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Seder meals, catering platters, and Pesach parties. By Harrison Smith
Matzoh-ball soup at Teddy & The Bully Bar. Photograph courtesy of the restaurant.

Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 3, and most of these eateries will have specials for the festival's full eight days. Some are more kosher than others (l'chaim, Star & Shamrock), but wherever you go, chances are you'll have a bowl of matzo-ball soup waiting for you.

Cork Market & Tasting Room

1805 14th St., NW; 202-265-2674

Order by April 1 to take advantage of Cork’s take-out Passover and Easter menu, which includes house-made matzo-ball soup and chicken-liver mousse, as well as a farro salad with kale, pine nuts, tangerines, and feta. Kosher wines start at $15.

Details: Menu; order by April 1 for April 3 pick-up.


818 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-331-8118

Chef Todd Gray’s three-course community Seder features your choice of a brisket served with a balsamic-Malbec reduction, or toasted pearl-barley and forest mushroom risotto. Israeli wines and music—Tina Chancey plays the fiddle, medieval and Irish—accompany the meal, with Haggadahs provided for group readings.

Details: Menu; $50 per person, plus tax and tip; April 3, with service beginning around nightfall (6:30).

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

15th St., NW; 202-489-0140

Naturally, the seafood standby’s Passover prix fixe includes gefilte fish with red beet horseradish, as well as wild striped bass en papillote. For vegetarians, the bibb lettuce and chive salad comes with a veggie version of chopped liver.

Details: Menu; $45.95 per person, $19.95 for kids 12 and under, plus tax and tip; available April 3 and April 4, 4 to 10.

Logan Tavern

1423 P St., NW; 202-332-3710

The three-course menu at this neighborhood tavern is veggie-friendly, with vegetarian matzo-ball soup and eggplant parmesan fried in matzo meal on offer. Finish with flourless chocolate cake and meringues and macaroons for the table. Ten percent of proceeds benefit the Jewish Food Experience.

Details: Menu; $40 per person, $20 for kids 12 and under, plus $25 for optional wine pairing or $15 corkage fee; reservations required; available April 3 and April 4, with seatings at 5:30 and 8.

Teddy & The Bully Bar

1200 19th St., NW; 202-872-8700

TR’s favorite watering hole is offering a four-course menu that includes gefilte fish pavé, herring brandade, deviled eggs stuffed with chicken liver, and braised brisket.

Details: Menu; $52 per person, $21 for kids 12 and under; reservations required; available April 3 and April 4, 5 to 11.

Dino's Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW; 202-686-2966

The prix fixe feast at this Shaw Italian restaurant isn’t exactly kosher, though it is “kosher-style.” In addition to the “Passover Trinity” of chopped chicken liver, gefilte fish, and matzo-ball soup, you’ll start with charoset and leek fritter, get all the veal breast, chicken legs, and fish-of-the-day you can eat, and finish with flourless almond cake.

Details: Menu; feast for $59 per person, $25 for kids 12 and under; available April 3 through April 10, with Passover dishes available à la carte starting April 6.

DGS Delicatessen

1317 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-293-4400

No surprise here, where the chopped chicken liver and matzo-ball soup are delicious year-round. The four-course Passover menu starts with the soup (made with bone marrow, mustard oil, and pea shoots) and moves to pan-roasted striped bass, grilled Shenandoah Valley lamb, and an apple and rhubarb crumble. Catering, with delivery, is also available for Seders at home.

Details: Menu, catering menu; $45 per person, plus $20 for optional wine pairings; available April 3 through April 11.

Star & Shamrock

1341 H St., NE; 202-388-3833

This Irish bar-Jewish deli is celebrating Passover and its fifth anniversary with a Saturday-night party. Expect Irish twists on the usual Passover dishes, with He’brew and Harp on tap.

Details: Check back here for more info; April 4.

BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW; 202-689-8999

The Passover menu at this steakhouse isn’t exactly traditional, but it does nod to the Seder with lamb shank, a slow-cooked “62 Degree” egg, and compressed endive served with apricot marmalade and sherry.

Details: Menu; $60 per person (dishes also available à la carte); available April 3 through April 10.

Sixth & I

600 I St., NW; 202-408-3100

Realtor-chef Renee Peres is hosting two certified-Kosher dinners at this downtown synagogue. The menu is still in the works, but “Jewish soul food” is planned for the buffet-style meal.

Details: $18 in advance, $22 day-of; available April 6 and April 8, 6:30-8:30.


601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-628-2888

Five courses of Italian-Jewish cooking includes canederli in brodo: Italian matzo balls, morels, truffles, and capon consommé. An artichoke salad, grilled branzino (seabass), and rack of lamb round out the meal, with strawberry sorbet for dessert.

Details: Menu; $70 per person, plus tax and tip; available April 7 through April 11.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 03/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with special cocktails, picnic items, Japanese dishes, and free tastings. By Emily Codik, Harrison Smith
Left: the "Jido"($16) featuring a hibiscus ice sphere at Bourbon Steak. Photograph courtesy of Bourbon Steak. Right: the "District Cherry Old Fashioned" from DC Coast. Photograph courtesy of DC Coast.

It's time for the pinkest month of the year. Between March 20 and April 12, the National Cherry Blossom Festival welcomes spring with dance parties, fireworks, and more. Want to join in on the fun? Check out these food and drink specials offered at restaurants and bars around town.

480 7th St., NW; 2250 Crystal Dr, Arlington; 7271 Woodmont Ave, Bethesda
Jose Andrés' Spanish restaurant gets festive with tons of cherry. Dine on a selection of special dishes, including a grilled lamb T-bone with cherry sauce, or a wild red berry soup with Idiazábal cheese ice cream. Wash it down with the "Spanish Garden" cocktail, made with gin, Green Chartreuse, orange jam, lemon juice, and chrysanthemum syrup.

1155 14th St., NW
This Thomas Circle restaurant is offering $16 takeout bento boxes for those who want their robata skewers on-the-go. Options include Scottish salmon with scallion, as well as steak with shishito peppers--both served with onigiri rice balls on the side. Naturally, the deal includes a housemade cherry soda.

The Graham Georgetown Hotel
1075 Thomas Jefferson St., NW
Sip a $7 Cherry Graham, with brandied cherries and rum, while you watch your server set brandy-soaked cherries on fire for dessert ($8).

China Chilcano
418 7th St., NW
Jose Andrés' new Peruvian restaurant offers a special cocktail for the occasion: Pisco Macerado, a twist on the classic Pisco Sour with dried sour cherries soaked in Pisco.

Café Bonaparte and Malmaison
1522 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 3401 K St., NW
Both bistros will be serving a set of three cherry-themed cocktails, made from cognac, gin, champagne, and sake ($12).

Lincoln Restaurant
1110 Vermont Ave., NW
Have cherries with your gnocchi, donuts, salad, or pulled pork sandwich. The latter features cherry mustard on a potato roll ($13).

Teddy & The Bully Bar
1200 19th St., NW
No drink specials here, but you can try a coffee-rubbed lamb loin made with cherry port reduction ($18), or a cherry clafoutis, a French version of a cherry pie ($9).

The Hay-Adams
800 16th St., NW
This hotel's cherry blossom menu leaves the best for last. Start with nods toward Japan with hamachi sashimi and nori-wrapped Wagyu strip steak, and finish the night off with a cherry-and-pistachio financier.

Art and Soul restaurant at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel
415 New Jersey Ave., NW
Try the picnic lunch for two under the blossoms ($40), featuring fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, and cherry soda. Cocktail fans can sip cherry-inspired drinks at the bar.

