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  1. Went to the Class 302 Cafe location in Cerritos and wasn't super enthused. The drinks are big and colorful but were wayyyyy too sweet, with no compensating tartness, for my tastes. Our group had several of the boba drink options (tea, smoothies, etc.) and I didn't care for any of them (soft boba, ugh). It looks like other locations have an interesting self-serve option, sort of like the Pinkberry of boba spots, but the Cerritos location is counter service only where they make your drinks. I noticed that shaved ice was big with the other patrons while we were there (well, also it's summer). I didn't see if the Cerritos location has hot food but it is available at other locations, according to the online menu. Has anyone else been? The self-serve boba bar might be interesting.
  2. I spend a lot of satisfying times in Bozzelli's and I think it belongs in the dining guide. It is a family-owned and operated deli with a seating area on Alban Road in Springfield -- Backlick runs from Annandale to Springfield, changes its name to Alban roughly at the big oil tanks across I-95S, and then changes its name to Pohick when it crosses Rolling Road into Lorton and Fairfax Station. Bozzelli's menu includes some of the best subs in the DC area. They have a few "signatures" like the Metro (basically an Italian hoagie), the absolutely decadent Pepperoni, Steak and Cheese, the Senator (Italian cheeseburger) and many more, all of which I can tell you are as good as any in the northern Virginia 'burbs....at least this side of the Italian Store. What finally drove me to write them up was the best breakfast sandwich I've had in a long time -- ham, egg, cheese, peppers and ketchup on an 8" pressed Italian bun. Man, was that good...! And on Fridays in Lent, there isn't a better 12" tuna salad sub anywhere. Bozzelli's also offers salads, a few pasta dishes, fresh-made desserts and unusually good pizza. They also have cooking classes on the occasional Wednesday evening, where Mama puts on some displays of excellent Italian cooking. http://springfield.bozzellideli.com/
  3. I grabbed lunch here for the first time today, think it's been open for a little over a month. I haven't been to every taco joint in the district yet, but the first visit here beat every visit I've made to Taqueria Distrito Federal. I had the lengua, the carnitas, and the fish taco (daily special; tilapia). The lengua had a nice crust on it, which I've not had on lengua in the past and made for more of a roast pork belly mouthfeel, and the carnitas were properly fried and chunky, not pulled pork. The fish was not overcooked, although the fish taco as a whole had more of an earthy chili funk to it than the brightness of a Baja-style fish taco. The spiciness of the base tacos was fairly mild. They have a nice selection of salsas on the table to fix that, though. I believe the tortillas were homemade, just off the griddle. A bit apt to crack but still flexible enough to do the job, great flavor, and with the correct number of two per taco. My wife's al pastor huarache was also delicious. Taqueria Habanero on Yelp Jon
  4. Paty's American looks and feels familiar, which is no surprise given it's a new restaurant in the GAR group. To be clear, I've always liked these restaurants, believing they offer a good meal (and most often I think it's better than good), that's reasonably priced, and comes with excellent service. To be sure, thats my take on most "upscale chains" (e.g. Cheesecake Factory), and I'm not a tough critic in general, so you might need a grain of salt with this review. Still, one among an army of hostesses led us to a comfortable booth in a neo-industrial space (with one wall having a gigantic, and bizarre mural consisting of an eclectic collection of famous people), drink orders were taken promptly, and our server even asked our preference for bread in the soon-to-arrive bread basket (we wanted those donut hole-like rolls, natch). I had the Tex-Mex Eggrolls and the Louisiana Pasta and both held up their end of the bargain. We were handled by multiple servers and bus-persons, and everyone was eager to help. The boy got the Calamari, and the lobster ginger sauce that came with it was very tasty. The wife got the Charleston Salad, which looked fresh and comes with quite a bit of fried chicken. This restaurant holds the line with the others.
  5. Big Buns Gourmet Grill, 4401 Wilson Blvd in Ballston (but it's not actually facing Wilson Blvd. It's on the other side of Vapiano in a courtyard between Wilson and Fairfax.) Click for website. I saw this place one day after leaving Vapiano and was curious to try it. It's a fast food burger place. They offer beef, chicken, mahi mahi, or portobello burgers (in a bun or bowl) with your choice of cheeses, toppings and sauces. They also offer regular fries, sweet potato fries, milkshakes, malts, floats, sodas, and beer. Near the soda fountain, they have four Italian soda type syrups that you can mix in your drink, like cherry to make a cherry coke. I had a beef burger which came well-done but was still juicy. (They didn't ask how I wanted it. I don't know if that's an option.) It's not a very thick burger, but it was wide enough that I needed to hold it with both hands. The burger was $5.95, not counting additional charges for special toppings. The fries were each $1.85. I really liked the regular fries, they were thicker than shoestring fries and had a very potato-y flavor though it would be nice if they were just a little crispier. The sweet potato fries were thinner than the regular fries and were ok but nowhere near as good as the ones at Eleventh. Has anyone else tried Big Buns?
  6. I've been meaning to try 101 Noodle Express for a while, since it specializes in some of my favorites items in Chinese cuisine - noodles and dumplings. I had passed it over in favor of trying other places because the flagship item, the Shangdong-style beef roll, isn't my favorite. BIG MISTAKE. Turns out I didn't like them as much at other places simply because they weren't as good. Here, they are the highest expression of the snack, consistent and omnipresent at every table for a reason. The crepe-like bing is thin, flaky, and rich, but not oily. The beef is high-quality and sliced uniformly thin. There is just enough cilantro, scallions, and salty-sweet bean sauce to bring balanced flavors and textures. In case you aren't familiar with the beef roll (I think A&J recently put a version on the menu, but I never tasted it there), here's a nice description. The balance and uniform thinness of the layers, as well as tight wrapping, is key. We ate most of our roll at lunch and promptly ordered another to go (they travel really well!). We also got some dan dan noodles, which had a tiny kick but weren't particularly spicy (which we were expecting, since this is decidedly not a Szechuan place) and the hand-torn noodles were pleasingly chewy. We didn't have room for dumplings, but the many plates of pan-fried dumplings we saw scattered about the room were plump and had golden, crunchy-looking bottoms. We were at the Alhambra location, which is a casual strip-mall spot serving budget-friendly, simple, snacky food until late night (1 AM). They have a few other locations in Arcadia, Culver City, and Irvine. I learned one thing about their operations from their website that I find very promising for visiting other locations: 101 Noodle Express boasts a central, factory-like kitchen to secure quality control of its franchises.
  7. Señor Ramon Taqueria Opens on Baron Cameron Avenue by Fatimah Waseem, RestonNow Looks like the restaurant will open before the signage goes up; it says in the article it is opening today. This strip-mall shares the Home Depot parking lot and this location used to be a Greeberry's, then a Thai (Hibiscus Thai) place and now this. It is a few doors down from Willard's Menu Reston location. Menu looks pretty good, and will have to go by soon to check it out. We need more local Mexican-type places the Anita's and Uncle Julio's get old quickly.
  8. Good new food cart in Rosslyn (near the metro). They have a menu of breakfasts tacos and I think they're open for lunch now too. I stopped by this morning when I was in the neighborhood. I had two tacos with egg whites, peppers & onions, pinto beans, and cheese on a flour tortilla. Only cost $5. Very good food, especially for the price. Nice warm, soft tortillas stuffed with flavorful beans, crispy veggies, and soft egg whites. Add a bit of the medium salsa and it's a good meal for a low price.
  9. Agree with above. It's been super popular in the SGV and beyond and they continue to build stores in the states (dozens of shops in CA urban areas, one coming soon in Portland, OR, big presence in TX) so thought I'd give it its own thread. Although they have some typical Chinese bakery options, mostly the sweeter breads and pastries (no meat buns, curry puffs, etc.), I wouldn't call them a Chinese or Taiwanese bakery, per se, as they have quite a few Euro-centric bready options. I've been to 3-4 stores and they are usually quite large, brightly lit, with lots of seating, inviting (young!) people to stay and sip/chew/chat. Their website offers lots of modern accouterments, like an app, a rewards program, nutrition facts, newsletter...It's a nice place to stop if you know what to expect.
