Reviews of just some of the new restaurants I’ve tried recently:
Eric and I recently made two visits to the new District Taco out on US 29 in Arlington. Originally operated out of a little food cart, the business became extremely popular as it alternated days in Rosslyn and Crystal City. Sadly, my work very rarely takes me to either one of those neighborhoods during the day, but I read all about it online and in the Washington City Paper, and was eager to try. So when I heard that District Taco had opened a brick-and-mortar place out on Lee Highway, I was game. Owned by Osiris Hoil and Marc Wallace, this fun atmosphere takes your order quickly and servers call out the Spanish version of your name. (Martha = Marta, Eric = Enrique, etc.) Tacos and burritos come with your choice of meat and then three additional toppings, some of which cost extra. There is also a salsa bar included that you can use at your leisure. On our first visit Eric got three tacos packed with vegetables and I had the barbacoa burrito. We also ordered tortilla chips and salsa. That burrito was HUGE. I could barely eat half of it! But it was definitely delicious. Eric fondly said “These are just like Mom makes.” The downside was that both of our orders had been mixed up. Eric was not given the right type of meat, and my order was missing the chorizo I had requested as an “extra.” (The burrito was so gigantic I thought it might just be in the middle of it, but it wasn’t.) The tortilla chips came in a big paper bag and were warm and crunchy, and the accompanying salsa was in a generous-size tub and was not the chunky kind. I would say the chips and salsa are well worth the nearly $5 price tag. The soda fountain offers delicious Boylan’s soda varieties, made with real cane sugar, such as birch beer and black cherry soda.
We were very satisfied other than the main food mix-up, which, to be fair, neither of us brought to the attention of the restaurant staff, so they did not have an opportunity to make it right. Our second visit was much better. Our orders were filled correctly and we both noticed someone like a manager or owner (perhaps Hoil himself?) supervising the food assembly line very closely and calling out instructions or corrections to the workers. Hoil is also known for responding directly to customers’ reviews online, particularly those critical of the new business and the way it is run. (Remember that they are still transitioning from running a food cart to running a restaurant and there may still be some kinks to iron out.) I support local business all the way and I am impressed by the owners’ dedication to their version of the American dream. Way to go District Taco, I am a new loyal customer! You can read more about Hoil, Wallace, and team and the new District Taco restaurant in this Washington City Paper article. Although the article compares District Taco to Chipotle, I personally think there is a world of difference and find District Taco the more flavorful of the two. Take a look at the official District Taco website.
Pesce is an interesting pick for casual fine dining in D.C. On a recent trip to Dupont Circle, some friends and I wound up drifting across the street to Pesce after crowd favorite Pizzeria Paradiso was jam-packed and we were too hungry. Silly us, we glanced at the menu board out front and decided the prices were decent at 12 bucks and up for the entrees. Oooops … those were the appetizer prices! The waiter puts the board on a chair by your table and that’s how you see your selections … very interesting. I ordered two little crab cakes which met with my standards – juicy lump crab with minimal breading – and two desserts. A scoop of luscious hazelnut-biscotti ice cream went well with the very rich guayaquil chocolate tart. Pesce is located at 2002 P Street NW.
Archa Thai (2311 Wilson Boulevard) is a delicious delivery standby but I have never visited their restaurant. I need to do that one of these days! My favorites are all there and they’re perfect: Thai iced tea, green curry, drunken noodle, and chicken satay! They also offer nice fresh salads.
Fire Works is a new one, or at least it was a few months ago! Brick-oven pizza, tomato soup with gouda mousse, and a beer list a mile long make this a winner in my eyes. The atmosphere is casual and trendy and the bar fills quickly with young professional happy hour go’ers, so don’t expect it to be a nice quiet dinnertime joint. Find it at 2350 Clarendon Boulevard.
For a great sub from a smaller chain with a cause, swing by a Firehouse Subs, founded and owned by firefighters. On a recent trip to Fredericksburg to drop off a loan check and have some fun, Eric and I stopped by one in the Southpoint complex in Massaponax. The main reason I wanted to try it is because I simply hadn’t before. The sub menu was very attractive. You don’t see your meal made in front of you a la Subway, but you do have many options, although I would prefer more fresh veggies on the menu. Choose a combo, and get a bag of chips and a fountain drink. You can pick white or wheat bread and add “fully loaded” if you like which comes with mayo, mustard, pickle, lettuce, onion, and tomatoes. The servers were extremely friendly and the walls were decorated with fire hats and coats. Our fountain drink cups had different firefighter bios on them. But the highlight of the day was what we saw when we walked in: a very long row of hot sauce bottles! Eric and I were so excited. I had a raspberry jalapeno that was not spicy at all, just sweet (eh) and Eric grabbed a Rhino peri-peri that was mild but still tasted like flames compared to what I wound up with! We also added some good old Tabasco. The closest location to Arlington is at 5900 Kingstowne Towne Center in Alexandria; other locations include Fairfax Towne Center and Sudley Road in Manassas. You can read the full Firehouse Subs story here and learn about the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation here.
St. Patrick’s Day News … the Shamrock Shake is back in town! This minty, 420-calorie (for a small) treat comes around just once a year, and it’s one of the few McDonald’s “milk” shakes that I actually enjoy! This year the Shamrock Shake even comes in a souvenir cup! (Thanks to ARLNow for the tip!) Now if they could just bring that Uncle O’Grimacey mascot back …
In sad news, My Bakery‘s Falls Church location appears to have closed for good. I have also heard their Alexandria store is gone, too. I am not sure of the status of the Crystal City location. If that is also shut down, I will need to find a new place to get my saltena fix, pronto! I can’t have a life without saltenas …