Pastrami sandwich at Smoked & Stacked
It’s too hard to choose between the two pastrami sandwiches at Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s snug new shop, so I’m copping out and going with the pair of them. The Messy is a riff on a reuben with comte, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island. The Stacked is layered with creamy slaw and dijon on a soft, slightly sweet milk bread bun. Both are stuffed with pastrami that’s as buttery and juicy as you’ll find around here. 1239 Ninth St., NW.
Happy Camper at Buttercream Bakeshop
After a double-sandwich lunch (see above), I headed across the street to the eminently Instagrammable Buttercream Bakeshop for a Queen Bee (aka kouign-amann). But then I got sidetracked by these s’more bars, so, double dessert. What makes them so great is that they give as much attention to the crumbly graham base and thick swirl of marshmallow as they do to the fudgy center. 1250 Ninth St., NW.
Corn donburi at Hazel
Elote meets a donburi bowl, and the result is clever fusion that actually makes sense. The togarashi and rice meld beautifully with the lime-spiked aioli, salty cotija cheese, sweet corn, and cilantro. 808 V St., NW.
Rockfish a la plancha at Kyirisan
Some days during the week, this dish is made with pompano, another meaty, mild white fish. When I had it, chef Tim Ma was using California rockfish, generously rubbed with a soybean/chili paste. Either way, you’ll want to order this splendidly messy plate. It’s piled high with cilantro and scallions, and is a nice diversion from some of the more studied creations here. 1924 Eighth St., NW.
Albondigas at Tapabar
This Bethesda newcomer shows promise, mostly because chef Alonso Roche isn’t afraid to keep his Spanish small plates simple. These meatballs, seared on the outside and soft on the inside, are set off with ruddy, tangy salsa brava and a good bit of chopped mint. 4901 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda.