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  1. Has anyone heard about "Burger Joint" in Bethesda. Hope they're better than the juice place that used to be there. I think their website is burgerjointdc.com (or something similar).
  2. The Afghan Kabob is open where Courthouse Bistro used to be (and Atilla's before that.) (See previous discussion in the Courthouse Bistro thread.) It's an order-at-the-counter type of place. The menu includes various kabob plates and sandwiches, gyro sandwich, (freshly made) afghan bread. There's also vegetable and meat stews and curries and a few different kinds of rice in chafing dishes behind the counter. I'll have to come back and try a kabob sometime. There were a decent number of people in the place.
  3. As those of you who were too foolish to heed my warning on Monday already know, Ray's Hell-Burger (street name), aka Butcher Burgers (government name), is due to open today, Tuesday, July 1st. We will be serving one thing only--10 ounces of our secret blend of premium and prime aged beef, char-grilled over an open flame. This is the same single-breed, farm-raised beef that we use at Ray's The Steaks and Ray's The Classics, aged in house ridiculously long, hand trimmed to the same exacting standards as all of our steaks, and ground fresh daily, several times throughout the day. Free toppings include: sauteed mushrooms finished with sherry and brandy, grilled red onions, sauteed peppers, charred jalapenos, vine-ripened beefsteak tomatoes, roasted garlic, and dill or bread and butter pickle chips. Applewood-smoked bacon (the same that we use for the grilled bacon app at Ray's The Classics) and guacamole are available for an additional charge. In addition to the regular quality cheeses on offer ('Merkin, aged Vermont white cheddar, imported Swiss, imported Gruyere, aged Danish Bleu/Italian Gorgonzola, smoked mozzarella, Monster, Brie, pepperjack) we wil also be offering a changing selection of specialty and artisinal cheeses--currently, Epoisse, Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue, Queen Anne Stilton, Pa Noble Cave Aged Amish Cheddar, Chimay a la biere, Taleggio, and Bel Paese. Throughout the summer, Hell-Burgers will be served with fresh, buttered corn on the cob and a slice of cold, juicy watermelon AT NO CHARGE!!! Dominion root beer ON TAP and other great sodas and 8-10 flavors of MOOrenko's ice cream for cones and floats (no shakes, maybe later--I don't want to be the one to push shakes into the trite category, too many others stand eager to do so soon enough). Ray's Hell-Burger (imagine the "Hell" part in flamey letters) is located at 1713 Wilson Boulevard in the same strip mall as Ray's The Steaks. We plan to open Saturday and Sunday from noon on and weekdays from 5 pm, for the time being, with expansion into weekday lunch hours possible, maybe. The best part about all this, for me at least, is that since Ray's Hell-Burger is located several doors down from Ray's The Steaks, now whenever someone becomes tantrumishly nasty at the door due to the wait at The Steaks, I can kindly suggest an appropriate alternative destination to them.
  4. Chickpea Mediterranean Grill soft-opened a couple months ago and I have been pleased each time I have been able to eat there. (The hours were a little wacky. Late-night dining is only available some nights and they do close early and unexpectedly when they run out of food) Imagine a Chipotle but with hummus and falafel. They have bases of different rices, pita, salad greens or quinoa. The protein options are a rotating mix of chicken, steak, lamb, pork or meatballs and falafel. (I would stick with pork or lamb but others have really liked the spicy chicken) The toppings are standard but the house made sesame slaw is really tasty. I could eat a dish of that alone. They top it off with dressings and sauces of your choosing and off you go to eat! I also recommend washing it down with housemade lemonade that you can add mint to. Best thing is the special Greek fries but it's hard to dispute the genius of hot fresh fries tossed with herbs and feta cheese.
  5. According to Robert Dyer, this will be a new concept at Montgomery Mall from Bob's and Bob's Shanghai: "Shanghai 66 Innovative Kitchen Coming To Bethesda"
  6. La Madeleine would probably like to stake claim to status as a big chain French restaurant, and the two times I've eaten at one I've been pretty unhappy with the food as being sub par for even what I expected.
