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The local 'cue scene is heating up. By Ann Limpert
Andrew Evans is finally making his way into DC. Photograph by Laura Olsen.

Good news for fans of the ribs and pulled pork at Andrew Evans’s Barbecue Joint—you don’t have to trek to Easton or Pasadena anymore to satisfy a craving. After months of negotiations (“You’d think I was building a kitchen for the queen,” Evans says), he recently signed a two-year lease for a barbecue counter at Union Market. He plans to start serving in early December.

Evans says the project is “more akin to a barbecue butcher in the South or Texas than a restaurant.” Customers can buy cut-to-order ribs, pork butt, brisket, and Sriracha-and-beer sausage by the pound, then load up on house-made sauces, rubs, and sides such as collards and cornbread. “No redneck nachos or other goofy things,” he says.

Evans, who graduated from the CIA and once owned the elegant Inn at Easton, plans to get creative with weekend specials, like veal short ribs. We’re looking forward to his pork belly: “Most people braise it to death or make bacon, but I treat it like ribs,” he says. That means brining it, giving it a rub and a turn in the smoker, then finishing it off with a barbecue-sauce glaze.

Evans will smoke the meats in Pasadena, then deliver them to DC while they’re resting. “It’ll be just like what I’d do at a barbecue competition,” he says.

Posted at 12:03 PM/ET, 11/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Hallie Golden

Happy Thursday, food truck followers! If you need some comfort in the chilly weather, try hearty kebabs and stroganoffs from Saffron Food Lovers or gumbo-style soup with rice, chicken, and vegetables at Borinquen Lunch Box.

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 11/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus where to find free s'mores and hearthside happy hour. By Anna Spiegel
Sip hot cocktails and roast marshmallows by the fire at popular Washington bars. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Cold weather is officially here, but instead of dreading the chill we're scheming where to get our next drink by the fire. Here are eight great spots that offer hot cocktails, happy hour discounts, and free s’mores, all by the light of live flames. When it gets frigid, faux-fires just don’t cut it.


Barcelona

1622 14th St., NW

Watch the lively 14th Street foot traffic from the restaurant’s front patio while warming your hands by the large fireplace. Blankets and heat lamps help keep things toasty. Get there early on warmer days, as space fills up fast.

Specials: A new “social hour” in the bar area runs Monday through Friday 4 to 6, with $5 specialty drinks and glasses of wine (four whites, three reds), $3 drafts, discount sangria, and $4 tapas like Spanish meatballs and pan con tomate.


Biergarten Haus

1355 H St., NE

One of the few year-round patios is a great place to perch with a group under heat lamps and down large liters of German beer to keep warm. Snag a spot by the outdoor fireplace or fire pits and get ready to toast s’mores along with your bratwursts.

Specials: Happy hour runs Monday through Friday 4 to 7, with $5 specials: beers such as Spaten lager and Oktoberfest, house wines, Jagermeister/Fireball, and eats like loaded fries or currywurst.


Bourbon Steak winter lounge

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Faux-fur blankets, live fire pits, and heat lamps warm guests on the brick-walled patio, strung with twinkle lights. Barman Duane Sylvestre’s hot drinks include steamy buttered rum and spiked cocoa, among others.

Specials: No deals as of now, but here’s one big perk: You can call and reserve seats by the fire pits in advance.


Chez Billy

3815 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-506-2080

The original French bistro—recently joined by a sister eatery in Georgetown—boasts a large hearth, which warms the rustic dining room and bar. In addition to deals you’ll find hearty dishes such as boeuf bourguignon and French onion soup.

Specials: Weekend happy hour! Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to 7:30, look for $5 Stellas, glasses of wine, and a seasonal cocktail. The specials also run 5:30 to close on Sunday.


L’Auberge Chez Francois

332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls

While you’ll have to order a meal to sit near the hearth in L'Auberge's more formal dining room, anyone can drop by the casual Jacques’ Brasserie and have a hot drink by the outdoor fire pit (open nightly, weather permitting). A new autumn menu includes a number of Champagne cocktails, mulled wine, and spiked cider.

Specials: Happy hour at the brasserie bar runs 5 to 6:30 Tuesday through Friday, and 3 to 4:30 on Sunday. The menu offers a variety of French dishes and drinks.


