This post is divided into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

THE GOOD: This Chinatown hot-spot has a prime location. Everyone likes pizza, beer, and burgers, which fares well for a place that is known for the 3.6.9 logo (that's the number of mini burgers you want).
1. The burgers themselves are delicious, from your cheese choices (gorgonzola, cheddar, and !SMOKED GOUDA!) down to the silver dollar-sized pickles that line the bottom. The buns are a comforting consistency and temperature.

2. Pizza is another safe bet at Matchbox, although I'd almost rather have a burger. If you go with friends, get both and mix it up. The salads are okay, but the last time I ordered one to start with it came AFTER my burger, and being a Strict American I prefer to eat my salad before my hot food.

3. The mozzi carozzi is a comforting heart-attack-on-a-plate appetizer, basically like a deep-fried eggplant parm sans eggplant. Cheese, basil, tomato.

4. The girly cocktails are fun, especially the Slingblade and Berry Blast.

I wish I could remember the desserts, but they aren't on the site and we ordered 4 different things...I should revisit before I post about them.

1. I know (I do know) that I'm nitpicky, but your mini burgers come with little ramekins of ketchup and mustard, and no tiny spreader. So you have the teensy top of a bun, a small plate, a little ramekin of your chosen condiment, and a HUGE CLUNKY BUTTER KNIFE. I'm sure I'm not the only one with bun fatalities, and my heart goes out to other sufferers. If you won't allow us to squeeze out our ketchup, then at least provide us a decent way to apply it. Tools are everything.

2. The Ginger Snap (girly) drink just isn't Gingery enough to warrant its name.

3. You can't get seated if your party is not complete, which sucks if you want to do appetizers and then wait for others to join you later. Not everyone gets out of work at the same time!

4. Expanding your restaurant is GREAT, FABULOUS, even WONDERFUL. Having a zillion stairs and like half a bathroom is ridiculous. Why must I walk down a few flights for a restroom? The expansion is funny, because when you say you are "upstairs" at Matchbox, there are TWO different upstairses. Once we got moved from one upstairs to the other, and literally went across the room, down the stairs, around the corner, up the stairs, across the room, and sat down again. Why is there not a hallway connecting these? What is the deal?

THE UGLY: Last time I was there we saw a rat. Upstairs (right). Yuck.

713 H Street NW
Metro: Red/Green/Yellow line to Gallery Place/Chinatown


Time out: BOSTON!

A visit to Beantown brought some good eats, not to mention the great price.

Brookline Village is just a nice stroll from my sister's apartment, which is more towards the Coolidge Corner neighborhood. We originally set out looking for a place that was known for its omelets, only to find it was turned into a Turkish eatery. Although we like Turkish food (mm, 7 Hills of Istanbul in Highland Park, NJ to be exact), it was breakfast time and we wanted BREAKFAST. MMM.

Enter Pomodoro, an Italian place with two Boston locations, which my sister had been to for dinner but not for breakfast. I felt immediately at home in the cozy but not too tiny restaurant, with comfortable seating and a trendy-looking bar. Just our luck--it was Sunday, and an enjoyable jazz ensemble would be playing all morning. A little loud, but loud jazz is better than none at all. Behind the bar was something that delighted me--a row of water caraffes filled with mint and lemon. Yum, why can't all my water look like that?

We were amazed that EVERY brunch entree was $10. Whether you were having granola and yogurt with fruit or steak and eggs. J had said steak and eggs (looked great), while Sis and I shared the breakfast pizza and vegetable frittata. The frittata looked interesting enough at first, but after digging in, it did not retain its upside-down cup shape at all--just fell apart. There were peas and carrots all over the place. While the taste of it was generally pleasing, Sis seemed unimpressed at the peas-and-carrots-ness of it all--aren't there more fun veggies available at this point of the summer? Don't feel bad about skipping this option for the delicious breakfast pizza. Topped with eggs, spinach, and shaved parmesan, it was delicious and HUGE--together, even with the less-than-fulfilling frittata dish by our side, we only ate half of the pizza.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we were kept well-watered.

Warning: this restaurant is cash only! We don't have these types of establishments in DC--if you're sitting down and have a server, they take plastic. Luckily there's an ATM not too far away.

No web site--those who know me know this is a Shade Alert for me...
24 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02445
Pomodoro on Urbanspoon


La Tasca

A return visit to La Tasca (but my first to the Chinatown branch) with a fab friend brought some interest to what otherwise would have been a dull Tuesday. Interesting bit about La Tasca, it's actually a UK chain that is alll over the place across the pond with just five US locations, all in the Balt/Wash metro area.

