Reflections On a Big Mac In D.C.’s Franklin Square

Big-Mac-300x258It was a day a bit like today—mostly sunny, bright, albeit at least 10 degrees warmer—only a decade ago. I was taking a stroll through D.C.’s Franklin Square. It must have been around lunchtime, or thereabouts. A few scattered park benches were occupied with folks taking their midday meal al fresco. Back then, the park was a much different place. It was not the mecca of mobile vendors you see parked along the periphery today. The food truck thing was still years away. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Sandwich: Fast Gourmet’s $13 Chivito

ChivitoFor gas-station fare, it’s tough to beat the chivito at Fast  Gourmet, the fancy sandwich shop at Lowest Best Price Gas on 14th Street  NW. The cost of regular unleaded now exceeds $4 per gallon, but the  South American-style grinder, which earned City Paper‘s pick for  “Best Uruguayan Sandwich” in 2011, is still a flat $13 (plus tax). It’s worth the  three-gallon-plus price tag. What makes it so tasty? Well, a lot of things.   Continue reading

Blast From The Past: Blowtorched Sushi Is Back at Uni

SushiTorchBack in 2004, Y&H alum Todd Kliman wrote about the scintillating fare at Uni: A Sushi Place, former Sushi-Ko chef James Tan‘s then-new restaurant near Dupont Circle. At the time, Kliman, now the restaurant critic at Washingtonian, seemed particularly taken with Tan’s use of the blowtorch….Ironically, a fire in the building forced Uni to close for the greater part of 2011 and, thus, most of my return to D.C. over the past year. But the place on P Street has since reopened. I stopped by last night for old time’s sake. Sure enough, the joint is still firing up its signature seared salmon ($5.50 for two pieces), which tasted just as soft, smoky and luscious as I remembered. Continue reading

Neapolitan Smackdown!

NeapolitanSmackdownIn opening La Forchetta, the modish new Italian-themed eatery in Wesley Heights, restaurateur Hakan Ilhan boldly declared that the reigning mecca of authentic Neapolitan-style pizza-making in the District had just been surpassed.“2Amys, in my opinion, was No. 1,” Ilhan said, referring to Peter Pastan‘s  uber-popular pizzeria in Cleveland  Park. “I think ours is the best.”  On a recent evening, I decided to put Ilhan’s pontificating on his pizza to the test, dropping by both wood-fired oven eateries for an initial side-by-side comparison of each one’s take on the classic margherita  pie. Continue reading

This Is Why D.C. Diners Can’t Have Nice Things 24/7

NightMovesIt’s Monday night, about 11:26 p.m. and my new would-be go-to late-night burger spot, Black & Orange, is all locked up. A guy in the window makes a cutthroat gesture as I try in vain to pry open the door. When I point to the large posted sign reading “Open Till 5 a.m.,” he just shakes his head. As we continue to pantomime back and forth, a trio of svelte young ladies also attempts entry and immediately starts sniping about the snub. “They said they were open ’til five!” one gal scoffs as she and her friends turn away and clomp in their heels up toward U Street NW. It’s no surprise the place had customers waiting to get in. Two weeks ago, the Washington Post spotlighted the wee-hour goings-on at the two-and-a-half-month old gourmet burger joint on 14th Street NW in an article prominently displayed on the cover of its Metro section, which pondered, “Is the District slowly evolving into a 24-hour city?” Ironically, the article appeared in print one day after the Post’s own Going Out Gurus reported that Black & Orange had abruptly and dramatically scaled back its hours. Continue reading