Poste winter lounge

555 Eighth St., NW

Snuggle under a blanket with your date in the outdoor lounge, set with comfy couches and warmed by fire pits and heat lamps. Hot cocktails like salted caramel rum cider and bourbon toddies keep things toasty, as do nibbles such as spicy chicken skewers. The lounge is open Thursday through Saturday 4 to close, at 42 degrees or above.

Specials: Free make-your-own s’mores with house-made marshmallows offered daily.


Murphy’s Irish Pub

713 King St., Alexandria; 2609 24th St., NW

Many Irish pubs claim fireplaces, but few fuel them with actual wood. That’s not the case at these lively sister spots in Alexandria and Woodley Park, which host trivia nights, musicians, and a $9 brunch deal.

Specials: In addition to daily specials, weekday happy hour runs from 4 to 7 and includes half-price drafts, appetizers, and Jameson.


Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

3100 South St., NW

Even locals can feel like luxury travelers in the swanky lobby, lit by a huge fireplace. A “s’more-elier” serves complimentary Valrhona chocolate treats nightly, while you’ll find specialty cocktails, wine, and beer from the adjoining Degrees bar.

Specials: More free s’mores! Nightly from 6:30 to 7.

Posted at 10:22 AM/ET, 11/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fresh options for dining and drinking. By Anna Spiegel
Score a free brunch drink for looking dapper at Second State. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Late-night weekend happy hour at DC Harvest

517 H St., NE

Drink cheap and late in the bar, which offers discounts from 11 to 1 on Friday and Saturday. Boozers will find $5 drafts and wines by the glass, $3 Natty Boh cans, and $6 specialty cocktails. Snacks are also on special, such as $4 Bloody Mary oyster shooters, $3 lamb sausage sliders, and $4 cheese plates.


Second State launches Sunday brunch with free drinks

1831 M St., NW

Don your Sunday best—dresses for ladies, jackets for men—and get a free glass of Veuve bubbly or craft rye whiskey upon arrival at the new brunch. Dishes include blue crab Benedicts, foie gras burgers, and more.


Shophouse Opens at Union Station

40 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Another Washington location of Chipotle's Southeast Asian concept opens in Union Station on Thursday. Look for the same line of tasty, customizable rice, noodle, and salad bowls.


Zaika launches weeklong happy hour

2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington

An extensive happy hour starts at this Indian spot, which offers discounts from 5 to 7 Monday through Friday, and noon to 7 on Saturday and Sunday. Look for $5 brews, wines, and rail drinks, $6 mojitos, and $9 martinis while lining the stomach with $5 small plates such as tandoori wings and samosas.


Vegetarian menu at Trummer's on Main

7134 Main St., Clifton

Chef Austin Fausett offers a fall garden menu centered on seasonal fruits and vegetables. Frequently changing dishes could include house-made burrata with arugula pesto and cranberry vinaigrette, roasted garlic soup, and sweet potato rosti with chanterelles.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 11/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Turkey pop-tarts, stuffing soup, and (shudder) pie-flavored vodka. By Anna Spiegel
Skip the turducken and go for Ted's turkey pop-tarts instead. Photograph courtesy of Ted's Bulletin.

Turducken isn't the only Frankenfood that pops up on Thanksgiving. Something about the excessive nature of the holiday makes chefs think: Sure, why not put a cheesecake on top of a pecan pie "crust"? Should you crave something more extreme than the traditional five-carbs-on-one-plate, here are seven solid options.

Stuffing soup at Baby Wale

1124 Ninth St., NW

Everyone's favorite Thanksgiving side in liquid form. Buttery croutons float in a rich, stuffing-y stock, perfect for scooping with a spoon without shame.

Turkey pop-tarts at Ted's Bulletin

Multiple locations

Like your favorite breakfast pastry, minus the fake strawberry, plus a savory filling of turkey and house-made stuffing. A cranberry sauce glaze and dollop of sweet potato mash finish off this toasty strudel. Preorder for pickup November 24 through 28 (closed Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving pizza at Arcuri

2400 Wisconsin Ave., NW

If Pizza Hut were behind this dish there'd be a stuffing-stuffed crust, but we'll take the mild excess of a pie topped with roasted turkey, chestnuts, Brussels sprouts, cranberry mostarda, and bacon. Available through November.

Pumpkin-pecan cheesecake-pie at Cheesecake Factory

Multiple area locations

Who needs homemade crust when you can just swap in another pie? The Factory's turducken of desserts blends a pumpkin pie and cheesecake, which sits atop a whole pecan pie "crust". Appetite spoiler alert: A slice clocks in at 910 calories—almost half the FDA's recommended number per day—and 59 grams of sugar.

