‘hood happenings | u st. corridor and shaw

Happy 2016!  Lots of good stuff happening in the ‘hood lately. Can you believe the plans for the new Whole Foods?!  Holy cow..it’s going to be massive.  I’m also excited about the proposed park.  Our corner of DC definitely needs some green space. links and photos top to bottom:  Urban Turf, Washington Post, Washington City Paper,...
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latest and greatest

I don’t know about you, but the last two months have gone by at warp speed.  I’ve been swamped at work (yea!) but I’ve also been having a lot of fun. Have you been to The Dabney yet?  I’ve been twice and I’m completely obsessed with the place. The food is delicious and the service is A+.  No wonder it’s getting rave reviews! I went on a DC Wise retreat to Middleburg.  We had lunch at The Salamander (so pretty) then ventured to two vineyards: Boxwood and RdV.  It was a fun day and we did a lot of planning for our events next year.  Get ready! I had a lunch meeting at Chez Billy Sud and enjoyed a wonderful Nicoise salad.  I’m obsessed with Nicoise salads and this version was beautiful and tasty.  I’ll be back! The new retail at the corner of 9th and U St. is ridiculous!  I can’t believe this is down the street from my house!! As you can tell from the number of exclamation marks, I’m excited the shops, movie theatre and Glen’s Market have opened.  My neighborhood just keeps on getting better.  Now bring on the Whole Foods!...
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brunch at rural society

Have you eaten at Rural Society yet?  This weekend, I went for my third visit and the restaurant is legit.  It’s a contemporary Argentine steakhouse.  Located in the Madison Hotel at 15th and M St, NW, it’s a warm, welcoming space.  There’s a lot of dark wood and cozy nooks. This visit, I went for brunch and enjoyed an amazing omelet with Serrano ham and matchstick french fries.  I can.not. resist match stick french fries.  My friend enjoyed the pastry basket, an ensalata mixta and steak and eggs.  While is sounds like she was really hungry, she was actually enjoying their brunch prix fixe menu.  It’s $25 and includes a choice of a first and second course + a bread basket, coffee or oj. If you’re looking for a new place to brunch and you’re interested in quality food vs. a bottomless mimosa, give Rural Society a...
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el rey taqueria + mexican beer bar

El Rey Taqueria opened in 2014 but it hasn’t been one of my go to spots.  When it first opened, a good friend visited and said it smelled faintly of trash.  The downside to being built from shipping containers?  Whatever it was, it didn’t sound appealing to me. A couple of months ago, I went for a drink and fell in love with the patio.  Then last week, the weather was beautiful and I was in the mood for tacos.  It seemed like the perfect time to visit El Rey. I’m impressed and it definitely didn’t smell like trash. My husband and I had dinner and cocktails and it was yummy.  I had a few tacos:  the el pastor (pork + pineapple=delicious) and a fish taco.  My husband had a few tacos (carne asada and ceviche) then an enormous plate of nachos.  He was not successful in eating it all but he loved every bite.  My only complaint is it’s loud.  While concrete floors and corrugated steel look cool, it bounces noise everywhere.  We were sitting at a 2 top outside and I had to yell to have a conversation. While it’s not a deal breaker (it was Friday night happy hour..come on!  Yell a little), after an 2 hours I was ready to roll. Nonetheless, I’ll be back.  The service was wonderful, the food was good and the drinks were strong.  Everything you want in a local taco place! El Rey Taqueria + Mexican Beer Bar  919 U St NW Washington, DC...
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provision no. 14

