It was a father’s instincts that created the scene that July evening in DC, and now it is more of a mess than anyone imagined. Tucker’s team of lawyers is on the case and is ready to do whatever they can, though they fear it is little, to get Tucker out of his trouble. Is Tucker’s character at stake? Much to his disbelief his reputation is definitely at stake, along with his company and now it seems his family is strained and divided in a way he never imagined. You are immediately thrown into the plot and the rest of the story unfolds around you, around that night. Tucker’s children look at him different and there are rumors flying all across town. The children he thought he was raising are suddenly older than he seems to realize. Did he overlook important details about his daughter’s life that could have prevented the outcome of that night? How will his daughter cope and move on with life after this? Could any parent be as ignorant as Tucker was, or did he choose just not to ask the right questions and assume that his children were teenagers in a new era? Is the relationship between Tucker and his children something that can be repaired or did he lose two of the most important people in his life? Anyone who has been a teenager or is raising them will relate to this book, even if you were never in this much trouble or hurt.

 Tucker spends this novel picking up the pieces, building a new model, and shaping relationships. It is a soul-searching book and is very human in many respects. You can easily relate to many of the characters and will want to strangle others at various stages of the book. Every character is undeniably human, which makes them feel more real than the characters in many novels. Tucker is clumsy at times then graceful, he makes poor decisions then highly intelligent ones – he is just like us in many respects.

Part of the draw for me was the familiar scenery – it takes place in DC where I live and was easy to recognize landmarks, habits and the way daily life runs down here. It is also gripping, I am not a parent and can’t even imagine being put in the situation Tucker is in, but I also don’t know how I would react. Is the situation he was thrown in one any parent would know how to rationally react in? Overall it is an excellent story full of pure human, emotion. I immediately went to the library in search of other novels by this author – I hope that they are all as gripping and wonderful as this one was.

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Georgtown Cupcake – Worth the Wait?

Posted on September 14, 2009. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Everyday Me, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

There is a buzz around Georgetown Cupcake. My office is obsessed with them and it seems like people all over DC are also feeling the cupcake vibe. If you haven’t gone yet  – what are you waiting for?

The store is a very small shop up a side street in Georgetown. The Washington Post reported that there are plans for Georgetown Cupcake to move to the much busier M St but still remain in Georgetown. The Post also reported that Georgetown Cupcake may open up a new branch in Bethesda (which would also be a great location).  (The Post article can be found online here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/25/AR2009082503283.html ) .  The staff is always superb. They have great advice on what to choose and love offering their opinions on what tastes the best. Surprisingly, even when the store is swamped with customers the staff always smiles and is very friendly. It almost makes the line worth waiting in just to get inside and have someone happy to help you. The line this past weekend was down the block, but as a loyal fan I endured the scorching sun for a sweet treat once I got inside their small little shop.

I’ve gone to Georgetown Cupcake for months now and am always excited looking at their menu to see what delicious treats they will mix up for me! My favorite cupcakes are Lava Fudge – delicious creamy chocolate lava center, it’s tough to beat! The coconut, red velvet and caramel apple are all close runners-up. I recommend checking their website before you head over there so you are prepared for your choices that day; the menu changes daily. You can find their store website at www.georgetowncupcake.com. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl have also gotten rave reviews from my friends, as have the Chocolate3 flavor. In my opinion no matter what you choose you really can’t go wrong. The icing is always delicious and it’s the perfect sized treat for everyone! Who doesn’t have a smile brought to their face when they eat/think of/see a cupcake?!

Want some tips and tricks for visiting? In the non-summer season visiting the store between 11:30 – 3(ish) on weekdays is usually less crowded meaning the line is inside the store only. There is sometimes an occaisional lunch-rush but it’s not usually that terrible.  It’s a quick time-saving way most days to get in and get your treats. The weekends, while convenient, tend to be more chaotic as far as the line goes. Also try to order ahead if you know you need a certain amount of a certain kind by a certain time. They offer delivery service for an additional $10 – if your office is further away that may be a worthwhile investment.

If you haven’t gone – you must, but be warned that once you have gone and tasted their cupcakes you’ll want to keep on going back for more…

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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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