Tag Archives: late night

Founding Flurries

The White House, covered in white

Like most DCers, I woke up Saturday morning to a wintery surprise: snowpacalypse 2.0! Since I missed snowpacalypse 1.0 back in December, I was more than excited to see the snow falling. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was less than thrilled to be dragged outside to play in the snow, but he grudgingly indulged my requests. Bundled up in our warmest jackets, we decided to walk to the White House (pictured above), which was beautiful and pristine in the freshly fallen snow.

Entrance to Founding Farmers

Needless to say, we were freezing and famished after our trek. Founding Farmers, located just a few blocks from the White House, seemed like an oasis at the time–a warm and welcome respite from the cold. The restaurant occupies a sleek and expansive 2-story space below the IMF building. But even with two levels, the restaurant was packed when we arrived (apparently, lots of people had the same idea). Luckily, we were able to find 2 seats at the bar–complete with flat screen TVs showing the Duke v. Georgetown game, which my boyfriend was ecstatic about.

FF really does mean homemade!

Founding Farmers (FF) is a Certified Green restaurant and DC’s first Certified LEED (Gold) restaurant. Its cuisine is described as “farm-inspired American true food and drink in a modern, casual and eco-friendly setting”–which means homemade products where possible (e.g. breads, pasta, sausage, sauces)  and everything else made from  locally sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients. While all of  these endeavors are quite admirable (and ones that I wholeheartedly support), they sadly did not translate into the high quality, flavorful cuisine I was expecting from FF.

The menu is quite expansive, offering everything from pancakes and bacon lollis to handmade flatbreads and pasta to enchiladas. Honestly, I think the all-encompassing menu is part of the problem. For the life of me, I couldn’t decipher what the restaurant’s specialty was. Was it the handmade pastas? Or one of the many comfort food dishes? Or maybe it was the random steak enchiladas, the lone Tex-Mex item on the menu?

Sausage, mushroom, and spinach scramble

After much debate, my boyfriend and I finally settled on the  sausage, mushroom, and spinach scramble served with leek hash browns and a homemade English muffin ($12) and the southern pan fried chicken served with mac and cheese, gravy, and waffles ($16). When I read the description for the scramble, I was expecting a huge amount of food (and I was ready to eat it all). So you can imagine my disappointment with the small portion of eggs and hash browns which arrived. Nothing on the plate stood out in my mind–the eggs, potatoes, and even the in-house-baked English muffin with homemade strawberry preserves were all just blah (for lack of a better term).

Pan fried chicken

While the scramble was monotonous throughout, the pan fried chicken had more ups and downs. The chicken itself was very good: moist on the inside,with a crisp and flavorful crust on the outside. The creamy white gravy perfectly balanced the saltiness of the chicken. Sadly, everything else on the plate went down hill. The mac and cheese was mediocre at best: the cheese sauce was watery and the pasta overcooked. The waffles would have been fine, if they hadn’t been drowned in a sea of melted butter. And the broccoli that came with the meal seemed to be more of an afterthought than an accompaniment–soggy and flavorless.

Despite the underwhelming food, I wouldn’t write off Founding Farmers completely yet. It has a fun atmosphere, convenient location, admirable mission, and potential for improving given the high quality ingredients it uses (which may help to justify its higher than average prices). Unpaid gourmets looking for a cheap and delicious bite to eat shouldn’t head here, but if you’re caught in the snow and near the White House, Founding Farmers will suffice.

FF interior

Founding Farmers

1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (IMF HQ2)

Washington,DC 20006

202-822-TRUE

Founding Farmers on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Not Your Average Diner

Luna Grill's whimsical interior

When I think of diner food, I picture greasy hamburgers, soggy french fries, and questionable chili followed by a nasty case of indigestion. Fortunately for me (and my dining companion), Luna Grill & Diner in Dupont Circle is not your typical diner.

When I first walked into Luna Grill, I was struck by the vibrant murals and eclectic artwork all over the walls. Tree branches hang down from the ceiling, perhaps in an attempt to add a whimsical, Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque touch to the place. The owners clearly made an effort to spruce up an otherwise small and uninteresting space, and in my opinion, they succeeded in their efforts.

Chicken panini & cream of mushroom soup

The main attraction at Luna Grill & Diner, however, is the surprisingly tasty food and affordable prices. I actually had difficulty choosing what to order, since most everything on the menu appealed to me. After debating over the chicken panini ($10. 95) and the hot meatball sub ($7.95), I decided to go with the chicken panini and a side of cream of mushroom soup (only $1.25 if ordered as a side with any sandwich or burger). The panini arrived fresh off the panini press, with the ciabatta bread perfectly crisped and melted mozzarella cheese and sundried tomato pesto oozing out of every bite. Juicy slices of tomato balanced out the richness of the pesto and cheese, and added some sweetness. The cream of mushroom soup was also delicious–a welcome respite from the cold winter weather outside.

The Alamo burger

My dining companion ordered the Alamo burger ($8.95), which includes bacon, cheddar, and BBQ sauce. The patty was thick, juicy, and pretty sizeable for a restaurant burger. Judging from the varying thickness and shapes of the fries, they were definitely hand-cut and freshly fried–a refreshing change from the cookie cutter, too thinly sliced McDonalds varieties.

Apple pie a la mode

Though extremely satisfied from our meal, we still managed to save room for dessert: apple pie a la mode ($3.95+$1.25 a la mode). This seemingly simple dessert had several layers of flavor and texture: the flaky buttery crust, the warm spiced apples, and the cold creamy vanilla ice cream, all made this the ultimate comfort dessert.

I will definitely come back to Luna Grill again, perhaps on a weeknight to try one of their scrumptious sounding Blue Plate Weekly Specials. If you’re tired of the same ol’ greasy diner fare, then head over to Luna Grill & Diner for some simple yet elegant twists on the diner concept!

Luna Grill & Diner

1301 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
202.835.2280

Luna Grill & Diner on Urbanspoon

Eatonville: Eat Your Heart Out

Entrance to Eatonville

I went to Eatonville with low expectations. A friend who had already tried Eatonville described it as “Disneyland-esque dining”–just substitute Zora Neale Hurston for Mickey Mouse. Other reviewers found the food disappointing and impersonal. Despite the mixed reviews, I was still curious about Eatonville. I am a longtime fan of Eatonville’s owner, Andy Shallal, who started the popular Busboys and Poets right across the street. Plus, I’d never eaten at a literary themed restaurant before. So on a cold wintery Friday night, I decided to venture out to U St. and give Eatonville a try.

View of Eatonville's main dining room

Eating at Eatonville was probably the best decision I’ve made in a long time. Once inside the restaurant’s whimsical dining room, I felt as if I had been transported somewhere else. Maybe not Eatonville, FL (the town where famed author Zora Neale Hurston grew up and where the restaurant gets its name), but definitely away from all the hustle and bustle outside. Eatonville’s walls are covered with bright and funky murals, which stretch from the floor all the way to its high ceilings. Old-fashioned crystal chandeliers add to the dramatic effect. Other details, such as the worn wooden fences surrounding some tables and the drinks served in mason jars, make the Zora Neale Hurston theme fun and whimsical rather than gimmicky.

Southern feast (**the beers come in mason jars, which can be seen in the background--so cute!)

My date and I decided to eat at the bar upstairs, as there was over an hour and a half wait for a table. The bar ended up being just great–it serves the exact same menu as downstairs, has comfortable tables and chairs to dine on, and features live jazz on most nights. The menu was very reasonably priced, with only one entree costing over $20. We ordered the gumbo ($8), mac and cheese ($5), sweet potato and andouille sausage hash ($5), pecan crusted trout ($16), and corn muffins ($2). Needless to say, we ordered a LOT of food.

And we ate nearly all of it–the food was that good. The gumbo was intensely smoky and subtly spicy, spiked with crab meat, shrimp, and andouille sausage. For me, the dish was a bit too rich and I could only eat about half, but then again, I don’t consider myself a gumbo connoseiur. The mac and cheese, on the other hand, was heavenly right down to the last bite. Creamy and comforting with loads of melted cheddar cheese, it was the perfect antidote to a cold winter night. The pecan crusted trout was well cooked and the pecans really complemented the flavor of the fish. While the sweet potato and andouille sausage hash was just ok, the corn muffins–priced at only $2–were phenomenal. Buttery and sweet, just like they make it in the South (according to the Southern gentleman I was with).

By the end of our meal, we were too full to even think of getting dessert, but we will definitely come back to try the oatmeal pecan pie and apple crisp. Service was welcoming and helpful, though spotty at times when the bar got busy (our waiter was also one of the bartenders). Nevertheless, I think Eatonville is a welcome addition to the U St. corridor. The owner, Andy Shallal, has outdone himself once again.

Eatonville

2121 14th St. NW

Washington, DC 20009

(202) 332-ZORA

Eatonville on Urbanspoon

I loveato Mr. Yogato!

Mr. Yogato, in all its glory

Yes, yes, I know the tart frozen yogurt trend is so last year. With the sudden influx of mediocre Pink Berry imposters to DC, and even Haagan Dazs trying to cash in on the trend, it’s no wonder people are losing their appetite for this tasty treat.