Tapas are my cup of tea. In fact, I'd like to have tapas-style meals with all kinds of food, not just Spanish. I'd like small plates of Italian, American, Thai, etc etc. That's why I love going out for Indian and Ethiopian food with groups--you get to try tons of stuff. Go out for Indonesian, same deal!

We had the following:

1. Champinones al ajillo (pardon my lack of tilde)- Sauteed mushrooms - You know, mushrooms. Good. Not particularly flavorfully seasoned.

2. Berenjenas gratinadas - I wanted this to be better than it was. It was ok, but I prefer my eggplant peeled, and the cheese had melted and hardened a little, gathering in the middle. So if you wanted to eat some cheese you had to literally cut it with a knife and take a piece, rather than have it smothering your eggplant. It was less "baked with cheese" as described, and rather, topped with baked cheese.

3. Mejillones a la marinara - I really enjoyed these mussels! The sauce was delicious, I wanted to drink it but instead politely dipped my olive and tomato bread in it.

4. Pulpitos a la gallega - baby octopus - I have put out many disclaimers about my lack of adventurousness, but I tried it. It was hard to look at it up close (I'm glad it was kind of dark in there) because ewww gross, but the crunchy legs (tentacles? Whatever they were) were pretty good and had a little kick to them. They could have been potato straws for all I knew.

5. Albondigas a la jardinera - MEATBALLS. Can you ever go wrong? There were peas in the sauce, and they were welcomed.

The service was ok. While our server was friendly and mildly amused at my attempt to order in Spanish (I've been learning via podcast), our service wasn't attentive. We were starving and ordered some appetizer bread (pan de tomate and pan de aceitunas--tomato and olive), which came along with a basket of regular bread WITH OUR FOOD. I'm sure the bread could have been ready earlier, and maybe it's Spanish custom to serve it with the food, but I needed something to nibble on in a serious way. Also, a few times I wished I wasn't staring at an empty glass of water. We were seated in the back left corner of the restaurant, and I faced my friend and a door that was THANK G-D NOT THE BATHROOM, because then I would have been annoyed. Besides the general bathroom smell (even if it's an air-fresheny one), I don't like the people shuffling in and out and around. Very distracting.

Sidenote, my other area of seating pickiness is with "floating tables." I prefer to be anchored to a wall, particularly when it's only me and another person, that way I can't be surrounded on all sides by people (sitting, talking, walking by...). I don't mind a small space, just let mine be against the wall.

Also, La Tasca, your pillows are a little bit awkward sometimes for sitting. Too big maybe? Too many?

Coming up: Why Old Ebbitt Express is the best bang for your lunch buck, and my Happy Hour picks...

Bon appetit and b'teavon.

La Tasca
2900 Wilson Blvd...772 7th St NW
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon...Green, Yellow, or Red to Gallery Place/Chinatown


Harry's Tap Room

Another neighborhood go-to spot.

Located steps from the Clarendon Metro and easily walkable from Court House, Harry's stands out as "the nice American place" on a backdrop of deeeelicious Indian restaurants and bar-y type places.

bar-y: bär-ē, adj.
Quality of a restaurant that ensures that if you drank a lot, had a bite to eat, got trashed and had a one night stand, the gravest error would have been the bite to eat.

COUGHwhitlow'sCOUGHCOUGH...pardon me, I had a nasty greasy omelet stuck in my throat.

Dinner was good, but relatively uneventful. The butternut squash and ginger soup is a winner, but with that title, how could it not be? The endive & Granny Smith apple salad has all the winning ingredients, but for me something was missing...I like more (blue) cheese to balance out all that endive-iness. I haven't had the mussels, which seems like a mistake, so next time I promise I will, as long as it's not before 11:30am. ARBITRARY TIME LIMITER! The burgers (whether it's Harry's or the turkey burger) are burgers. Can't go wrong, nothing to freak out about.

Now BRUNCH! That's a meal I can sink my teeth into. Maybe that's because I adore brunch. First of all, and this is relevant to any meal at Harry's, the lemon wedge with my iced tea is HUGE, which is well recognized by us lemon folks. I only wish I'd get more lemon wedges as my iced tea is continuously refilled.

