Curse you, Ted.

You’ve turned the normal order of things upside down with your diner-like offer of “breakfast any time.”  How are we to know when to go to work and when to go home if we can stop in for bacon and eggs at any hour of the day?

And sweetening the deal with homemade versions of classic breakfast pastries?  That’s just unfair.  Are you trying to keep us from ever looking at your lunch and dinner menus?

It certainly seemed that way when I stopped in to Ted’s Bulletin the other day.  It was lunchtime, sure, but that didn’t stop me from zeroing in on the breakfast menu.  I couldn’t help it – I grew up in New Jersey, and there it’s your God-given right to order an omelet and a side of disco fries* at any hour of the day.  Besides – it didn’t seem right to order a burger with a “pop tart” on the side, and I’d heard far too many rave reviews of the frosted treats to not try one myself.

A taste of Ted’s breakfast menu – whenever you choose to order it – after the jump. (more…)

Photo courtesy Zest Bistro

This weekend, CHAMPS (Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce) held their second annual “Hilly” awards honoring local businesses on the Hill and H Street, NE.  A few days earlier, I had back-to-back conversations about Barracks Row and the changes it has seen in the past decade.  The combination made me realize just how many new restaurants I’ve been visiting on 8th Street in the past few months.

Of the contenders, the one I’ve found myself drawn to most often is Zest Bistro. The decor is clean and bright.  The food delivers consistently.  But it’s the service that makes me most comfortable suggesting Zest for a working lunch over and over.

Zest is located at the far south of Barracks Row, literally across the street from the Marine Corps barracks.  As such, it’s a bit removed from the recent explosion of new establishments closer to the Metro and Eastern Market.  It’s well situated to appeal to crowds coming from Nationals Stadium after a game, but you’ve got to be seeking it out if you’re coming from the north.  And you should.

What sets Zest apart (besides geography) after the jump. (more…)

The amazing retro-airline ticket menu at DC-3

When I say “hot dog,” what do you picture?  The frank and the bun are pretty much universal, but what else is on there – did you “drag it through the garden?”  Are there poppy seeds on the bun (or could it even be a pretzel roll)?  Is the dog long and thin, like the ones they offer at Nathan’s on Coney Island, bright red like a Kayem, or is it more like a sausage?  Did you reflexively go to a half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl?

We don’t tend to think about these regional differences when we’re grilling on the Fourth of July, but there’s a wide world of wieners out there as you make your way from coast to coast.  Starting tomorrow today, you can eat your way from Maine to California without ever leaving Barracks Row, as DC-3 opens for business at 11 AM.

This new fast-casual concept from the guys who brought you Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin is banking on hot dogs as the next big thing.  But don’t think of DC-3 as a sit-down street cart or even a direct competitor to Ben’s.  With their complete commitment to a “vintage aviation” concept that starts with a Douglas Commercial-3 (get it?) propeller on the wall when you enter and continues all the way down to the ticket-jacket menus, DC-3 is a full-on restaurant that just happens to focus on hot dogs from across the country.

We’ve been talking with the team for months now – after a friend heard us raving about Chicago’s Hot Doug’s he tipped us off to this work-in-progress.  When Ted’s launched with a DC-3 teaser on the newsprint menu, we smiled and eagerly awaited the arrival.  Now the wait is over.

A “taxi down the runway” look at what you’ll be able to order after the jump. (more…)

Mother’s Day is around the corner and for those of you lucky to have moms in town (or visiting for the weekend) you may be thinking about Mother’s Day brunch and a fun activity she’ll love. Here are four distinct ways you can celebrate Mother’s Day, based on your own mom’s interests.

City-Loving Mom
Kick off your Sunday on Barracks Row with a Bloody Mary (oooh, celery foam) or a violet champagne (sparkling wine made with a dollop of lavender simple syrup) in the al fresco sunshine at Belga Cafe,. Belga Cafe offers a fresh twist on Belgian food and one of our favorite brunches in DC. The menu is weighted equally between sweet (waffles with caramelized apples and cinnamon), savory (warm goat cheese waffle with roasted tomato), eggy, and lunch options for those non-breakfast eaters out there. True to its Belgian roots, Belga Cafe takes its strong Belgian beer selction a step further by offering a beer cocktail menu. We love Belga for the variety, good service and unique offerings. Itty Bitty Bitter Betty loves it because it’s one of the few places in town she can order beer before noon and no one gives her a second glance for it. To each her own. After brunch, take mom to some of the eclectic independent shops on Barracks Row like Hill’s Kitchen, Chateau Animaux and then across Pennsylvania Avenue to check out the goods at Eastern Market.

Belga Cafe’
514 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
Belga Café on Urbanspoon 

Artsy Mom
Art-loving mothers in DC are in for a never-ending stream of opportunities. Take her off the beaten Smithsonian path to DuPont Circle, where out-of-town moms will have a chance to marvel at world-class pieces, small galleries and gorgeous turn-of-the-century architecture. Kick things off at Teaism with a light breakfast and your choice of teas in an environment unique to DC. If your mom is also a history buff, take her on a walking tour of DuPont, featuring stories from DC’s Gilded Age and a peek at DuPont’s hidden Spanish steps. Cap off your walk with a trip to Kramerbooks – one of the few independent bookstores left in DC – then head over to The Phillips Collection to take in a few masterpieces.  While you’re there, be sure to check out This Is Not That Cafe, a living, inhabitable art installation in the museum that doubles as a cafe.

Two more Mother’s Day recommendations after the jump! (more…)

malones-exteriorWhen Finn MacCool’s closed toward the end of last year, quite a few people were sad to see it go – but odds are very few of them were mourning the menu.  Finn had a reputation as a great place to go and throw back a few beers; it never really aspired to be much more than a pub with a few decent dishes on the menu.

But what a difference three months make!  Starting at lunchtime today, Finn MacCool’s will be replaced by the new Molly Malone’s.  We had the opportunity to sit down with owner and operator Xavier Cervera to talk about what would distinguish Molly Malone’s from its predecessor and to get a sneak peek at what the new saloon would look like when it opened.

Cervera is also the owner of Lola’s Barracks Bar and Grill next door (which replaced Tapatinis last year), where he informed us that he ends up turning away between 100 and 250 potential guests on any given night due to the much smaller space’s constraints.  He hopes Molly Malones will quickly become a go-to destination for the overflow crowd at Lola’s, and he has put a great deal of effort into creating a menu that will help to bring in food-lovers as well as pub-crawlers.

Details on the new space and menu, the secret to a three-month turnaround, and plenty of photos after the jump. (more…)

matchbox-exteriorIf you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the new Matchbox to open (I know I’m not the only one…), you can let it out.  The wait is over, and tonight’s the night.

After two evenings of ‘friends and family’ service, giving their staff a chance to work through some of the usual glitches that attend the opening of a new space, the Barracks Row location will open its doors at 5 PM tonight for their first official night of service.  They’re going to save a fortune on Windex now that we can stop pressing our noses up against the stylish wood-and-glass doors and windows, hoping to sneak a peek inside.

matchbox-from-stairsFans of the original Chinatown location will feel right at home as they walk into the new space, located at 521 8th Street, SE.  The owners have made a conscious effort to recreate as much of the H Street location’s vibe as possible.  Like the original when it first opened, this Matchbox offers fewer than 150 seats (though more will be coming when the weather turns warmer, as they plan to develop an outdoor patio area).  Both sites will serve identical menus.  They even worked with the same contractors, using the same materials, to make sure the Barracks Row location looked the same as the original.

The inside scoop from owner Drew Kim and a few more photos to tide you over until dinner after the jump. (more…)