Stoney’s: Super Grilled Cheese

Stoney's Super Grilled Cheese

Sure, there are a lot of good sandwiches in DC. Maybe you’ve been wowed by fish gyros, piled-high pastrami, tofu banh mi or foie gras-topped duck burgers. None of these match up to Stoney’s Best Thing on the Menu: Super Grilled Cheese. Eating the world’s most perfect iteration of what mom used to make, paired with a cold one, never gets old. They can even serve it with Campbell’s-like tomato soup!

What’s so super about it? Bread that seems to be two parts butter, one part bread fried so crisp you can hear a cacophony of chewing on any given evening; tripled-up slices of melty American cheese the color of a harvest moon; thick-cut bacon, tomato and tangy red onion. Not feeling so super? Try the plain Grilled Cheese, Grilled Ham N Cheese or go gourmet with Rocket Cheese (arugula, Swiss cheese and grape tomatoes on multi-grain) or Chesapeake Cheese (4oz crab cake, Swiss, alfredo sauce and spinach on multi-grain).

If this isn’t enough to stop falsely labeling Stoney’s as a dive bar, you can also try their Salmon BLT, Super Meatloaf Sandwich, or Boss of the Sauce Burger while watching your team play on a big screen or challenging your office mates to trivia. The only thing that remotely places them in this category is their very fair prices. The Super Grilled Cheese (with fries) will run you $9.95 or get it half off on Thursdays during happy hour (5:00-7:00pm).

We’re looking forward to their second location on L Street, just one more way to maximize our Super Grilled Cheese intake.

Super Grilled Cheese not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

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Ghibellina: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo

Ghibellina Gnocchi with Kale Pesto

It’s no secret that Americans have been sustaining a healthy obsession with kale since the super food became a super trend in 2012. Chances are, you’ve had a friend, neighbor or yoga instructor climb onto a leafy-green soapbox to tell you why you should be eating kale … every day.

You’ve probably heard that it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, can help reduce your risk of certain cancers, and packs in fiber without the calories. Kale me crazy, but what we’d like to throw in there is that it’s cheap, affordable and most importantly, versatile. Virgin kale consumers don’t have to dive into the deep-end by sticking a straw into a raw green smoothie. There are plenty of more palatable ways to sneak kale into your diet.

Enter Ghibellina, the 14th Street newcomer and the Best Thing on the Menu: Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo. Gnocchi as light and fluffy as a Four Seasons down pillow come adorned with kale pesto, walnuts and taleggio. While it’s fun to cut pizza with scissors (one of the better gimmicks we’ve seen in a while),  we were more excited about the kale pesto as a fun take on an Italian classic. The BTM comes in two sizes, so you can enjoy it as an appetizer and still get the full experience of using sheers to slice your main-course pizza pie. We found a gnocchi with kale pesto recipe if you’d like to give it a whirl at home.

Ghibellina was in the same 14th Street draft class as Etto and Le Diplomate, and is faring extremely well. It fits that the Italian gastro pub serving up Tuscan cuisine has found a niche for itself doing happy hour, since the majority of the restaurant is bar seating, with only a few tables tucked away. Their fantastic happy hour is offered Tuesday-Sunday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and specials include 1/2 price pizzas, Imperial Pints (20oz not 16oz) at $3.50-$4.00, $5 wines and $6 specialty cocktails.

We look forward to trying Ghibellina for brunch because we love the quirky nature of an Italian joint serving Challah French Toast.

Gnocchetti con Pesto di Cavolo not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

If you liked this, you might also like: Firefly and Urbana.

Poste: Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Poste's Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Dining at Chef Dennis Marron’s Poste is a bit like a perfect trip to the zoo. If you go to Poste for dinner and dine al fresco, you are privy to a table on the upper patio where you can, with reasonable peace and quiet, observe the lower deck post-work antics and human mating rituals. There is no doubt that Poste’s happy hour is popular, but for those that want a great meal and to watch from afar, book a dinner table.