Moving away from the power of the tea, most recently I enjoyed the cobb salad at Harry's, as opposed to my traditional delicious omelette and the yummy accompanying grits. The parmesan crusted fried chicken on my salad was clearly freshly fried, as opposed to fried then rewarmed or kept warm under a shiny light thing. As I cut into it, I saw some juices (or oils, whichever) seep out, and the golden color was divine. I appreciated that I had to cut the chicken myself, as I'm sure it ensured keeping the heat and texture in place, but my avocado, egg, and cucumber were all in long, clumsy slices. In a deep asymmetrical bowl with a big clumsy butter knife, I had a hard time trying to cut these things up to make an easy enjoyable meal. The ingredients were mostly yummy (the avocado should have been used in my salad maaaaybe the day before), but the difficulty of eating it soured my mood.

I already said the omelettes (or omelets?) were great, but J's particular favorite is the steak omelet. Should I get steak? Should I get eggs? Lunch? Breakfast? Steak omelet solves this problem. Worry no longer. Cheesy grits are a happy sidedish, and the potatoes and pretty good too.

Speaking of brunch, next I'll review Tallula, a place where I literally have had almost everything on the brunch menu, thanks to some friends who don't mind sharing.

Harry's Tap Room
2800 Clarendon Boulevard
Metro: Orange Line to Clarendon stop
Harry's Tap Room on Urbanspoon



Ah, Central. The poor wo/man's Citronelle. Another birthday destination, here. I had SUPER high hopes, after reading and reading about it, seeing how the reservations filled up quickly as soon as the date became available for booking through Open Table (I believe it was 1 month in advance). If you are looking to impress coworkers who are "in the know" about DC restaurants, Central is a good place to start. You can definitely get away with a classy but funky dinner there without blowing a hole through your wallet.

The decor is minimal, typical of Michel Richard, but the clean lines are pleasing to these eyes. The bar is nice to look at, too, and I'm sure a great place to enjoy a more upscale happy hour than we're used to having. I will say that I was surprised that with all of the clean lines and elegant details, the beautiful bathroom had a major detraction--a plastic bottle of Softsoap. I know it's petty, but with so much thought going into the other "little things" that plastic container was an eyesore!

Also, this may seem obvious but I (of course) didn't think of it before we went: it was REALLY LOUD in there. SERIOUSLY loud. Maybe it would be different if the bar wasn't so crowded (it was a Thursday) but who knows. Loud = not romantic.

And the woman at the table next to ours was seated so close to us that she jokingly said, "Hey, sorry we're late!" as she and her husband were seated. Despite her early attempt at light-hearted humor, she went on to be the most obnoxious customer ever, glaring at our server when he tried to do anything right, complaining when he took things away (or didn't take them away soon enough), and made a remark every time he left their table. It would have ruined my meal if I didn't have my cool-as-a-cucumber dining companion smiling across the table. The problem is, if you have some cranky customers and you sit them SUPERCLOSE to non-cranks, the cranks ruins other people's meals. The solution is don't seat people that close together.
On to the eats: We started with the homemade cheese puffs because I felt like we had to--that's what everyone talks about! I know, I'm a slave to fashionable appetizers. They were okay. I almost wanted just a few to taste, and not the rest--they come in a wire cone, and there were a lot. The flavor wasn't quite what I expected, but the first few were definitely delicious--still warm, even. A better appetizer for 4 people maybe than 2, because midway through we were sort of sick of them.

For dinner I had the mussels. They were very good--then again, steaming mussels isn't exactly rocket science.

J had the 72 hour short ribs. They were soft, flavorful, and the sauce was "tasty." Overall a happy camper.

DESSERT! THE HIGHLIGHTIEST HIGHLIGHT OF THEM ALL!!! Richard's homemade kit-kat dessert was delicious. Chocolatey wafery happiness, put in a take-out container for the very full diners aka us.

I hear the lobster burger is to die for, and on a return visit I plan on trying it or having someone I'm with try it.

TTFN, folks.

1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20004
Central Michel Richard on Urbanspoon



Forever and ever I meant to go to Teaism, I mean, RACHAEL RAY went there on $40/day, it’s always suggested on The Chat, and it kept slipping through the cracks. [For what it's worth, the fellas I dined with seemed very excited about the fact that Ms. Ray recommended Teaism. Interesting sidenote.]

Recently I finally went to the Penn Quarter Teaism for lunch and was overall pleased and am looking forward to returning there—although maybe a little earlier, next time!

The PQ location was very crowded during the normal lunch time. Despite a sign politely asking people to not “save seats,” seats were being saved—we could see people sitting alone at empty tables with no food, waiting for the person in line. What is the problem with this, you might ask? Someone else may very well eat and finish by the time you get through the line! Seriously! The three of us had to sit outside in order to sit together, which wasn’t the most pleasant option on a typical steamy day.

