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Get a jump on Restaurant Week with these Sunday suppers, crab feasts, and lazy day deals. By Anna Spiegel
Iron Gate dishes up family-style Mediterranean feasts on Sundays and Mondays during the summer. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Summer Restaurant Week doesn’t start until mid-August—more on that soon—but many eateries have already settled into the slower, more casual summer pace with dining deals and fun, wallet-friendly specials. Here are a few to try this week.

Arepas at Del Campo

777 Eye St., NW

Drop into the bar or hit the outdoor patio at chef Victor Albiso’s South American grill, where you can try a new lineup of arepas. The folded flatbreads are stuffed with fillings like lobster salad, Wagyu sirloin with chimichurri, or crispy pig feet banh mi ($5 to $9). The arepas are offered during lunch, dinner, and late-night happy hour (10 to midnight, Thursday through Saturday).

Family-style picnics at Fainting Goat

1330 U St., NW

Can’t get to the Bay for a crab feast? Try this gastropub’s Monday picnic series, when chef Nathan Beauchamp whips up family-style meals themed around classic summer dishes ($25 to $40 per person). Maryland crustaceans, peel-and-eat shrimp, and corn are on offer for August, while lobster boils begin in September ($25 to $40 per person; Mondays 5 to 9). Advanced reservations are required.

Garden lunch at Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria

Chef Cathal Armstrong takes advantage of his restaurant garden’s bounty by offering a three-course “green garden lunch,” Monday through Friday ($28 per person). The meal includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert, all which highlight fresh herbs and produce.

Summer dinners at 1789

1226 36th St., NW

Georgetown’s stalwart fine dining restaurant invites guests to join them on summer evenings through September 11, and try a three-course menu for $48 (Saturdays excluded). Diners can pick between seasonal appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Given that mains regularly run near $40, the dinner is a deal.

Mediterranean feasts at Iron Gate

1734 N St., NW

Pretend you’re farm-hopping in the Mediterranean at Iron Gate, where chef Tony Chittum serves a European-style agrotourismo dinner on Sunday and Monday evenings in the carriage entrance and garden patio. The family-style menu ($50 for two; $25 each additional person) includes shared antipasti, a pasta like house-made ravioli, and entrees such as an oak-roasted young pig with vegetables. Bottles of Greek wine go for $25.

Sunday suppers at Quill

1200 16th St., NW

The Jefferson, one of the ritziest hotels in town, invites diners into their bar for a three-course Sunday meal that includes a glass of wine ($35 per person). The set menu includes dishes like a starter of linguine with crab and saffron, followed by poussin (young chicken), and white chocolate panna cotta.

Tuesday dinners for two at Policy

1904 14th St., NW

This 14th Street spot creates a Tuesday deal for duos: a dinner that includes a starter, two meats (Korean short ribs, butter chicken), a side, a dessert, and a bottle of wine. The deal runs on Tuesdays through the end of summer.

Three-course lunch at Republic

6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park

Three courses for $16 is a pretty sweet deal, not to mention the promise of getting in-and-out within an hour. Guest pick between apps and entrees like wood-grilled calamari, ancient grain salad, and Addie’s mussels, plus a dessert. A beer or glass of wine can be added for $5.

Posted at 02:16 PM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! Head to Farragut Square for Hungry Heart's chicken schnitzel, or try steak tacos from Far East Taco Grill in NoMa.

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Posted at 10:18 AM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Who will go on to the semifinals tomorrow? By Anna Spiegel
Jack Rose (pictured) opens up its terrace for summer, and takes on Takoma Park's Republic in the last quarterfinals round. Photograph courtesy of Jack Rose.

Welcome to the last round of the Summer Drinking quarterfinals! Yesterday Denizens Brewing Co. went up against Dacha Beer Garden, and booted the Bavarian bar out of the competition. Who will Denizens go up against in the semifinals? We’ll see when the polls close today.

The last quarterfinals matchup is fight between giants. On the one side we have Jack Rose Dining Saloon, equipped with two outdoor spaces—an open-air terrace and pop-up summer tiki bar—and the largest whiskey collection in the Western Hemisphere. On the other side there’s Republic, a member of Jeff Black’s restaurant empire. The funky Takoma Park spot may be smaller in space than JR, but it’s armed with a rebellious spirit—there’s a drink called the Fascist Killer, after all—and a alleyway patio that attracts crowds looking to slurp oysters and drink local beers during the day, and catch live tunes at night.

Republic draws crowds to its alleyway patio with fresh-shucked oysters, local beers, and live tunes. Photograph via Facebook.

