July 2008

As you may recall, I’m a bit of a barbecue fan.  And not just a passive fan, either.  My experiment with pulled pork wasn’t my first time using the Big Green Egg.  For my first endeavor into the world of slow-smoked cooking, I worked with David (the friend who introduced me to KCBS judging) to cook up a few slabs of ribs for the Super Bowl.

Unlike pulled pork, which requires cooking time upwards of 15 hours to ensure tender and tasty results, slabs of pork ribs can be smoked to perfection in as few as four hours.  So we committed the better part of the afternoon to the effort, and we settled in with a few beers to tend the Egg.

A description of the process after the jump.


The restaurant chain Bennigans has declared bankruptcy and will close its doors. RIP fried club sandwich Monte Cristo. Oh Bennigans. Your sampler platter was the deadliest of all. 

On the other side of the food spectrum, Seattle company Organic to Go opened the doors to its first DC lunch spot this week. Their first open location is in the former High Noon at 1311 F St NW (metro center area). Swing by and take a look, you’ll barely recognize the place. Future establishments are opening soon in McPherson Square, DuPont and Rosslyn. Thanks to Going Green DC for the heads up.
Organic To Go on Urbanspoon

Responding to obesity rates, Type II Diabetes, hypertension and a host of other diet-related issues, DC’s local food pantries are giving their foods a health-focused makeover.    

Apples and Bananas reports that Tallulah has a new chef in town. Chef Andrew Markert will take the reins as Executive Chef “before the end of the month.” Which is pretty much right now.  We’ve only been to Tallulah for dinner once and really enjoyed it. Let’s up these changes keep the Arlington neighborhood favorite on the up and up.

Kool-Aid, Ben & Jerry’s and what the Congolese are eating after the jump! (more…)

Dining options in Rosslyn are experiencing a slow but steady improvement, thanks in part to Domaso Trattoria.

A few years ago my employer was excited to announce we were moving offices from our homey (read: small, dingy) headquarters in DuPont Circle to spacious, freshly designed digs in Rosslyn.  This is like convincing a Parisienne that switching from a 5th arrondissement studio to a McMansion in Fresno is a good thing.  You could practically see the tumbleweeds bouncing around the streets back then. The only places for lunch in our area was Quizno’s and the Orleans House. 

Flash forward to 2008. After doing hard time in foodie Siberia (others call it Tyson’s Corner),  I’m back in Rosslyn and pleased to say it’s progressing nicely. The fabled Tom Sarris Orleans House is closed and demolished while new options spring up regularly.

Domaso Trattoria, a new Kimpton property in the recently built Hotel Palomar, is one of the fresher neighbors. If you only go to Domaso for one reason, it should be their patio. Jutting out from the middle of a high rise building, the patio overlooks the Potomac and Georgetown and is able to accomodate about 50 people. With the exception of Quarterdeck, al fresco meals are tough to come by in Rosslyn if you want to be more than five feet from a busy street. If you need a second and third reason to visit, check out the happy hour and homemade breads. Domaso’s happy hour runs from 5 – 7:30 each night offering glasses of wine for $5 each. (more…)

Click on the image to go to our Google Map that locates every restaurant participating in next month's DC Restaurant Week.

To our knowledge, this is the only place to find all of this year’s participating restaurants on one convenient map. Check each placemark for addresses, phone numbers, and OpenTable links (when available). Blue marks are lunch and dinner, red marks are dinner only, and green marks are lunch only.

And if you’re having a hard time accessing it through the image, you can simply click here to go right to the map.

We hope you’ll find this map useful as you plan out your dining destinations – please let us know if you notice any errors or if anything needs to be updated!

If you took our advice last week and pre-booked some reservations for the week of August 11-17, you may want to check and see how your predictions did as soon as you’re able: the list of participating restaurants is now up!

We went 1-for-3 on our reservations: though we were able to lock in a dinner at Cafe Atlantico, we had speculated on whether or not CityZen and 1789 would participate (they have on several occasions in the past).

At this point, though, it seems like news is just starting to get out that the list is up.  There are still plenty of choice reservations available for participating restaurants on Saturday, August 16th – likely to be the most sought-after reservations of the week.

So whether you made advance reservations and now need to adjust them or you opted to wait until the list was posted, it’s go time.  Head to OpenTable and start making your reservations now!

I’ll be updating this post later today with some recommendations based on our past experiences, but please feel free to chime in with any of your own.  There are some places that do Restaurant Week REALLY well and others that just don’t seem to get it.

There are plenty of transplants from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia in Washington, and most of us are only too happy to tell you exactly what’s wrong with local versions of the foods we grew up with: pizza, cheesesteaks and especially sub sandwiches.

People who live in Northern Virginia will tell you that the Italian Store offers a reasonable facsimile of those sandwiches and pizzas, and those who are really in the know will urge you to check out Mangialardo and Sons on Capitol Hill for sandwiches – assuming you can make it down there while they’re open.  7:30 AM to 3 PM weekdays is not exactly convenient for those who don’t live or work near their location on Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast.

But the best bet for sandwiches (and a wide range of Italian products) is A. Litteri, Inc.  Hidden among the warehouses and wholesalers in the Capital City Market (bordered by New York Avenue, Florida Avenue, 5th and 7th Streets, Northeast), these guys have been offering pastas, spices, wine and olive oil to Washington’s Italian-American community and those who appreciate Italian delicacies since Calvin Coolidge occupied the White House.