America Eats Tavern
1700 Tysons Blvd., Tysons
Two specials will be available at Jose Andrés' American eatery in Virginia: planked shad with celery root purée, and a Clover Club cocktail with gin, raspberries, lemon, simple syrup, and egg white.

855 E St., NW
New springtime cocktails abound at Barmini, the high-concept cocktail lounge adjoining Minibar. Try the Violet Fizz ($16) with crème de violette, cream, gin and lemon, or the Juana Giallo ($14) with Yellow and Green Chartreuse, Galliano liqueur, saffron, and orange blossom.

401 7th St., NW
Check out the Cayo Jarocho dish, celebrating Mexican fare. It involves plancha-seared scallops with plantain and roasted garlic fritters.

701 9th St., NW
Spring pea tzatziki, topped with pistachios, Greek yogurt, and mint, will be available at José Andrés' Mediterranean restaurant.

963 Palmer Alley
Visit this CityCenterDC bakery, which will honor President William Howard Taft with his favorite snack: deviled almonds. The President Taft Deviled Almond Sundae ($7.50) includes deviled almond ice cream, cherry compote, and hot fudge.

ENO Wine Bar
2810 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
On April 1, Andrew Stover of Siema Wines and Sarah Dwyer of Chouquette will partner up for a special event celebrating all things spring. Try a wine flight--featuring cherry notes--for $20, plus cherry chocolates for $4 each.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar
931 H St., NW
Daniel Boulud's first DC brasserie celebrates with a duck pistachio paté and a sakura ganache with green tea, yuzu, and cherry. Also on offer: "The Fairchild" cocktail with gin, maraschino liqueur, yuzu, and "cherry blossom" essence.

Mango Tree
929 H St., NW
Specials include a cherry-glazed duck breast with red curry sauce and Thai basil, as well as a "Tiger Queen" cocktail with Stoli vanilla, Luxardo cherry, brandy, amaretto, and orange zest.

Bourbon Steak
2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Try a creative cocktail called Jido ($16), featuring a mix of gin and housemade calpis (a fermented milk beverage) poured over a hibiscus ice sphere infused with orange flower water and lemon juice.

DC Coast Restaurant
1401 K St., NW
Check out the "District Cherry Old Fashioned," as well as a house made cherry blossom tea.

Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel
1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Food specials include ramen with pork belly, enoki mushrooms, and fish cakes, as well as panko-breaded crispy chicken. Finish your meal off with a sake-tini. Also available: a complimentary cherry blossom-inspired punch tasting offered daily from March 12 to April 16 at 5:30 PM.

Occidental Grill & Seafood
1475 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Celebrate cherry blossoms with a sherry tasting on March 30 from 6 to 9 PM. Six bartenders will present their version of a spring cocktail. Guests get to try all of 'em, and then vote for their very favorite. $35 per person.

Cordial Fine Wine & Sprits
1309 5th St., NE
Free rosé is the best kind of rosé, so stop by this Union Market shop for complimentary tastings every Saturday from 12 to 3 PM or Sunday from 1 to 4 PM, between March 20 and April 12.

Peregrine Espresso
1309 5th St., NE
Add some pink to your coffee with the "Sakura Black" -- a Japanese black tea made with sweet sakura cherry blossom leaves and flowers -- offered at the Union Market location.

Bazaar Spices
1309 5th St., NE
Pick up some Himalayan pink salt from this shop, or be even bolder with some pink-hued popcorn.

Posted at 12:15 PM/ET, 03/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are some of our favorites and where to find them. By Will Grunewald
Photograph via Shutterstock.

At Oktoberfest’s oompah-blasting, sausage-sizzling festivals, local brewers try their hand at the traditional Bavarian lagers known as Märzen, a balance of subtle hops with smooth, sweet malts that goes down easy between rounds of boisterous song. Here are some of our favorites and where to find them.


Lost Rhino Brewing, Ashburn

This gold-medal winner at last year’s Great American Beer Festival in Colorado hews to traditional Oktoberfest style, with warm notes of toasted malts and a crisp finish. At Lovettsville Oktoberfest and Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest.

