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Tried the Super Pollo again, and was disappointed in the dish as I forgot to ask for dark meat instead of what they gave me - the breast. Overcooked. Tasty enough but I did not finish it. I'll have to march off for one of the other places because when I want Peruvian Chicken, I want it to be good.

Separately, as mentioned in the relevant thread, I tried Gaijin Ramen for dinner last week. Hits and misses - not bad.

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On 6/20/2017 at 4:03 PM, ktmoomau said:

I live in Ballston, there are enough fast casual spots within walking distance of Ballston, we just don't go out that far unless we want something special, and then yes- we normally make the trek into DC or to the burbs.  We used to really like Fuego (closed), GPB menu just doesn't change often enough, why go to Screwtop when we have Cheesetique, why go to Citizen when we have Big Buns, I do still really like Lyon Hall, but I liked Clarendon better when if one place was full we had lots of other options we could walk to... I would love a good Italian place and would go to Clarendon for that.  We really haven't been going out in DC that often though- we are just so darn busy on weekdays and weekends.

I find Ballston woefully lacking in adequate dining options. While it is true, I've only been working there for 4 months, I am....not impressed. Convince me to think otherwise.

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16 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

I find Ballston woefully lacking in adequate dining options. While it is true, I've only been working there for 4 months, I am....not impressed. Convince me to think otherwise.

You'll pay dearly at Isabella Cove, but all three restaurants are at least "good." The Spit-Roasted Lamb ($17) at Kapnos Taverna (which, incidentally, is about to open in College Park) is *the* smokiest lamb I've ever eaten - if they can get this intensity of flavor just from natural marination and spit-roasting, then they're performing some type of sorcery comparable to a Frank Ruta chicken. You'll be angry when you see how small the portion size is, but you'll be amazed by the flavor. 

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22 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

I find Ballston woefully lacking in adequate dining options. While it is true, I've only been working there for 4 months, I am....not impressed. Convince me to think otherwise.

Other than the Isabella triumvirate, Mussel Bar and SER are high quality.  Rustico and Cafe Tirolo are good lunch places (also great beer selection at Rustico). Rus Uz has received good reviews for Russian/Uzbek but have not eaten there yet.

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On 7/1/2017 at 10:52 PM, Pool Boy said:

I find Ballston woefully lacking in adequate dining options. While it is true, I've only been working there for 4 months, I am....not impressed. Convince me to think otherwise.

Yeah, I dip in and out of Ballston weekly for a work engagement, and I have found it to be as you describe, more or less.

For the options listed by others, I note that the daytime/noon lunch service is of generally fewer options and lower quality than is the dinner service, such as at SER or Mussel Bar. Kapnos Taverna is a bad deal any time of the day.

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On 7/1/2017 at 10:52 PM, Pool Boy said:

I find Ballston woefully lacking in adequate dining options. While it is true, I've only been working there for 4 months, I am....not impressed. Convince me to think otherwise.

I am not saying Ballston is spewing with good food options.  It is a fast-casual type of place, with few nicer dining options.  But there is a very limited amount of things to send us into Clarendon as I think the options are just as good for the most part, but I mainly eat dinner and brunch in Ballston.  As I said in my prior post we are so busy normally, that we really have only had time for fast weeknight type of stuff.  We go into DC for fancy meals, but just haven't had the time to go anywhere recently.  

The problem at lunch is that you likely don't drive- the best things near us in my mind you need to drive for as I noted above (Italian Store, Lebanese Taverna Market, Carribean Grill, Rice Paper, Pupatella, Gaijin, etc).  There are also places only open at dinner.  And there are lots of fast casual options that suit your needs when you have been working all day and are just hungry and don't want to cook- Tirolo, Sweetgreen, Nando's, Big Buns, Taylor, Zoe's Kitchen, etc, which suit our needs, but aren't dining destinations.  I don't think I mentioned above- the chinese menu at Hunan Gate, especially the hand pulled noodles in meat sauce, sour napa and pork dumplings, Chinese style mu shu pork.  Again, not mind blowing, but very good from time to time.  The sushi at sushi2go isn't the best sushi in the world, but it is quick and fits the bill.  Also in your location you can likely get delivery from Thai Square (in the winter the pork knuckle stew is very good) the crispy squid is also excellent, and they make some of their own noodles in house and Bangkok 54 which I haven't been to in a while so I wouldn't know what to recommend.  At Kapnos- the best deal at lunch is the gyro which is huge.