Set in the 1841 General Post Office building, Poste joins a host of other delicious Kimpton restaurants we have profiled on Best Thing on the Menu such as Zentan and Urbana. Like the other two, there is tremendous attention to detail in the cuisine and the boisterous brasserie atmosphere keeps us coming back.

Though we’re sure to hear disagreements in the form of truffle frites, BTM has selected Beef Cheek Bourguignon as the Best Thing on the Menu. The 72-hour braised short ribs are served with bacon, carrots, baby turnips and Dijon whipped potatoes.

Chef Marron accomplishes the impossible in this dish. Beef Bourguignon is typically a heavy, hibernation indulgence designed to warm you up in the winter. But at Poste, their bourguignon is light enough to enjoy in the summer and you don’t leave weighed down or covered in stew stains. The texture of the beef is divine and the seasoning, perfection.

After such a great meal, we might pull for Chef Marron in the Brainfood Burger Battle tomorrow! Tickets still available.

Beef Cheek Bourguignon not your BTM? “Poste” your favorites in the comments section.

Urbana: Short Rib Cannelloni and Leeks

Urbana Cannelloni

Southern France and Northern Italy meet for a unique date in a foodie dungeon in Dupont Circle at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar. We knew we loved the luxurious lounge that locals have been happy to hunker down in for years, but what took us by big surprise was the food.

Urbana has truly upped the ante when it comes to refined flavor and artful presentation. The Best Thing on the Menu: Cannelloni – Rolled Pasta with Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib, Leeks and Truffled Pecorino is a knock out. The shape of the oversized leeks are a play on the shape of the tubular cannelloni and their pickled, tangy flavor goes perfectly with earthy, tender short ribs.

The leg of lamb was a close second, as were many of the other dishes we sampled. We’d love to see Urbana creep up to the upper echelons of cuisine and ratings in DC because they are most worthy.

Urbana has been celebrated as one of DC’s best bars for treating regulars like royalty (see DC Eater article). It’s not too often that you find a hotel bar (Kimpton Hotel Palomar) and restaurant as beloved or frequented by locals. Urbana has also been named as one of DC’s hottest restaurant bar scenes. So, next time you’re ready to dine in Dupont, take a turn down the other side of P Street for some great eats.

Cannelloni not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.

DGS Delicatessen: Holishkes

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DGS Delicatessen, a.k.a. District Grocery Store, brings a dose of originality to Dupont Circle. This reimagined Jewish deli brines, cures, smokes and pickles on premise and lots of love goes into every dish. DGS doubles as a sandwich shop and a sit-down restaurant. The only thing missing? Perfectly crafted bagels and schmear. Those with tips on where to get a good bagel inside the beltway, please share in the comments section. The quest is ongoing.

DGS is owned by third generation cousins, Nick and David Wiseman, who say DGS is a nod to the mom-and-pop grocery stores that lined DC street corners at the turn of the 20th century. They’ve seen success so far, and even got a nod in the  New York Times.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Holishkes are unique because they fuse Ashkenazic and Sephardic ingredients. DGS Chef Barry Koslow’s holishkes recipe calls for brisket stuffed cabbage, sweet and sour tomato sauce that’s as thick and sweet as ketchup, orzo and rye bread crumbs. Holishkes are a traditional dish for Sukkot, an autumn harvest festival. The stuffed cabbage leaves symbolize abundance.

What’s in a name? It’s hard to believe how many names can be given to this succulent stuffed cabbage dish. Popular terms include galuptze, praakes and bolopches. Sephardic Jews make a very similar dish but with lamb instead of beef and call the concoction sarmas or mishi malfouf. Whatever you call them, we dare to say they compete with your bubbe’s.

DGS is a great change of pace for dinner or brunch and they have an unbeatable happy hour. Mazel tov DGS, we hope you’re here to stay.

Holishkes not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.