But Mr. Yogato in Dupont Circle is not your ordinary fro-yo shop, for several reasons. First, it’s not an impersonal, lackluster chain like the others. Service is helpful, friendly, and generous with the toppings. The owner, Steve (a rocket scientist!), drops in all the time and greets regulars.

The infamous rules

Second,  Mr. Yogato is not just frozen yogurt; it’s a frozen yogurt experience. When ordering, you can’t simply tell the server you want a small with strawberries and bananas. Well, actually you can, but that takes all the fun out of it! Mr. Yogato has a list of rules, aptly named the rules of yogato, which adds a little fun and suspense to your ordering. For instance, take rule #2, which reads, “Try your luck with a trivia question. Get it right for 10% off, but get it wrong and 10% is added.” I feel exhilerated every time! Other rules include ordering a yogurt for 30 consecutive days for a flavor named after you, wearing a “Mr. Yogato stamped me!” stamp on your forehead, and creating an edible pasta yogato sculpture (all of which multiple people have done). As an added bonus, there is a Nintendo and karaoke machine where you can play a round of Super Mario or belt out your favorite Britney Spears tune.

Last, but certainly not least, is the yogurt. In a word: DELICIOUS. The perfect balance of tart and sweet. Creamy and light. Mr. Yogato features 2 main flavors (original soft and original tangy–I order original tangy everytime) and 2 rotating flavors (which I obviously have to sample everytime, for evaluative purposes, of course). There are 18 rotating flavors, which include coco-loco shandy (coconut–SO GOOD), joe maherito (mojito–surprisingly refreshing), zachberry jam (blackberry–jammin), and ashraf-skrypock (mystery flavor–still a mystery). Plus, Mr. Yogato has over 50 toppings, ranging from standards such as berries, granola, and chocolate chips to just plain crazy ones like balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper, and agave nectar.

At $5 for a little-size yogurt with 3 toppings, Mr. Yogato is unfortunately not the cheapest yogurt out there. But remember, you can always get a nifty discount by acting out one of the rules. And if you’re not in the mood for frozen yogurt (especially on a cold, rainy winter DC day), Mr. Yogato also has a hot chocolato bar with tons of toppings (think Ghiradelli hot cocoa with a shot of carribean rum flavoring, marshmallows, and chili powder) for $3.

For tart frozen yogurt fans and haters alike, Mr. Yogato is sure to be a fun and tasty treat. Moveato your buttato to Mr. Yogato! (I promise I’ll stop rhyming…for now.)

Mr. Yogato

1515 17th St. NW (between Church and Q St.)

Washington, DC 20036

202-629-3531

Mr. Yogato on Urbanspoon

Legends: It’s LEGENDARY

When my boyfriend and I are at a loss for where to eat, he will usually turn to me and say, “You know, we could eat something…LEGENDARY.” And five minutes later, we find ourselves walking down P St. to the culinary mecca that is Legends.

Sandwiched between a questionable liquor store and a Vietnamese noodle shop, Legends stands out with its bright blue awning. Outside seating is available (prime for people-watching late on a Friday night, when patrons stumble out of the nearby bars). The interior is small but cozy, and you can hear the delicious sound of sizzling meats from the kitchen.

But, it’s not the decor that keeps me coming back. It’s the succulent, tender, and messy-in-the-best-way gyro. (For the uninitiated, a gyro, pronounced yee-ro, is a pita sandwich with strips of lamb and beef, lettuce and tomato drizzled with tzatziki yogurt sauce.) I have ordered gyros at nearby Zorba’s and Moby Dick, but both paled in comparison to my beloved Legends. The meat is salted to perfection and juicy; the tzatziki is cool and refreshing; the pita is soft and fluffy. Seriously, Legends’ gyro is greasy heaven in a sandwich. Plus, for only $6.55 (or $9.95 with rice or fries), it’s practically a steal.

Other dishes of note include the oven baked half chicken, a hefty chicken breast roasted to perfection served atop rice and tomato sauce. The chicken is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and goes well with the accompanying warm pita bread. The chicken usually lasts me 2 meals, which is not bad for $9.50. My friends have also ordered the Chef salad ($8.95) and the gyro sub ($6.95), which is the infamous gyro in sandwich form.

If it’s cheap and delicious cuisine isn’t enough to lure you, Legends is one of the few places open late on Friday and Saturday night–until 4AM! They also deliver and do take-out. (And, you didn’t hear this from me, but the gyro is also the perfect hangover cure.)

So the next time you find yourself wandering the streets of Dupont in search of a place to eat, head over to Legends for a satisfying meal that won’t leave your wallet empty!

Legends

2157 P St. NW (at P & 22nd St.)

Washington, DC 20036

202-296-2333

The infamous gyro (I finally remembered to snap a photo before devouring it!)