Friday, September 28, 2012

Puerto Rico: Pt. II

After several days in Luquillo, we headed off to San Juan for our last night in Puerto Rico. We'd been to San Juan before, so weren't in a huge hurry. And we had heard that there was a highway in central Puerto Rico where you could get delicious pork, so we decided to take the scenic route, around the south-eastern end of the island, and then up the middle. After a few hair-raising turns, we found La Ruta de Lechon.

There are about a dozen lechonera in the main strip, with maybe five or six more scattered around. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, there were very few if any people at any of them; however, in validation of our choice, Lechonera Los Pinos had a few customers. We both got a plate and dug into some of the best pork we've ever had. It was every bit as rich as the pig's head we had at Standard, but not nearly as greasy. The skin was beautiful, nice and crispy (though my wife disagreed, finding it a bit too hard). We ate every bite until we were stuffed.

That night, we went to Carli's, a jazz club in Old San Juan, and had a really good time. I had a half-rack of lamb, which was great. But what really made Carli's stand out was the ambiance. The jazz was great, and the waiter and bartender were as friendly as could be. Very great trip to Puerto Rico.

Small Plates: 09.28.12

Tenleytown finally gets its own food truck: Fork & Spade, serving American food. [Young & Hungry]

The old space where Tom Tom used to be will become Carriage House. More upscale? [PoP]

Buffalo and Bergen, from Gina Chersevani, is going to try and bring back the soda fountain. [Washingtonian]

Local bar The Pinch is doing live entertainment and NFL games on the weekend. [New Columbia Heights]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Puerto Rico: Pt. I

You may have notice that I haven't updated this blog much over the past week. That's because I've been in Puerto Rico! There won't be detailed reviews of the places we went, since that's beyond the scope of this blog, but I figured you might be interested in a quick sketch of where all we went.

The first few days we spent in the small sea-side town of Luquillo, a surfing destination. We went to El Rincon Del Sabor on the recommendation of the hotel we stayed at. I ordered the red snapper filet, and my wife ordered the lobster mofongo, but also got the red snapper filet. The filet was doused in a heavy criollo sauce, but wasn't terrible, and my wife's mofongo side was the best mofongo we had on the trip. The shot of moonshine rum at the end was a nice touch, but in general, the service was overbearing.

The next night, we went to Sandy's Seafood, right up the street. This time, my wife actually received her lobster mofongo, and I got the whole red snapper in garlic sauce. The red snapper was great, and not at all overwhelmed by the sauce, and the lobster mofongo was very good. We loved the quiet ambience. The wine we got was quite good, though the sangria was a bit sweet for our tastes. Definitely better than El Rincon.

And if you're in Luquillo, you should stop by Boardriders, right on the beach. It's a great spot for a late afternoon beer; make sure you try Medalla, a Puerto Rican beer, and easily the best Caribbean lager I've ever had. The food is probably a bit more expensive than it needs to be, but the guava wings we had were delicious. After the wings, we didn't need much more food, so we went to a small cafe on the square for some delicious crepes. More on the Ruta de Lechon and San Juan tomorrow, once I have the pictures.

Top Food Truck

Tops is a food truck specializing in small batch sausages. They had some technical issues over the summer, but it appears that they're back. The picture is an older one; they've dropped some of the variety to focus on sausage, which is probably a good thing. Along with the sausages, they serve chili, and have the usual potato chips/soda options for a side.

The bratwurst is good, with the right blend of flavors. It's topped with chopped tomatoes, raw onions, and 'jojo sauce', a slightly sweet, slightly spicy yogurt based sauce. The topping are good and blend well with the sausage. The texture is a bit mushy however, with a limp casing, and a too-soft bun only compounding the problems here.

As far as the chili goes, it tastes pretty good. It's well balanced, with not to much tomato, not too much beef. The beef chunks might be a little bit larger than ideal though. It's very sweet, and not very spicy even after adding Frank's hot sauce. Not the sort of chili I'm really looking for, if I'm just wanting chili, but I can see how it might go well on a hot dog.

Small Plates: 09.27.12

Posto, on 14th St near Logan Circle, has started offering a happy hour. [Young & Hungry]

Toki Underground is reducing its late-night hours and closing on Sunday. [Washingtonian]

Check out these photos of the Coupe, coming to 11th and Monroe. [PoP]

Modern bistro Thally is coming to 1316 9th St, near the convention center. [PoP]

Finally back from vacation; I'll have a quick post on eating in Puerto Rico later today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Small Plates: 09.21.12

Po' Boy restaurant named Po' Boy Jim coming to Atlas District "soon". [PoP]

Sushipao, from the guy who brought you Mojo, will serve deep-fried rolls. [Young & Hungry]

Hudson Restaurant, on M St, is slated to slant more lounge-y than restaurantish. [Washingtonian]

Green Hat Gin, from New Columbia Distillers, is almost ready to be DC's first homemade gin. [Young & Hungry]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Small Plates: 09.20.12

Boutique oysters are the new hip thing. Here's an in-depth look. [Young & Hungry]

Parc Deux, at 14th and Q, hopes to be opening in January. [PoP]

Need more noodle? Absolute Noodle is planned in Chinatown. [The42]

Catch 15 Oyster Bar and Tapas is opening 'late fall' at 15th and K St. [PoP]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Uptown Tap Room Grand Opening

I was sad, a few months ago, when the venerable Irish pub the 4 Ps announced it was closing. It seemed like a decent sort of place, though I'm rarely enough in Cleveland Park that I was almost never there. But its replacement, Uptown Tap Room, had a grand opening last Friday, so it seemed worth checking out.

The interior is still pretty recognizable, everything's still in the same place, but it looked nicer. The furnishing weren't as worn as the 4 P's were. There was even an oyster bar, which is appreciated. 

We were served a sampling of appetizers, as well as an entree and a sampling of desserts. The appetizers -- pork wings, pork tacos, garlic hummus, and crab dib -- were all pretty good, and probably the highlight of the night. For the entrees, I had the mushroom risotto, and my wife had the crab cakes. Both were fine, if not exceptional. It seems like this is going to be a nice place for you if you live near Cleveland Park and want to grab something slightly better than typical bar food for dinner, but don't necessarily want to go to Dino or Ripple; or if you want to grab some appetizers and watch the game.

Small Plates: 09.19.12

Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Rustico, Churchkey) spot coming to former Yola location. [PoP]

Whole Foods launches in-store bars. Just another reason to go there for lunch! [Washingtonian]

Here's a preview of the Newsom restaurant coming to the Atlas District. [PoP]

There's a new bar, the Board Room, coming to Dupont where you can rent games. [Eater]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MxMo Roundup

And, Cocktail Virgin Slut has posted the entries for the most recent Mixology Monday. There's some great stuff in there to try, all equal parts recipes. 29 people entered, including two Frenchmen, and one guy from Baltimore who it seems just started up his blog to join MxMo. (And I'm glad he did -- it looks tasty.)

Big Changes at Room 11

Big news for one of the best bars/restaurants in Columbia Heights. The top chef at Room 11, Ben Gilligan, is stepping down.
room-11-250.jpgJust as Columbia Heights gem Room 11 gears up for its expansion, partnerBen Gilligan is stepping down as the restaurant's head chef. According to general manager Jessica Woods, Gilligan — who recently had a baby — is taking a step back to consider some new projects. He'll still be around and involved with Room 11, she says, but the restaurant is now actively looking for a new head chef who will keep the spirit of the tiny small plates restaurant, but will also "put their own spin on things."
 Room 11 is also looking forward to the opening of their expansion space in mid-October which may, if we're very lucky, have a focus on vermouth and amaro. I'll let you know as I hear more.

Small Plates: 09.18.12

Maddy's Tap Room, at 13th and I, has signs, should open September 24th. [PoP]

Pleasant Pops' brick and mortar in Adams Morgan looks really good! [Eater]

Scratch DC sends you pre-chopped/sliced/seasoned ingredients for you to cook with. [Young & Hungry]

Caucus Room and Boveda now open in the Georgetown Westin. [Washingtonian]

Monday, September 17, 2012

MxMo: Rahasia

A hearty welcome back to Mixology Monday! Mixology Monday is a semi-regular event that has various cocktail bloggers creating a cocktail based on a theme. It's hosted by Cocktail Virgin Slut, and we appreciate Fred bringing it back. Past themes have included tiki and morning drinks. This month's theme is 'equal parts'. The idea is to create a cocktail that mixes equal parts of its component ingredients. Since fall is fast approaching, I thought I'd go with an anti-Negroni.

As opposed to the Negroni, which is bright and a little fruity, this is dark and rich. I was originally calling it the Inorgen, which is Negroni spelled backwards, but then decided that was dumb. I didn't think it was going to be much good -- it was pretty sweet and a little syrupy. But the addition of the grapefruit bitters transformed the drink. It's wonderfully complex, with some spiciness from the rye, some bitterness from the Averna, some sweetness from the Cardamaro, and some herbality (herbalness?) from the bitters. It's still very rich, but pretty good. Recipe after the jump.

Friday, September 14, 2012


It's fall time, and that means time for fall cocktails! I've been playing around with Becherovka cocktails, and this one is great for a crisp autumn evening. There's a lot of cinnamon, but enough cookie and ginger that it tastes more like a snickerdoodle than a cinnamon stick. It's not sweet, mind you, but somehow it still tastes like a cookie. This is a golden ratio recipe; it might have been too boozy, but there are enough spices in the Becherovka that you don't notice the alcohol. Recipe after the jump.

Small Plates: 09.14.12

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, on flickr.
More in brunch news: El Chucho's will be serving brunch starting this weekend. [PoP]

Soon, 14th is going to be a hub of Italian restaurants. Here's a run-down. [Borderstan]

There's a new brewery in Frederick offering tours: Monocacy Brewing Co. [Thrillist]

Cuban-American restaurant Little Ricky's looking to open this September in Brookland. [PoP]

So, whenever I hear Monocacy, I think monocle. Just me?

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Wassub? is a relatively new food truck specializing in, you guessed it, subs. What I didn't expect was that it would generally be asian-themed subs, which had the potential to be disappointing since I had been hoping for a steak-and-cheese sandwich. Fortunately, that was their special for the day the first time I went. The sandwich was fine, but it needed something to kick it up a notch; either some spice, or a bit more flavor in the marinade, fancier cheese, better bread, or something sour. Any of these would have helped, especially the better bread. When I tried to pick up the sandwich, it nearly fell apart on me! There was a pretty decent amount of steak, and it combined well with the cheese and green peppers. The mushrooms, though, seemed like a bit too much umami without anything to balance it out. Some pickles, for example, would have helped tremendously.

The second time I went, I got the kimchi, a sub with thin-sliced, marinated ribeye and kimchi. It's advertised as a bulgogi sandwich, so I was expecting something similar to the bulgogi I know and love. It wasn't; not as spicy nor as rich. The sauce was really thin, the cheese, while appreciated, didn't mesh well with the egg. On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of egg in my bulgogi in the first place. Combined with too much mayo (it's on the bread and in the sauce), it was just too rich. The bread held up much better than last time, and the flavors were fairly rich, so this is definitely an improvement over the steak and cheese. Overall, Wassub? is a decent choice for a sandwich based food truck, but it's not much better than average.

Small Plates: 09.13.12

The Black Squirrel is now offering brunch. They have a decent beer list, check them out! [PoP]

The DC Food Trucks Association is expanding to include trucks in Virginia and Maryland. [WaPo]

The long-awaited re-opening of Minibar has been delayed until late October. [Young & Hungry]

DC Office of Human Rights forces The Pug to rename its "Marion Barry's Dirty Asian Punch" [Eater]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New at Duffy's

Monday nights, I'm usually at Duffy's Irish Pub playing games with a group of friends. It's a nice, laid back place that serves beer, so it works out well for us. Not too mention, it's really close to my house. Well, they aren't open Mondays during August, so we bummed around a bit, but just went back for the first time this week. They've always had pretty good happy hour specials, and their food has gotten a lot better lately, but now, they're offering $6 boilermakers. It's Natty Boh and Evan Williams, and it's a great deal. I believe they offer it all the time, not just at happy hour, so go check them out!

DC Greek Food

I enjoy gyros, but particularly for lunch. It's never seemed to me like a real dinner food. But, I haven't found a decent food truck with gyros, and I live near the Greek Spot, so I usually only end up getting them for dinner. But the other day I saw a new (at least to me) Greek food truck, and the Yelp! reviews weren't bad, so I figured I'd give them a shot. I'm glad I did.