  7. Mi and Yu Noodle Bar opened on S. Charles Street a few months back, and they are a welcome addition to the neighborhood. This is a non-traditional "ramen" restaurant in that you mix and match a protein (currently buttermilk brined fried chicken, roast duck carnitas, 5 spiced bbq pork belly, soy-miso braised short ribs, or seared tofu), noodle (ramen, pho, or udon), and soup (spicy kimchi, miso, or adobo duck) to create your meal. I've tried all of the meats except the pork belly, and they are all well-seasoned, flavorful, and tender, although there are some dry bites here and there. The ramen noodles seem to be imported and are pretty good, while the udon noodles are what you would except, but personally don't seem to work that well with the heaviness of the soups. The miso soup is lighter and more reminiscent of your typical ramen place, while the duck soup really packs a punch on your initial slurp, but gets a bit overwhelming with salt and umami as you work your way through. All of the soups come with a soft-boiled egg and a tasty bean sprout/cabbage/carrot salad. The end result is several different combinations of delicious flavors, although some work better together than others. The noodle bowls are $12-$14 for a LOT of food; I've never been able to finish the soup. This is the perfect meal for a cold day or a long week at work. The other thing that I love about this place is the online ordering system (using ChowNow) on Mi and Yu's website. Choose a pick up time, order your meal, pay, and they'll email you when your food is bagged and ready to go. Walk in, take it home, get a BIG bowl ready to go (remember, it's a lot of food), combine, and enjoy.
  8. Quick shout-out to Pop Tacos, which is probably my favorite lunch spot in Baltimore. It's basically a family-owned version of Chipotle run by a super nice Korean couple. You can get burritos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, or tacos with your choice of chicken, pork, steak, fish, or Korean-marinated pork. Onions and peppers are sauteed to order and guacamole can be added for no additional cost. I'm not sure if it's the marinade, salsa, or what, but I've always thought that Pop Tacos' food is everything Chipotle should be. You can also get some Korean specialties like bibimbap and great breakfast burritos as well.
  9. Sometime close to ten years ago, I noticed that there was a cluster of restaurants developing on 14th Street, north of P Street and Logan Circle (actually Thomas Circle), but south of U Street - it pretty-much started with Cork Wine Bar. I began a discussion thread about what, if anything, we should call the 14th Street Corridor, before I realized we weren't agreeing on anything, and unilaterally decided on 14UP - a name which is absolutely descriptive and appropriate (it's 14th Street between U and P Streets, but a name that the rest of the media has been "resilient" to pick up on and use - I'll leave their reasoning up to you. It doesn't matter - I'll be using this term for the rest of my life, even though Eatonville threw me a curve-ball, several years later, by opening on V Street - it's still better than anything that anyone else has come up with. "14th Street Corridor" is so ambiguous as to be meaningless, and has about as much character as "Dupont Circle." During that time, the rise of "Quick-Serve" or "Fast-Casual" restaurants has been every bit as dramatic as the rise of Food Trucks replacing those nasty hot-dog carts - it seems as if I have about half the threads tagged "Quick-Serve," and about half tagged "Fast-Casual," and I'd like to propose choosing one over the other, and sticking with it. This doesn't need to be a permanent change, but I'd like to try and stay with it for a few years. Instead of making a unilateral choice, I'm going with a group vote - they both seem to be equally popular, and there may in fact be a technical difference between the two (if there is, someone please chime in pronto). I have no strong feelings about one over the other, so I'm going to let people here decide what they should be termed, and go with the majority vote. Go ahead and vote on any of the four choices - more than one if you'd like. 14UP is here to stay, and it would be appreciated if you could use that term going forward - I was the first person (not here, but anywhere) who spotted the trend, and proposed giving that corridor its own name. It's just as good as SoHo or NoLIta and certainly a lot better than DUMBO. Have at it. If you vote for #4, please state your reasoning with a post. I have a slight preference for "Quick-Serve" because none of the words are in either "Fast Food" or "Casual Dining" - there are six different words for those three different terms, and no chance of getting them confused. I also understand that some "restaurants" (Subway, for example), fall in-between Fast Food and the Quick-Serve / Fast-Casual model, so this isn't like we're trying to come up with a cure for cancer. Cheers, Rocks
