Rustik Tavern (Bloomingdale)

The lady and I were looking for a place to grab dinner after the Old Fashioned Happy Hour with Robert Simonson at Southern Efficiency last week. We were looking for affordable-ish. We’ve been putting a big dent in the options around 7th and 9th, so we widened our search area to Bloomingdale. The lady mentioned Rustik Tavern, I checked the menu, and we were on our way!

They have a really nice outdoor deck with tons of tables, but it was super humid and we had just walked 6 blocks. So we opted to sit inside. We settled in and decided on some drinks. I opted for the Texas Pear (Tito’s vodka, pear puree, mint syrup, and lime juice) and she went with the Blood Orange Old Fashioned.

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Mine was nice and light. It was less pear-flavored than I expected, but still good. It was definitely strong! Which I don’t mind so much, because I love Tito’s.

Hers was really amazing. A little on the acidic side, but I really loved it. The blood orange puree tamed the whiskey, which was perfect for me! I was afraid she didn’t like it from her first reaction the took a second to taste all the flavors and then deemed it good.

We noticed that they had some pretty good Happy Hour specials, so we decided on a starter. We went with the roasted cauliflower with prosciutto and sumac.

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The prosciutto was a perfect complement to the cauliflower, which was cooked just right- still plenty of crunch. I thought that the dish could have benefited from some sort of sauce though. It was still tasty, and relatively healthy! Yeeeah, vegetables.

For our entrees, I had already decided exactly what I was going to get when I looked at the menu earlier in the day- the Fresh Pita with Lamb. I’m never going to say no to a combination of pita, lamb, and tzatziki.

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It was INCREDIBLE. The pita was delicious, the lamb was nice and tender, cooked with potatoes and topped with onions, and the tzatiki was flavorful. It came with 3 pita triangles. I was full after 2 little wraps, but powered through the third one because it was just so good. Yum.

The lady decided on The Pep Pep pizza. Lamb, mozzarella, tomato sauce, roasted peppers, green Anaheim peppers, marjoram.

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She said it was a little spicy, but she really enjoyed it. And enjoyed it again as leftovers for dinner the next night. And it sure was pretty.

Overall, not too bad! It wasn’t perfect, but that lamb alone would bring me back.

  • Favorite thing I had: The lamb with pita. Her Blood Orange Old Fashioned was REALLY tasty too.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The Pep Pep pizza. She said it was a little spicy, but she enjoyed it a lot.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: It’s a small menu, and I didn’t have any qualms making a decision. I might want to try one of the other pizzas and go for their brunch.  I DID have a hard time deciding between cocktails, so I could go back for a drink.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): If we end up in the neighborhood and can’t get into Red Hen or Boundary Stone, we’d go here. Not sure I’d make a special trip. But I could be wrong… that lamb was REALLY good.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Go grab a drink at Boundary Stone!

Tasty Kabob Food Truck (DC)

We’ve been getting lucky lately in Georgetown and have been able to get lunch from food trucks for the past couple of Fridays. Food trucks don’t frequent the neighborhood, I assume because of the lack of parking plus the high density of restaurants already in the area. I think (hope!!) they’re starting to realize that you can actually find parking, and that the people of the neighborhood are tired of all the brick and mortar places / ready for more cheap eats.

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This day, I got the word from co-worker C, that Tasty Kabob was going to be parked on our block. It was perfect! I hadn’t packed a lunch and had planned to buy lunch but hadn’t decided what I wanted. It was nice that the decision was made for me. And I had been craving a gyro for weeks. We gathered the team and headed outside for lunch. After looking over the menu, most of us decided on the lamb gyro. One of the co-workers went with chicken. When we ordered, they asked if we wanted all toppings and spicy. I went all in.

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Food came really quickly and we walked over to sit at the tables at Washington Harbour. We dug right in. Above is the lamb gyro and the chicken pita. The spicy was a little bit different than I had ever had on a gyro, but it was good! Pretty spicy. It was a little messy, and I got gyro all over my shirt, but worth it. The lamb was nice and tender (it looked like it had been chopped off of a spit.) I really hope food truck Friday becomes a thing because I’m enjoying it!

 

  • Favorite thing I had: Well, all I had was the lamb gyro, but it was really good!
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: Maybe the chicken or lamb over rice. I’d like to try the chickpeas side.
  • What makes this truck stand out: It was a halal truck. And they’re one of the few that ventured to Georgetown. We asked how often they came and they said that was actually their first time there.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next time I’m craving a gyro and they’re nearby!

All pics courtesy of co-worker, C.

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.