So to celebrate my officially becoming an old Italian man with our friends, we knew we had to have Litteri’s Italian sandwiches.  Elizabeth was also wonderful enough to make a delicious homemade tiramisu for dessert, but you’ll have to wait to get the details on that sweet treat in a future post.

More about Litteri’s deli delicacies after the jump. (more…)

Suddenly DC is awash with celebrity chefs. The weekend of the 4th Thomas Keller dined at Restaurant Eve. Top Cheftestants Stephanie, Atononia and Lisa walked the red carpet at Spike’s Good Stuff party (the former two were spotted dining at Central that night, for those keeping track). The latest bold name to grace our fair streets? Mr. Nasty Bits himself, Anthony Bourdain. Maybe he’s in town to personally thank Endless Simmer for the E-ward shout out?

According to DCist and Apples and Bananas, Bourdain was spotted cruising the Penn Quarter Farmers Market with local heavy Jose Andres, No Reservations crew in tow. The pair spent some time talking to vendors and then slipped out of the heat into Cafe Atlantico. Maybe one of Katsuya Fukushima’s famous Minibar cotton candy foie gras is in his future?

If you watch No Reservations, you know Bourdain is especially prone to covering the split personalities of his destinations. He’ll usually kick off with visits to some trendy, high-end establishments (ahem, see above) then veer into everyman joints… taquerias in LA… noodle shops in Singapore. All reports indicate a similar agenda for the Beltway episode. So where should you stake your claim if you want a little Bourdain facetime? We hazarded a few guesses:

Ben’s Chili Bowl: The granddaddy of the “down with the real folks” tour in DC. Much like Jumbo Slice, I’ve only consumed Ben’s after a night of boozing. Still 50 years of booming business means they’re doing something right. We recommend the half-smoke.

Jimmy T’s: A hole-in-the-wall breakfast diner tucked away on Capitol Hill. this is where DC staffers can pop in for a no-frills breakfast with old school prices.

[Insert Bland, Preppy Georgetown Restaurant]: J. Paul’s, Clydes, The Daily Grill… take your pick. This restaurant segment will not appear in the everyman segment of the episode. For guaranteed on camera time, pop that collar. (more…)

A shot of the bar at Johnny's from their website

Since its move to Capitol Hill in the fall of 2006, Johnny’s Half Shell has been performing an admirable balancing act, trying to maintain the sort of neighborhood appeal it enjoyed in Dupont Circle while catering to the Capitol Hill crowds.  Stop in on a weeknight, and you’ll find as many as four private events (read: political fundraisers) going on in rooms tucked away from the wood-paneled dining room and the tile-and-marble appointed bar area.  There may be plenty of people sitting and enjoying seafood with a New Orleans sensibility inside and out on the patio, but the real action is likely to be at the bar.

For us, a big part of Johnny’s appeal lies in their “Three Happy Hours.” From 4:30 to 7:30 every weeknight, patrons in the bar area can enjoy oysters on the half shell, clams and roughly a dozen soups, salads and appetizers from their regular dinner menu at significantly reduced prices.  Paired with the “Strong Drinks” Johnny’s proudly boasts, you can easily make a meal of these smaller plates without breaking the bank.

Tips on the best of the bunch and a first look at Chef and co-owner Johnny Fulchino’s new Absinthe fountain after the jump. (more…)

We were psyched to check out the Internets yesterday and discover Endless Simmer gave us a killer “E for Excellent” blog rating award. What can I say? We’re just the food geeks excited to be invited to a cool guy’s party.

Because sharing is caring (and it’s the whole point of this award, so pass it on), here’s our list of 10 most excellent blogs:

  1. Frozen Tropics: Elise keeps us up to date on the good, the bad and the gentrifying in the H St/Trinidad area.
  2. DC Foodies: The granddaddy of DC food blogs. Respect. (Plus their cheese writer is sexy.)
  3. So Good: Fortune 500 corporations spend millions on R&D for food products and marketing strategy. Eick picks them apart in a DC-minute (which is a lot like a New York minute except for extra time added for bureaucracy, getting stuck behind motorcades and broken escalators in the metro).
  4. Katie Barnes Photography: Hands down the best photojournalism blog out there.
    (5 – 10 after the jump) (more…)
He’s got a great poker face.

Twice a year since November of 2001, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the DC Convention & Tourism Corporation have teamed up to present Restaurant Week.

For participating restaurants, it’s officially a chance to boost sluggish sales during historically slow periods (mid-August and mid-January).  But Restaurant Week has come to take on a number of additional meanings as we approach the Thirteenth Washington Restaurant Week August 11th – 17th.

For diners, it’s a way to test-drive new restaurants at a manageable price ($20.08 for a two-course lunch, $35.08 for a three-course dinner).  This single dining experience, despite being conducted under less-than-ideal conditions, can cement our opinions for years to come.

For restaurateurs, consequently, it’s an opportunity to show off the best they have to offer…or else it’s a burden that forces them to cater to bargain-hunters who aren’t likely to come back anytime soon.  It’s pretty easy to tell which way the establishment sees things as soon as you take a look at what’s on their Restaurant Week menu.  Lots of choices selected from their regular menu?  A very good sign.  Numerous upcharges, poor selection or ‘specials’ that aren’t part of the normal repertoire?  They’re not exactly out to blow you away.

We here at Capital Spice humbly offer a bit of advice for everyone who is eagerly awaiting the announcement of the participating restaurants…after the jump. (more…)

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