Tag Archives: Arlington

Rebel Heroes: A Brilliant Concept

Before the blistering heat set in, I headed to Court House for lunch at the critically acclaimed Rebel Heroes food truck. Tim Carman of  Washington City Paper called Rebel Heroes “the best food truck on the streets” and The Washington Post featured it in its “Good to Go” column. After all the positive press, I set out to try Rebel Heroes with expectations set pretty high.

Unfortunately, I think my expectations were set way too high. I ordered the roast pork bahn mi ($5.50) and Vietnamese iced coffee ($3.00). There were a lot of things I liked about the bahn mi: the bread was crusty enough to stand up to the fillings, the pork had nice flavor, and the pickled daikon and carrots added a fresh, tangy finish. But in the end, there was something missing for me. I would have enjoyed more pork and even other cured meats and pates in the sandwich. And a few more jalepenos and cilantro to add more heat.

I did enjoy the Vietnamese iced coffee, which had just the right balance of sweetness from the condensed milk and velvety chocolate notes from the coffee–it actually reminded me of a grown-up version of chocolate milk!

Though I wasn’t blown away by their bahn mi, I still liked Rebel Heroes a lot and would love to go back to try some of their other subs (like the “Che-che-chicken” which I hear is outstanding). I think the concept is brilliant, considering the lack of decent bahn mi in DC/Arlington. And since I can’t drive all the way to Eden Center every time I have a craving for bahn mi, I’m grateful to Rebel Heroes (and mother-daughter team Ninh and Tan Nguyen, who admirably prepare everything from scratch) for saving me the hassle.

Plus, with sandwiches costing no more than $6.00 and exotic drinks like Vietnamese iced coffee, Jarritos Mexican soda, and coconut water, Rebel Heroes offers affordable street food options that differ from those of any other food truck in the area. Here’s to hoping they decide to venture into DC proper soon!

Follow @rebelheroes on Twitter or visit their website to find out where Rebel Heroes will be serving next!

Rebel Heroes (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Share/Bookmark

Advertisements

Veritable Vietnamese at Minh’s

The Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats Guide might be eating away at my relationship. Since its arrival, I’ve annotated the entire thing, drawing big stars next to the restaurants I’m dying to try and ranking them in order of which ones I’ll go to first. And every weekend without fail, I drive my boyfriend crazy by agonizing over where we should eat. Are we in the mood for El Salvadorian pizza? Or what about Afghan kabobs? Or Tunisian brika? An hour of this usually goes by before we start arguing and he exclaims out of exasperation, “Just decide already!”

But last Saturday, after braving the heat during the Caribbean parade and wolfing down some of the spiciest jerk chicken around, a miracle happened. When dinnertime rolled around, I knew exactly what I wanted to eat–Vietnamese. And I knew just the place, which I had circled and starred in my sacred Cheap Eats guide: Minh’s, a Vietnamese restaurant near Court House which the Washingtonian described as “masterful with a fryer and deft with rice and noodles.”

Located on the bottom floor of an office building, Minh’s is pretty unassuming from the exterior. The interior reminded me of a 1980s Asian-style hotel ballroom, with floral silk covered chandeliers and white table cloths. The atmosphere was pleasant, with several table occupied by families and friends catching up on each other’s lives and sharing Minh’s excellent Vietnamese cuisine.

We started off with the shrimp cakes ($7.25), which contrary to my initial assumption, are not actually cakes at all. They’re fritters of whole shrimp interspersed with shredded yam and potato, deep fried to a golden crisp–miraculously without a trace of grease. The accompanying fish sauce and greens (lettuce, mint leaves, and cilantro)–a hallmark of Vietnamese cuisine–added sweetness and freshness to the dish. My recommendation is wrapping the fritters in the greens, like a burrito, and dipping it all in the fish sauce–absolutely delicious.

For our main courses, we ordered grilled shrimp and pork with thin noodles ($12.75) and lemongrass chicken ($11.50). The pork and shrimp absorbed the smoky, earthy flavor of the charcoal and was tempered, once again, by the accompanying greens and fish sauce. The noodles provided a nice chewiness and starch to the dish. Plus, it was certainly enough for 2 people to share, especially considering we still had another course to go!

