Cafe Bonaparte (Georgetown)

Another one I had saved up for a rainy day.

One of my favorite things is when my friends find themselves in Georgetown and holler at me for lunch or Baked and Wired dates. There’s so much to do there, people find themselves there for shopping, job interviews, or cupcakes on a fairly regular basis.

A couple of months ago, one of my best college friends had an interview just across the street from my office and was going to be finishing up with it just before lunch time. She suggested we grab lunch to catch up and requested that I choose the place. Since she is a fan of all things France, fluent in French, and has studied abroad in France, I chose Cafe Bonaparte. I’m not always the biggest fan of how heavy French food is, but I knew, from another lunch date a couple of summers ago, that Bonaparte had some really great salads. So, we met up and hiked up the hill in the heat.

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We got there just after noon, and I was impressed how crowded it was. It is a fairly small space and I knew the food was good, but wow.

We sat down and took a good long while fully exploring the menu and trying to decide just what we wanted to order while catching up after not seeing each other for probably 6+ months. It’s amazing how you can live in the same metro area and go so long between visits.

We finally decided, but it was not easy. I did the half sandwich and soup lunch options and ordered the French Onion soup, because I had it last time and knew it was perfect. I also ordered Saint Tropez, tuna sandwich.

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The soup was just as good as I remembered, and the sandwich was also really tasty. The bread was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the tuna was very fresh.

She ordered a crepe, I believe it was the Brittany. She substituted and asked for a buckwheat crepe. Once our server walked away, she explained to me that in France, savory crepes were always made with buckwheat crepes because it’s more hearty. I had no idea!

 

Despite being routinely unimpressed with French food in the states, my friend seemed to enjoy her crepe. I mean, I know there is such a thing as a bad crepe, but this one sure looked tasty.

Overall, the food was just as good as I remembered from my first visit and I really enjoyed catching up with my friend. Another successful friend lunch date in Georgetown!

  • Favorite thing I had: Both the soup and the salad were delicious. It’s definitely the best French Onion soup I’ve ever had.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Apple and Brei Crepe chips sound TO DIE FOR. I bet the escargot, mushroom risotto, and mussels are all great too.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I’ve been twice in a couple of years, but the lady has yet to go and it’s still on our list. I think we’ll try to get there in the next year. Now that Cafe La Ruche is closed, it’s one of our only options for affordable French food in Georgetown.
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Eno Wine Bar (Georgetown)

I wrote this post long, long ago…might as well fire off the stuff in my back log!

It seems like wine bars are making a resurgence recently. The lady and I have added 4 or 5 of them to our To Try list in the past couple of months. As I was walking to A Bar a few months ago, I reminded myself about Eno Wine Bar on the West End of Georgetown. Walking back to pick up some things from office before heading home, we decided we weren’t ready for the evening to be over yet. So, we dipped into Eno to have a glass of wine.

When we walked in, I was very impressed with the space. It was small, warm. Concrete, brick, and wood. It was clean and modern but still cozy. I felt immediately at ease. I was also curious about the outdoor space, but we didn’t venture there.

Once we were seated and perused the menu, we decided that wine AND a chocolate flight was the perfect way to end this evening.  I ordered a glass of sparkling rose (because bubbles!) and the lady ordered her usual, a chardonnay. We noticed that they had Happy Hour specials, but we didn’t ask what was included. I wish we had. Next time! Would have reduced the bill by about $5-6 per glass of wine.

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We also ordered the Nuttin Butter chocolate flight. It came with 3 chocolates: Apple Pie, Hazelnut, and Brown Butter Caramel.