  10. Pursuant to Don's exhortation to post our most recent dining experience, I offer the following commentary on Delhi Dhaba's Bethesda location. We had the buffet lunch there on Saturday. A massive dog-themed street fair had closed the street (Woodmont), and Delhi Dhaba was one of the few restaurants with enough outdoor seating to accommodate four adults, a child, and an infant. The buffet was small and nondescript, but contained nothing offensive: decent butter chicken; okay tandoori chicken; dal; a potato/pepper dish that was pretty good; palak paneer that was a little light on the paneer (had to go fishing with the ladle). There were a couple other things, but I can't remember what they were. Naan was a bit dry. I did enjoy the gulab jamun for dessert. It wasn't as sickly-sweet as that dessert (along with many other Indian desserts) often is. Service was par for the Indian restaurant course: Not what one would call attentive or speedy, but no one punched me in the face. So, not bad. But since I have to get in my car to go there, I'd veer eastward and head to Woodlands to satisfy my buffet itches every time.
  11. So, we've gone from zero to two "Fast-Casual Asian Bowl Places" on H Street over the past month or so. Last night I picked up carry-out from the brand new Pow Pow, which just opened this past Saturday. They don't seem to have a menu available online, so I can't remember the names of everything we ordered. This is refreshingly not a Chipotle-like concept, and instead has you just pick actual items off of a relatively small menu. They have bowls, with stuff served over rice, as well as gigantic, burrito sized fried egg rolls. We didn't go with one of the egg rolls, and instead got two bowls, Fugazi Osbourne (beef with hoisin sauce and a bunch of stuff) and something I can't remember the name of that had pork and a poached egg. Everything was solid, although I wasn't a huge fan of the coconut rice, in both flavor and texture. Between this and BAB Korean Fusion, I think I prefer BAB. But both are good, and I'm happy this is here.
  12. I've been meaning to start a thread on this for a while, but then Tim Carman's review today spurred me into action. I have been convinced for the past few years that this spot, directly on the SW corner of 14th and H, right next to Tony's Breakfast, would never open. There would be construction, and then it would stop for months. They'd appear suddenly close to opening, and then there'd be no action. The sign itself was actually up for I think at least a year before they finally opened earlier this year. I've only been there once, so Tim's review is much more comprehensive, but we enjoyed it. We much preferred the bulgogi over the spicy chicken, and by far preferred the house veggies to the backyard veggies. It's affordable, it's something different for H Street, and it's finally open, so I'm happy.
  13. I felt like a steak tonight, and was going to go to Ray's: The Steaks, but decided instead to head to District Chophouse at Verizon Center. Long story short, there was a Wizards game, and I think President Obama might have been somewhere down there - once I finally got parking (a plum spot, right across the street from Del Frisco's), I couldn't get into Del Campo (and I mean the police were physically blocking people from even walking down that street). Then, I went to Del Frisco's where I gave up after thirty minutes of being completely ignored, and left, so ... No Steak For Me! I went instead to Black Iron Pizza, where my total bill, including pizza, salad, and tax, was $14.85. *They do not accept tips*, I was literally the only customer in the restaurant, and the people working there were as pleasant as they could be. So, thanks to Del Frisco's addled service, I'm about $100 richer (I was going to order the $59 bone-in rib-eye, a la carte, but they apparently didn't want my money), and probably had food that was every bit as good at Black Iron Pizza. Especially considering this was quick-serve pizza, Black Iron Pizza was surprising. They have a couple of things to work on, but having chatted with the chef (he didn't know it was me), I'm confident this place will do a rocking lunch business if they can really crank out the pizzas in two minutes cooking time. The crust is *nothing* like you normally see in quick-serve pizzerias - it's not this matzah-thin stuff, and the toppings (in my case prosciutto and funghi) were more than generous, and of seemingly very high quality for the price - I even took half the pizza home with me for later or tomorrow. Even the simple, $3 side salad came with a dressing that was much better than the norm for this type of restaurant. Again, they just opened, and have some issues to work on, but overall it seems promising, so I'd give them a week or two before you swarm down on them - weekend nights are the best times to come because this part of town is dead right now. Do not expect luxury here - it is quick-serve, and looks the part.