The lemongrass chicken was, simply put, to die for. Cooked slowly in a clay pot, the chicken absorbed the complex, layered flavors of the marinade. Though the kitchen wouldn’t reveal the ingredients in their exquisite marinade, I detected soy sauce for saltiness, fish sauce for sweetness, lemongrass (obviously) for aroma, and red pepper flakes for heat (and there’s probably more ingredients that my inexperienced palate couldn’t discern).

My favorite part of the dish, however, had to be the onions. They soaked up the marinade even more so than the chicken, and tasted like they had been drowned in the most delectable nectar of the gods–I’m telling you, they were that good, especially over steamed white rice!

Since every course at dinner was fantastic, we decided to ignore our widening belt lines and order dessert. The kitchen ran out of our first choice–banana flambe over vanilla ice cream–so we opted for sweet mango sticky rice with coconut milk and mango ($5.00). Sadly, that was a mistake. The rice was more hard than sticky, and the coconut milk had no flavor. The fresh mango was the dish’s only saving grace.

Despite this disappointing end, the meal was on the whole superb. Minh’s affordable prices, vibrant Vietnamese cuisine, and vast menu (which includes over 100 items!) make it a destination that DC foodies won’t want to miss. And even though it’s crossed off my list, and there’s still more Washingtonian Cheap Eats restaurants left to check out, I won’t argue with going back for another meal at Minh’s.

Minh’s Restaurant

2500 Wilson Blvd.

Arlington, VA 22201

(703) 525-2828

Minh's on Urbanspoon

Share/Bookmark

Weekend Round-Up

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Not many foodie events this weekend, so this week’s weekend round-up will be short:

Saturday

Beltway BBQ Showdown: I’ve already lamented about the lack of good BBQ in DC, which is precisely why I’m excited for this event. From noon-5 p.m. at Watkins Regional Park in Maryland, the best grillers on the East Coast will compete for a spot at the American Royal Barbecue Contest. Watch them in action, and maybe if you’re lucky, you might snag a sample of ribs, pork, and beef. See the Going Out Gurus for more info.

EatBar’s Beach Blanket Bash: Arlington residents don’t even have to leave the city to go to the beach this weekend. From 1-4 p.m., EatBar hosts its Beach Blanket Bash–complete with surf music (I’m thinking some Beach Boys?), beach balls, and a wine tasting featuring 25 wines. And of course, the menu will be beach-themed as well, with plenty of seafood. Go to The Washingtonian for more info or call the restaurant at 703-778-9951 for reservations. $25/person

Dance Africa DC: Free outdoor African dance performances and an African street market featuring food, crafts, art, clothing, and a children’s tent will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the Dance Place Studio. Sounds like a fun way to learn more about African culture! Click here for more info and thanks to Price of Petworth for pointing this out.

Sunday

Complimentary Brunch and Silent Auction Fundraiser: Who ever said there’s no such thing as a free meal? This Sunday from 11:00a.m.-2:00p.m., Stroga in Adams Morgan hosts a complimentary brunch and silent auction to raise money for volunteers heading to Haiti. Participation in the silent auction is encouraged, but not mandatory. Stroga has one of the largest and most beautiful spaces around, so it’d definitely be worth stopping by to see the sights, grab a muffin, and maybe help a good cause. See Free in DC for more details.

Share

Memorial Day Weekend Round-Up

Apologies for the absence of posts this week; it’s been hectic as of late.  But thank goodness for federal holidays! Though I’m looking forward to lounging around my apartment and barbecuing for a good portion of the weekend, I’m also planning to check out some of the many events scheduled. From an Argentine festival to a pig roast to a chili cook-off, there’s something that every foodie can enjoy–without dropping tons of cash.

Friday

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden: Normally, I don’t include Friday events, but this one is probably my favorite part of summer in DC. Jazz in the Sculpture Garden officially starts on Friday  from 5-8:30 p.m., across the street from the National Gallery. After a long week at work, DCers all convene at the sculpture garden to picnic with friends, sip sangria by the fountain, and lay on the grass amongst contemporary sculptures. And with jazz playing in the background and the sun setting, it makes for a truly delightful scene. Jazz in the Garden takes place every Friday evening till September, so be sure to check it out at some point. And even if it rains, concerts will still take place in the National Gallery atrium. Click here for more info.