The gyro used pretty typical ingredients -- meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, and feta, in a pita. There was about the right amount of each ingredient; perhaps too much lettuce, but there was enough meat that I didn't feel like they were stuffing it. There was definitely some seasoning on the meat, though probably not quite enough, and it was pretty cubed, not sliced off a rotisserie the way it should be. In addition, the feta was pretty bland. It's not too expensive, at $7, and definitely a cut above the typical food truck gyro. On the other hand, they're nowhere near as good as Greek Spot or the Greek Deli. They also have a vegetable platter, Greek salad, chicken over rice, and a combo platter.

Small Plates: 09.12.12

José Andrés is advising the new TV show Cannibal on how to prepare human. [Young & Hungry]

A round-up of the deep-fried food at the Texas State Fair. Includes deep-fried beer. [Atlantic Health]

What do you get when you combine barbecue and steak? Epic Steakhouse. And deliciousness. [WaPo]

The new spot from the owners of Tryst will be called "Coupe" and soft-open in the next few weeks. [PoP]

The Atlantic has deep-fried food on their health channel?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bacon's not evil.

Erik over at Savoy Stomp has what he calls an evil idea: figs cooked in bacon fat. I don't know, I might add some blue cheese, but it sounds fantastic!
because i’m evil
Let’s say you’ve had a delicious vegetarian meal.
There’s nothing wrong with that. 
But, you know, maybe a little after dinner snack might be in order.
Go check it out!

Unusual choice, or marketing tool?

Photo by hugacrv, on flickr.
In the Republic of Georgia, the Georgian president owns a vineyard. Recently, he got some high-profile people to stomp grapes for him: John McCain and Joe Lieberman:
The former Soviet republic of Georgia has found an unusual labor source at harvest time: Former candidates for President and Vice President of the USA.
John McCain and Joe Lieberman picked grapes at the vineyard of the Georgian president and then crushed them underfoot. Mmm.
Those are some prestigious feet!

h/t Dr. Vino.

Small Plates: 09.11.12

It's been confirmed! Trader Joe's is coming to 14th and U St, allegedly in December 2013. [Borderstan]

Village Voice food critic Robert Sietsema apparently thinks DC food doesn't suck. [Young & Hungry]

4 Ps replacement Uptown Tap House is opening September 13th. That was quick. [PoP]

In an attempt to prove they're really craft brewers, Sam Adams is making a 28% brew. [WaPo]

So how sad is it that everyone gets really excited when a New Yorker says that DC isn't a complete wasteland for decent food?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Small Plates: 09.10.12

Chef Geoff, of the eponymous restaurant, is moving to New York. He'll be back to visit. [Young & Hungry]

Rachel Sergi creates a Long Island Ice Tea that tastes good. Also, it's blue. [Washingtonian]

It looks like Bryan Voltaggio is opening a new restaurant in Friendship Heights. [PoP]

Take a look inside Boveda, a 'latin speakeasy' in the West End. [Thrillist]

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Nightspot opening on K St.

Apparently there's a new nightspot opening on K St this weekend. From an email:
DC hotspot Capitale (1301 K Street, NW DC), is set to captivate party goers with its opening this Saturday, September 8, 2012. With a breathtaking and unique design scheme, the Hogwarts-meets-Hollywood inspired nightlife venue is the brainchild of hospitality masterminds Tony Hudgins and his nightlife mogul partners. With four massive, brass leaning columns taking center stage in the venue’s Great Hall and commissioned art of celeb socialites like Scott Disick and Tuesday Weld, the same men who brought Washingtonians venues such as K Street Lounge, Play and Public Bar have joined forces to wow DC’s party scene once again.
Not being a big nightspot person these days, that bit isn't terribly interesting to me. What is interesting is their happy hour concept:
With plans to implement a rotating “food truck” happy hour in late September, Capitale will serve as not only a late-night hotspot, but also as a new option for DC’s flourishing happy-hour scene. The food truck happy hour idea is that of partner Tony Hudgins.

“I’m constantly following DC’s foodie scene and was always intrigued by the accessibility and on-the-go nature of our booming food truck empire. Our venue has no kitchen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want our patrons to snack while they sip. I think a weekly, rotating selection of food trucks will offer Capitale guests the luxury of a casual, delicious bite in a cozy and elegant venue,” says Hudgins.

Capitale’s hours of operation will change once the happy hour schedule is released in late September.
Their current hours of operation are 10pm - 2am during the week, 10pm - 3am on the weekend, closed Monday and Wednesday.