  14. "The Chipotle Effect: Why America Is Obsessed With Fast-Casual Food" by Roberto A. Ferdman on washingtonpost.com "It's all very confusing, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, an industry research firm. "The truth is that no one really has the right answer." Response: "Fast-Casual is when you walk up to a line of steam-tables containing pre-cooked and/or pre-chopped food items, order a combination from a menu on the wall, and then a team member or members will assemble your order by the time you get to the register, often heating a starchy container along the way," says Don Rockwell, President of donrockwell.com. "It's really quite a simple concept, and was actually pioneered by Subway, not Chipotle - the difference being that Subway uses cold cuts, and Chipotle uses meats that have been cooked earlier in the day."
  15. We had dinner on a whim at Elevation Burger last night, and it was a very pleasant experience. The place is clean and well-lit, the people were friendly and informative, and the food was fresh, good, fast, and cheap. They have all-natural beef and two different kinds of veggie burger, which are cooked separately from the meat burgers. Their milkshakes are thick and delicious -- you know it's going to be good when they have to use a spatula to coax the shake out of the metal thingy! Their fries are lovely -- very thin and cut and cooked (in olive oil!) fresh just for you. I had the veggie burger number 1 (I believe -- the one that "tastes kind of like meat" versus the one that's entirely vegetables) with cheddar, mayo, and ketchup, and my companion had the Phat Burger (twice the meat and twice the cheese ). We both had fries, and I had a chocolate milkshake with Oreo in it. Clearly not the most healthy meal! But tasty and hot and perfect after a lousy day All in all, I believe that for the two of us, it came to about $15. We'll definitely be back!
  16. Have to disclaim that I am related to one of the co-owners, but Roll Play Vietnamese Grill is currently soft opening in Tysons Corner. It's located at the intersection of International Drive and Leesburg Pike in the same office building as the Healthy Back store and Peet's Coffee. It's located right by the entrance of the parking garage. Its ordering system is a bit like Sheetz and Wawa; you order at three kiosks located in the front of the store, and then you either pay with credit at the kiosk or take the receipt to pay with cash at the pick up area. You pick from several different options, including pho, banh mi, spring rolls or a bowl and then customize it with a choice of protein, veggies, sauce and other fixings. There are several side items such as mini crispy spring rolls, small size pho and a papaya salad as well. I ordered a pork belly and lemongrass steak banh mi with all the fixings and added an egg as well. I also got a side order of crispy mini spring rolls and a side beef pho. My son ate the pho, but the tastes that I had were definitely beefy and aromatic as a pho should be. The banh mi was stuffed to the gills with pork belly, steak, and all my selected vegetables in a medium soft roll. While the egg I ordered it with was not runny, the overall flavor was meaty with a crunch of pickled and fresh veggies. The crispy mini spring rolls were great, their fillings were meaty but they were not too oily. Their drinks are also interesting. They have a young coconut drink which is a whole coconut opened on the spot, a house-made limeade, vietnamese iced coffee and a Puck's soda fountain. I enjoyed the coconut drink the most because of the novelty drinking from a coconut and the fact that you can also eat the coconut meat afterwards. Overall, I enjoyed Roll Play, and while it definitely "Chipotle-izes" vietnamese food, I think the flavors are solid and the concept is interesting. I was invited and received the food for free because of the family connection, so I can't comment on the overall value. However, I thought the food and drinks had great flavor and are worth a stop if you're in the area.