Leftover popovers at BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW

The downtown steakhouse celebrates Black Friday each year by offering its signature popovers filled with yesterday's feast: roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and truffled whipped potatoes ($10 at the bar or to go). We don't recommend shopping for tight pants after.

Pumpkin doughnut muffins at Baked & Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW

Could muffnuts be the next cronut? Yes, at least on November 27. Baked pumpkin muffins are dusted doughnut-style with a tasty coating of cinnamon-sugar.

Imitation pecan pie vodka from Pinnacle

Multiple (too many?) local liquor stores

Best swigged direcly from the bottle while crying and reheating a box of Stouffer's Thanksgiving Tonight.

Posted at 01:45 PM/ET, 11/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Caroline Cunningham

Happy Wednesday, food truck followers! Thaw out on this freezing day with a steaming bowl of lentil soup from Habebe or $10 crabcakes from Crab Cab.

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Posted at 10:11 AM/ET, 11/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Drink fine booze for less at On the Rocks. By Anna Spiegel
Get discount tickets to our annual On the Rocks blowout. Photograph by Doug Van Sant.

One of our more spirited soirees is almost here: On the Rocks, an extensive cocktail party going down at Union Market on December 3. Tickets for the whiskey- and fine spirits-focused event can be purchased at the discounted early-bird price of $45 until Wednesday.

During the party, guests can mingle while sipping an array of whiskeys, high-end tequilas, gins, vodka, and Scotches. Snacks and live music round out the fun.

Passes are still available after the discounts run out, but the cost goes up to $65. Grab your tickets soon, and don't forget to check out scenes from last year's blowout.

Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 11/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The most important dos and don'ts for hosts and guests. By Anna Spiegel
Cheers to a happy Friendsgiving. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Hanging with a bunch of friends for Thanksgiving dinner can be a blast. But just because crazy Aunt Alice is out of the picture doesn't make things easy. Like any big dinner party, there are plenty of dos and don'ts for hosts and guests alike. Here are the ten most important for a successful—and worry-free—Friendsgiving.

For Hosts:

1. Accept and seek help

I promise you’ll regret saying “just yourself” when guests ask what to bring. The best Friendsgiving plan of attack is potluck-style, where the host makes the turkey—no one wants to schlep an 18-pound bird—and everyone brings a side dish, dessert, or booze.

Say you and/or your friends can do little more than microwave ramen. Turkey is like the Mount Everest of roasting—except much, much drier. Skip the headache and get a whole restaurant-prepared feast to go—here's our 2014 Turkey Day takeout guide—or supplement your centerpiece with sides and desserts. Even a spread of appetizers and snacks are a great place to outsource, as everyone can nibble happily away while tending to the main meal.


2. Inquire about allergies/dietary restrictions

No, don’t make a separate tofurkey for the one vegetarian. Sadly, though, if you want to be a good host, you’ll need to ask guests about allergies or restrictions upon invitation. Even if the whole meal doesn’t cater to their needs—and it shouldn’t—you can be mindful of omitting bacon/cheese/wheat in one or two dishes, and can always ask that they bring supplemental items.


3. Buy bulk booze

Yes, Thanksgiving can be a feel-good, homey meal. But it’s also an expensive one to prepare, especially if you're not going potluck-style. One place to save: alcohol. Unless you're asking each guest to b.y.o.—never a bad idea if they're not contributing food—opt for a case of wine. A dozen bottles may sound excessive, but it's often cheaper than grabbing a few from Whole Foods. Georgetown's "social" Safeway, for example, has great deals on cases for members (and the sign-up is free).


4. Borrow dishes

So. Many. Dishes. A full Thanksgiving spread requires a catering company's worth of pots, pans, and serving vessels. Don’t feel bad asking guests to bring gravy boats, platters, wine glasses, etc., or borrowing your friend’s cookware for advance prep.


5. Remember ice

Barbecues and copious amount of ice go hand-in-hand, but Thanksgiving? Trust me, get lots of ice. Someone will want to chill beer, another person wants ice water, a third brought pumpkin ice cream for dessert (lame) and there’s no space in the freezer. And for that matter, remember water glasses. Friendsgiving can’t be fueled on whiskey and wine alone.