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  • Favorite thing I had: All 3 of the chocolates were SO TASTY. The rose was not the best pairing with the chocolate, but it was also good.
  • Favorite thing she had:  She liked the apple pie chocolate the best.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The whole food menu looks great. I’d be interested in the deviled eggs, the Moroccan Spiced Meatballs, the salads, and the flatbreads. I’ll also go with red wine or sparkling white, next time.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next time I want a glass of wine near work. Maybe if I need a fancy-ish Happy Hour spot.

i-Thai (Georgetown)

With the closing of the beloved (at least by people at my company) Bangkok Joes at Washington Harbour, there’s now a space for a new Thai restaurant to fill the void. And, enter i-Thai. My co-worker, C, took notice when Garrett’s closed and kept her eye on the space to see what it would become. Eventually a sign in the window announced that it would be i-Thai. But it took months, if not a year before it actually opened. Once you see inside, you can see why. It looks completely different from dark and dingy Garrett’s. It’s bright, clean, and modern. Even nicer on the inside than I imagined.

We did a work happy hour there a few weeks ago. We took over about half of the upstairs, loungey area. This area is basically entirely windows all around with comfy couches as seating. It was perfect when our group whittled down to about 6 people. They also have really excellent, cheap HH specials. Food and drinks range from $2.50-$5. I had like 4 beers and 2 spicy tuna rolls for under $30.  The spicy tuna roll wasn’t the best I had ever had, but the spring rolls, chicken satay, and other HH apps were pretty tasty.

Best boy friend, P, recently requested my presence for a lunch date.  and we narrowed our options down to Rialto or i-Thai. Rialto wasn’t open for lunch, so i-Thai it was! We got a seat upstairs next to the sushi bar. I was tempted give sushi another shot, but decided to go Thai this time instead. After looking over the like 3 menus they have (too many, it’s a bit much to look through and decide between), I resisted the urge to order Drunken Noodles (the lady makes fun of the fact that’s usually what I order when we eat Thai) and went with the Pineapple Curry  (who’s surprised? pineapple). P went with one of the bento box-like things so he could try multiple things.

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The curry was really, really excellent. Just spicy enough, creamy. The sweetness of the pineapple complemented the curry really well. The veggies were cooked well and gave just a little crunch.

The box really looked like the way to go. I didn’t want to spend like $17 on lunch, but it was an awesome way to try a little bit of everything. I tried the Drunken Noodles, which were good, and spicy! And the teriyaki salmon. A little bit crispy, cooked well, with a tasty sauce. P was absolutely thrilled with everything. He did find out, via the TV behind my head, about LeBron signing with Cleveland while we were there. He was really excited about that, so that may have skewed his rating a little bit. But it WAS good.

  • Favorite thing I had: My curry was great. His salmon was also good. I’d like to have more of that.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I think I want to give the sushi another try. I also want to try the bento boxes for myself. And the drunken noodles, of course.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I imagine this is going to be an every few month lunch destination. Those happy hour specials are hard to beat.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Swing by Baked and Wired for a treat after lunch!

 

 

Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers Lunch (Georgetown)

I’ve been to Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers a number of times. For First Bake, drinks after work, a goodbye party, etc. I finally made it there for lunch with one of my co-workers. It seemed like a good bet for a nice refreshing, light lunch. Their menu is so huge that you can pretty much go there no matter what your mood.

I was a bit surprised that they didn’t have their outdoor seating open for this not-too-hot lunch service, but I can understand keeping things smaller for lunch. We got a seat inside, sat down, and spent some time studying the menu. The menu can be overwhelming, but I had already told myself I was going to stick to salad! I chose the one that seemed like it would have the most veggies, called Drag Through the Garden. I also decided to try some of the Farmhouse Sushi, so I ordered the Tiki Jack: Compressed Pineapple, Mango Lime Salsa, Ponzu Sauce, Cilantro.

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I was a bit surprised that it was dressed with a french type dressing, but I love that stuff, so I had no complaints. The salad had plenty of crunchy elements and was really tasty.

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I’m not usually one to order sushi that’s not in a roll, but I was feeling brave, and also, how do you pass up fruit salsa? Everything was so crisp and fresh. My meal felt like splash of cool water to the face.

My coworker ordered the Kale Salad with pickled shrimp. She was a little hesitant about the pickled shrimp, but it ended up being quite delicious! It’s certainly an option I’ll keep in mind for myself next time.

