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Table8 launches in Washington, offering hot seats for a price. By Anna Spiegel
Would you pay for a table at the white-hot Fiola Mare? Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Would you pay money for an ordinarily free restaurant reservation? It’s a hot topic in the industry right now, thanks to the proliferation of third-party reservation systems like Resy and Shout that offer seats at popular restaurants for a fee.

Washington gets its first such service with the arrival of Table8, a San Francisco company that launched Monday with 17 local partners, including Fiola Mare, Zaytinya, Osteria Morini, and Del Campo (see the full list here). The app is free, as are reservations at participating restaurants if there’s plenty of space available, or if the diner is picking an off-peak time. Otherwise, the booking costs $25 for a two-person table or $45 for four, and the money is split by the restaurant and Table8. The number of spaces set aside for users varies, but most eateries only hold one or two tables, while others set aside up to five.

It’s worth noting that all the local participants offer free reservations otherwise. The service is geared toward last-minute diners looking for a hot seat. So what do you think—is a reservation worth the price?

Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Give us your two—or in this case, 14—cents. By Anna Spiegel
Restaurant Week: loved it or hated it? Photograph via Shutterstock.

Summer Restaurant Week 2014 is here, with $20.14 lunches and $35.14 dinners offered throughout Washington until Sunday. As we’ve already discussed on the Best Bites Blog, the promotion isn’t always a good deal. Whether you’re trying a newly opened eatery or one of the established spots on our 100 Very Best list, RW is like dining out on a holiday: All bets are off.

So how can you make the most of Restaurant Week? One of the best ways is through word of mouth. We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments—good, bad, and otherwise—and through the poll below. Happy eating! 

Posted at 02:50 PM/ET, 08/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Vice President declares Delaware the sandwich king. By Anna Spiegel

Photograph of Biden by Jason and Bonnie Grower / Shutterstock.

Fighting words from the Diamond State! Vice President Joe Biden was among the first customers at the grand opening of DC’s first Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop earlier today; the Delaware-based chain has long been a Biden favorite. In addition to ordering lunch, the aviator-clad VP was also ready to take on one of the biggest culinary debates of all time: which city in America makes the best sandwich.

“‘This is gonna settle once and for all, the best sandwich in America is out of Wilmington, Del.,’” Biden is quoted as saying in a vice presidential press pool report. “‘I’m bringing one back for the President. No more of this stuff about Chicago and Philly and New York. This settles it. You guys want to get this settled. And end it. I’m ready man. The President is waiting. I’m having lunch with him today.’”

Biden then proceeded to order two medium Italian subs, no onions, one with hot peppers on the side. (“‘The only way to eat these things is with hot peppers, but not everybody understands that. You know what I mean?’”) He also snagged the Thanksgiving-themed Bobbie and a large Italian sub for his staff. According to the pool report, Biden continued “trying to convince people that Delaware makes the best sandwiches ever” while waiting for his order.

“‘The only place where Philadelphia can compete with us is steak sandwiches. Just compete. Compete. Not win,’” he said, according to the pool report.

So what do you think? Is Delaware America’s number-one sandwich city? To the poll!

Posted at 03:47 PM/ET, 11/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
People are waiting hours for cronuts. How long would you queue for Washington’s best? By Anna Spiegel

This morning, Eater National posted a pretty insane picture of people standing in line for hours to buy the trademarked cronuts from Dominique Ansel bakery in New York City. The croissant-doughnut hybrids have been selling like, well, cronuts (who orders hotcakes anymore?), and the bakery now suggests lining up two hours prior to its 8 AM opening for a chance at the pastries. (Note: There’s a two-per-person limit.)

To the poll!

Posted at 12:40 PM/ET, 07/03/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Meet the 15 Washington competitors planning to shed pounds for charity. By Anna Spiegel
Which chefs and bartenders will slim down the most? Image via Shutterstock.

Chefs and bartenders aren’t always known for their healthy lifestyles, but that’s about to change for the 15 toques and mixologists vying to shed the most pounds for the American Cancer Society’s Fit for Hope challenge. The 12-week weight-loss challenge is meant to raise awareness about the connection between cancer and obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise; roughly one-third of cancer fatalities in the United States have been associated with those factors. The three competitors who lose the largest percentage of bodyweight get a Bloomingdale’s makeover at the Taste of Hope gala on September 24. So who’ll get the swank new duds? To the poll!

UPDATE: We received word Tuesday that celebrity chef Art “I Love Speedos” Smith (of Art and Soul) joined the race this afternoon as the 16th competitor. Think he’ll win? Let us know in the comments!

