At the end of every year, most food writers and bloggers publish summaries: favorite chefs, restaurants, dishes, trends, events, etc. I was planning to do the same. But who needs another wrap up extolling the virtues of Pineapple and Pearls, Bad Saint, All Purpose, Tail Up Goat, Convivial, Hazel, Kinship, etc. etc.? You can read the year in review stories published by DC’s most prolific food writers from Tom Sietsema at Washington Post, Laura Hayes at City Paper, Lani Furbank at Thrillist, Rina Rapuano at Zagat, and compilations posted on Brightest Young Things, Eater DC, and Washingtonian.
Instead of a year-end wrap-up, this post is about my leftovers. Here are some of the memorable meals that never made it on the blog this year, either because I was too busy, too tired, or the details were just too darn fuzzy.
Shanghai Taste, 1121 Nelson St, Rockville, MD 20850
I’ve been here twice in the last week since my office moved nearby, and plan to make this restaurant my lunchtime go-to. Tim Carman of The Washington Post just included it in “The $20 Diner’s Favorite Cheap Eats of 2016,” so getting a table in the relatively small restaurant could be a challenge. Curry beef noodle soup and noodle soup with spiced pork leave an indelible impression on my taste buds. Even if you’re here for soup, make sure to order the house specialty- soup dumplings. A soft dumpling filled with minced pork oozes forth with a surprising squirt of liquid when you bite into it. Tip: The dumplings are made to order, so let it cool a bit or you may end up burning your tongue. This may have happened to someone I know. Rookie mistake.
Duke’s Grocery, 1513 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Duke’s Grocery is a self-described neighborhood pub that elevates sandwiches to new heights. Its Proper Burger is often cited as one of the best burgers in DC. I’m no burger expert but damn, this is good. It’s thick (double patties!!) and juicy, layered with smoky Gouda, charred red onions, dill pickles, arugula, garlic aioli, and sweet chili sauce. Quality meat matters, and the Proper Burger made from Creekstone Farm Angus beef, is a case in point. Tip: Be sure to accessorize with some of Duke’s excellent seasonal sides.
Panda Gourmet, 2700 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Panda Gourmet is located off the lobby of a Day’s Inn in Northeast DC. It’s not the most intuitive location for great food, but once you dig into the Sichuan and Shaanxi delights, you are transported. We’re armed with a list of recommendations, but are swayed by dishes handed off to nearby tables. Prices are so reasonable, you can’t help but over-order. You may or may not have leftovers. Our party of four fills the table with steaming plates of sliced beef and vegetables in fiery pot, flounder and vegetables in fiery pot, garlic chicken, scallion pancakes, dan dan noodles, and stir fried string beans. Spices are bold, but not overwhelming. Tip: Many of the servers don’t speak English, which is challenging if you have questions or want modifications to your food. Best to just go with the flow if you can.
Chez Billy Sud, 1039 31st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
I love the understated elegance of this French bistro in the heart of Georgetown. Duck confit is a perfect entree to fit the setting. The crisp duck leg is served with pommes lyonnaise, shitakes, and spinach. Steak frites are also deeply satisfying. This restaurant lingered on my to-do list for far too long. It’s now on my list for return visits. Tip: Don’t skip dessert. J’adore the apple galette.
Whaley’s, 301 Water St SE #115, Washington, DC 20003
Whaley’s is a seafood restaurant on Water Street. I dined here before seeing the play “Moby Dick,” because sometimes you just need a night with a focused theme. I really like the cruise ship feel to Whaley’s, which compliments delicious whole fried fish with lentils and green curry. Our over-eager server introduces himself, asks for our names, and proceeds to shake our hands. This move leaves us shaking our heads. Nice try though. Tip: Whaley’s shellfish towers and crudos appear on many year-end favorites lists.
In 2016 I had some exceptional meals in other cities around the country. Here are highlights from my Instagram feed. Follow me @beenthereeatenthat.
Boka, 1729 North Halsted Street, Chicago, Il 60614
Aldine, 1901 Chestnut St 2nd FloorPhiladelphia, Pa 19103
Roister, (from Chef Grant Achatz) 951 W Fulton Market, Chicago, Illinois 60607
Alley Cat Oyster Bar, 1056 Old River Road • Cleveland, OH 44113
Talde, 4041 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140
Sidney Street Cafe, 2000 Sidney Street, St. Louis, MO 63104
Here’s to fantastic feasting in 2017!