A novel set in an anxious and divided Paris, and examining the unprecedented rise of a political party known as the Muslim Brotherhood: on one level, this is what Submission, the new novel by Michel Houellebecq, is about.
Anyone asking “where’s the meat?” at Chaia hasn’t tried chef/owners Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern’s tacos at local farmer's markets. The duo launched their pop-up “farm-to-taco” stand in 2013, and have created delicious vegetarian combinations using homemade corn tortillas, griddled to-order, stuffed with local, seasonal produce and fresh salsas. Now you’ll find even more options with the opening of Chaia's first brick-and-mortar space in Georgetown.
The airy, 27-seat space on Grace Street serves a similar menu to those once found at the market, though more extensive. Guests at the counter-order eatery can choose between single tacos ($3.75) or a trio ($11), filled with combinations like mushrooms, feta, and red salsa, or creamy kale-and-potato with pickled onions, salsa verde, and poblano crema. Add-ons include locally-made Gordy’s pickled jalapeños, or eggs on weekends (until December, when they'll be offered anytime). Many of the options can be made vegan, as well as gluten-free.
New to the lineup are sides ($4) such as green rice and black beans, and an array of cold-pressed juices and homemade seasonal shrubs—tangy nonalcoholic drinks such as sour cherry or cranberry-apple. You’ll also find local draft beer, and three global wines on tap. Though Chaia’s bent is healthy, there’s not too virtuous about tacos and a glass of sparkling Italian Lambrusco.
Chaia. 3207 Grace St., NW; 202-333-5222. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 to 8; Sunday 11 to 6.
Homesick Hawaiians will have a new dining destination next week with the opening of Hula Girl. Chef/owner Mikala Brennan brings a taste of her native Oahu to a sunny 110-seat restaurant in the Village at Shirlington--a spinoff of her popular food truck.
When Brennan launched her mobile business in 2011, she brought one of the first tastes of Hawaiian cuisine to Washington. Though the van is no longer running, many of her popular street eats make an appearance on the new menu—think tender Kalua pork roasted in banana leaves, macaroni salad, and of course, Spam musubi. The sushi-like rolls—a convenience store staple in Hawaii—feature grilled slices of Spam (yes, the canned original) wrapped with rice and seaweed. Brennan eventually plans to add a deep-fried, crunchy version.
Hawaiian cuisine melds a variety of influences from native and immigrant cultures, including Asia, Europe (particularly Portugal), and the mainland US. Brennan sourced a large wood-burning grill for the restaurant, which adds a touch of smoke to meats and fresh seafood such as sticky pork ribs brushed with root beer glaze, or mahi mahi sprinkled with Hawaiian sea salt. Saimin, the Aloha State’s answer to ramen, also makes an appearance. On the raw side you’ll find a selection of tatar-like pokes, including classic tuna with sesame and chili, and lomi salmon with tomato and sweet onions.
One entirely new element is the bar, and Hula Girl boasts a fun one. Cocktails lean tropical, though Brennan tries to tone down the sugar in sips like the Mai Tai, made with kaffir lime, ginger, caramelized pineapple puree, and two types of rum. Drinkers will find a mix of Hawaiian draft beers and interesting local brews, such as Adroit Theory’s hibiscus saison, aged in Mezcal barrels in Virginia. Wines are equally unusual.
“Since most people don’t know what Hawaiian food is or isn’t, I thought, ‘might as well go crazy with the wine list’,” says Brennan. “I’ll have a Chardonnay made in Brooklyn, or an Albariño from Fairfax.”
Amidst a dozen blue bar stools sits one wooden chair—a seat Brennan had specially carved for her mother, who passed away in 2013. The bathroom wallpaper also pays tribute to “LB,” a Cordon Bleu-trained cook who came to Hawaii as a Pan Am stewardess in the 1960’s.
“I was raised in a cooking-centric family,” says Brennan. “When she finally let me stir something it was a big deal."
Hula Girl is slated to officially open on Monday, November 23 for dinner only. Look for lunch by mid-December, and brunch come February.
Hula Girl. 4044 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-998-4852. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11. Lunch and brunch coming soon.
Thanksgiving is around the corner, so why not let one of Washington's top pastry chefs help out? Restaurants and bakeries offer a full range of sweets for the holiday, from traditional pumpkin pies to whimsical creations, as well as breads, cookies, and biscuits to round out the meal. Don't forget to check out our guide to great Thanksgiving takeout for savory options as well.
Baked & Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW; A Baked Joint, 440 K St., NW
Baked & Wired offers an assortment of pies, including fun flavors like apple cranberry crumb, pecan Kahlúa chocolate chip, and cherry. Opt for a pumpkin amaretto poundcake or pumpkin gingerbread if pie isn't your thing.
901 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 1515 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington
Chef David Guas serves up a southern spin on Thanksgiving, and for a great cause. Bring home treats such as the Virginia peanut pie, bacon and cayenne pecan pie, or market crumble apple pie. The bakery will donate a pie to a local charity for every dozen sold.
4883 MacArthur Boulevard, NW
Executive chef Mike Huff and pastry chef Susan Wallace have whipped up Thanksgiving to-go and catering options, including turkey, stuffing, and oysters. Dessert options include apple streusel, pecan pie, and key lime pie.