  10. I am stunned not to find a thread for my favorite ice cream place in the world. This is --- hands down --- the best ice cream I have ever had. I appreciate that they're willing to go out on a limb with flavors, even if sometimes, they are a huge miss. But, they do reliably good to great work with the berry flavors (strawberry and raspberry, in particular), and the banana flavors are stunningly good when they are on the menu. The liqueur flavors are generally excellent too; a Fernet flavor was noteworthy, despite being runny (they admit it is due to the alcohol content).
  11. In the ice rink plaza over in Ashburn, Ford's Fish Shack is the third restaurant in the same space. Food-wise, of my first try, it's already blown the previous two out of the water. One of my coworkers had gone on and on about how much he liked the fish and chips. A buddy of mine and I went there for lunch. I had the lobster roll ($17), and if you use Mark Slater's definition of how trite it may be from another thread, well, this one is NOT trite. It was DELICIOUS. The lobster was nice and firm, the roll buttery, the combination with the just right amount of dressing fantastic. It came with shoestring fries that I could've eaten pounds of. My friend got a fried fish sandwich ($9.50) - it was huge, and his only complaint a bit too heavy to combine with a beer and then go back to work on a Friday afternoon. I'm going to have to go back here a few more times to, uh, make sure the quality stays up...yeah, that's it....
  12. http://www.falafelinc.org/ We took a group of college kids to the new Spy Museum via the Alexandria water-taxi to the Wharf. After the spy museum we walked down to the Wharf for dinner. We had a vegetarian in our group, and all the group agreed that Falafel Inc sounded good. It is fast casual, with a little machine that pops out falafels to order. The drink options seemed a little limited. You could get a sandwich (in a pita), or a bowl (salad), with add-ons like hummus, zataar fries, tabouli, etc. I think there was a small confusion on what a bowl and sandwich were for the group when we first walked in. It seems like they could just say pita or salad. There are no tables inside, but outside there were high tops and tables you could stand/sit at to eat. They have sauces you can add after you get your sandwich- those have names, but the names don't really correspond to what it is- I would prefer if they just said like cilantro sauce, mild spicy, spicy, etc. I figured the bright orange was a hot sauce of sorts and got that, I was right and I quite liked it. Anyway, the naming could be better, but the sandwich really was pretty decent with the sauce. Fries were good, not quite as good as those from Lebanese Taverna Market, enough for at least two to share. I can't remember if the sauce descriptions were on the hanging menu, they were likely on the printed one, if there was a sign right above the sauces that would help. But also having one that says it can't be described is a bit trite. Anyway, good for a not too expensive grab and go at the Wharf with a vegetarian.
  13. I tried Bear Rock once when I worked in FC. Completely forgettable, no surprise that it's gone. But, this new place screams "Joe's Crab Shack" to me, and that's not a compliment. What are the odds of this place being any good? My little girl would love to have a local source for mudbugs, but the lobby of an upscale condo is unlikely to be it.
  14. It's not just the GARG joints -- the places run by GARG alums have many of the same/very similar items, just under different names. For example, the menu at Loudoun's thriving (for good reason IMHO, I'm a GARG fan along the lines of Dr. Delicious) Blue Ridge Grill mini-chain features: "Steak and cheese eggrolls" "Smoked salmon" "Brentwood Salad" (my go-to, it's a great deal and I get two meals out of it) "King Street Creole Pasta" etc
  15. Tried out the newish Duke's Grocery today for lunch over in Dupont on 17th street. First a few odd things: 1) it is not much of a grocery - they have a few baskets of produce for sale, but it is really a restaurant, 2) its menu consists solely of sandwiches, a few sides and a bar menu - but for now they do not offer carry out sandwiches (concerns about too long of a wait when they have a tiny open kitchen and basically one (maybe 2 sometimes cooks), 3) it looks like it'd be a place for counter service, but they have bartenders and waiter?/food runners so it is unclear whether tipping is expected. I sat at the bar where you order on the ground floor when you enter - but they have an upstairs with tables and some other ledges and stools around on the first floor too. Overall, I think they are still trying to figure out what their concept really is. Nevertheless, the bar is nice and 2 young bartenders were very friendly and nice explaining the menu and chatting. Now onto the food. So the price/value is great here. All of the amply portioned sandwiches are just under $10 with tax included and despite my gluttony of finishing my whole Brick Lane Salt Beef monster, it easily could be shared by 2 people. The other couple of sandwiches I saw come out were equally well-made, fresh in the kitchen using mostly homemade ingredients in small batches and likewise large. The sandwiches come on a variety of breads from Lyon Bakery including rye, ciabatta, etc. I've never been to the UK nor had Salt Beef but it was described as less salty corned beef. It had thick cut soft white bread that was good and then piled high large chunks of tender beef (not melt in your mouth, but soft). The sandwich is slathered with sinus-cleansing Colman Mustard (think horseradish or chinese spicy mustard without the heat) and house made dill pickles with bit of onion laced within. I said next time I'd get the sandwich with less mustard and more of the good pickles. The sandwich was good and definitely well made with quality ingredients - but I think the mustard overwhelmed the somewhat lightly seasoned meat. Probably go back and get something else or maybe the salt beef on rye with sauerkraut and dilled mustard (Ruby on Rye). Besides these 2 options there are several pork ones, a chicken salad, and a vegetarian aubergine/eggplant sandwich - but check/call before you go if you want something particular as most of the menu changes according to the staff.
