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.