Hitzig Frau

Mad Fox Brewing, Falls Church

This light-bodied, less filling Märzen leaves lots of room for bratwurst and sauerkraut. At Hoppy Oktoberfest, Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest, and Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest.


Port City Brewing, Alexandria

Port City uses only German malts and hops and leaves its beer unfiltered, lending it a hazy complexion, full body, and deep flavors. At Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest and Northern Virginia Fall Brewfest.


Corcoran Brewing, Purcellville

This brew from the owners of Corcoran Vineyards is a winemaker’s bright, floral take on beer’s hoppiness. For festivals, see


Capitol City Brewing, DC and Arlington

Märzen meets smoky Rauchbier in this innovative brew that bursts with campfire flavor. At Hoppy Oktoberfest and Mid-Atlantic Oktoberfest.

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 08/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Summer salads, boozy melons, and the best of the grill. By Anna Spiegel
Marinated mozzarella and tomato salad makes an addictive alternative to caprese. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

Whether you're at the beach or on a staycation, Labor Day weekend is one of the best times to cook. The tomatoes are sweet, the berries ripe, the grill well-seasoned, and you'll find plenty of friends ready to drink and eat away the last days of August. 

Here are ten of our favorite summertime recipes, including dishes from hot new restaurants, old standbys, and top food trucks. 

Marinated mozzarella and local tomato salad from Duke's Grocery

We're addicted to this twist on the caprese. Buffalo mozzarella is marinated in a bright, citrusy blend of herbs and chilies that's also used to dress the salad. You'll never go back to balsamic again. 

Molokai Mule cocktails from Bar Charley 

These deceptively potent tiki cocktails are simple to make and even easier to drink. Garnish them with little umbrellas and fruit for a beachy look.

The Burger Américain from Le Diplomate

Sure, these patties are griddled instead of grilled, but you can always tweak the cooking style if you're set on live flames. Just don't miss the American cheese, pickles, and "special sauce."

Gazpacho from the Pepe Food Truck

One of the best gazpachos in Washington can be found aboard José Andrés’s food truck. The silky soup gets its kick from sherry vinegar and its richness from quality Spanish olive oil.

Fried chicken tacos from Tico 

Tacos? Good. Fried chicken? Gooood. Combine the two and you have the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Fennel slaw and spicy buttermilk dressing make for tasty toppings. 

Vodka-infused watermelon from Bourbon Steak

Channel your inner college kid and prepare to get tipsy off of this booze-infused melon. The main difference between now and the frat party days: quality vodka such as Belvedere—this is from a Four Seasons restaurant, after all. 

Avocado bruschetta from Cork 

An oldie but a great-y. This vegetarian/vegan appetizer requires little effort, but scores big in the flavor department. 

Spice-grilled chicken with yogurt and herbed slaw from Estadio

Consider chef Haidar Karoum's dish perfect party food: Marinated chicken thighs can feed a crowd without breaking the bank, and most of the components can be made ahead. More important, it's delicious. 

Lamb burgers from Brandon's Little Truck

Skip the beef and try these juicy, rich patties kicked up with garlic, fresh mint, and cilantro. Feta takes the place of cheddar, and a topping of spinach, fennel, and more herbs brightens the burger. 

Berry cobbler from Red Truck Bakery

Farm stands are overflowing with blueberries and blackberries, so it's prime time to whip up this divine cobbler. Serve vanilla ice cream alongside for the perfect summer dessert. 

Posted at 12:56 PM/ET, 08/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The return of hot hot chicken sandwiches and much more. By Anna Spiegel
It’s baaaack! Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The time has come: Chef Dan O’Brien launches his fried chicken pop-up at Seasonal Pantry Wednesday at noon. Four styles of crispy bird will be sold through Saturday, with the first being the hot hot chicken sandwich pictured above. Yes, it’s real, and 200 are waiting to be ordered. 

