BTMMY’s: Cast Your Vote to Win!

The first annual BTMMY’s are here! Cast your vote for a chance to win $200 to the Jose Andres restaurant of your choice. The year 2013 was terrific for eating and drinking in the District, and we can’t wait to hear your favorites.

*To be entered into the drawing to win, be sure to submit your e-mail address in the “other” line of the final poll question.

BTMMY winners will be announced after Turkey Day, so will the winner of the Jose Andres restaurant raffle!

DC’s Top Food and Drink Trends 2013

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A food blogger’s log of top trends in our nation’s capital, based on too many meals to count. As Heidi would say, you’re either in or you’re out!

Chez Billy Saucisse Merguez

Chez Billy

1. Small plates: You either love them or you hate them, especially if you live and eat on 14th Street. But one thing’s for sure, small plate hate and continued complaining about them is in vogue. Good places to get full-size meals? Chez Billy, West End Bistro, Poste and Table.

Spraga's Brisket

Sbraga

2. Brisket is back. Done right, this cut of meat can steal the show. Where to get it in DC? Roses Luxury, DCity Smokehouse and Garden District. It is also the Best Thing on the Menu at Philly’s Sbraga.

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Del Campo

3. Fernet is having a renaissance. Try it and you’ll taste hints of eucalyptus, saffron, cardamom and chamomile. Most popular in Italy and Argentina, fernet is typically mixed with soda water or it can be used in cocktails as a form of bitters. In DC, you can try it at Del Campo and Urbana.

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4. New restaurants are forgoing traditional websites and are opting instead for robust Facebook pages. Or, restaurants are choosing to create a simple single page, meant solely to point you to their social media accounts. This is such a smart money saver. There’s no need to pay an IT company to build and maintain a website when Facebook has built-in infrastructure for diners to interact with their favorite restaurants. Our new favorite spot, Mockingbird Hill, is one example: Their simple web page vs. their Facebook page.

Shaw DC

5. Shaw has become THE neighborhood for new restaurants, including Eat the Rich, Dacha Beer Garden, Mockingbird Hill, Thally, Table and more.

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Casa Luca

6. More than a handful of restaurants are jumping on the charcuterie bandwagon. A trend many enjoy, but others skip due to the availability of fine meat and cheese selections at gourmet grocery stores. If you’re pro-charcuterie visit: Casa Luca, The Pig, Churchkey/Birch and Barley, Proof, Urbana, Vinoteca and Etto.

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Revive Catering

7. Waffles are crushing it, sorry cronuts. DC has some of the best waffles to offer the world including Revive Catering’s red velvet chicken and waffles, B TOO’s blood sausage stuffed waffle and Brasserie Beck’s gingerbread waffle.

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Petworth Citizen

8. Cosmos and appletinis are out. Prohibition era cocktails are in. Big name Founding Farmers has 11 different prohibition era inspired cocktails like a Sazerac and a New York Sour. Then there are places like The Gibson, PX, The Passenger/Columbia Room, Bar Charley and Petworth Citizen.

Oyamel Fried Egg

Oyamel

9. Remember being twelve years old and requesting breakfast for dinner for your birthday? Fortunately, you can relive this small joy by visiting several DC restaurants. Ted’s Bulletin serves breakfast all day long, Oyamel has a killer egg dish and DGS serves “Benedictberg” well into the night.

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Taylor Gourmet

10. Whether you’re curing a hangover, fueling your marathon (or 5K!) training, or just gearing up for a Sunday on the couch watching football, monster sandwiches are the answer. The arrival of spots like Duke’s Grocery and food trucks like SUNdeVICH plus the continued awesomeness of Taylor Gourmet and Stachowski Market & Deli means you’ll never be without a good sando in hando.

Got a trend you’d like to share? Let us hear it in the comments section! Plus, see where we ate in 2013.

Out of Town Edition: Sbraga (Philly)

Spraga's Brisket

We’re happy to bring you yet another Amtrak-trip worthy restaurant. Hop on the next train to Philly to try creative American fare at Sbraga. But make a reservation first because they just won Restaurant of the Year in the city of brotherly love.

The cuisine at Sbraga is a lot like melting-pot America. Chef Kevin Sbraga pulls from Africa with his piri piri sauce; Thailand with the unexpected herbs in his foie gras soup; the Middle East with his falafel, Japan with his miso ramen and Italy with his lamb rigatoni.

But for those looking for straight up ‘Merican, he also has meatloaf and The Best Thing on the Menu: Brisket with Choucroute, Pastrami Jus and Pickles. This three-bite brisket is memorable because of its salty, sour and creamy flavor profile. 

Spraga's Foie Gras Soup

You might remember the man behind this delectable foie gras soup – Chef Kevin Sbraga – as the most likable person to ever win Top Chef. But I remember him from when we both worked at a restaurant on the Main Line under Chef Georges Perrier. He was very likable back then too, generously sneaking me snacks from the kitchen. Remembering his awesome dishes from Top Chef and his winning personality at George’s, I had very high hopes for his namesake restaurant and those hopes were met and exceeded.

Spraga's Wagyu Carpaccio

The menu, including this melt-in-your-mouth wagyu carpaccio is made simple: Diners make their draft picks for four courses. The damage? An incredibly reasonable $49, with opportunities to supplement with delicacies here and there. By DC standards, this is a steal. Even with the price of your round-trip Amtrak train to Philly!