Ballston is a reflection of how people there function- there is a good amount of office space for which people want quick lunch options, and there are a lot of 20-30 olds who work most of the day and just want a fast dinner option most nights that is affordable, with a few places they can go out and drink and get dinner for other occasions (I keep telling Matt we are pushing the age limit of Ballston and will get kicked out soon until we can come back to the retirement condo).  It really isn't a destination for the vast majority of people eating there- so it doesn't really have destination food- it is a neighborhood and workplace.  I was the chair of our social committee in my condo for years and we did numerous surveys and figured out- the majority of our residents not only work a job, most of them have some volunteer work, or extracurricular activities (Bocce league, Spanish Classes, Yoga, etc) in addition to their work, plus they tend to go to the gym, some have dogs. Weeknights tended to be super busy for them.  That is a small slice of Ballston, but I think it represents the demographic well.  Most of them were not home until after 6:45-7 pm. Now could that change when they re-open the mall- maybe, but when you are in your 20s and early 30s and paying Ballston rent/mortgage, you aren't likely going out and throwing down the amount of money of even the "neighborhood" restaurants in DC very often, and so when you do you can just hop on the metro and go into DC to do that.  Many of the DC neighborhoods that are sustaining that type of restaurants either are pulling people in from other places or likely have a higher mix of older persons making more money than Ballston or both, I would venture to guess.  

There is good stuff within say 2ish miles of driving distance that have some very good things, but I think it is likely out of your lunch range in where you could go to within a reasonable time and many of them don't deliver.

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On 7/2/2017 at 3:25 PM, DonRocks said:

You'll pay dearly at Isabella Cove, but all three restaurants are at least "good." The Spit-Roasted Lamb ($17) at Kapnos Taverna (which, incidentally, is about to open in College Park) is *the* smokiest lamb I've ever eaten - if they can get this intensity of flavor just from natural marination and spit-roasting, then they're performing some type of sorcery comparable to a Frank Ruta chicken. You'll be angry when you see how small the portion size is, but you'll be amazed by the flavor. 

Thx. It might be worth a dinner some night if traffic is horrible. My wife can Metro over and we can try it. Sit down lunches for me are a rarity because of the demands of the job.

On 7/2/2017 at 8:53 PM, jrichstar said:

Other than the Isabella triumvirate, Mussel Bar and SER are high quality.  Rustico and Cafe Tirolo are good lunch places (also great beer selection at Rustico). Rus Uz has received good reviews for Russian/Uzbek but have not eaten there yet.

I work right across the street from SER - I'll have to give it a try for lunch finally. I'm familiar with Mussel Bar (the Bethesda branch), so I knew about that (again, more likely for dinner on a bad traffic night). I also realize there's a Cheestique nearby - any good for lunch (carryout ideally)? We made it to Rus Uz for dinner with friends after work a month or so ago - not too shabby. Interesting beer selection. Food decent - nice staff.

On 7/3/2017 at 11:09 AM, Kibbee Nayee said:

Yeah, I dip in and out of Ballston weekly for a work engagement, and I have found it to be as you describe, more or less.

For the options listed by others, I note that the daytime/noon lunch service is of generally fewer options and lower quality than is the dinner service, such as at SER or Mussel Bar. Kapnos Taverna is a bad deal any time of the day.

Thx for echoing the other opinions. :)

On 7/3/2017 at 1:02 PM, ktmoomau said:

I am not saying Ballston is spewing with good food options.  It is a fast-casual type of place, with few nicer dining options.  But there is a very limited amount of things to send us into Clarendon as I think the options are just as good for the most part, but I mainly eat dinner and brunch in Ballston.  As I said in my prior post we are so busy normally, that we really have only had time for fast weeknight type of stuff.  We go into DC for fancy meals, but just haven't had the time to go anywhere recently.  