In addition to the crispy birds, you’ll find sides such as pimiento mac and cheese, spicy cabbage and peach slaw, potato salad, and more. Blue Duck Tavern pastry chef Naomi Gallego will serve her doughnuts on Thursday and Friday for a sweet finish. Orders start at noon each day, with the exception being fried chicken with corn-jalapeño waffles on Saturday, sold from 5:30 on. 

A limited quantity is available for takeout, so better get dialing—and then feasting. 

Seasonal Pantry. 1314 Ninth St., NW, Washington, 20001.

Posted at 09:33 AM/ET, 08/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
One of Washington’s best fishmongers says no. By Anna Spiegel
No shark-fin soup for you. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is always a summer highlight, but BlackSalt fishmonger MJ Gimbar urges diners to keep their fascination with the toothy fish off the plate. 

“There are plenty of other things to eat in the ocean with a good conscience,” says Gimbar. “Leave sharks to Shark Week on TV. They’re awe-inspiring animals.”

Worldwide, wild sharks are listed on Seafood Watch’s “avoid” list, with the exception of thresher and shortfin mako species from California and Hawaii. Gimbar doesn’t even carry these varieties or serve them in the restaurant, since scientists have a difficult time establishing how sustainable these shark populations truly are. Gimbar also cautions against purchasing any meat simply labeled “mako,” as the longfin species is threatened. 

That’s not to say you won’t find shark sold around Washington. Despite President Obama passing the Shark Conservation Act, which includes laws against “finning” (killing sharks solely for their fins), you can still order shark-fin soup at several local Chinese restaurants; the Animal Welfare Institute keeps a list of the offenders. Some have consequently take the dish off the menu, while others insist they’re using imitation versions. 

Still hungry for the steak-y meat? Gimbar says to try sustainable varieties of sturgeon or swordfish instead. 

Posted at 02:28 PM/ET, 08/12/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
How to get the best bargains, quality meals, cheap drinks, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Want to get more bang for your buck at a restaurant like Central? Try it for lunch. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Summer Restaurant Week starts Monday, August 11. While the premise is simple—three-course menus for $20.14 and $35.14 for lunch and dinner, respectively—getting the most out of the promotion is a little more complicated. Here are six pro tips to help you do RW right. 

1) Look for restaurants offering almost their regular menus

Chicken or fish? Yes, certain Restaurant Week menus are so limited they sound like airline selections. Still, many places go all-out, and even give near free rein of the regular offerings. Such spots include Al DenteArdeo+Bardeo, most of the Passion Food Hospitality restaurants (DC Coast, Acadiana), DGS Delicatessen, and G’s tasting menu.

2) But beware of surcharges

Larger menus like the ones above can also include surcharges for more expensive options such as rib eye, lobster, or signature dishes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if your goal is to explore the restaurant’s true talents. But if you’re deal-seeking, tacking on an extra $5 or $10 can add up to the price of a non-Restaurant Week meal.


3) Find true bargains at lunch

Restaurant Week isn’t always a bargain, and it’s often called “free dessert week” for a reason. The $35.14 price doesn’t include tax, tip, or alcohol. Add two moderately priced glasses of wine, the sales tax, and your 20-percent tip—yes, you should still tip well during RW—and you could be looking at a $120 tab for two. 

The best value is mostly found at lunch. A three-course afternoon meal for $20.14 is a bargain at pricier, fine-dining restaurants like Del Campo (menu), Sushi Taro (menu), Central (menu), Rasika (menu), Fiola (menu), the Source (menu), and others.  

Another lunchtime bonus: Reservations at top-tier restaurants like the ones above can be tougher to snag in the evenings.


