Tag Archives: lunch

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

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Exploring the Hill

The Capitol

Since moving to DC in August, the past few months have been filled with job interviews, law school apps, and all the other anxieties that come along with unemployment. But now that I have an internship lined up for January and all my law school apps sent in, I’m playing the waiting game and have a LOT of free time on my hands. My family and friends keep telling me to enjoy the free time while I still have it, do all the things I won’t have time to do when I start working, and most importantly, to stop complaining to them because they are jealous of all my free time!

Entrance to Mangialardo and Sons--looks can be deceiving

I finally followed their advice this past Wednesday–and couldn’t be happier that I did. I had read a lot about a small, hole-in-the-wall Italian sub shop popular with the Capitol Hill lunch crowd. With nothing to do that day, I decided to check it out and explore the Hill.

Mangialardo and Sons is located on Capitol Hill SE, just off the Potomac Ave. metro stop. The area reminds me a bit of Columbia Heights, in the sense that it’sgradually being redeveloped, but there are still some parts that feel a bit seedy. Case in point: when you walk out of the Potomac Ave. stop, there is a brand new, sparkling clean Harris Teeter  on the bottom floor of a huge apartment unit across the street. Walk a few blocks in the opposite direction, however, and the area quickly goes down hill (both literally and figuratively). Luckily, Mangialardo and Sons is near the Harris Teeter, but that doesn’t mean the location is perfect. The front window of the shop had been smashed in when I visited, and a wood board and some duct tape haphazardly held it together. (The owner joked that it was probably a bitter family member or customer desperate for salami who broke the window.)

Despite the shabby storefront, Mangialardo’s was crowded with Hill staffers picking up sandwiches for their offices when I walked in. The store’s interior is sparse but clean, with shelves along the walls stocked with jars of roasted red peppers and bottles of imported Italian olive oil. Service is efficient and friendly, especially to newcomers. The menu, above the service counter, includes hot and cold sandwiches, and a special of spaghetti and meatballs. There are also coolers filled with sodas and a nice selection of bottled teas.

The G-man

I ordered the G-man on a soft roll with everything on it (which received positive reviews on Yelp) and walked over to Harris Teeter to eat my sandwich (Mangialardos is cash and carry-out only). For only $6, the G-man is a great value for the money. The sub is huge, more than twice the size of Potbelly. The roll was soft and chewy, but substantial enough to hold together the sandwich. Fillings included ham, bologna, pepperoni, salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, mayo, Italian seasoning, hot peppers, oil/vinegar, and lettuce and tomato.

I am by no means a connoisseur of Italian subs, so perhaps I could not fully appreciate the G-man in all its glory. Yes, the ingredients were fresh and high-quality. Yes, it was very authentic. And yes, it was a pretty darn good and filling mean for only 6 bucks. But, I found the sub to be a bit too salty for my taste. After taking out the pepperoni, mortadella, and some of the cheese, however, I thought it tasted much better. Although I did find myself drinking a ton of water the rest of the day. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian sub or just a change of pace from Subway, I would still wholeheartedly recommend Mangialardo and Sons.

Foodies' mecca aka Hill's Kitchen

Afterward, I wandered around the Hill and stumbled upon the cutest culinary shop, Hill’s Kitchen. I stocked up on stocking stuffers for the holidays: an eggplant shaped spoon rest, Capitol-shaped cookie cutters, and cute penguin napkins. Then I somehow ended up in Chinatown (not sure how…) and went to the Downtown Holiday Market for even more holiday shopping. Lots of handmade jewelry, beautiful photos, and cute clothes all from local vendors. There was also live jazz outside the Portrait Gallery and really yummy, fresh-out-of-the-fryer donuts. All in all, it was a wonderful day to be unemployed.

Jazz outside the Portrait Gallery

Mangialardo and Sons

1317 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Washington, DC 20003

(202) 543-6212

Open weekdays 7:30a-3:00p

Mangialardo & Sons on Urbanspoon

Hill’s Kitchen

713 D St. SE (across from the Eastern Market metro)

Washington, DC 20003

(202) 543-1997

Downtown Holiday Market

F St. between 7th and 8th St. (near the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro)

Open Dec. 4-23, Noon-8pm daily

Downtown Holiday Market