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FFB is definitely my favorite Georgetown Waterfront spot right now. You can get any meal of the day there, it’s always delicious and made with high quality, fresh ingredients. And the drink menu (tikis! scorpions! a huge beer list!) is crazy impressive. You can end up spending quite a bit of money there, so it’s not an every day option. But, it’s worth it when you do make it there!

I’ve been in a tiki mood recently. I think our next trip there will be for some delightful cocktails!

Farmers, Fishers and Bakers- First Bake (DC)

Breakfast is not often a meal I will go out for, especially during the week. Considering I have to be at work at 7:30am, it’s just easier to do something easy at home. I, however, like to occasionally treat myself. On this particular day, I thought it would be nice instead of going straight to work, working remotely from Farmers, Fishers, and Bakers First Bake (their breakfast service) for a little while. You gotta keep the scenery interesting!

I walked in and took a spot at one of the long tables in the little cafe area, studied the menu, and walked back to the register to place my order. Well, actually I placed my order at the pick up window. But the woman who took my order was very nice and also very patient with me when it was obvious that my brain hadn’t started working yet. They got right to work on my breakfast taco with bacon and cafe latte. Meanwhile, I sat down to check my e-mail and also try to figure out if the girls at the next table were in college or not. They sure were loud for it to be 7:30 in the morning. I wish I had been that awake.

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My cafe latte came out first and I had just enough time to get the sweetening down and make it to my table without a spill before my taco was ready. The taco looked and smelled amazing. It was egg, onions, cheese, bacon, and was topped with a little  bit of cilantro. I gave it a couple of shakes hot sauce and dug in. It was delightful. Another half of one would have been just the right amount of food. I should have grabbed toast or something on the side.

 

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I sat there for about an hour and half, slowly enjoying the rest of my coffee. It was a nice, relatively quiet place to be. I’d say about 12 people came and went in the time I was there. About half of them took their order to go. It was definitely a less hectic place to be rather than Baked and Wired or Starbucks. It was a nice treat and way to ease into my day.

 

  • Favorite thing I had: That breakfast taco was amazing.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The donuts!! The English muffins were huge and also looked really tasty.
  • What makes this place stand out: The restaurant is right down by the fountain in Washington Harbour, right on the water. I also really love the interior and how light and modern it is.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I have a feeling I’ll find myself here every couple of weeks.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Well, at this hour of the day, the only thing open is the Starbucks. So if you need more coffee on your way back to the office. Or, you could go the other direction, hop on a boat, and say screw the whole work day.

Pinstripes (DC)

News of Pinstripes opening in Georgetown was met with quite a bit of excitement from me and my co-workers. It is dubbed as a Bowling, Bocce, and Italian Bistro and it’s unlike anything else in the neighborhood. My excitement came from the fact that I love bowling. I grew up in a bowling alley. My mom worked in one while she was pregnant with me. So, I practiced walking down the long carpeted area perpendicular to the lanes and was bowling with bumpers as soon as I was able to stand and roll a ball. The smell of the wax on the lanes sort of calls me back to my childhood.

So, finding out that there was a bowling alley opening up so close to me, rather than far out in the suburbs, was really exciting. I know there are other bowling alleys in the city, but they’re so terribly over-priced. I was a little bit apprehensive about the price of this place, but had high hopes that it would be affordable. And even if bowling was pricey, at least it was a new place to get a meal or a drink. I’ve worked in this neighborhood for almost 6 years, so new stuff is exciting!

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When it opened, I scoured the website to get all the details. I was pleasantly surprised that bowling and shoe rental was reasonably priced, that they had a bunch of DC beers on tap, and decent happy hour specials. Sold! The lady and I planned a date night there shortly after it opened, but it ended up being a snow day. So, the first time I got in there was for my work department’s belated holiday party. We walked into the expansive space and were quickly swooped up to one of the many dining rooms upstairs. They had a buffet set up for us. Salad, pasta salads, meats, sliders, flatbread pizzas, and a whole table of desserts. I tried to be good, but I know I visited that buffet at least 3 times and also had a really messy, passionate affair with the dessert table. To stop myself from having to rolled out of there, I moved onto the bowling portion of our party. The bowling alley is downstairs, in the far back corner of the space. You walk past the 3 or 4 bocce lanes to get to it. You pick up bowling shoes (and complimentary socks!), and head into the bowling lanes. I was a bit surprised how small the bowling area was, but they have 12-14 lanes. The best part were the couches and coffee tables in the bowling waiting area. No plastic, molded seats here. It was quite cozy. They also had servers wandering around getting us drinks.