4) Try unofficial “Restaurant Week” 

In order to participate in Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, eateries have to be a member of the RAMW association. But a number of nonmembers are offering corresponding specials, which are sometimes more eclectic or generous. Dino’s Grotto “anti-Restaurant Week” lists ten courses for $35. For a similar price, El Chucho serves a snack and cocktail, a flight of three tequilas, your choice of tacos, elote, and dessert. Sister eatery Jackie’s will offer a special menu and 50 percent off bottles of wine through August, while chef RJ Cooper dishes up the semiannual “Restaurant Week gone rogue” at Rogue 24.


5) Look for deals on drinks

Alcohol is the main culprit for higher Restaurant Week bills. Sure, offering booze at a discount provides a bigger incentive to drink/spend money, but if you’re planning to imbibe regardless, might as well do it for less. José Andrés spots like Jaleo and Zaytinya will have special wine lists with less-expensive bottles; Slate Wine Bar + Bistro serves $4 drafts, $7 cocktails, and discount wines during dinner; and Zentan offers $14 sake flights, typically priced at $20.  


6) Take advantage of extensions 

A warning for the crowd-adverse: Certain Restaurant Week scenes can feel like Valentine’s Day or (shudder) New Year’s. Many spots offer extensions, which typically thin out the hordes. Such spots include the Oval Room, Masa 14, Graffiato (lunch and brunch only), 2941, and Mintwood PlaceCheck back for a full roundup of extensions on the Best Bites Blog. 

Posted at 04:22 PM/ET, 08/06/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The options range from casual neighborhood eateries to celebrity chef-driven restaurants. By Anna Spiegel
José Andrés’s America Eats is one of the many new eateries participating. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

The Metropolitan Washington Summer Restaurant Week is upon us, starting Monday, August 11. More than 200 area eateries will offer a three-course lunch and dinner for $20.14 and $35.14, respectively. How to choose? One way: Try somewhere new. The places below have all debuted in the past six-odd months, including a number of summer openings. Whether you’re looking for a casual meal, a celebrity-chef-driven restaurant, or an anti-summer Restaurant Week promotion, you’ll find plenty of options.

Aggio DC

5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Chef Bryan Voltaggio goes modern Italian with this separate restaurant inside Range. Think Caesar salad with oyster croutons, and prawns over sweet corn polenta with fra diavolo sauce.

When: dinner

Al Crostino

1926 Ninth St., NW

This former U Street Italian recently relocated to Shaw, with a few new menu items. Expect the same homey feel and dishes like stewed meatballs and gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce.

When: dinner

America Eats Tavern

1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean

José Andrés’s American eatery inside the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner is one of the biggest summer debuts, serving a mix of local and regional dishes such as fried chicken and soft-shell crab jambalaya.

When: lunch and dinner

Dino’s Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

The new Dino’s in Shaw isn’t participating in the official RAMW Restaurant Week, and they’re pretty honest about why. According to the website: “3 courses at $35.14 simply IS NOT a great deal at Dino’s Grotto. It comes out to a half-priced dessert, which IS NOT a savings in our minds.” Instead you’ll find ten plates of antipasti, pasta, eggplant Parm, and more for $35.

When: dinner

I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar

3003 M St., NW

Georgetown’s newest Thai-and-sushi spot offers fare from both cuisines during Restaurant Week, including mixed seafood rolls and drunken noodles.

When: lunch and dinner

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St., NW

The Washington branch of the iconic Miami original is a pretty pricey spot, so Restaurant Week may be a good time to try it. Though you won’t find the iconic claws, other options include fluke ceviche and marinated skirt steak.

When: lunch and dinner

Menu MBK

405 Eighth St., NW

Look for seasonal European cooking at chef Frederick De Pue’s Penn Quarter restaurant/market, such as escargot in garlic-butter sauce and bass bouillabaisse.

When: lunch and dinner

Roofers Union

Ripple’s more casual Adams Morgan sibling focuses on house-made sausages, smoked meats, and drink-friendly small plates. You may want to hit the rooftop for a cocktail before your four-course dinner.