Posted at 02:10 PM/ET, 06/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Nobody loves gossip better than the restaurant industry. By Anna Spiegel
Will Michel Richard reopen Citronelle before Stephen Starr debuts another restaurant? Anything is possible. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

On Tuesday the ol’ gossip queen that is the Wall Street Journal leaked the news that celebrity chef Daniel Boulud has a restaurant underway in the City Center development. While reps for the Michelin-starred toque maintain that nothing is official, we’re keeping our forks crossed for an outpost of Boulud’s buzzy brasserie, DBGB. Or an Eataly, for that matter. Or maybe Citronelle will come back? Out of all the Washington restaurant rumors floating about, which do you think will come true? To the poll!

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 05/30/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Arlington beignets or old-school rounds in Mount Pleasant? Today’s bout may be a matter of neighborhood pride. By Jessica Voelker
It's bakery versus bakery in today's round. Photograph via Flickr user Mr. T in DC.

Doughnuts on a stick win again! We congratulate Mac’s Donuts even as we wave a tearful goodbye to Cashion’s and its Italian-style sugar-dusted treats.

There remains just one more face-off to determine the final four. As hard as it is to believe we’ve come this far, on Thursday we will pick the first of the two purveyors to enter the final round, where we will finally determine the reigning champion of local fritters.

Right now, however, it’s time to send either Bayou Bakery’s buttermilk beignets or classic ’nuts from Heller’s Bakery into the fourth slot of this round. As always, vote before 5 PM. The winner will be announced Thursday morning.

Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 04/17/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The owners hope to lure lady diners with lounge-like decor and three sizes of steak. By Anna Spiegel
Steaks for ladies: now a thing. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Women of Washington, there’s a steakhouse opening just for you. STK is set to inhabit the former Casa Nonna space with a “female-friendly mindset,” as described by managing hospitality company the One Group. The company has already expanded the concept from New York to Atlanta, London, Las Vegas, LA, and Miami. Tagline: “Not your daddy’s steakhouse.” 

So what does an un-fatherly chophouse entail? Well, you won’t find a lot of mahogany paneling or soft piano music. Other locations look like a cross between a restaurant and nightclub and, according to the One Group, boast features such as black platform seats, smoky mirrors, and “textured crocodile tiles.” Steaks arrive in small, medium, and large—just don’t call them unladylike—portions, alongside a variety of sauces and sides like truffle fries and mac and cheese. The lineup also includes non-beef options such as a raw bar, crab salad, and lobster, or tiny beef options like the signature slider-like “Lil’ BRGs” (which could potentially undergo a name change based on past vowelless burger battles). If the DC location is anything like New York, you could dress up various dishes with truffles or foie gras. 

The arrival of STK marks the second overtly woman-oriented restaurant planned for Washington, the first being the “lady-friendly” sports bar Bracket Room from The Bachelorette’s Chris Bukowski. So, ladies, what do you think? Is it the dining equivalent of the Bic Pen for Her, or an attempt to fill a niche of female-friendly dining we’re lacking in the city? To the poll!

Posted at 04:55 PM/ET, 01/30/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Or has “This American Life” murdered your squid love for good? By Jessica Voelker
Did This American Life forever ruin calamari for you?

We don’t know what your friends like to talk about, but it’s been the topic of conversation at every dinner we’ve attended since This American Life dropped its “Doppelgangers” show upon us. Dining companions saying they just can’t stomach the idea of fried squid rings after considering the rumor—the totally unsubstantiated rumor, mind you—that pork bung is sometimes used as “imitation calamari” and shipped off to restaurants for your dining pleasure.

And it’s a funny thing, the power of suggestion. Even at some of our city’s finest restaurants, where there is no doubt that seafood sourcing is being taken super seriously, we’ve watched friends and family demure at the suggestion of taking on a platter of calamari.

But we want to hear from you: One week later, are you turned off from fried squid forever, or have you already returned to those crispy rings? To the poll!

Posted at 01:05 PM/ET, 01/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The roof of the buzzy food-and-drink destination is in play. Let your voice be heard. By Jessica Voelker
Who will end up on the roof of Union Market? Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Afagen.

Churned through the food-world rumor mill Thursday morning: the Prince of Petworth-generated gossip that Old Dominion Brewing would be opening a beer garden atop Union Market.

Not a fact, Edens director of culinary strategy Richie Brandenburg told the Washington City Paper’s Young & Hungry blog. Brandenburg added that he has been in talks with breweries about a project—including DC’s own Chocolate City—but that “no deals are in place.”

That got us thinking: What regional brewery would Washingtonians most like to encounter there? So at the risk of being accused of lazy journalism again, we want to hear from you. Is there a beermaker you’d most like to see at the new Northeast foodie mecca? If you don’t see your favorite regional brewery on the list (admittedly not exhaustive), feel free to let us know in the comments.

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Posted at 12:35 PM/ET, 10/25/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()