Spraga's Key Lime Dessert

Finish the evening with desserts that range from classy to kindergarten. We tried this refined take on key lime pie in addition to the dirt pudding, complete with homemade gummy worms. Here’s hoping Chef Sbraga makes his way to DC to open another cool spot.

Brisket not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section. Click here for more photos.

If you liked this, you might also like Zahav, B TOO or Kapnos.

Petworth Citizen: Grilled Short Ribs

Petworth Citizen Short Rib

Chef Makoto Hamamura may have made a huge culinary switcheroo from fine dining to elevated bar food, but he hardly touched the vowels and consonants in his place of employment – moving from Cityzen to Citizen.

Petworth Citizen is a neighborhoody restaurant and bar located in (you guessed it) Petworth. They churn out creative cocktails and some of the best bad-for-you-but-who-cares food around.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Grilled Romaine Lettuce and Smoky Ranch also happens to be the most expensive thing on the menu. Demonstrating how reasonable this literary-inspired spot is, the short ribs will run you $16. Calling the sauce ranch is almost a crime. It’s SO much more than ranch. Impossibly smoky. Grilling lettuce is spreading like wildfire in DC. Rose’s Luxury does a mean job at it too.

Other menu winners? The fried chicken sausage sandwich, which reminds us of our favorite “convini” grab and go lunch in Japan as well as the Asian-inspired fried chicken wings.

As of this week, Petworth Citizen will now be serving brunch. Our friends over at Prince of Petworth have the menu for you to take a look at. They offer both chicken and waffles AND shrimp and waffles. Hmmm. We’re also looking forward to taking a book and leaving a book in their planned reading room, which they proclaim will the best place to hang out on Sundays if you’re not into football.

Beef short ribs not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like The Pig, Bar Charley or Chez Billy.

Urbana Reloaded: Monkfish

Urbana Monkfish

Urbana’s has a shiny new chef, Ethan McKee. That means a brand new Mediterranean menu and it’s safe to say that the fish dishes steal the show.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Monkfish with Merguez, Roasted Peppers and Fennel comes in Le Creuset-like serveware. This firm fish won’t win a beauty contest any time soon but it sure goes well with smokey meat. Typically monkfish is served with bacon or prosciutto, but at Urbana, Chef McKee uses gamey, sweet and spicy merguez sausage.

Pair the monkfish with an herbalicious house-bottled fernet cocktail to cut the jammy tomatoes and salty sausage. Fernet is having a real renaissance. Del Campo is also bottling its own fernet and cola. Fernet’s an awesome aromatic flavored with the likes of chamomile, cardamom, saffron, and myrrh. The booze? It’s typically made from grape distilled spirits.

Urbana Cod Fritters

Other top fish dishes on the new Urbana menu include the Salt Cod Brandade Fritters with Celeriac Remoulade, which are nice and fluffy thanks to being soaked in milk, as well as the Spanish Dorade which comes will kale that rocked our world.

Save room for dessert and pick whatever they’re serving with their exquisite honey-thyme ice cream.

Monkfish not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

Taylor Gourmet: Cottman Avenue

Taylor Gourmet Cottman Ave

When you enter a Taylor Gourmet you’re likely to be overwhelmed by the many streets of Philadelphia to choose from – 31 to be exact. Some favorites include Federal Street with layer upon layer of cold cuts; Pattison Ave stuffed with roasted pork and broccoli rabe; or the Callowhill with meatballs and marinara.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Cottman Avenue is in another league. It tastes like an afternoon spent gathering ingredients at the Italian Market in South Philly. Pepperoni, roasted red peppers, basil and fresh mozzarella top a fried and breaded chicken cutlet with just the right amount of girth.

We imagine you’ve tried Taylor Gourmet, maybe you’ve ever tried the Best Thing on the Menu. But, have you tried all the different ways to Taylor? BTM presents Teach Me How to Taylor – like Teach Me How to Dougie – but more delicious:

Football Sunday Taylor – Whether it’s a 1:00, 4:25 or 8:25 kick-off, Taylor Gourmet is your best friend on Sundays. Invite your friends and order a couple of larges. They’ll deliver them hot and ready to your house.

Late Night No Inhibitions Taylor – The 14th Street and H Street locations are open until 3:30 a.m. Come when the bars close, order, take a picture of your food and look at the picture in the morning to see what you threw down. You may surprise yourself with photos of fistfuls of risotto balls.

The Morning After Taylor – Breakfast hoagies are back. Good morning Filbert Street – bacon, hot capicola, eggs and American cheese!

Turn that Frown Upside Down Taylor – Have you taken Twitter to air your misgivings about sandwiches no longer on the menu? Consider it an opportunity to actually try something new OR move their current menu items around like a Rubik’s Cube to create your old standby.

I Just Finished a Marathon Taylor – For these rare occasions, the Philly Landfill is your must-order menu item: Genoa salami, roast pork, peppered ham, roasted red peppers and sharp provolone.

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There’s one more we’re waiting to try this December:

It’s My Birthday Taylor – This is when you beg the guys behind the counter to make you their best risotto balls because you plan to stick birthday candles in them in lieu of a cake. It also means you’re turning five…

However you Taylor, we’re super grateful to the sandwich bromance of David Mazza and Casey Patten for bringing a bite of Philly to the District.

Cottman Avenue not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.