Saturday

23rd Annual Argentine Festival: If you like tango and empanadas, then this is the festival for you. On Saturday from 4-10:30 p.m., head to Arlington for the 23rd Annual Argentine Festival, featuring performances from several Argentine artists, arts and crafts, tango lessons, and of course, plenty of Argentine food. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased here.

Rockville’s Hometown Holidays: The Rockville Town Center will be the place to be for Montgomery County residents this Saturday and Sunday. This annual festival features live music, an arts and crafts fair,  a green festival presenting green products. Plus, several Rockville restaurants will be on hand offering tastes of their menus. Participating restaurants include La Tasca, Potomac Pizza, Giffords Ice Cream, Bombay Bistro, and more. Click here for more info.

Sunday

Durkl Block Party: I’ll admit, I was pretty jealous when I heard about Silver Lake Jubilee back home in Los Angeles–a huge street festival with live bands and tons of gourmet food trucks. Luckily, DC will host something similar this Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The Durkl Block Party, located in a parking lot on 5th and I St. in Chinatown, sounds like it will be awesome. With free admission, open grills for visitors, Sweetflow and Sauca, and “a DJ lineup that reads like people you normally pay $10 or more to hear” (according to GOG), Durkl Block Party has all the elements for an memorable Memorial Day celebration. Click here for details.

Spiked Sundays at Capitol Skyline: If you’re a fan of Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame, or his popular burger joint Good Stuff Eatery, don’t miss your chance to see him in action at Spike Sundays. Every Sunday till Labor Day from 10a.m.-6 p.m., Chef Spike will be at the Capitol Skyline hotel grilling and chilling by the pool. The $15 admission price will get you a burger with toppings and sides from Spike, drink specials, a live DJ, and all-day access to the pool. Click here for more info.

Charity Pig Roast: Head to Clarendon’s 3 Bar and Grill on Sunday at 4 p.m. for their charity pig roast, where a 250 lb. plus pig will be made into pulled pork. Pulled pork sandwiches will be $5, with all proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Drink specials will also be available. Thanks to Metrocurean for the heads up.

Monday

Cafe Saint Ex and Bar Pilar 2nd Annual Chili Cookoff: From 12-4 p.m., gorge yourself on delicious chili from Cafe Saint Ex, Bar Pilar, and local contestants vying for the title of Best Chili. Face painting, wash-off tattoos, a lemonade stand, and drink specials await visitors. Make sure to bring cash, since it’s cash only! All proceeds will be donated to the Fillmore Art Center. Click here for details.

And with that, my friends, enjoy what is sure to be an epic weekend!

Share

Weekend Round-up

Photo credit: Stephanie D./Wikimedia Commons

This week’s round-up will be short and sweet. Here we go:

Saturday 5/15

Saint Sophia Cathedral’s Spring Greek Festival: If you’re a fan of gyros, tzatziki, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you will love the Saint Sophia Greek Festival. Held Friday (today), Saturday, and Sunday from  noon to 9 p.m., visitors can gorge themselves on delicious Greek fare–including lamb roasted on an open spit–and enjoy live music, dancing, and a moon bounce. Check out the Going Out Gurus for details.

DC Yoga Week: Bring your yoga gear and mat to the National Mall on Saturday, where DC Yoga Week will be hosting free yoga sessions, speakers, and activities. Where’s the foodie angle, you may be asking yourself? Healthy snacks and drinks will be provided for attendees. No that’s something I can namaste for. Click here for details.

Sunday 5/16

Taste of Arlington: For those who don’t venture outside the District, this may be a culinary event worth hopping on the metro for. From noon to 5 p.m. in Ballston, Taste of Arlington will feature samples from some of the area’s fabulous restaurants, including Jaleo, Northside Social, and the Liberty Tavern to name a few. Tickets are needed to taste food and beverages, and can be purchased in advance from their website.

Taste of Wheaton: Maryland residents won’t have to travel far to get in on some of the food festival action this weekend. Taste of Wheaton will take place on Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wheaton is known for harboring some of the D.C. area’s cheapest (and tastiest) ethnic eats, and Taste of Wheaton will not disappoint on that front. Hollywood East Cafe (awesome dim sum), Global Cafe African Grill, and Marchone’s Italian Deli are just some of the featured restaurants. Samples will range from $1-$5 each. Guests will also be able to enjoy live music while nibbling on their samples. Click here for details.

And with that, I’m signing off and embarking on the weekend. Have fun, everyone!