  17. Native Foods Cafe isn't only opening in the former Falls Church Pie-Tanza space, they're also opening at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue on October 14th, and 1150 Connecticut Avenue on September 30th.
  18. Well that was just brutal. Pei Wei is a new-ish fast casual restaurant from PF Changs which just opened a south Dupont Circle location, on 18th Street next door to Nando's. Mmmm...Nando's. Their menu follows all the fast casual asian trends..choose from noodles, rice bowls, lettuce wraps, etc, then add a sauce and a protein. http://www.peiwei.com/menu/menu.aspx?menu=s&sid=0506 Now I imagine the folks on this board aren't big fans in general of PF Chang, but I've found if you order carefully, you can get a decent meal there. That could also be the case here, but my first experience isn't likely to lead to enough visits to find out. I went with a "Pei Wei Spicy" with brown rice and steak. First the positive: the brown rice was fine. The steak was about the lowest quality you can use and still actually call it steak. Spongy, chewy, tasteless, the whole nine yards. The thick, goopy sauce had a slight hint of spice in the background, but the taste was predominantly sweet....so very sweet. The whole combination was utterly distasteful...I picked out and ate the inoffensive pea pods, tried another few bites of steak, then threw it away. To be fair, there are a zillion combinations to choose from, and I'm sure there are plently of things that are better than what I got. I like PF Chang's kung pao shrimp...maybe I'll try that at Pei Wei if I have a short memory and choose to give it another shot. But really, this meal made Panda Express seem gormet. Now for the good news...a Coke Freestyle machine! Can't go wrong with Fanta-free Grape. Finally, I don't care a lot about nutrition when it comes to eating out...I generally try to turn a blind eye and accept that I'll have to balance out any restaurant meal with a few days of fozen yogurt...but the small amount I ate at Pei Wei was sitting so heavily in my stomach that I called up the nutricional info when I got back to the office. Had I eaten my whole bowl, it would have been 1690 calories, 53 g fat, and 2310 mg of sodium. Zowie. Again, they have a really big menu with many healthier options, but still. Incidentally, the only reason I went here was because Newton's Noodles was still closed. I blame you, Newton's Noodles and DC inspectors!!!
  19. An interesting question for you, or anyone who is interested: At what point does quick-serve pizza become better than "normal" pizza? It would not surprise me one iota if I liked Spinfire more than Paisano's - I don't think I've ever had a quick-serve pizza that I didn't like more than the national chains - granted, I've only had a few, but I'm getting the picture. I also strongly suspect we're going to see a drop in overall quality as the market becomes flooded, but right now, it's still in a nascent state, and the quality seems to have held up (for the moment). What the hell took it so long to get here? It seems like a no-brainer to me (which is why the market is being deluged).
  20. Right next door to Peet's, in the quickly developing Turnpike Shopping Center owned by Combined Properties, Inc. (which owns a large number of shopping centers in the area), is going to be Banyan Tree Grill, most likely a quick-serve, Indian-themed concept. Here are some pictures of the upcoming restaurant:
  21. I didnt know PitaPlus was opened whenever i stop in at the greek place next door Pita Plus is always closed and it has an abandoned look. How do the gyros at Greek Deli Express compare with Pita Plus in College Park?
  22. Anyone try this place? 4.5 stars on Yelp at 70 reviews... Grand Trunk "Grand Trunk Opens In Penn Quarter - Breakfast Foods, Curries, Naan, Burgers, Salads, Tea, Smoothies, All In A Night-Club Atmosphere With Techno Music, Chandeliers, Flat-Screens ...." on popville.com Something looks fishy about the Yelp reviews. Many have similar format and comments.
  23. Surprisingly, Chicken Out has reopened in McLean - in the former Marvelous Market space. Although the paper signage is still the same, this appears to be the only location which leads me to believe that it might have been sold (although that's just a guess). There were balloons up today, and they appeared to be having a great opening.
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