Call it the curse of the bombolini: Zeke’s DC Donutz is going through another shift since changing its unintentionally controversial name before opening day. Despite reports that the shop at 2029 P Street has shuttered, owner Aaron Gordon says the closing is temporary, and that the retro doughnut spot may open again, in either its current space or another.
“It’s about a 50/50 chance right now whether we could reopen, or find another location,” says Gordon.
The reason for the locked doors is that the basement-level storefront isn’t equipped for a standard kitchen hood above its fryers—one of its uses is to help eliminate odors—and the current ventless system isn’t doing a good enough job distancing neighbors from the scent of freshly fried dough. The Zeke’s team is still in the process of investigating a possible solution and hasn’t yet sought out other spaces, but Gordon says he’d like to stay in the Dupont or Logan Circle areas. Stay tuned.
Two unaffiliated new taco spots have opened to expand our fast-casual horizons—Chupacabra in the Atlas District, and Taqueria Nacional along the 14th Street corridor. Both are counter-order spots where you can pop in for takeout or grab a seat and linger over lunch and dinner. Even better: $10 will feed you well at both.
Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! Keep truckin’ through this week towards a holiday weekend with specials such as Swedish meatballs from Ball or Nothing, Argentine steak or tofu and charred veggie tacos aboard Cirque Cuisine, and turkey-bacon sandwiches with guacamole at Corned Beef King.
All barbecues are fun—invite some friends over, spring for a few six-packs and some hot dogs, and you’ve got the makings of a great afternoon. But something we’ve noticed about Washingtonians: They like to be the best at things. If you’re looking to create a memorable Memorial Day party—one your guests will be talking about all summer long—these seven tips will help you make that happen.
DIY the mac and cheese
There is no need serve macaroni and cheese you bought in a box or from the deli at your local supermarket. Gooey gratins are simple to execute—provided you have a good recipe—and show your guests you put some thought into this backyard affair. Try Vidalia’s Mornay-topped mac or Michael Mina’s truffled side dish.
Buy the best ground beef and sausages . . .The butchery scene has bloomed in Washington—in the past couple of years we’ve welcomed new shops from Red Apron (in Union Market and the Mosaic District and soon Penn Quarter), Jamie Stachowski went brick-and-mortar in Georgetown, and Three Little Pigs popped up at 5111 Georgia Avenue, Northwest. It’s now easy to buy the best ground beef and sausages to grill up at home. And bonus for culinary newbies: Using good product means you don’t have to worry about a lot of complicated seasonings and side dishes. Just chop up some toppings, fire up the grill, and let the meat be the star of the show.
Happy Monday, food truck followers! It's a little dreary outside, but that doesn't mean you can't get out for specials such as grilled chicken over salad with homemade dolmas from Mediterranean Delight, and chili aboard 70's Frankfurter.
On the lamb: The third annual Lamb Jam goes down at Eastern Market on Monday from 6 to 9. You’ll find 20 toques from restaurants such as Bourbon Steak, Bibiana, Blue Duck Tavern, and more cooking up lamb dishes alongside a variety of wines and beers. There’s also a butchery demo by Wagshal’s and live music. Unfortunately early admission VIP tickets are sold out, but you can still grab general admission passes for $60 per person.
Happy birthday, Robert Mondavi: The legendary California winemaker’s 100th birthday is celebrated in memoriam at Charlie Palmer Steak on Tuesday at 6:30. The dinner is paired with a variety of wines from the vineyard, and Mondavi general manager Glenn Workman presents the varietals and speaks about the winemaker’s history. Reservations are $125 per person.
Wine dinner: Blue Duck Tavern hosts a dinner on Monday at 7:30 with Washington state’s Seven Hills Winery. You’ll taste and hear about several varietals along with the four-course meal. $145 per person. There are only a few seats left, so call early for reservations.
Pork and Pinot: Those craving pig can head to Wildfire at Tysons Galleria on Tuesday at 6:30 for a pork and Pinot pairing with a trotter from Virginia’s Bay Haven Farm. The four-course dinner includes swine in every bite, including a maple-bacon doughnut for dessert. $85 per person. Call 703-442-9110 for reservations.
Start summer: It’s still spring, but Helix Lounge launches two summer-long promotions this week. First up is local beer night with $4 Washington-area drafts every Tuesday through August. Then on Wednesday you’ll find the start of a weekly patio party from 5 to 7 with $8 burgers (as well as chicken and black-eyed pea alternatives).