Virtue Feed and Grain (Old Town)

Virtue Feed and Grain is a place that we discovered last year during Alexandria Restaurant Week. I don’t remember exactly what we ordered (I think maybe I had the skirt steak) but I remember it being pretty solid. The place is a touch pricey, so it took us a while to make it back. I sort of forgot that it was tucked in by the water just off of King St. until P ventured out of the District to there and reminded me about it. I got explicit instruction from him to try the wings, so it went back to the top of the mental list. We stopped by just a couple of weeks ago before our dinner to have a beer. I thought about getting the wings then, but didn’t want to fill up on beer and wings before dinner. But it just so happened that we needed an Alexandria dinner spot the very next weekend. So, a reservation was made and excitement ensued. We toughed out a spring storm and some pretty serious puddles (you know, casual flooding) this night, but we made it into the cozy wood and brick building. We were seated upstairs at a table beside the couches in the center of the room. Our table was a 4-top and had really long, padded, backed benches as seats. It would have been a little awkward for 4 people, but it was a nice set up for the 2 of us. It was super comfy and the lady and I have decided that will be our dining set up when we have a formal dining room. We started the drinks: I had the Wales Banger? I don’t remember the exact name. It was Port City Optimal Wit, some type of liquor, and OJ. IT was nice and light and fresh. She had a Manhattan.   We of course had to start with the wings, as recommended by P. They were giant and juicy and a little sweet and really, really good. We made messes of ourselves and our fantastic waiter brought us wet naps. IMG_0072 For our main entrees, I finally settled on the Salmon with quinoa risotto and micro greens and she went for the Bison Burger with goat cheese. We each had about 3 different things we wanted, but that’s where we landed. IMG_0073 IMG_0077

(Don’t mind me downing that last wing in the background.)

The salmon was pretty good. After eating those really flavorful wings though, the sauce to the side of the salmon lacked a little depth. I added some salt and it helped. My favorite thing in this course was that risotto. It’s something I’ve been meaning to make on my own for a while, and this was perfect. Nice and cheesy and really tasty. I could eat a whole bowl of it. Her burger was also really good. The meat was nice and juicy. The goat cheese was a touch overpowering, but who can complain about cheese?

We were pretty full after our entrees, but the dessert menu appeared and EVERYTHING on it looked way too good to leave without trying any of it. We settled sharing a piece of the Peanut butter and chocolate ice box pie served with macadamia nut gelato. Oh my god. That’s all I have to say. I’d go back for that tonight, if I could. Maybe I will!

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  • Favorite thing I had: The Korean BBQ wings, the quinoa risotto, the peanut butter pie.
  • Favorite thing she had: The wings and the caramelized onions on the bison burger.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The chicken dinner sounded really good. Herbed chicken, polenta, and asparagus.
  • What makes this place stand out: The building is so awesome. It’s rustic, lots of reclaimed wood. I love that the windows open up like doors by some of the tables. The benches at our table were really comfortable. The couches by the bar looked like a great place to hang out.
  • How was the service?: I don’t think it could have been any more perfect. His timing was impeccable. Friendly, but also laid back. It was over 20% tip, good.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next month. I’d love if this place became a regular destination. And I was actually pleasantly surprised that we got drinks, an appetizer, 2 entrees, and a dessert and got out of there right at $100 tip included.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Anything in Old Town. It was a little rainy, so we just went home.

PhoWheeLs Food Truck (DC)

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All photos courtesy of my coworker and blogger, C, and her fancy new camera.

The co-workers (C and S) and I first saw PhoWheeLs parked on K St. in Georgetown just a few weeks ago. None of us had eaten there, but the rare sighting of a food truck in Georgetown was enough to pique our interest. We had all already had lunch that day, so we went back to the office and looked it up for future reference. The offerings of pho, tacos, and banh mi sold us for next time (it was the pictures on the website that did it for me). We’ve been keeping our eyes on their Twitter and just waiting for them to come back to us. Well, the day finally came. And just as if they knew we were waiting for them, they parked DIRECTLY beside our building. We walked out to grab our lunch at about 11:45 and there were about 4 people in line in front of us. This gave us just enough time to scope the menu and make the hard decision between the 3 choices. I settled on the chicken tacos, C went for the pork belly bahn mi with fried egg and S went for the chicken bahn mi with fried egg (pictured in that order below).

 

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Since we ordered one at a time, mine came out first. And the tacos looked so good, it took everything I had in me to wait for C to get a picture of them before I demolished them. As soon as the picture was snapped, I dug in, right there on the sidewalk. I somehow was able to resist eating both of them right there and we headed down to the water front to enjoy our meal in the sorta sun. They both reported that their sandwiches were as equally as delicious as my tacos, and we can’t wait to see PhoWheeLs in our neighborhood again!

Favorite thing I had: Those chicken tacos were AMAZING. After I finished, I really just wanted to order them all over again. But I was stuffed.
Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Pork belly Banh Mi! I’ll try the Pho sometime when it’s a bit cooler out.
What makes this truck stand out: I’m pretty new to food trucks, but the food was damn good. And the name is punny and fun to say.
How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): The next time they’re in Georgetown! Actually, I might actually walk to the West End if they happened to be parked there on a day when I needed to buy lunch.

Favorite Friday: Lost Dog Cafe (Arlington)

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I’ve already said plenty about how much I love pizza. And I’ve told you a little bit about how much I love beer. I’ve even talked a little bit about sandwiches. Well, I love Lost Dog Cafe because they have all 3 of those things, and they do them so well. They now have 4 locations (two in Arlington, one in McLean, and one in Dunn Loring along with Stray Cat Cafe, also in Arlington) but we’ve only been to the South Arlington location.

