DC’s Top Food and Drink Trends 2013


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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.

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.