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.

Thally: Roasted Duck Breast

Thally Roasted Duck Breast

If Thally is a sample of what the unfolding Shaw restaurant boom will bring, we’re in for a fun ride. The new restaurant by Chef Ron Tanaka and his partners in crime is impossibly creative and simple at the same time.

The drink prices ($7 and $8 wine!) and entree portion sizes (not guilt-inducing, nor small plates!) weren’t the only things refreshing at Thally. The restaurant doesn’t feel the need to spell out every detail of how its dishes will be presented on the menu. Rather, they keep it simple and allow guests to be wowed with whimsy when dishes arrive at the table. The compressed watermelon and heirloom tomato salad for example, doesn’t let on that it will come out shaped like sushi with acompanying ginger and wasabi. They trust their customers will pick up on, and enjoy, the surprise.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Roasted Duck Breast with Sunchoke, Kale and Taggiasca Olive Sauce wins out on the merits of flawless execution. The perfect medium rare sear and criss-crossed rendered duck fat are executed to such a high level that we wonder whether Chef Tanaka learned these tricks during his time at Citronelle. Other standouts include the Crab Roulette, Carnitas Sope and Pan Seared Rockfish. For photos of these dishes plus the watermelon salad sushi click here.

Though modern in decor, the restaurant’s name is, in part, a throw back tribute to the Tally-Ho stables built in the neighborhood in 1883. The restaurant seats about 70 and takes reservations through OpenTable. Our post comes on the heels of a positive Tom Sietsema review. See what he had to say.

Roasted Duck Breast not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.