  16. I happen to walk by here almost every day on my way to the Clarendon metro. Posting because noticed their soft opening last week one night and from cheesepowder's post. Their FB page states they will open *today* at 11:30am. Parking won't be easy, since it's at the corner of 11th street north and North Highland. Citizen Burger Bar 1051 North Highland Street Arlington, VA
  17. Zagat Buzz has a good little blurb about this place ... have been eyeing the progress with every dog-walk down 8th Street and it's looking pretty good. Breakfast all day floats my boat, anyway; we'll see how the rest goes.
  18. Has anyone had an opportunity to visit Fireworks Wood Fired Pizza in Leesburg, Virginia? http://www.fireworkspizza.com/HOME2.htm My family and I have eaten at the restaurant once, and ordered take out twice. On our first visit, the first pie we ordered was the: quattro carni. The second (take out) was the: smokey blue, and the third (take out) was the: fire cracker. Our favorite pie thus far has been the: smokey blue, but felt that the service each time has been poor. During our first visit, the wait staff neglected to remember one-half of the order for my family. As a result causing the food delivery to be staggered. Each time we have called to place take out orders, the phone manners from the wait staff/bartender taking the order has been less than stellar.
  19. They're hoping for May. It's going to be Asian accented southern dishes. You may remember him from Top Chef Texas or most recently on the bourbon episode of Mind of a Chef. "Edward Lee To Open Southern-Themed Succotash At National Harbor" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era at National Harbor.
  20. Bethesda Bagels, on Bethesda Ave. near the Barnes and Noble also makes authentic NY style bagel* that are first boiled, then baked. My mother (who is now 96) told me that when she was young she used to make her own bagel, when she lived in places where they were unavailable. When I was growing up in Los Angeles, we lived in a Jewish neighborhood where there were many bakeries and delis. Bagel, along with onion pletzel, bialy, corn rye and challah, were always in the house. My mother always preferred "egg bagel," which had egg in the dough and were a bit softer, over "water bagel" which are the denser, chewier NY style. Interesting to learn today, via one of Darkstar's posts, that Montreal bagel have egg in them. My mother's preference may reflect her Canadian childhood: though she lived in Winnipeg, not Montreal, it's my understanding that many Canadian Jews emigrated from the same general area in Belarus during the years leading up to WW1, often heading first to Toronto before moving to other Canadian cities. Mimi Sheraton wrote a fascinating history of the bialy. I wonder if there is a similarly well-written book about the bagel. *my father, a notorious language pedant, always insisted that the plural of bagel is bagel. I often lapse into the Americanized usage of the plural but since I am talking about my family history here, I'll respect my father's nitpick.
  21. There has been an awning up for Saffron for a couple of weeks now. Given that they already have a restaurant in Broadlands, and that Curry Mantra 2 was in nearly turnkey shape, there shouldn't be much of a wait. Haandi can't catch a break, and maybe this time around, the competition will keep prices down: Both Haandi and Curry Mantra 2 were two of the most expensive Indian restaurants in the DC area despite being almost across the street from one another. "Curry Mantra 2 Is Now Saffron Indian Cuisine" by Sally Cole on fcnp.com
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