For Guests:

1. Follow directions

Hosts, especially foodie hosts, tend to have menus in mind—and your grandma’s potatoes may sadly not be part of the plan. Ask what you can provide, as well as some more detailed questions. Is the meal traditional or follow another kind of cuisine? Does he/she need any vegetarian/gluten-free additions to the lineup? Once you’ve received marching orders, don’t go rogue (unless it’s the direction below).


2. But always ignore one

“Just yourself.” No, never bring just yourself, even if the host is a kitchen wiz with a stocked bar. An extra bottle of booze or wine never hurts, or opt for a flower bouquet or hostess gift if they seem truly set on alcohol. Another great addition to Friendsgiving: board games. Did someone say post-pie Jenga?


3. Be respectful about allergies/dietary restrictions

Sorry, Paleos, normal folks don’t want to prepare a Thanksgiving free of dairy, refined sugar, and most carbs, a.k.a. 99 percent of what makes Turkey Day wonderful. If you can take a break from dieting, or pick around certain items, try to stay mum about culinary quibbles. On the flip side, a conscientious host will be horrified that you never mentioned vegetarianism and can’t eat a single dish he/she cooked. Best to speak up early in strict cases—yes, even if they don’t ask—and offer to bring something.


4. Clean before pie

A mammoth pile of dishes isn’t daunting if everyone pitches in, so pour yet another glass of wine and tackle the first round of pans before slicing the pie. That way there’s more stomach room for dessert, and you can slip into a guilt-free food coma at the end.


5. Start traditions

Friendsgiving doesn’t have to be a haphazard "orphan" gathering. If you have a blast, offer to host a similar gathering the next year. If your stuffing was the talk of the party, send everyone a copy of the recipe. Friends can be family, too.

Posted at 03:31 PM/ET, 11/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Acqua Al 2 and Ghibellina team bring classic booze to Penn Quarter. By Anna Spiegel
The Art Deco-style Denson Liquor Bar debuts in Penn Quarter. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Just in time for frigid weather comes Denson Liquor Bar, a cozy, subterranean watering hole from the Ghibellina and Acqua Al 2 team. Mindful Restaurant Group co-owners Ari and Stacy Gejdenson debut the Art Deco-style space in Penn Quarter on Wednesday, bringing classic cocktails and late-night noshing to 600 F Street, Northwest. Here’s what to know before you drop in—or under.

The inspiration: A hotel bar in the 1920s. The Art Deco style runs throughout, from bronze inlay tables and black-and-white tiling to pull-chain toilets in the bathrooms.

The cocktails: Classic. While the barmen get riff-ier at sister watering hole Harold Black, here you’ll find a more straightforward list with a Negroni, Sazerac, Aviation, and Hemingway daiquiri. For those who like their spirits stiffer, the bar pours one- and two-ounce servings of fine whiskeys and Scotches.

The best seat in the house: A corner booth to the right of the door. Not that you have too much choice in the 49 person-capacity bar, lined with deep leather booths. Still, if you want to gaze over the scene while also discreetly sipping drinks with a date, this is the place.

Check out the action in the bar by snagging the booth to the right of the door.

The fun fact: Booths are divided by chicken-wire glass from the historic Hecht Warehouse. The panes are not only a cool memento of DC's past, but also a nod to its future. Gejdenson's next project involves bringing three concepts to the restored building, which is being transformed into the mixed-use Hecht Warehouse District development. While plans aren’t fully set, at least one project will be a sit-down restaurant, the first of its kind in Ivy City.

The “hotel” food: Better than real hotel food, which doesn’t have the best reputation. The small menu follows the bar's theme, serving an eclectic mix that a traveler might enjoy. Guests can snack on bar nuts or cheese and charcuterie platters, or take comfort in warm dishes like a Cubano panini or curried-chicken pot pie.

The late-night noshes: Still to be set, but you’ll likely find that spicy pot pie. The full menu runs until 11:30 most evenings, with a few eats served until last call.

Denson Liquor Bar. 600 F St., NW. Open Monday through Thursday 5 to 2, Friday and Saturday 5 to 3. Closed Sunday.

Posted at 12:00 PM/ET, 11/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Hallie Golden

Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! Don't forget your heavy jacket when you head outside to try some chowder and cider at Red Hook Lobster Pound or miso soup with tofu at Yellow Vendor.

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Posted at 10:40 AM/ET, 11/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()