Most missed in DC/NOVA

This morning I’ll be hopping on a plane from Portland and flying to DC, returning for the first time since leaving in August. I miss the place more than I expected to. I miss my friends, though with all your Tweets it sometimes feels like I’ve never left. I miss the constant happy hours and the intellectual engagement. I miss biking; I’m surprised to be driving my car here in Portland more than I ever did in Virginia. And of course I miss the food. Here’s a list of some of the places I’m hoping to get back to. Not the best places necessarily, just the ones I subjectively miss the most.

EatBar — This place combines the feel of a true neighborhood bar with a real commitment to quality. The food is always excellent, the beer list is solid, and Gina Chersevani has made the cocktails superb as well. The smoke-friendly back room is one of my favorite spots in Virginia; when the winter made our outdoor Sunday cigars impossible, this was our refuge. I spent a year living around the corner in a crappy, run down apartment. EatBar was one of two places that made that worthwhile. The other was…

El Charrito — This unassuming Salvadoran and Mexican restaurant caters equally to construction workers and white collar professionals, serving up $2 cabrito tacos, great burritos, and fried plantains. It was a block from my house. My current apartment is much nicer than my old one, but all I’ve got here are Burgerville, Subway, and Red Robin.

Murky Coffee — Where everybody knows my name, where I first got into coffee, and where I first started not hating DC. If not for Murky, I would have left the city back in 2005. (Thanks, Nick!)

Grape and Bean — I loved working here. They got their on-premise beer and wine license after I left, so I’m looking forward to getting back and seeing how it all worked out.

Crisp and Juicy — Of the many rotisserie chicken places in Northern Virginia, this was by far my favorite. Super Pollo was convenient. Pollo Rico was good, but serving steak fries instead of yuca takes it down a notch. Crisp and Juicy was, very strangely, the site of my first date with me previous girlfriend. I dream of their chicken.

Kabob Bazaar — Mondays and Fridays, ghormeh sabzhi. That’s all you need to know.

Birreria Paradiso — This basement bar is where I had my eyes opened to beer and was the only reason I’d go to Georgetown at night. I had Belgian ales and barley wines for the first time here and regret that I rarely went back after leaving my job at nearby Baked and Wired.

Baked and Wired — Speaking of B&W, I do miss their chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. How did I get by having these for breakfast for so many months? They never tasted better than the night I spent closing down Paradiso and sleeping on the floor of the coffee shop to be there for the opening barista shift.

Rustico — My other favorite beer place, and damn good food too.

Brasserie Beck — My other other favorite beer place. You’ve gotta respect a joint that’s pure Belgian and has a beer knight (Le Chevalarie du Fourquet des Brasseurs) running their list. The apple curry mussels are how mussels pray to be treated in the afterlife.

Eamonn’s — Come for the fish and chips, stay for the batter burger. Oh yeah, and there’s a speakeasy on top.

El Rinconcito and the Korean cart on 14th and L — Lobbyists have no taste. Cato’s office is close to K Street. Therefore, despite our proximity to Chinatown, there wasn’t much good ethnic food in the area. These two were notable exceptions.

Pho 75 — I can get good Vietnamese food here, but Pho 75 is still my favorite; it got me out of countless hangovers when I lived in Court House.

Nam-Viet — If I were smart, I would have scheduled this trip during soft-shell crab season.

Five Guys — Suck it, In-n-Out. NOVA’s cultish burger franchise puts you to shame.

China Express — Just a typical American takeout Chinese restaurant, but they were good at it in a city where people often weren’t and the owners were always incredibly friendly.

Open City — They put up with my first experimentation behind the bar, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

PS7 — I didn’t go as often after Tiffany left the bar, but their happy hour is one of the best around. Few do cocktails and food as well as they do.

There’s no way I’m getting to all these places this weekend, plus there’s a few newcomers I’m eager to visit: Peregrine Espresso, Source, Commonwealth, and Gibson come to mind. What else am I missing?


5 thoughts on “Most missed in DC/NOVA”

  1. Wow, I’ve only been to three places on this list: 5 Guys (obviously), Open City (with Ben) and Pho 75. (maybe four… is China Express the one at Courthouse? If so, I’ve been there too).

    The place that’s got all the buzz right now (seriously, way more buzz than I’ve heard for any other place in my time out here) is Hell Burger. It’s the companion restaurant to Ray’s The Steaks, in the same little complex as Pho 75. It’s on the other side of Pho 75, no signage or anything, and they might be limited to lunch/early afternoon. I don’t know, I haven’t been yet. Even though it’s like 2 blocks away from my office. But everyone who has tried it is raving about it, and apparently Seitsma is a huge fan.

    Also, I know you’re more of the Clarendon type, but Crystal City also has a bunch of awesome restaurants that I’m sad to see didn’t make this list. Chief among them are Cantina Mexicana (truly great tex-mex, something that’s usually just average) and Nerhimitra (sp?) Thai, which is easily the best Thai I’ve ever had.

  2. I’m quite jealous; I’ve been in Austin, TX as long and am dying for an EatBar Burger and a shot pulled at Murky. Glad to hear Grape and Bean is still making it. I went there a few times when it opened up and wondered if it could last. In reference to your article, that is one place that made good use of The Clover–with Counter Culture beans. As for Five Guys, I have no excuse as they just opened one here and I have yet to visit. Anyway enjoy your visit.

  3. Maybe I picked a bad day to go, but I did not like the Source. I was there for lunch, and the food was just ok, and the service was horrible. Then again, it was fairly soon after it opened, so maybe they’ve ironed things out by now.

  4. Hey Matt, you can add me to the list of Hell Burger lovers. They’re fantastic. The only reason they didn’t make my list is because I only got to go once before I moved, so they weren’t really most missed. Thanks for the Crystal City recommendations too.

    Barz, I didn’t love Proof, though I only went once. The food (a charcuterie plate) was expensive and not very interesting. Our waiter was kind of a pretentious dick. Maybe I’ll go back for a proper meal sometime, and I do admire their cocktail program, but it really wasn’t the kind of experience that made we want to go back there.

    Sean, totally with you on the Eatbar burger. However appealing the rest of their menu is, I just can’t resist that burger.

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