The fried chicken bento box was our meal of choice. Small pieces of fried chicken (light, not greasy at all), cucumber ginger salad (reminded me of the cucumber dipping sauce at Thai restaurants, but with whole slices of cucumber), and sweet potato pieces. I noticed while online that as your food makes it down the Teaism assembly line, some unmarked squeezy bottles are picked up and the food is drizzled in—um—something. I’m not sure what was on top of my sweet potatos, but I’d rather there wasn’t so much of it.

To drink, the Mint Morrocan Green Tea was not nearly as flavorful as it should have been. When mint is the first word, it should taste MINTY! It did not. Another tea, the “special,” that I can’t remember the name of, had lots of tamarind in it (listed as the main ingredient), and was apparently delicious. The ginger limeade, according to a colleague, was too sweet—the first few sips were good, and after that it was a little too much to handle.

Overall, Teaism is a unique place to go for lunch when you are sick of the typical Cosi/Potbelly scene.

Soon I’ll be posting an It’s Just Lunch—or is it? segment with all my favorite area lunch choices to help you the next time 12 rolls around and you have no clue what you want. Or your picky coworkers want suggestions.

(Friends, if you don’t start commenting I will disown you all.)

Lafayette/Penn Quarter/Dupont



Corduroy was a birthday destination, and I’m returning soon for Restaurant Week this August (partly to double-check that I’m remembering the food correctly). I’m bound to get hungry while recapping the experience we had last time, which was sensational.

Location: awkward. I have friends that walked by Corduroy daily without knowing it was there, until I clued them in. The restaurant is hiding inside the Four Points Hotel, for now. It’s scheduled to move to Shaw (1122 9th St NW to be precise) at the beginning of the new year. While I want it to be packed with people, both for Chef Tom Power’s sake and for the welfare of the people (seriously, they are missing out right now!), I kind of liked it being somewhat of a secret spot. I felt like I knew something that no one else knew—just me and everyone else who reads Tom’s chat. We walked from Dupont because it was a warm-but-not-hot day and we enjoy a good stroll.

Enough small talk. I had the buffalo mozzarella porcupine, which was divine. I can’t really explain what it is, but it’s cheese, it’s warm, and it has a spiky (but not painful) breaded outside that made me downright glad. Being a recovering vegetarian, I opted for the safe roasted chicken as my entrée. This was the first time I had ordered chicken in a while. As a relatively non-threatening choice, grilled or roasted chicken is my go-to food, but I had an incident in Philly that curbed my chicken appetite. Basically, I had the same rubbery, dry grilled chicken for lunch and dinner for four days straight. Blech.

My meal at Corduroy reopened my heart to chicken dishes, and made me a believer in the 3 hour dinner. We lingered over wine, thought about dessert for more than 2 minutes, and—how is it so—DIGESTED a little in between each course. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxing, the perfect private and romantic birthday spot.

The vanilla bean crème brulee was a fine choice in dessert. I have nothing negative to say about this meal, except that I made the mistake in not repeating it weekly ever since.

1201 K Street NW
Metro: Metro Center or McPherson Square



[Today's photo is of Long Bay in Tortola, BVI.]

Lindy’s is a Foggy Bottom staple. It’s a great pre-game meal if you’re a Colonials basketball season ticket holder, and it happens to be a great place to resume leavened-bread-eating post-Passover.

The space is nothing to marvel at—it’s small, usually full, and when you are seated at a “table” upstairs you spend most of your time listening to the conversation of the people next to…wait, maybe that’s only me. Nosy!

Two words for you: Burl Ives. Not the guy, the dish. This burger solves the biggest problem for most BBQ-goers by eliminating the need to choose between burger and hot dog. The Burl Ives consists of a 6-inch sub roll with two (2) hamburger patties sitting side by side, topped with a hot dog (split long-ways so it sits nicely). HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG HERE?! The answer: You cannot.

If I’m not feeling up to the ol’ BI I’ll go for the Acapulco burger, which has a dollop of tasty guacamole on it.

Lindy’s also has what we call “thebestonionringsever.”

You can get each style in either a hamburger, a veggie burger, or with chicken.

Beer and burgers people.

Lindy’s Red Lion
2040 I Street NW
Metro: Foggy Bottom/GWU
Lindy's Bon Appétit on Urbanspoon



REMINDER: If you are my friend and you are reading this blog and keeping up with this craziness, don't be shy...comment!