When: dinner

Rural Society

1177 15th St., NW

The first Washington restaurant from celebrity chef Jose Garces focuses on Argentinian specialties such as thick-crust fugazza pizzas, Wagyu belly empanadas, and plenty of options from the wood-burning parrilla grill.

When: lunch and dinner

Sona Creamery and Wine Bar

600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Get your cheese fix at this Eastern Market creamery, which makes fresh fromage on-site. Dishes include cheddar-tomato pie, mac and cheese, and a variety of burgers.

When: lunch


1250 Connecticut Ave., NW

Dupont’s “female-friendly” steakhouse goes into its first Washington Restaurant Week with tuna tartar, strip loin, and market fish. Given that two Wagyu sliders normally go for $19 in the evenings, a whole lunch for $20.14 is a deal.

When: lunch and dinner

Toro Toro

1300 I St., NW

Restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s pan-Latin steakhouse offers the likes of bay scallop ceviche, churrasco grilled steak, and ancho-chocolate brownie sundaes for its first Restaurant Week.

When: lunch and dinner

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 02:03 PM/ET, 08/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A bounty of Chinese and Kenyan specialties on the Mall. By Vicky Gan

Catch Chinese and Kenyan cooking demonstrations on the National Mall this weekend. Photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian.

Curators of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival wrestle with the same problem every year: fitting the cuisine of an entire country into a single concession stand. The two-week event, which concludes Sunday, July 6, on the Mall, celebrates cultural traditions in the US and around the world, from Appalachian bluegrass to Bhutanese archery. This year’s spotlight is on China and Kenya, with both cuisines represented in the festival’s concessions and foodways demonstration areas.

So what can you expect to eat when you visit over the holiday weekend? China’s concession feature Chinese-American staples such as lo mein, as well as more unusual dishes such as Szechuan ma po tofu with minced pork and spicy chili sauce. Many Washingtonians have become familiar with the latter at places like Great Wall Szechuan. Program curator Preston Scott faced a sharper learning curve when it came to African cuisine. 

“Americans may think, ‘Kenyan cooking—what could that possibly be?’” says Scott. “They’ll see similarities that may not be quite as strange as they anticipated.”

Folklife partnered with Beltsville’s Swahili Village and a number of Kenyan caterers to create traditional dishes, which are split into coastal and uplands varieties. Coastal cooking, served at the Spice Routes Cafe, features ingredients including coconut milk, basmati rice, and masala spices familiar to Indian food lovers. Meanwhile, at Choma Grill, guests can dig into grilled meats and ugali, a cornmeal mash similar to polenta.

Foodways demonstrations offer more opportunities to explore the depths of each cuisine. In China’s Five Spice Kitchen pavilion, chefs prepare regional specialties including duck-blood glass noodle soup and zongzi, sticky-rice tamales eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. Due to National Park Service regulations, guests won’t be able to sample dishes prepared in the demonstration areas, but the festival posts recipes online so visitors can try them at home.

Since the weekend is looking steamy, you can beat the heat at China’s concession stands with a cucumber salad and a mango coconut dessert that resembles tapioca pudding. On the Kenyan side, snack on meat and veggie samosas, perfect for festival eating on the go. Both areas also highlight the great equalizer of beer—Tsingtao for China and Tusker for Kenya, among other national brews.

Posted at 10:17 AM/ET, 07/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Free hot dogs and crepes, all-you-can-eat mussels, and plenty of beer. By Anna Spiegel
Watch Team USA's fourth world cup match over Belgian and American specials like free dogs, discount beers, and all-you-can-eat mussels. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Team USA faces the Belgians today in the World Cup’s round of 16. Even though kickoff is near happy hour at 4, many bars are opening at noon (or before) and expecting large crowds. If you’re planning on watching at one of these popular spots, make sure to sneak out of work early for free hot dogs and crepes, discounted boots of beer, all-you-can-eat mussels, and other themed specials for the big game.