So which bar should go on to the semifinals? Vote until 5 to decide.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a Sri-Lankan dinner pop-up. By Nelson Billington
DCity Smokehouse (pictured) represents at Mess Hall's Barbecue World along with other local vendors. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Tons of tomatoes: Central celebrates peak summer tomatoes this week with a five course tasting menu ($65), offered Monday through Saturday. An optional three course wine pairing ($25) can be added. The menu is only available at dinner, and reservations can be made online.

Pizza and beer: Veloce, the fast-casual pizza joint by Pizzeria Paradiso’s Ruth Gresser, received a temporary license to pour beers from Tuesday to Friday. Drop in for a celebratory happy hour between 5 and 7, when drafts from 3 Stars, Great Lakes, and Allagash are half-price, and specialty pizzas go for $7. Brews will also be offered during regular business hours for this limited time.

Local spotlight: Firefly launches the 100 Mile Supper series on Tuesday at 7, featuring local purveyors and farmers. The first in the monthly series highlights 3 Stars Brewing Company and a summery menu from chef Matt Hagan with New York strip steaks and peach hand pies. Tickets ($55) are available online.

Wine dinner: Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Roofers Union mixes summer tunes and cooks up a six course menu on Wednesday at the restaurant’s ground-floor bar, Jug & Table. The evening includes wine pairings from resident sommelier Theo Rutherford. Tickets ($60) are available online.

Moonshine madness: Head to Jackson 20 on Friday evening from 5 to 1 for their Once in a Blue Moon party. The lunar-themed event includes small plates like bao buns, pork belly, and moon pies alongside moonshine all night long. Live music starts at 6. Admission is free; food and drink prices vary.

Mead day: The Black Squirrel throws a renaissance festival on Saturday at noon in celebration of Mead Day. Take part in an Elizabethan drinking game, play corn hole, and feast on old time-y treats like turkey legs or steak-on-a-stick. Participating meaderies include Charm City and Moonlight. Arrive in costume for a ten percent discount. Food and drink prices vary.

Sri Lankan pop-up: Prequel creates a Sri Lankan pop-up on Friday and Saturday with chef Ruth Moonesinghe. Guests are treated to a multi-dish tasting, with options for vegetarians. Purchase tickets ($45 or $50) online.

Burger battle: Daikaya hosts a late-night Burger Smackdown on Saturday night from 11 to 1, pitting the home kitchen against visiting chefs. Each patty ($5) can be paired with drinks and boozy milkshakes from mixologist Jamie MacBain, while DJ Smudge livens up the scene with music. Admission is free.

Beers, barbecue, and booze: The three B’s are represented at Mess Hall on Sunday, which hosts Barbecue World from 2 to 5. Sample meats from Sloppy Mama’s and DCity Smokehouse, sip DC Brau beers, and try boozy milkshakes spiked with locally-made vodka. Tickets ($60 to $80) are available online; the event is 21+ only.

Posted at 08:28 AM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Bramble & Brine

315 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7702

The low-lit, starkly minimalist dining rooms fashioned from this century-old beach cottage are the aesthetic opposite of many of the color-splashed spaces dominating the beach dining scene. What doesn’t lean toward the solemn, though, is chef/owner Joseph Church-man’s cooking, which is often quietly inventive (a perfectly pink cut of duck breast is paired with meaty hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and caraway-scented agrodolce) and sometimes downright playful (the eggy Japanese custard called chawanmushi gets a scattering of caramel popcorn and cilantro).


Potted chicken with foie gras and port at A(Muse.). Photograph by Scott Suchman.

44 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7107

Hari Cameron is one of the most gifted chefs in the Delmarva region, and his personal playpen of a restaurant would be a star on the scene in DC. Scouring his surroundings for high-quality fish and produce, the chef turns out formally daring plates that, paradoxically, seduce with their simplicity and directness. Two recent creations hit the highest notes: a dish of grilled asparagus with mustard seeds and ham and a luscious preparation of sweetbreads that gestured in the direction of Buffalo wings.

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Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 07/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The former Oval Room chef readies for his first solo venture in Gaithersburg. By Anna Spiegel

An ambitious new pizzeria is close to arriving in Gaithersburg from Tony Conte. The former Oval Room chef of nine years says he’s slated to open his first solo venture, Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, around Labor Day.

Chef Tony Conte will open his first solo venture, a high-end pizzeria.