Reminder over.

In the words of my favorite blog-her, Amalah, I had a burger “cage match” between some area favorites—it even got published in the Free Ride section of the Express, and on Tom’s Chat (my sorry claim for local celebrity). I’d like to take this opportunity to expound upon my math.

Elevation Burger (Falls Church), Five Guys (all over), and Urban Burger (Rockville) all have their pluses and minuses, which appear below.
+EB has potato rolls
-FG "controls" their napkins at some locations
+FG gives you TONS of fries
-EB doesn't give as many fries, a minus
+FG is metro accessible!
+FG has peanuts!
+EB has milkshakes!
+UB has a great variety of burger options with cute names and yummy toppings (like avocado)
-UB is more expensive than the others
+UB also has fried twinkies! Plus!

I really liked Elevation because potato rolls remind me of childhood, they have such a great texture. Others might agree with J, who said he liked the option of a potato roll, but wouldn’t necessarily want one every time.

The varied options at Urban Burger make for great fun, but it almost takes it out of the category, because the joy of EB and FG is their simplicity. This or that. Ta da. Also, it's in Maryland--great for some, a trek for others.

Five Guys will always be the easiest for me to get to (and thus the most frequented) but if only they let me have as many darn napkins as I’d like, they would probably win. Fries and burgers are greasy, people! Especially with those unlimited toppings, it can get messy.

Do the math, think about what's important to you in a burger joint, and enjoy!

Elevation Burger
442 S. Washington Street
Falls Church, VA

Urban Burger Co.
5566 Norbeck Road
Rockville, MD

Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries
All over the place

Metro: Court House, Gallery Place--do I really have to name them all?


Faccia Luna

Today's image is brought to you by us--at Meadowlark Gardens.

I like Faccia Luna. When seeking a decent dinner out, but not too far from home, I’ll head over to this joint on Wilson Boulevard, next to other perpetually-busy spots such as Boulevard Woodgrill and Whitlows on Wilson (neither particularly impressive).

My usual take is a small misto salad to start, which has dates, pecans, AND feta, all in one salad with a light champagne dressing. The dates alone are enough for me to make up my mind. Part II is always pizza—La Capra has been our favorite so far: goat cheese, spinach, and grilled chicken.

The service is friendly, the atmosphere is nice (not too loud, not too quiet--not too dark, not too bright), and when we get small salads as appetizers and split a pizza, we almost always have a few pieces left over for midnight snack or pre-lunch appetizer. They also have Splenda, which means that J & I had iced tea. An inexpensive but satisfying night out in Arlington is nothing to sneeze at. Their other area location is in Alexandria.

Faccia Luna
2909 Wilson Blvd
Metro: Clarendon


Cafe Saint-Ex

On a recent dinning outing with a friend (who had recommended the Grand Prismatic Spring, pictured above--just in case you were wondering the connection), we had trouble choosing between the hip Café Saint-Ex and Love Café, both of which we had yet to try. Café Saint-Ex was closer to where we began our walk, and we were hungry—that’s how we chose.

All food aside, my companion and I agreed that we had the best server ever—she was the perfect combination of friendly, observant, and helpful without being pushy or over-the-top.

As poor early-20’s working/schooling folk, my pal got the cool asparagus soup, while I opted for the PEI mussels. We shared a gigantic order of sweet potato fries—we originally each ordered our own, but Best Server Ever (BSE) informed us that one order would probably suffice just fine, at least for the start. BSE was soooo right, unsurprisingly.

My mussels were pretty good. I’ve had better, but I’ve also had much worse. None of them were that orangey color, which is usually accompanied by an unwelcome aftertaste. The white wine sauce could have been kicked up a notch—I was tempted to go into the kitchen and add a few things (not sure what, I’m just an eater here people). In the end, I wish I had gotten the fried green tomato BLT, so maybe next time.

But the sweet potato fries were divine, and the asparagus soup was delicious. Their selection of beer had a great variety, and BSE was very knowledgeable and able to make suggestions based on our input of likes and dislikes. I ended up with a great fruity white beer that reminded me of Brussels.

It was about $30 per person including tip, we had what I said, and only one beer each. A little steep for us considering it was Tuesday…which explains why our usual place is somewhere happy hour-related! Bottomline, I’ll be returning for that BLT sometime soon, and I’ll probably bring J—he digs fried green tomatoes.

Café Saint-Ex
1847 14th Street, NW
Metro: U St/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo