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About KeithA

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    Cleveland Park, DC

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  1. We go pretty regularly to the Cleveland Park location including a few days ago. Our favorites are the pesto fusilli with goat cheese, spinach agnolotti, meatball app (it is now rather good), and the ricotta cavatelli (more like super soft gnocchi) that come with the salmon are great, the gnocchi is also good, the big portion of branzino is good for the non-pasta eaters. They also often have a lamb shank special on mushroom risotto which is good. I also really like their house red wine. Lastly but not least their focaccia bread basket with roasted garlic hunks in the olive oil that they bring to your table is addictive. My kids could eat just this bread but they also like rigatoni with butter.
  2. I wrote awhile ago about Naf Naf here but couldn't find a separate topic for it. It is another great place for middle eastern food, in what I noted before is the downtown DC good pita triangle when you have Little Sesame and Yafa Grille all within 2 blocks of each other. I had Naf Naf again yesterday for the first time in a while and it was excellent. Great pillowy, soft pita made fresh in shop along with perfect falafel - crisp on the outside, soft inside and not at all dry. The hummus was good and even better when topped with a bit of tahini and schug. The vegetable sides were pretty good too - very fresh. Amsterdam Falafel still has some of the freshest falafel in the city with a great toppings bar but their pita bread sucks - not only is it store bought it is almost stale tasting - these 3 places have surpassed it by far in my opinion.
  3. I realized no one has posted much in this thread for a while except for the most recent post on the 3rd location opening. I've been to the Zoo location, Duke's Counter, several times in the past year and even ordered lunch delivery a few times. The best dish is still the Proper Burger with its messy, tasty mix of sweet and savory toppings. Second favorite is the Fried Eggplant (aubergine) sandwich which is spicy with jalapenos and very satisfying for a vegetarian sandwich. I will note that all of the sandwiches are large - easily enough for two people or two meals. Both of these sandwiches come on good bread. I haven't enjoyed as much the sandwiches on the naan or the pastrami on weck on marble rye - the pastrami meat was only ok. Its been a while but the brisket sandwiches were better tasting meat. The fries continue to be great. The quinoa salad is good for a hearty non-sandwich. I recently had the new-ish sockeye salmon rice bowl which was good for a lighter meal. Kids like the chicken fingers (big surprise). The cocktails are usually rather good and they have lots of extended happy hour discounts from noon to 7 vs, only after work hours. The avocado toast is only so so and too spicy. My main wish is that they included the full sandwich menu during their very long brunch hours on the weekend. My wife and I occasionally like eggs/breakfast for brunch, but we mainly go to Duke's for sandwiches and their brunch runs during all conceivable lunch hours on the weekend (10-3 Saturday AND Sunday) which is why it we don't go there more frequently.
  4. Eating hummus with a spoon is usually a sign of good hummus. However, I get that they should have a better hummus to pita ratio.
  5. I'm looking for a place for dinner with good food and some type of special experience for a 70th birthday for 6 people including 2 kids. The bday boy isn't so much into high end/fancy restaurants but it would be nice to have something out of the ordinary since it is a special birthday. I thought already about the Compass Rose Bedouin Tent but am curious for other ideas. We need non-pork and non-red meat options, but chicken, fish, etc are fine. Thanks.
  6. Mother's Day lunch was great on Sunday at 2 Amys. 3 excellent pizzas for the Mom and kids - all classics - 1 margherita and 2 2 Amys. I went with the non-pizza courses - excellent burrata (although my wife thought it was too runny with cream), a special of bread crumb stuffed sardines on thin slivers of oranges (very good), and off the regular menu a huge portion of sweet and sour caponata. I was very happy indeed. Also great rhubarb chocolate chip ice cream.
  7. Tried Upside Pizza on my way to Penn Station last Friday - I wasn't that impressed. While they are clearly putting a lot of time and energy into their crust and pie, the flavor difference wasn't there - at least not on my white mushroom slice ("Falcowitz"). It was good pizza but I didn't think it was appreciably better than most other by the slice places in the city. As I continued down 8th avenue, I saw a few $1 slice places and almost went to one for a comparison but didn't feel like another slice. I did still feel hungry when I got to Pennsy foodhall next to Penn Station. I went to the Pat LaFrieda stand and waited longer than usual but really enjoy on the train my "World's Greatest Hot Dog" - nice bun, sausage snap, good flavor, with a bit of mustard and hot pepper slices. Not bad for $5 before tax and probably worth the extra money over the cheaper dogs on the street or Papaya King.
  8. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to check back here and missed the great reviews above. However, I did still manage to have some excellent food in Austin which seems to have a ton of places - definitely worth a foodie trip. Here is my reviews over several days earlier this week. We started at Torchy's Tacos, a local chain, very good chips, salsa and guacamole. We had this at 3-4 different places and it was always good. We got a bunch of different tacos and they were hit or miss. Very good was the fried catfish? taco and the blackened salmon. The barbacoa and chicken were so so. The fried avocado that my vegetarian Austin native family member loves was not good IMHO. Kids were happy with cheese quesadillas from the kid's menu. The cocktails were also hit or miss - the mojito riff lacked alcohol whereas the other one we had was fine but forgettable as I can't remember 😉 For breakfast, we had Biderman's Bagels conveniently located in the heart of downtown on 8th st, off Congress. They are classic Jewish bagel place with nice chewy, fresh bagels in a variety of flavors. Great late lunch at Fresa's on 1st St south of the river (there is 1 other smaller location across town N of the river) - like many Austin places they have a nice outdoor area. This was one of the best with big trees casting shade over the whole space. Service was ok despite a bit of an unnecessary wait for a table when there were a ton empty but food was delicious. The best chips, salsa and guac we had were here. Kids' loved their cheese quesadillas. The wood-grilled brussel sprouts subbed for meat in the variety of fresh and cooked veggie bowl including sweet potato were delicious. The shareable side of wood-grilled cauliflower with onions, chillis and a shallot vinagrette was amazing and ample. I told our vegetarian who lives nearby that would get this to go every other day. The chicken taco was very good. I got the citrus grilled chicken platter which comes with fresh flour tortilla, grilled onions and chillis, and beans and rice (I got the black beans - so good and white rice since I don't do bacon in the pinto and mexican rice). Very good make your own taco style. This place is just wonderful I wish it was in my neighborhood. (although I still think the tacos I had last week at Taqueria Habanero on 14th St in DC can easily hold their own with any of the tacos I had in Austin). Dessert at Sugar Mama's nearby was pretty good if you like cupcakes or rich treats. My kids' cupcakes were so rich they said they were defeated by them. My bourbon pecan bar was small and for good reason - very sweet and good. Better dessert was Amy's Ice Cream, another local chain that has multiple locations including one in the middle of the airport terminal, really good ice creams with lots of fun and traditional flavors. Very creamy. I tried a bunch of flavors on two occasions and my favorite was a special, Beehive Crunch (or something similar) which was vanilla, cinnamon, honey ice cream with pecan pieces. One Amy's spot that we went to off a main road on the west side of town is a combo with Phil's burger place so you can get burgers, corndogs, chicken tenders, fries, etc (big menu with lots of options but we didn't try it) - it has a nice playground outdoor space for kids to entertain themselves. Wonderful BBQ at Terry Black's BBQ close to the south side of the river, near Zilker Park. We went on a weekday night around 730pm and had to wait 30 minutes or so but it was worth it. We only had the brisket but it was a great mix of spice on the bark, smoky moist meat with some but not too much fat. When we got to the cashier/meat carver, we asked for brisket and she said oh do you like burnt ends and showed up a lovely specimen and I immediately said YES! We also got another good amount of brisket from the center. It was really nice having both because they were equally smoky but the burnt ends had extra rubbed spice and a bit more fat whereas the thin slices of regular were meatier and a bit more mild. They have 3 different BBQ sauces but we only tried the original which was a good standard sauce but the meat was so flavorful, it didn't need it. Also really good were most of the sides we chose: garlicky and medium (not too soggy) cooked green beans, really good cornbread, and mayo slaw. The only disappointment was the peach cobbler which was blech - the cobbler crust was so so but the peaches were cloying sweet mushy peaches probably from a can and then overcooked in overly gelled sauce. There is a nice indoor and nice outdoor seating and like most Austin BBQ it is all counter service. They also have a nice little bar you can order from while in line so you can sip beer, wine, or in my case an Austin cider in anticipation of your meal. For the tea lovers - head to the Steeping House, a small cafe restaurant with a very long list of teas and surprisingly good long menu of food (beyond good pastries). I ate a very nice vegetable korma with reddish grains with spicy tofu, good soft scones that come with tasty strawberry preserves. I had a nice bite of the vegan caesar salad with cashew? dressing. PopBar for dessert was good and different. It is a western/middle US chain. It is downtown and sells sorbets (so so) and gelato (better) popsicles that you then choose to dip whole or half in a variety of chocolates and then can add toppings that stick to the dips. Another night we had good if you are in the area but not destination Italian in the heart of downtown at La Traviata. Started with some nice salads and then good chicken parm, a special 3 cheese ravioli was light and good, and linguine with truffle oil sauce and mushrooms was good. Good vietnamese and desserts at Elizabeth Cafe on 1st St south of river (not far from Fresa's) - decent spring rolls with a variety of choices that comes with very nice dipping sauces (PB, avocado, and vinegar), then the chicken thigh bun on vermicelli noodles was only so so - well made with fresh ingredients but lacking a bit of flavor. Better was the avocado and sprout banh mi (they have lots of variety) which was pretty classic banh mi on great rolls. Dessert - sorbets and beignets were rather good. Beignets were like small puff pastries that were sweet but not coated in powdered sugar as elsewhere and come with a nice jam to top them with. We ate several breakfast items at Caroline's downtown because it was in our hotel the Marriot Aloft - most were good. The Go Green Smoothie was a fave, the cream cheese frosting topped cinnamon roll was hit (although the roll was a bit crispy, not doughy soft as usual and which I prefer), interesting lemon curd topped kougin aman, very good and standard pain de raisin, their egg, black bean breakfast tacos are a few small bites of goodness with the added ranchero salsa, the spinach, roasted poblano and egg white breakfast sandwich was also good. Skip the lemon cake and chocolate zucchini bread. Pancakes were decent. Another fun dessert place was Baked Bear a bit hidden next to the downtown Trader Joe's in the Shellholm old power plant complex - good ice cream and cookies and lots of encouragement to make your own ice cream sandwich. Unless you have a big appetite, I recommend get a nice scoop with just one warmed up cookie on the side (lots and lots of different options here including brownies too). My kids both loved the bright blue dyed Bear Batter flavor - cake batter ice cream with brownie or cookie bits in it. I liked the blackberry crumble ice cream with the salted peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. No regrets. We also had a very nice meal at the downtown Flower Child which is a national chain that just opened a DC location near the IMF/Foggy Bottom. I got the 3 vegetable sampler with great spicy eggplant (this one was really good and worth a trip), good sweet potatos, and ok indian charred cauliflower along with their spicy BBQ tofu strips - also good. The salads were not as exciting but good. We enjoyed the immense candy selection (with lots of regional and retro options) at Big Top Candy in the middle of South Congress strip. Lastly, we sampled the surprisingly good options at the airport. The East Side Pies made to order personal pizzas were rather good and we only had plain cheese for the kids. To the left of it was slow but good (much slower than you'd expect for airport food) Fly Chicken or some similar name which had great meaty chicken tenders. Of course we also had another round of Amy's Ice Cream. I had heard very mixed reviews of the Salt Lick BBQ location in the airport and passed it up - but I was tempted to bring home the ready for travel whole brisket for $80. Not food related but also caught some good music at the dive bar C-Boys on the southern end of South Congress.
  9. Headed here for first time soon - any recommendations? preferably places that are kid friendly and also have vegetarian options too. Thanks
  10. First time on Sunday for an afternoon treat. The weather was nice but still didn't expect the line wrapping to the back. Good news was it moved fast. Me and the kids each got custard which was good and rich similar to Kohr Bros but a little richer and less sweet (I think slightly better). Portions were small but that was ok since it is rich. Chocolate and vanilla were both good. I also got the passion mango sorbet which was very nice and paired well with the chocolate. I like how you get multiple flavors even in a small. The only downside was the m&m topping (only topping any of us had) which were advertised as m&ms but were either stale or carob coated candies or something else. Did not taste right and were thrown away. So stick to the ice cream.
  11. Recently had the bananas foster cookie - so yummy. It is like a sweet banana version of a black and white cookie - which is really more cake-like than cookie. Also had the always good lamb stuffed pepper. It seemed larger and a bit sweeter with more raisins than in the past. The giant beans were the weak salad and the kale one was nice. I like the new setup as you now only have one place to line up and so it has better flow. Also now you don't need to rush past the baked goods to get in line, you can peruse everything and order as you go and then pay. Make a lot more sense to me.
  12. First, I think they own the building and seem to do decent carryout/delivery business. Second, the food is decent and they still manage to always have some customers whether it is weekday lunch or weekend. Nevertheless, I agree the sushi is only so so. Raku, close by, is leagues better. The pan-Asian dishes are hit or miss. I like the teriyaki chicken, Big Duck, honey sea bass (although it has been a while since i ordered this one), scallion pancake, and shaky beef. Mee goreng a few months ago was rather good too. The ginger salad is ok but too much of similar flavor. The bul gogi buns on a recent trip were ok. I wasn't a fan of the bulgogi kimchi fried rice - pretty bland - the one time I had it last year. I live nearby though so I will continue to go on occassion but the dedicated single Asian cuisine in the area tends to be better - Raku for Japanese or Siam House for thai (and sadly no more Nam Viet for vietnamese. Pho 14 up the street is only ok and the non-pho soup dishes are not as good). But it is a good option for a group who can't decide.
  13. Surprised that no one including me has posted on this place in years. Now is the time to go - now endorsed by the Post as #1 for Tacos. Despite the good press, it wasn't too crowded today for lunch and the tacos were excellent and service was good. I went last summer and a few other times over the years and service was always slow. Last summer it was so slow and the food was only ok that I hadn't been back in a while. lately I opted instead for a few doors over Mezcalero which had good tortas and tacos but not as good as TH. My buddy wanted to go today so I figured time to try again. Very glad we did. The barbacoa and lengua and hongos were really really good. Tortillas very thin and light perfect for the delicious meats. Barbacoa was especially good and different than when I've had it elsewhere. It was more like shredded steak that was crisped up on a grill and not very saucy. In the past, I've really enjoyed the memela and it was good this time but the tacos outshone it. We also got some beans and rice which were fine but forgettable. I'll have to add this back into the regular rotation and stick to the tacos. Oh the chips and creamy avocado salsa verde and slightly spicy salsa roja are still consistently good.
  14. Had to drop someone off at national airport before heading south and found the Alexandria branch of Souvlaki bar on yelp less than 10 minutes away. Was very pleased. Nice bright, clean space right off route 1 with a little parking lot in back. Very friendly service and great with my kids. My picky eaters enjoyed most of the kids' meal - they chose the chicken souvlaki skewer as their protein and white rice and it comes with apple juice boxes. The rice was a little bland (usually a plus for the pickies) but they skipped it and ate the not homemade pita rounds instead that came with the decent tzatiki app. The chicken though was a big hit and I had a bite too and thought it was excellent - juicy, flavorful. I opted for the chicken gyro/yeero which was rather good - they put fries on the sandwich (which I like). The fries were crisp and covered in paprika but somehow lacked flavor - more of a crunch element to the sandwich. The chicken yeero meat was good with a nice char on some pieces and moist on others like you want but the souvlaki was better. Should have gone with the name of the place. We also tried their greek cinnamon-walnut-honey cookies which had a nice flavor but only so so as the texture was a bit hard and overly crumbly (that may be the authentic recipe, I don't know just speaking from personal taste). I would go again if I was near one and load up on skewers and maybe get the baklava instead.
  15. Bumping this up to see if anyone has been? I'm going for a business lunch on Thursday and curious what are some good dishes to try.
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