The problem at lunch is that you likely don't drive- the best things near us in my mind you need to drive for as I noted above (Italian Store, Lebanese Taverna Market, Carribean Grill, Rice Paper, Pupatella, Gaijin, etc).  There are also places only open at dinner.  And there are lots of fast casual options that suit your needs when you have been working all day and are just hungry and don't want to cook- Tirolo, Sweetgreen, Nando's, Big Buns, Taylor, Zoe's Kitchen, etc, which suit our needs, but aren't dining destinations.  I don't think I mentioned above- the chinese menu at Hunan Gate, especially the hand pulled noodles in meat sauce, sour napa and pork dumplings, Chinese style mu shu pork.  Again, not mind blowing, but very good from time to time.  The sushi at sushi2go isn't the best sushi in the world, but it is quick and fits the bill.  Also in your location you can likely get delivery from Thai Square (in the winter the pork knuckle stew is very good) the crispy squid is also excellent, and they make some of their own noodles in house and Bangkok 54 which I haven't been to in a while so I wouldn't know what to recommend.  At Kapnos- the best deal at lunch is the gyro which is huge.

Ballston is a reflection of how people there function- there is a good amount of office space for which people want quick lunch options, and there are a lot of 20-30 olds who work most of the day and just want a fast dinner option most nights that is affordable, with a few places they can go out and drink and get dinner for other occasions (I keep telling Matt we are pushing the age limit of Ballston and will get kicked out soon until we can come back to the retirement condo).  It really isn't a destination for the vast majority of people eating there- so it doesn't really have destination food- it is a neighborhood and workplace.  I was the chair of our social committee in my condo for years and we did numerous surveys and figured out- the majority of our residents not only work a job, most of them have some volunteer work, or extracurricular activities (Bocce league, Spanish Classes, Yoga, etc) in addition to their work, plus they tend to go to the gym, some have dogs. Weeknights tended to be super busy for them.  That is a small slice of Ballston, but I think it represents the demographic well.  Most of them were not home until after 6:45-7 pm. Now could that change when they re-open the mall- maybe, but when you are in your 20s and early 30s and paying Ballston rent/mortgage, you aren't likely going out and throwing down the amount of money of even the "neighborhood" restaurants in DC very often, and so when you do you can just hop on the metro and go into DC to do that.  Many of the DC neighborhoods that are sustaining that type of restaurants either are pulling people in from other places or likely have a higher mix of older persons making more money than Ballston or both, I would venture to guess.  

There is good stuff within say 2ish miles of driving distance that have some very good things, but I think it is likely out of your lunch range in where you could go to within a reasonable time and many of them don't deliver.

I do drive to Ballston for work, but I am not breaking out the car to drive someplace for lunch. The few of times a month I go out looking for a carryout lunch, I am not getting in the car. No time.  I did discover that Puputella is a 12 minute walk from my office, so I need to get there stat.  I went to Gaijin for dinner with my wife a month or two ago as well. Generally, I am not a fan of most 'fast casual', but Nando's is a good choice (need to see if they do carry out) and not far from my office. I need to remember that!

Anyway, thanks all for helping me navigate this new-to-me food landscape. Much appreciated.

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On 7/8/2017 at 11:24 AM, Pool Boy said:

I do drive to Ballston for work, but I am not breaking out the car to drive someplace for lunch.

Give Sprynt a try.  

"To Distinguish Itself in Ride-Hail Crowd, Start-Up Sprynt Offers Free Rides," by Luz Lazo on washingtonpost.com.  

Might allow you to make it over to Clarendon for a quick lunch at the bar at Liberty Tavern or Lyon Hall.

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Wanted to chime in that the Cheesetique is quite good. please note that I do not eat cheese. That said, the salad collection is diverse as is the meat and cheese platter. It's a sort of build your own type thing with little condiments. Quite yummy. The wait staff is nice but the space is WAY overlit after dark (IMO).