While the 40-seat space near Conte's home will be far more casual than his previous posts—which include the prestigious Jean-Georges in New York—the chef's serious approach hasn’t changed. Conte spent time in California earning a coveted Verace Pizza Napoletana certification, a degree of authenticity awarded by the Italian organization established to protect Naples’s signature dish. Once the restaurant opens it promises to be the only VPN-certified pizzeria in Maryland, joining a small number of Washington eateries like 2 Amys and Pupatella. Strict steps must be taken by the kitchen to pass the test, such as cooking the pies in a 900 degree wood-burning oven for no longer than 90 seconds, and shaping the dough to a specific size (no larger than 11 inches) and texture (thin in the center, pillowy around the edges).

In addition to the “pizza DOC” specialties such as classic Margherita, Conte plans for a variety of seasonal creations. Raised in New Haven, Conte hopes to put a spin on his hometown’s clam pie, here using fresh Maryland crab. Diners might also find fresh porcinis or chanterelles on a mushroom pizza instead of the common crimini. Originally the chef had plans to incorporate such high-end ingredients in a separate tasting menu only available at a Minibar-esque counter, but decided to extend his classic training to the regular menu. Those looking beyond pizza will find wood-roasted fish and meats, shaved vegetable salads, and oven-baked polentas.

As for the wine list, Conte plans to draw primarily from Italy, and hopes to source bottles from his father’s small hometown north of Naples.

Stay tuned for more details on Inferno close to the opening.

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana. 12207 Darnestown Rd., Gaithersburg.

Posted at 12:44 PM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Monday, food truck followers! Satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of pecan pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies in Franklin Square, or head to Metro Center for BBQ Bus's summer berry tarts.

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Posted at 10:27 AM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Let the battle of the beer gardens begin. By Anna Spiegel
Denizens Brewing Co (pictured), a terrific brewery-beer garden in Silver Spring, faces off against Dacha. Photograph courtesy of Denizens.

Welcome back to the Summer Drinking Quarterfinals! We only have two rounds to go before the competition gets even tougher, with POV Lounge and Roofers Union already headed to the semifinals. Who will they face off against? Today it comes down to either Dacha Beer Garden or Denizens Brewing Co.

This is a tough choice for anyone who loves sipping a cold beer outside. Dacha Beer Garden provides a Bavarian oasis in the midst of Shaw, welcoming drinkers and their four-legged friends with steins of Dunkel Weihenstephaner, a generous happy hour and brunch, and eats that go beyond the traditional brats (pan-roasted branzino, anyone?). Over in Silver Spring, Denizens Brewing Co. provides an equally friendly atmosphere for anyone looking to taste the brewery’s fresh beers in their spacious beer garden or indoor tasting room. Guests can grab creative, seasonal creations like the Blanc Yeah! Belgian-style saison, a platter of barbecue—or veg-friendly falafel burger—from culinary partner BBQ Bus, and catch a live band or Tuesday trivia night.

Dog-friendly Dacha provides a welcoming atmosphere for sipping steins in the sun. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Where would you rather sip a cold brew? Unfortunately only beer garden can go on. Vote until 5.

Posted at 09:08 AM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
2 Dips Ice Cream's frozen key-lime pie. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Frozen Key-Lime Pie at 2 Dips Ice Cream

Part pie, part Popsicle, all delicious. This treat—a wedge of icy Key-lime pie encased in a dark-chocolate shell—is everything we want after a day in the sun.

209 E. Savannah Rd., Lewes; 302-645-2347

Ooey Gooey at Notting Hill Coffee Roastery

You’ll need a stack of napkins to take down this nearly foot­ long braid of glazed dough, which tastes like a cross between a cinnamon bun, a doughnut, and challah bread.

124 Second St., Lewes; 302-645-0733

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Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 07/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Friday's cone delivery requires a show of "partisan pride." By Anna Spiegel
Ice cream and politics go together like popsicles and direct sunlight. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Everyone loves ice cream, right? It’s a topic we can all get behind, like sunshine or the fact that Donald Trump’s hair resembles corn silk. Well, not anymore. Uber is using ice cream to divide Washington this Friday by politicizing our favorite summertime treat in their latest delivery promotion.

While people in other cities like Cleveland are picking between strawberry and vanilla, Washingtonians who want Nestlé Drumstick cones delivered to their doors must decide between red, white, or blue wrappers to show what Uber calls their "partisan pride.” In case you’re wondering, white pride in this case signals independents—not traditionally marked by the color—instead of white supremacists or Taliban supporters. Whichever hue is ordered most frequently between 11 and 5 will be deemed the “true party in power” by Uber. Who needs elections?

Should you decide to cast your vote in a swirl of vanilla, nuts, and fudge—at a $15 minimum—here are the details on how to order/ruin the joy of ice cream by making it into a meaningless political battle.

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 07/24/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()