Lost Dog was something we knew about before YEARS before we actually made it there. We made plans to go there once with friends, but it just so happened to be when that particular location was closed for renovations. We lived in Rockville at the time, so we weren’t spending much time in Arlington. When we moved to Alexandria, it came back onto our radar, but still took some time to expand our local circle to that point. As soon as we finally made it there, I regretted waiting so long to make it back! We’ve been making up for lost time and now visit on a regular basis.

My most recent visit was last weekend. My friend, P, asked me if I could drop him and his boyfriend off at his sister’s place for Easter dinner. He described where she lived. I agreed because I love him and it wasn’t too far out of my way, but also because I knew that meant I could have pizza and beer for my own Easter dinner! It had been a long day with two football games (that didn’t go so well for our team) and I just didn’t feel like cooking. So, I dropped them off and hurried over to Lost Dog to pick up a pizza for me and the lady. I plopped down at the bar, perused the beer menu and grabbed a beer by one of my favorite VA breweries, Wild Wolf. The lady had given some guidance via text of what she wanted, so I checked those out and settled on the THE CATAHOULA: Spicy tomato sauce, marinated chicken breast, spinach and sliced tomatoes, covered with mozzarella cheese and basil. It was so much effort to have the pizza in the front passenger seat and not eat a piece of it on the way home, but I made it. I didn’t even change out of my football clothes before I sat down to inhale the pizza. It was a perfect end to a long day.

  • What I usually order: The menu is so huge, I don’t have a regular thing yet. The past couple of times, we’ve gotten pizza. Before that, I was making my way through the sandwiches. The Catahoula we had last time was SO GOOD.  I want to know the secret to the spicy tomato sauce.
  • Why I keep going back: Because I know it’s going to be an awesome meal! The beer selection is huge, so I know I’ll be able to get pizza and whatever beer I want. Or I’ll be able to find a unique sandwich. The one off of Columbia Road is a perfect meet-in-the-middle place for us with friends who live in Arlington. The menu is diverse enough that everyone can find something.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: About 90% of the menu. The pizza that caught my eye last time was the CHULITA’S MADNESS — Cheese pizza topped with homemade meatballs, oven roasted tomatoes, pineapple, and banana peppers. I’m totally going for that one next time. I also still need to get to The Stray Cat Cafe, by the same owners.
  • Fun things about this place: The owners have been rescuing stray dogs and cats for almost as long as they’ve been in business. How can you argue with a business that’s tied to animal rescue? I love my rescue cat as much as or maybe even more than I love pizza.

Cusbah (DC)

Cusbah South Asian Spice Bar sits on the same corner, across the street from famed fried fish carryout, Horace and Dickie’s. That is how I originally discovered it. It always looked interesting from the outside, with the name painted on the side of the building, and the giant patio area around it. We were always on our way somewhere else when I remembered it was there- so it was one of those ones that kept falling off my radar until recently. Last weekend, we were looking for a cheap-ish lunch option on H St. that we hadn’t tried, and their brunch buffet fit the bill. We parked just a couple of blocks away and walked into a completely empty restaurant (through the wrong door because I hadn’t had enough sleep). We got there just as the buffet was being set up, so we had to wait a couple of minutes, but at least we knew the food was going to be fresh.

In the meantime, we noticed that mimosas were only $3.50, so we each had one. I realized when we got them, why they were so cheap: the champagne they used was flat. Had it cost more, I may have said something, but I was too tired to bother. I drank it anyway.

The buffet was small, but it had just enough choices for me to stuff myself. There was basmati rice, an appetizer (some sort of fried onions), two curried veggies (potatoes and chickpeas), curried lamb and chicken vindaloo. There was also naan, assorted chutneys, and rice pudding. I got a little of everything on my first run, and the just the best ones: rice, chicken, chickpeas, and naan on my second run.  I finished with the rice pudding. It was a little awkward to eat on the flat rectangular plates with a fork, but the naan helped with that. It was all pretty decent. The flat mimosa and the fact that the bartender was chatting incessantly, very loudly, in the small space with another employee, put a little damper on the experience. She was very nice and helpful and we joked around a bit, but the loudness got a little old in the empty restaurant. Maybe it was just me being cranky. I won’t NOT go back there, but I won’t be in any hurry to do so. There’s great South Indian food closer to home with a weekend buffet, no need to travel.

  • Favorite thing I had: The naan! And the curried chickpeas.
  • Favorite thing she had: The lamb curry
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I would like to go back for dinner next time. Maybe try the tandoori kebabs.
  • What makes this place stand out: The big patio seating area and the window that opens up to the bar. There was quite a nice breeze flowing through the place. They also have vegan options.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Maybe we’ll go back after we’ve put a big dent in our list. That patio with access to the bar outside might be worth it on a nice day, though.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Well, if it’s not noon, there are a plethora of bars nearby. You could hit a show at Rock N Roll Hotel. Or see a play at Atlas Performing Arts Center.