Wine flights are offered and are quite fun too.

I'm a fan of SER for dinner. That vegan veggie stew thing ($8) is amazing.

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On 7/13/2017 at 0:28 PM, NolaCaine said:

Wanted to chime in that the Cheesetique is quite good. please note that I do not eat cheese. That said, the salad collection is diverse as is the meat and cheese platter. It's a sort of build your own type thing with little condiments. Quite yummy. The wait staff is nice but the space is WAY overlit after dark (IMO).

Wine flights are offered and are quite fun too.

I'm a fan of SER for dinner. That vegan veggie stew thing ($8) is amazing.

Thanks for the tips - SER is an obvious choice to try soon.

Your comment about not eating cheese has me wondering...so many things. I generally do not, flat out, remove entire zones of food from my purview. I am sure people have loads of reasons for not wanting to eat this or that for a number of justifiable reasons - food is very personal. But I cannot imagine life without having the chutzpah and fortitude and bravery to try new to you things, or often, re-try things from either bad experiences or try them again going against mental exercises or for reasons that the foodstuff is intolerable to that person for one reason or another.  It's a curious choice I have made in that I am a lover of life in animals (moreso than humans, often), and yet I eat....animals. I am at peace with it and it is a choice we all must make and be comfortable with.

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11 hours ago, Pool Boy said:

Your comment about not eating cheese has me wondering...so many things. I generally do not, flat out, remove entire zones of food from my purview. I am sure people have loads of reasons for not wanting to eat this or that for a number of justifiable reasons - food is very personal. But I cannot imagine life without having the chutzpah and fortitude and bravery to try new to you things, or often, re-try things from either bad experiences or try them again going against mental exercises or for reasons that the foodstuff is intolerable to that person for one reason or another.  It's a curious choice I have made in that I am a lover of life in animals (moreso than humans, often), and yet I eat....animals. I am at peace with it and it is a choice we all must make and be comfortable with.

Let's call this post "Food Allergy Ballston" to keep it on topic. 

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with food allergies: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach). It occurs when a type of white blood cell, the eosinophil, accumulates in the esophagus and persists despite acid-blocking medicine.

I ignored the dx because it seemed inconvenient to go through a food restriction and illogical to swallow a asthma inhaler. One day I ended up in the ER with an advil stuck in the esophagus and decided to take the condition seriously. Through food challenges I discovered that milk protein and nuts cause an inability to swallow.

And So, I have learned that SER is very easy on the no dairy folks.  Kapnos Taverna depends on the server. Some will ask for the kitchen to alter items, some will just give you a very limited number of items to try. Despite the name, Cheesetique is very nut-free, dairy-free if you ask but I imagine cross contamination would be a problem for some.  Mussel bar too is very friendly as is Bangcock Thai (agian, ask). Super Pollo, however, I am almost positive, uses butter in the rice. I like Smoothie Cafe and again, it depends on the staff.  Sometimes they forget to hold the cheese.

I miss cheese and butter the most. Second, I miss Blondies with nuts in them. The House of Representatives caterer used to serve the best. I really miss chocolate ice cream with walnuts on top but if I could take one food back, just one, it would be butter. Everything is better with butter.

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Man, food allergies are horrible. I'm sorry you have to deal with them, but glad you know what the deal is and how to manage and avoid the problem foods. I feel incredibly fortunate to not have to deal with them.   Those are good tips for folks that need to be dairy and nut free in Ballston and I am sure others will soak up that very useful info.

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A quick post to share that I'm not a huge fan of the new Big Buns. About half of the toppings have been removed from the build a burger/bowl menu and no fish! Now the little kid sliders are pretty good and yes, they build a damn good burger but I usually like bowls.

Not exactly sure when they changed but my last two outings were less than satisfactory because I wanted to build a damn bodacious bowl; and have something from the sea.

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Rustico, across the street from Kapnos Taverna, was pretty good at lunch today. I had the Cuban sandwich, companion had the brisket cheesesteak, and the pizza at the table next to me was close enough to smell and admire. All dishes were delivered quickly and the Cuban and brisket were quite good. I assume the pizza was too, because it was finished off in record time.

---

Upper Crust Pizzeria (Pool Boy)
Bistro 1521 (NolaCaine)

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We had sushi2go the other night- and I just didn't think it was as good as it was in the past.  Not that it was ever stellar, but I found everything fairly bland.  I think it was that the rice was too soft in a way, it just lacked a little texture.  I need to remember to use my own soy sauce if I want any, their packets are super salty and I don't use a lot, but even a little bit was too much.

We also had Zoe's Kitchen, which has altered their menu a little.  I had my go to chicken kabobs.  You can now choose your sides which is nice.  They have some new bowls on the menu too.

Went to Sweetgreen- had my normal Kale Caesar, I don't know I wasn't feeling it as much as usual, perhaps there was too much dressing, Hubby ordered it for me, and I don't know the dressing level he requested.  But it did have a very good portion of chicken and parmesaen crisps which my dog and I appreciated.  Matt got the fish taco salad/bowl.  It looked very good.

I had bulgogi over noodles at the hot bar in the building behind the Fedex, where I think there are still some INOVA offices.  They give you more noodles than Mike's cafe, and the veggies are sauteed peppers and onions, but it doesn't feel like as much veggie as Mike's.  But I thought the noodles, rice were just as good.  I would give an edge to the bulgogi at Mike's slightly, but the sauteed veggies were better than the steamed.  Next time I might ask for a double portion of veggie though.  It was honestly enough for two lunches for me though, especially if I had added in more veggie.  I would go back to this place when I was working from home.  Honestly, I wish this or Mike's would stay open late enough for us to grab dinner.

I had the hash breakfast sandwich at Earl's.  I still am struggling to find a breakfast sandwich there that I like.  I thought the egg was too much egg, it needed some spice and less salt in the hash.

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20 hours ago, ktmoomau said:

We had sushi2go the other night- and I just didn't think it was as good as it was in the past.  Not that it was ever stellar, but I found everything fairly bland. 

Contra my previous praise for this place, last time I went the entire order of yellowtail sushi was frozen solid, even after about 10 minutes between picking up and getting home. That's just unacceptable to me so I haven't went back but hesitated to call them out (until now).

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53 minutes ago, saxdrop said:

Contra my previous praise for this place, last time I went the entire order of yellowtail sushi was frozen solid, even after about 10 minutes between picking up and getting home. That's just unacceptable to me so I haven't went back but hesitated to call them out (until now).

:blink:

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The other day I was walking to the supermarket, but it was so cold I stopped by the Inova building lobby to warm up for a few minutes before continuing on.  This is across the street from Booeymonger's.  Inside, I noticed they had a cafe. I gave the cafe the once-over and saw that they served Illy coffee (my favorite) and their breakfast sandwiches looked pretty inexpensive. So this morning I went back and had breakfast. The freshly-made egg and bacon sandwich I had was decent. It was not greasy maybe a bit too ungreasy if that makes any sense. The Illy coffee was really good. I had drip coffee but they also served it as espresso, cappuccino, latte, etc. The place is totally clean and also fairly empty. Good place for me to eat breakfast and read my paper once in a while.

Here is their menu. I'm leaving the photos in large form so you can read it.

menu 1.JPG

menu 2.JPG

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On 8/11/2017 at 8:47 AM, NolaCaine said:

A quick post to share that I'm not a huge fan of the new Big Buns. About half of the toppings have been removed from the build a burger/bowl menu and no fish! Now the little kid sliders are pretty good and yes, they build a damn good burger but I usually like bowls.

Not exactly sure when they changed but my last two outings were less than satisfactory because I wanted to build a damn bodacious bowl; and have something from the sea.

Decided to trust big buns and go with their designer burgers. I like the K-BBQ ...I've had it twice and I"m back to really liking Big Buns.

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2 minutes ago, NolaCaine said:

I've had it twice and I"m back to really liking Big Buns.

You and Sir Mix-a-Lot.

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