Tom Sietsema’s Spring Dining Guide has arrived. The WaPo critic has great things to say about new chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley at Ripple (where, psst, brunch debuts on Sunday) and bestows 2.5 stars on Wit & Wisdom. Lauriol Plaza, on the other hand, proves fodder for a panning. [WaPo]
Happy Friday, food truck followers! Wondering where a bunch of your favorite food trucks are today? That would be Truckeroo, at the Half and M Street Fairgrounds. Head over for 20-plus trucks, live music, cold beer, and more.
Let’s just call this the 14th Street spring. In the past two weeks we’ve seen B Too, Ghibellina, Black Whiskey, BakeHouse, and Taqueria Nacional open their doors, with many more on the way. The latest is Etto, a collaboration between Amy Morgan and Peter Pastan of 2 Amys and David Rosner and Tad Curtz of the Standard.
Curtz worked at 2 Amys for more than four years, during which time he and Pastan envisioned a restaurant where they’d like to be regulars (though if it draws the crowds of either owner’s other eatery, snagging a table could be tough). The 42-seat space already has the feel of a true neighborhood spot, albeit a neighborhood in Naples. Ceiling fans turn slowly above wooden tables Curtz fashioned out of Douglas fir, and a large haunch of 24-month aged prosciutto di Parma rests behind the bar waiting to be cut. The standing-room-only area may be the best place to work up an appetite, thanks to house-cured salamis dangling from shelves and stacks of fresh bread baked in the pizza oven that day.
The “house-made” label takes on a different meaning with the breads and pizzas (view the menu here). The team procured a grain mill that sits in the back of the dining room and is used to make all the flour for the doughs. While you won’t find the same Neapolitan DOC-certified pies served at 2 Amys, you can still order a simple thin-crust margherita that gets a slight char from the wood-burning oven. Heartier combinations include rapini and freshly made sausage or cotechino—a type of slow-cooked charcuterie—with fontina cheese and a runny egg. True to traditional Italian pizza-making, there’s no design-your-own option.
On the drinking side of things, vermouth is also made on the premises. Fans of the fortified wine can sip citrusy, dry white or sweeter red vermouth, or order a Negroni made with the latter and Green Hat gin. Start with a cocktail and a plate, or namesake etto, of salumi (an “etto” is 100 grams in Italian, roughly a quarter pound). Salads such as grilled eggplant and cauliflower with saffron and pine nuts could work as starters or sides; the “fishies” section serves anchovies, one of Pastan’s favorite foods, three ways: in citrusy salsa verde, with orange salad, and Gilda Radner-style, a play on the Spanish “gilda” tapa with anchovy, olive, and pickle.
Desserts are less pungent but no less fun. Finish up with Morgan’s homemade ice cream, which receives a light salt kick from prosciutto and candied pistachios, or “chocolate salami”: a tubular cocoa treat that’s studded with nougat to replicate fat, tied like a sausage, and dusted with powdered sugar.
Michael Landrum’s ongoing issues with Ray’s Hell-Burger aside, fast-casual burger chains are the business to beat in Washington. The most American of foods may also be one of the most profitable—making moguls out of Top Chef vets, Food Network stars, and more than one young go-getter with a novel approach.
With all the homegrown chains and farther-flung imports, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of their comings and goings. To clarify the matter, we created this list of hamburger restaurants, including Washington-born companies that are expanding, out-of-town ventures that have announced plans to move in here, and a few one-shop entities that—rumor has it—are looking to grow.
Homegrown—and still growing
Based in: Bethesda
Claim to fame: On our Cheap Eats list since 2009, BGR has garnered national attention from the likes of the Travel Channel and Food Network for its 9 Pounder burger topped with two heads of lettuce, eight tomatoes, three red onions, and four whole pickles. Clean your plate in one sitting, and it’s on the house. (The order comes with bottle of Maalox.)
Number of Washington-area locations: 12
Total number of locations: 20, spread across California, Georgia, Florida, New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee, with a new store opening in Connecticut soon.
Plans to expand: Founder Mark Bucher says he is always on the lookout in proven retail success neighborhoods such as Shaw, Capitol Hill, Chevy Chase, and Rockville.