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.

The Best Thing at the Party: Chefs for Equality

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The scene: Chefs and mixologists in every direction in a Ritz-Carlton ballroom studded with silver and red. Cakes that could win a competition, super tall drag queens, a silent auction with killer prizes and TIM GUNN! The Human Rights Campaign’s second annual Chefs for Equality event was spirited and extravagant. After all, there’s a lot to celebrate this year with the striking down of DOMA!

But as always with Best Thing on the Menu, we care first and foremost about the food. After sampling truffled this and that (including popcorn from the Inn at Little Washington!), a couple warm soups in little cardboard cups, boozy fudgsicles and too many canapés to count, a clear winner emerged.

Pabu Happy Spoon

The Best Thing at the Party was, without a doubt, Pabu’s Happy Spoon: Beau Soleil Oyster with Uni, Ikura, Tobiko and a Ponzu Crème Fraîche. This mouthful of raw seafood tastes like someone scooped out a little slice of Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. The uni flavor overwhelms but the texture and sweetness of the Pop Rocks-like tobiko and ikura complete the bite. This was by far the most delicate, complex, decadent dish of the night. We had more than our fill of spoons; we’re to blame if they ran out.

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We are now officially inspired to head to Baltimore to visit Executive Chef Jonah Kim and the rest of the team at Pabu. It’s so much more than sushi! They have some of our favorite Japanese dishes including okonomiyaki, miso-glazed nasu (eggplant), Nagoya-style chicken wings and more. Loved grilled food? They even have authentic robatayaki cuisine grilled over Japanese white oak. Oh, and you can get the Happy Spoon! It’s on their regular dinner menu. If you’re a first time Japanese food consumer, take the guesswork out of it and get the Satori tasting menu for under $50.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, the mini Pop-Tart from Ted’s Bulletin was The Best Thing in the Swag Bag (BTSB)!

Pabu’s Happy Spoon not the Best Thing at the Party? Share your favorites in the comments section and definitely get tickets next year.

Ted’s Bulletin: Pop-tarts!

Ted's Bulletin Pop Tart

Pop-tarts are so in right now that they’re being used as a measurement calibration for Smartphones. So, where can you get them in DC? Well, there are a couple of places but Ted’s Bulletin was first. While we eagerly await a toaster strudel competitor to open across the street, here are our thoughts on Ted’s on 14th.

When you enter Ted’s Bulletin, you also enter the 1930s. Prepared to be comforted by jazzed up diner dishes in the afternoon and evening and true breakfast staples in the morning. We particularly like their Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito, Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup and their Meatloaf with Mingo County Ketchup Glaze. Oh and throw in their adult milkshakes.

That being said, we have to go with the pack on this one. The Best Thing on the Menu: Chocolate Salted Caramel Pop-tarts are a must-try. If sugar content wasn’t enough reason to sample this childhood staple turned trend, here are some fun facts about pop-tarts:

  • Kellogg actually swiped the toaster pastry idea away from Post, who originally had the idea for “Country Squares.” They revealed their revolutionary breakfast product just a bit too soon and lost big time. Whomp whomp.
  • The first four flavors when pop-tarts hit the shelves were blueberry, brown sugar cinnamon, apple currant and strawberry. Brown sugar cinnamon, still the king today! That’s a lot of accolades seeing as though pop-tarts now come in 29 flavors.
  • You may have seen this warning on the box “Due to possible risk of fire, never leave your toasting appliance or microwave unattended.” There’s a good story here… If you weren’t concentrating hard in grade school in 1992, you might remember that a dude named Thomas Nangle sued Kellogg after his pop-tart got stuck in the toaster and caught on fire. A couple years later a groovy professor at Texas A & M performed an experiment showing that STRAWBERRY pop-tarts (strawberry specifically?!) when left in the toaster can produce foot-high flames. It apparently happened again more recently in 2001.
  • The original pop-tart mascots name was Milton.
  • We’re hopeful they don’t break when airdropped, because in 2004, our military dropped 2.4 million pop-tarts in Afghanistan.
  • Though now discontinued, at one point there was a Hello Kitty Meowberry pop-tart.
  • Never trust anyone who eats his pop-tarts cold out of the box. It’s hot and gooey or the highway.

It’s fun to feel comfy cozy eating inside Ted’s Bulletin on 14th. The atmosphere makes you want to stay a while and we’re particularly enamored by the fact that they play Gone with the Wind on old-timey TVs, have newspaper-looking menus and recognize that breakfast is the best meal of the day by serving it at all times!

Pop-tarts not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.