Sisig at 7107 Bistro
My tipsters aren’t always right. Sometimes, they’re wrong. Occasionally, very, very wrong.
But I almost always heed their recommendations, mostly for fear of missing out on something as good and memorable as my meals at 7107 Bistro.
The restaurant occupies a small, unmarked storefront in the bustling restaurant row of 23rd Street in Crystal City—you could easily miss the it if you weren’t looking for it.
The name only added to my growing unease that I had chased a tip in vain. Here, it seemed, was yet another trendy, uninspired bistro doing the same things every other trendy, uninspired bistro does.
I was happy, therefore, to open up the menu and learn that the name is not an incorporation of the street address; it’s a reference to the number of islands that make up the Philippines.
I was even happier when the sisig arrived. Sisig is a staple of the Filipino table, a hearty preparation of pork that is shot through with so much brightness and acidity that it can almost justify being served, as chef Pete Snaith does here, as an appetizer.
Some cooks opt for pork shoulder; Snaith uses pork belly and pig ears, giving them a preparatory soak overnight in a soy brine. The ears are braised to tenderize them, while the belly meat is sautéed to render its fat. The ears and belly are then brought together, along with onions, chilies, and a splash of calamansi juice, to sizzle in a heavy skillet.
The result is fajita-like, only richer and with a lot more depth of flavor—and a lot more power to make you keep eating long after you have had your fill.
Chicago dog at Windy City Red Hots
The sun-baked parking lot of a garden store in Ashburn is about the last place you’d expect to find the most authentic Chicago dog in the area, but there it was, courtesy of Chi-town expats Angel and Pia Miranda and their trailer kitchen. The hot dogs are nothing fancy—in other words, they’re the real deal, with hot, steamed buns that leave poppy seeds on your fingertips, Vienna Beef franks, that unmistakable green relish, fiery sport peppers, and a long spear of pickle topping the whole thing. The only downside: They disappear so quickly. Next time I’ll take my cue from the guy in line behind me, who ordered a couple for himself (along with two plain dogs for his pair of German shepherds).
The four-salad sampler at Glen’s Garden Market
As a food writer, sometimes you just want a salad. A bounty of greens isn’t as exciting as crispy pig ears or as sexy as foie gras. But after so many carnivorous, fatty indulgences, tomatoes and radishes can feel like comfort fare.
I’m rarely impressed with “prepared foods” sections in markets, where the dishes often taste as generic as the name suggests. The selection at Glen’s Garden Market is an exception. Like the stock in the rest of the shop, items are grown or produced within the Chesapeake Watershed. The variety of salads is one the best ways to see what a difference such careful sourcing makes.
A heaping platter of four sides costs only $10, and changes frequently based on the market. Recent finds include a tangle of green beans, snap peas, and arugula; roasted cauliflower with chickpeas and onions; vinegary cucumbers with sweet Sungold tomatoes; and Asian noodles kicked up with kimchee. And if your idea of homey eats is more like deviled egg salad, they have that, too.
BLT Benedict at Art and Soul
After a missed train left me with plenty of time to kill, I ventured from the confines of Union Station in search of better dining options. My morning walk led me to Art and Soul, inside the nearby Liaison Hotel. Chalkboards listing various suppliers from the region brought to mind the large board hanging in the foyer of Husk Restaurant in Charleston. The emphasis on local ingredients hooked me from the beginning.
Drinks served in Mason jars play up the Southern theme. My BLT Benedict, served on a rustic wooden board, featured warm biscuits topped with chunky tomato jam, watercress, runny eggs, and aromatic smoked bacon. The standard side of breakfast potatoes received an extra kick from sautéed onions. The restaurant was mostly filled with hotel guests, who seemed just as content as I was—if a bit more contained—with their Southern-accented breakfast.