I went back just recently with a friend for lunch to take advantage of their “Lunch on the Fly” deal. We both ordered the bottomless soup and salad. I got the Tomato basil and he got the Chicken and dumpling soup. It was an unseasonably chilly day, so the warm soup was a treat. We reached the bottom of our bottomless only one salad and a bowl and a half of soup in, but still felt ok with it. I blame the bread and pesto that they bring as a started for filling me up. When discussing the feeling of the place, my lunch date described it as he “felt like we drove here in a minivan and parked in a parking lot.” It does have a bit of a suburban feel to it, but I certainly welcome it to Georgetown.

  • Favorite thing I had: The tomato basil soup. I had been craving tomato soup the day before, so that was perfect.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The fig and prosciutto flat bread is on my radar.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): This will probably be a once per month or so lunch option. Might end up on the post work happy hour rotation. Or long lunch bowling adventure every now and then.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Shopping in Georgetown. Frye is right next door if you want some expensive, but quality shoes and Banana Republic just at the top of the block.

Favorite Friday: El Centro D.F. (DC)

The first time I went to El Centro D.F. was for dinner a couple of years ago to meet a friend of a friend for a get to know you sort of dinner. It was a hot day and I got there super early, so I started on the roof deck. she was coming from work out in Falls Church and the metro was moving super slow. She asked me to order her a  margarita and I told her to meet me on the roof. When she got there, there was apparently a line for the roof! Apparently I had beat the crowd (it’s a perk of being early, I suppose). So, I met her downstairs with her now melty margarita. We got a table and had an amazing meal. I was sold on El Centro at that point.

El Centro was also one of the stops on a Taco Crawl (a brilliant idea, right?) that a friend was having for her birthday. This sort of turned into a margarita crawl… and El Centro’s margaritas are just really tasty.  Just be careful, is what I’m saying. I got a really entertaining story out of the evening involving having to ask an Uber to pull over, but I don’t think the lady was all too pleased with me.

We checked out the Georgetown location for the first time last fall when my mom was in town. My parking garage is just a couple of blocks down Wisconsin Ave., so it was an easy place to go with an out-of-town guest. They have a pretty large menu, so I knew Mom would be able to find something. It was a warm day, so we asked to be seated outside. They led us up stairs at the side of the dining room. I’m pretty sure we went around corners and through tunnels and about 3 buildings back past multiple bars (I may be exaggerating, but it felt epic) to their back patio area where they have string lights and yet another bar on a roof deck. Mom isn’t really picky, but like me she expects food to be good and fresh. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal.

I recently went back for lunch with my boys. It was a nice day, so we had hoped to sit outside, but I think their downstairs dining room was all that was open. Regardless, their lunch menu is a perfect size with just the right number of options and decently priced. I think they also have daily specials. Taco Tuesdays, maybe? I really need to get those on my radar so I can most efficiently experience El Centro.

  • What I usually order: The tacos el pastor (because pineapple) and a margarita. The guacamole is excellent.
  • Why I keep going back: The food is just plain awesome. They have margaritas for under $5 on happy hour. The Georgetown one is just blocks from my office and even closer to my insanely cheap parking for non-work-hour meals. It’s huge, so getting a table isn’t usually an issue.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: A lot of things. I really need to make my way through that dinner taco list. Well, and other non-taco things.
  • Fun things about this place:  Both of the restaurants are huge with hidden dining areas all around. I was pretty sure we were never going to find out way back out after being lead to the back roof deck of the Georgetown location. The roof decks are awesome. The basement of the 14th St. location feels like a secret. The decor and lighting is pretty great.