4434 Connecticut Ave., NW
The chefs at Bread Furst have an entire Thanksgiving spread—ranging from winter squash gratin to cranberry sauce--but the highlight is still dessert. If you can resist trying their sweet potato cheesecake, snag a bourbon-pecan or cranberry chiffon pie instead.
Pop-up in Union Market
Head to Union Market for a pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac's pop-up pie cart. Purchase whole pies, slices, and mini pies in flavors such as Nutella fudge and whiskey chocolate pecan, as well as other assorted treats.
929 F St., NW; 1309 5th St., NE
Stop by either of Co Co. Sala's boutiques for treats such as triple-chocolate pecan pie and maple-pumpkin pie. Other goodies include salted-caramel apples, chocolate pops, and pumkin Mallomar bites.
339 H St., NE; 675 I St., NW
If you're feeling one of Dangerously Delicious's sweet pies, try the blueberry-pancake batter, roasted apple cinnamon, or chocolate peanut butter. If you're craving something savory try the pulled pork or steak pies, which are great to have in the fridge for a quick bite when family is visiting.
Details: Menu. All orders must be placed by midnight on Saturday, November 21. Orders placed to the H Street location must be picked up by 2 pm on Thanksgiving Day; I Street orders must be picked up by 9 pm on Wednesday, November 25.
Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab
750 15th St., NW
Head to Joe's Seafood for one of their traditional pies—such as pumpkin chiffon, old-fashioned apple, or key lime—or opt for something new, like their sweet potato pie topped with caramelized pecans.
301 Water St., SE
Pastry chef Alex Levin has designed three seasonal pies for your Thanksgiving celebration. Indulge in caramel apple topped with oat streusel, a chocolate-crusted honey pecan, or a lemon tart with toasted meringue.
1612 14th Street, NW
Pastry chef Brittney Gress offers a range of pies, from traditional pumpkin to her signature Brazos River Bottom Pecan Pie. The latter features bourbon-and rum-infused custard and pecans native to the Brazos River bottom.
963 Palmer Alley, NW
Chef and owner Meredith Tomason offers a full menu of seasonal cakes, ice creams, and breakfast items, such as pumpkin-bourbon-cocoa cake or pull-apart cinnamon rolls.
2275 L St., NW
Chef Ris Lacoste whips up pies—and also savory sides—for Thanksgiving, including classic pecan, pumpkin, and apple. You’ll also find extras like house-made sorbets and fig-Armagnac cream.
277 S. Washington St., Alexandria
The market from the Restaurant Eve team offers an assortment of Thanksgiving Day goodies, from whole Amish heritage turkeys to green bean casserole. Their dessert options include apple cake with salted caramel buttercream, and apple crumble cheesecake.
1370 Park Rd., NW
Sticky Fingers serves all-vegan and wheat-free options for your Thanksgiving dinner, including cornbread stuffing, organic red-skinned potatoes, and mushroom gravy. Try their vegan pies too: maple-pecan, apple-caramel-crumb, and pumpkin.
Details: Menu. Pickup during regular store hours.
Steak frites at Le Diplomate
This still-hot French place’s roasted hanger steak ($28.50)—whose terrific savor comes courtesy of New Jersey purveyor Pat LaFrieda—is paired with perfect fast-food-style fries.
Bar steak at Bar Civita
Chef Liam LaCivita gives a coulotte cut a tangy, tenderizing rub in olive oil, garlic, and parsley, serving it with lemon-garlic hollandaise. Another thing to like: It’s available in half ($11) and full ($20) portions.
Fairfax City Police arrested a New Jersey man Sunday night for assault and driving under the influence after a car chase that began when he allegedly threw a sandwich at another man outside a pizza restaurant.
Police say Jonathan M. Magnes, of Morristown, New Jersey, was arrested about 9 PM after an altercation that culminated in him allegedly hurling a sandwich at the, ahem, victim in the parking lot outside the Firenza pizzeria on Fairfax Boulevard. Magnes then fled the parking lot in a vehicle and was tailed by the 50-year-old victim, which attracted the attention of nearby police officers, a crime report reads.
When the chase ended, Magnes was found to be intoxicated and was transported to jail and charged with assault and battery and driving under the influence, police say. The victim was not injured.
There's a wrinkle in here, though. While the police report describes the pizza restaurant as the scene of the altercation, Firenza only sells pizzas, salads, and sides, not sandwiches, the restaurant's director of operations, Steve Schreiber, tells Washingtonian. Schreiber says the sandwich Magnes allegedly used was purchased from a 7-Eleven in the same shopping plaza.
Magnes was released on his own recognizance.
LivingSocial has fallen a long way since their heyday of event space and big offices, but they’re still throwing out deals. The latest: Restaurants Plus, which launches in Washington today after a September debut in Atlanta. The promo allows diners at participating restaurants to receive up to 30 percent “cashback” from their meals when they pay with a registered credit or debit card.
The free program does away with the concept of pre-purchased vouchers, and seemingly hopes to dispel the stigma of discounts. Instead of advertising a percentage off the check, restaurants “reward” customers by giving a portion of the bill back to diners when they pay with a regular credit/card that’s been registered with LivingSocial. On the business side, restaurants can set times and offers, targeting typically slower periods like weekday lunch to attract deal-seekers. For example, Il Canale advertises 30 percent cashback until 4 pm.
Whether the new tactic will work better than past daily deals is tough to say. Currently 141 Washington restaurants have signed on to the program, ranging from Jumbo Pizza on U Street to Bobby Van’s Steakhouse downtown.