Burger Bonanza

The B.I.G. Poppa at Ray's Hell Burger

Last week, I attempted to be a vegetarian—and failed miserably. I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult, since I tend to cook vegetarian meals most of the time anyway. But after a full week of subsisting on salads, sweet potato risotto, and roasted brussel sprouts (recipes to follow in a later blog post), I suddenly developed a serious craving for red meat. And boy, do I mean SERIOUS—I had dreams of devouring thick, juicy burgers and steaks for days.

On Saturday night, I decided it was time to end my short stint as a vegetarian and indulge my craving for red meat. My boyfriend (who was shocked I suggested we go out for burgers) and I excitedly headed to Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn, known for its thick burgers, gourmet fixings, and bargain prices. Ray’s Hell Burger also gained a lot of publicity last March, when President Obama and VP Joe Biden made stopped in for an unannounced lunch visit. (On a side note, I love that we have a foodie First Family.)

Inside Ray's HB

Ray’s Hell Burger is located in a mini mall/restaurant row on Wilson Blvd., Rosslyn’s main drag. It’s right next to Pho 79 (another of my favorite haunts) and Guajillo, a festive Mexican cantina (more on this later in the post). Though short on ambience, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its flavor packed burgers.

The menu offers a basic burger ($6.95) with your choice of gourmet toppings which range from charred jalepenos to Ray’s Heck Sauce. The basic burger can be cooked in various styles, including blackened with Cajun spices, Diablo grilled (brushed with a spicy chipotle marinade), and au poivre with a black peppercorn crust. Other fancier toppings are available at an additional charge: imported double cream brie ($1.50), roasted bone marrow with persillade ($5.00), and seared foie gras with truffle oil ($10.00) to name a few.

The counter at Ray's: clearly they thought I was crazy

There are also signature Ray’s burgers, all of which have clever names (I was definitely cracking up while reading the menu). I absolutely had to order the B.I.G. Poppa ($7.95; pictured above) when I saw it on the menu: not only for the hilarious name (the caption reads, “We like it when you order B.I.G. Poppa), but also for the delicious combination of ingredients. The B.I.G. Poppa is an au poivre (black peppercorn crusted) burger with cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, and aged Danish bleu cheese, all on a grilled warm bun.

From the moment I tasted the B.I.G. Poppa, it was pretty much love at first bite–and confirmed that I am, in fact, a lifelong carnivore. The crackly peppercorn crust subdued the intense flavor of the bleu cheese, which allowed the flavor of the meat to really shine. Ray’s Hell Burger uses trimmings from its sister restaurant, Ray’s the Steaks (which is also AMAZING), in its burgers, so the patty is extra thick, juicy, and flavorful. The cognac and sherry mushrooms and grilled red onions added a decadent touch to an already luxurious burger, and the lettuce and tomato added a hint of freshness. I washed the burger down with a 16oz glass of the on-draft root beer ($2.00)—not too sweet, and perfect with the burger.

The Soul Burger

My boyfriend ordered the Soul Burger Number One ($8.95), dubbed “the hardest working burger in chow business.” The Soul Burger comes with applewood smoked bacon, swiss cheese, cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, and grilled red onions. In my opinion, it paled in comparison to the B.I.G. Poppa, but it was still delicious nonetheless. I could definitely taste the quality of the ingredients in every bite: the bacon was thick and not too smoky, the swiss cheese mildly nutty, the mushrooms earthy, and the grilled onions sweet. We also split an order of large fries, which were crispy and golden–but it was clear that the burgers were the stars of the meal.

After our burger bonanza, I was stuffed. I looked at my boyfriend and declared, “I’m so full, I’m miserable!” He agreed. But somehow…we still managed to have room for dessert.

Sopapillas at Guajillo

My boyfriend spotted sopapillas on Guajillo’s (pronounced Wa-hee-yo) menu and demanded we order it for dessert. Sopapillas are fried bread puffs drizzled with honey–almost like a churro minus the sugar and cinnamon. Guajillo serves theirs with a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream–a steal for $7. The sopapillas were definitely enough for 2 people (the waiter laughed when I asked whether we should order 2) and a delicious deep fried ending to a fabulous night.

Ray’s Hell Burger

1713 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
(703) 841-0001

Guajillo

1727 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209-2503
(703) 807-0840

Ray's Hell-Burger on Urbanspoon