While Provision no. 14 has one of the prettiest interiors I’ve seen in DC, the food and service is a work in progress.  The restaurant has been open a month and a half.  With any new restaurant, there’s a period of adjustment. I’m hoping the food/service issues are opening jitters and all will be resolved in the near future. I’m pretty sure our server was brand new. She was lovely but my husband was not happy with his experience.  First, he wanted an Old Fashion with rye.  Provision has an extensive cocktail list but he likes a classic drink.  When he asked her what ryes they had, she didn’t know.  Nor was there a list of ryes available.  (Note to new restaurants: please have a list of spirits or train servers to be able to tell us what you have).  Then she arrived at the table with a Manhattan.  He sent it back. Once the correct cocktail arrived, his classic old fashion was delicious. Provision serves small plates with a selection of larger entrees to be shared.  My husband ordered the pork belly, himachi tartare and the rigatoni with fresh ground veal sausage.  I ordered the catch of the day, which was dorado and the brussel sprouts.  The pork belly, tartare and brussel sprouts were the first dishes to arrive.  Everything had great flavor but was overly salted.  My husband also wasn’t happy with the pork belly.  It was mushy. At this point, the manager stopped by the table and asked how our first dishes tasted.  We said fine and then added “salty”.  He immediately went back to the kitchen for a taste check.  When he came back, he explained there were new people on the line. They pulled the himachi for the evening due to the salt content and took ours off our bill. Then my husband’s rigatoni arrived and he inhaled it.  He also ordered another Old Fashion and the wrong drink arrived.  It was the signature Redenbacher Old Fashion not a classic Old Fashion.  I’m sure you can imagine his reaction but he drank it.  He even said it was good after the ice melted a bit.  (See earlier statement about classic cocktails). While he ate his pasta, the fish arrived.  It’s a whole fish and the presentation is beautiful. When it was delivered to the table, we realized we were going to have to serve...
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lunch at range

Last Friday, my husband and I journeyed to Friendship Heights to have lunch at Range, Bryan Voltaggio’s DC restaurant.  We ate at Volt’s Table 21 in 2010 and in many ways, I knew what to expect from the cuisine at Range. It did not disappoint. It was restaurant week and we decided to give the menu a whirl.  Range offered a number of great options and this girl can’t resist a deal.  We started with a kale caesar and a beet salad.  My husband had the pizza and I had a blackened hake sandwich with no bread (gluten free these days.  it sucks).  We finished with a chocolate custard with bacon fiddle faddle and lemon pound cake.  All of the food was excellent.  My husband, the (wannabe) restaurant critic, had a few complaints about his pizza.  It wasn’t clear from the menu description that it didn’t have sauce.  He also felt it needed salt.  All of the complaints were remedied once the waiter came back with the requested sauce and salt. Let’s also note that he said the crust was amazing.  My hake was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. My homemade potato chips were delicious.  The star of the show was definitely the desserts.  BACON FIDDLE FADDLE people.  I wanted a plate of it. Would we go again?  Probably not.  The food and atmosphere were great but we are lazy, lazy people and like to stay in our ‘hood.  It’s sad but true.  However, it was a fun experience and I’d recommend it to anyone living/visiting Friendship Heights....
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what restaurants are you trying for restaurant week?

Do you like restaurant week?  When it first started, my husband and I would go to at least one lunch and dinner.  Then I became jaded.  A couple places we tried had terrible menu selections and the service was horrendous. (we are not 2nd class citizens because we’re here for restaurant week! ok? so slow yo’ roll) On Monday, I had lunch with a friend at the Grill Room in between appointments and it was so fun.  The roast chicken and greens was divine and I’d like to go back for dinner. The new chef is Frank Ruta, formerly of Palena.  Encouraged, my husband and I are having lunch at Range on Friday.  It will be our first visit and I can’t wait!  Did you try anywhere new or go to an old...
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sad news for the ‘hood. Duffy’s closed last night.

As I was manically checking twitter last night, several people posted that Duffy’s was closing last night after eight years in the neighborhood.  It was one of the first restaurants in our neck of the woods and I know many residents will miss it.  Cheers...
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my favorite happy hours | 14th St., NW

I love happy hour.  I like to meet friends early, have a few cocktails, discuss random topics (are you watching American Horror Story Freak Show????  Eiiiieeh!) and get home at a reasonable hour. There’s lots of happy hours on 14th St. but below are my favorites. Barcelona Wine Bar is a chain with locations throughout Connecticut and in Atlanta. Generally, I don’t like chains but this one is clever.  It has a wonderful patio and decent Spanish tapas.  They recently started offering happy hour from 4-6pm.  Go early..this place is popular and has some of the best people watching in DC.  The happy hour menu is generous.  There are 4 white and red wine options for $5 each.  The featured draft beer is $4 and there’s a handful of signature cocktails that are $5.  Plus nibbles for $4. The highlight of Ghibellina’s happy hour is the pizza.  Good god..the pizza (!) and it’s half off during happy hour (4-6:30pm.)  There’s also $6 cocktails, $4 drafts and $5 wines. Love oysters?  Then Pearl Dive has the happy hour for you.  Monday through Friday from 4-7pm they have 2 for 1 local oysters and the selection changes daily.  They also offer 1/2 price draft beer, $7 Sobieski vodka martini’s, wines by the glass for $5 (a red, white and sparkling) plus $10 oyster or shrimp po’boy or a pound of mussels for $9.  Understandably, it’s always packed.  ...
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tico dc

Last night I stopped by Tico on 14th St., NW.  It opened in June and while I love trying new restaurants, I also believe in allowing a restaurant to find it’s footing.  Early reviews from a few locals weren’t stellar but the space is beautiful and I can never resist a taco. Tico is the first DC restaurant from James Beard Foundation winner Michael Schlow.  He describes the concept as “an American restaurant with international influences”.  The menu is divided into several sections:  ceviches, small plates, tacos, a la plancha and entrees.  I never made it past the ceviche and small plates which means I’ll definitely be returning for a taco!  All of the plates I sampled where delicious and my favorite was the scallop ceviche. Overall, I was impressed with the menu options, the quality of the dishes, the extensive wine/cocktail list and the service.  Welcome to the neighborhood Tico! Tico 1926 14th St, NW    ...
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dino’s grotto

Dino's Grotto, the latest incarnation of the Dino's restaurant of Cleveland Park, opened in mid-May at 1914 9th St, NW.  I visited for the first time last week and my immediate impression was "yum."   The first thing to note is Dino's Grotto offers a kick ass happy hour from 5-7pm everyday.  $3 off wine, beer and antipasti, $12 mussel pots and $15 burger and a brew.  They also offer 33% off all wines over $50 and their wine list is amazing. The happy hour specials are offered in the basement bar and the wine bar on the second floor.   Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the basement bar.  For me, it lacked ambiance and it's loud.  In fact, the look of the restaurant is decidedly "meh."  On the flip side, Dino just closed in Cleveland Park and re-opened in Shaw.  I'm sure the focus was on re-opening and not the decor.   The food, on the other hand, is stellar.  My husband and I ordered a slew of antipasti:  burrata, trotter tots, duck confit, and fried artichokes.  The burrata and duck confit were out of this world.  The trotter tots and the fried artichokes weren't as impressive.  After our snacks, we moved upstairs to the wine bar and ate dinner. Again, the food was excellent.  Dean Gold, the owner/chef, was working the room and he recommended the barrimundi.  It featured seasonal vegetables and mussels and I'd order it again and again.  My husband ordered the risott0 with spring vegetables and it too was delicious.    Overall, I'm thrilled there's a new Italian option in the 'hood that offers wonderful food.  Welcome...
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my favorite brunch spots

DC is a town that loves to brunch. A lot folks go for the boozy brunch were you can drink bottomless mimosas and bloody mary’s.  My focus is on the food and I have a handful of favorites.  You’ll notice most are in my ‘hood or within walking distance.  When I don’t have to work, I like to leave the car at home and enjoy the city on foot.  Enjoy! Marvin’s brunch menu is concise but it has a number of yummy options. The chicken and waffle is one of my husband’s favorites.  I like the huevos rancheros (homemade tortillas..nom nom) or the egg sandwich on a waffle bun. Yea..it’s as good as it sounds. One thing I love about Pearl Dive’s brunch is their insane homemade donuts. They change daily and they’re always delicious. I’m also partial to the scrambled eggs and cayenne grits. My husband’s favorite is the eggs benedict with the country ham. Brunch at Le Diplomate is fun.  It’s crazy crowded but there’s no where better place to swill rosé and people watch.  My favorite is the Niçoise salad (only available at brunch) that features a confit tuna.  I could eat it everyday. Another delicious choice is the daily quiche. Brunch at the Diner isn’t fancy.  It’s loud and hectic. However, if you want a straight forward dish of scrambled eggs and toast, this is the place to go.  They also have some of the best pancakes in town which is why I always go back....
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