Small Plates: 09.07.12

For those who are curious, here's the difference between cheese and margherita pizza. [Serious Eats]

ShopHouse Asian Kitchen is hoping to move into the old Furin's space in Georgetown. [PoP]

How to build a better brisket? First, buy a fatty piece and make sure the fat's on top. [WaPo]

Bachelor Pad/Bachelorette contestant Chris Bukowski is planning to open a 'ladies sports bar. [Eater]

No, I don't know if it's a sports bar for ladies or a Hooters-style sports bar, and Chris hasn't really made it clear yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lately, I've been wanting to make a hash for dinner. It has something to do with the surfeit of potatoes we've been getting in our CSA, but especially with fall coming on, it's a nice comforting dish. I based it on a recipe for Red Flannel Hash from Rick and Ann's restaurant in Berkeley, but with some changes. I used to make a sausage and onions dish when I was in law school, and still enjoy playing with sausage meat, so I used de-cased sausages in place of the bacon. I also added some jalapeno and vinegar to kick it up a notch. It turned out pretty good, and it's a nice, easy recipe to have in mind.

First, I started the potatoes steaming while I peeled the beets. I chopped a jalapeno, onion, and a garlic clove. I also sliced open the sausages and removed the casing. Once the beets and the potatoes were done steaming, I started frying the sausage. After the sausage was browned, I removed it and deglazed the pan with some vinegar, after which I added the aromatics. Once those were brown, I added the potatoes and beets in, mashed them, and once they had heated up a bit and gotten a bit brown, I put the sausage back in and let it all meld together.

It was really quite tasty, with just a couple flaws. First, the sausage didn't actually have enough fat to grease up the pan, so I should have added some oil/butter/fat to the pan before putting in the aromatics, and certainly before adding the potatoes. Second, I'm not sure the beets ended up as well cooked as I would have liked. But the jalapeno and vinegar gave it a good kick, the flavors worked really well together, and the combination of beets, sweet potatoes, and russet potatoes had a really nice color. Recipe after the jump.

Small Plates: 09.06.12

In honor of the Democratic Convention, here's some places for barbecue in North Carolina. [WaPo]

Anna Spiegel gives us some more details about R J Cooper's plans for Mosaic District. [Washingtonian]

Homebrewer John Lutz is teaming up with a local blog to brew Obama's Honey Ale. [DCist]

In case you wanted it in one spot, here's 12 places that are going to be opening this fall. [Eater]

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Small Plates: 09.05.12

Kafe Bohem, the expansion of Bistro Bohem in Shaw, is now open. [Washingtonian]

The Red Derby, up in North Columbia Heights, is adding a roof to its roof deck. [PoP]

Ben's Chili Bowl finished a mural commemorating famous people who've eaten there. [DCist]

Chocolate City and DC Brau are drooling over possibly making Obama's Honey Ale. [Young & Hungry]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Photo by Ben Murray, on flickr.
Volothai, the Fojol Bros Thai truck, is good, but not great. The drunken noodles I found bland, and the beef was too chewy. The green curry is excellent. It's fairly spicy and made with Brussels sprouts, whose mustardy taste goes well with the curry. The chicken pad thai is, again, bland. There's not a lot of peanut flavor, no spicy, and the chicken is dry. The very large chunks of green onion didn't do it any favors.

The Indian truck is best known for its superb butter chicken. Just like any good butter chicken, it's quite creamy and moist, but theirs has a nice kick to it, a good complexity that a lot of butter chicken lacks. The cauliflower-potato dish is a bit less good. It has an odd bitterness and some of the potato chunks are a bit larger than they should be. It's not bad, though, and some of the problem might just be that it doesn't pair well with the butter chicken.

I've only been to the Ethiopian truck, Benethiopia once, and found it better than average, but because Ethiopian food doesn't get along well with office clothes, I haven't been back. Overall, Fojol Bros is a good choice for Indian food if you want something a bit different for lunch, but it's generally not exceptional.

Small Plates: 09.04.12

Lou's City Bar is getting a big revamp. Hopefully they're keeping the wings! [PoP]

Signs for Red Apron Butchers have finally gone up in Penn Quarter. [PoP]

Vigilante Microroaster is opening a pop-up shop at Mr. Yogato, 17th and P, in the mornings. [PoP]

The new Iron Gate Restaurant has applied for a liquor license. [PoP]