Black Squirrel

2427 18th St., NW

The Adam’s Morgan bar starts its usual Tuesday all-you-can-eat mussels night early, beginning at 3 for the match. Several varieties, all $16.50, include mussels simmered in tomato-white wine sauce or with garlic and chorizo.

Belga Café and B Too

514 8th Street, SE; 1324 14th St., NW

Stop into either of Belgian-born chef Bart Vandaele’s restaurants for dueling Belgian and American specials. The restaurants pit Stella Artois against Budweiser to see which sells more; Bud buckets and bottles go for $15 and $5, respectively, while Stella sells for $23 and $7. You’ll also find glass giveaways and a raffle for a USA World Cup jersey. Additionally, B Too will serve a special menu of Belgian dishes and beers for its competition against the Pig (see below).

Buffalo Billiards

1330 19th St., NW

If a large, air-conditioned space with plenty of beer sounds good for the game, head to this subterranean Dupont bar with five ten-foot screens and 62 smaller ones. Specials include $5 Palm Speciale Belgium and New Belgium Snapshot drafts, and $15 pitchers.

The Bullpen

1299 Half St., SE

One of the biggest outdoor viewing parties will likely be DC’s official one at Freedom Plaza, but the police could make things less free if you break out a beer. Head to the spacious open-air bar outside Nationals Park instead for $6 Miller Lite, Coors Lite, Blue Moon, and Red’s Ale, food truck fare, frozen drinks, cornhole, and the game on a 165-square-foot screen. Doors open at 3.

Columbia Firehouse

109 S. St. Asaph St., Alexandria

You’ll find the match on a large, high-definition screen and a lineup of USA specials at this viewing party, including $9 double cheeseburgers and chili-cheese half-smokes. Wash it down with specially priced Miller High Life and Belgian-style American craft brews.

Dacha Beer Garden

1600 Seventh St., NW

Cheers with $10 glass boots of Belgian and American beers at this popular Shaw beer garden. The Germans may have beaten the US team, but we won’t hold it against their brewers, especially when half-liter mugs go for $5. The bar opens at noon.

Duke’s Grocery

1513 17th St., NW

Hang out on the outdoor patio while watching the game from a window-mounted television. Happy hour runs from noon to 7, and you’ll find Belgian-style (but locally made) Port City Optimal Wits for $5. Shots of Absolut vodka, Fireball, and rye also go for a Lincoln. If the US scores a goal (fingers crossed), the shooters are free.

Food Wine & Co.

7272 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda

Drop into this Bethesda bar and restaurant to watch the match while sipping $1 Sam Adams drafts and snacking on $5 fried chicken. The deals start at 4, and aren’t offered in the dining room.

Granville Moore’s

1238 H St., NE

The doors open early at 3 for a watch party fueled by $5 Bavik beers and a limited number of Raging Bitch bottles, as well as the usual lineup of mussels and fries. Any tabs open before the end of the match get the neighborhood 12.38-percent discount all night long.

The Pig

1320 14th St., NW

This porky restaurants made a wager with its Belgian neighbor, B Too: Whoever wins the match gets to choose a guest at the watch party and offer him or her a free dinner for four at the other’s eatery. A special American menu includes burgers, dogs, and sausage gravy-smothered “freedom fries.”

Roofers Union

2446 18th St., NW

Regardless who wins, there’s free food for American and Belgian fans alike in the form of complimentary “dirty water dogs” and crepes. The spread will be offered in the second-floor dining room during the first half of the game, which you can also catch on the rooftop deck.

Tyber Bierhaus

7528 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda

American, Belgian, and German beers are the name of the drinking game at this bierhaus, and you’ll find $2 off half-liter drafts during happy hour from 4 to 7. Also get half off wings, onion rings, and select beers during the game, and a sausage platter with a liter of cold brew for $20 during happy hour.

Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 07/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()