The huge Whiting Dinner with collards and mac and cheese on the side.
Horace and Dickies is a soul food and seafood carryout specializing in fried fish located at 809 12th St NE. There is an additional location in Takoma but this one along the H Street NE Corridor is the original. While it’s nowhere near as old as Ben’s Chili Bowl, Horace and Dickies has been in business for about 25 years and is an institution along H Street, much like Ben’s Chili Bowl is for U Street, but far less well-known. Horace and Dickies long predates the fancy new places on H Street like Maketto and Dangerously Delicious Pies; it remains an authentic locals’ spot, specializing in basic, tasty, fried fish with soul food sides, like collards and creamy mac and cheese. The most popular item on the menu is the Whiting Sandwich, which is a large portion of fried whiting served with two slices of bread. It’s nothing fancy (the bread is supermarket bread and you have a choice between wheat or white) and there is far more fish than you could possibly fit into one sandwich. It’s a very satisfying comfort food, particularly after a night out on H Street, and it’s as DC as the chili half-smoke. Another option is to get the Whiting Dinner, which comes with a choice of two sides. I made the mistake of getting this my first time there. It was delicious but the large helping of fish plus collards and mac and cheese made it far too much for one person; this is a great option if you have someone to split it with. Be warned that Horace and Dickies’ authenticity and popularity does have its drawbacks: it’s often pretty packed (waiting in line does give you a chance to hear the latest from longtime residents about the neighborhood, though) and there’s no seating at all (it’s a true carryout) so prepare to find a bench on H Street to eat your tasty fried fish if you don’t live nearby. I’ve done this twice in rainy, cold weather and it was less than ideal, though the food made it worth it.
Top: “Lox and Onigiri.” Bottom left: Poached Egg and Chesapeake Korokke. Bottom right: “Chicken and Waffles.”
Izakaya is a Japanese small plates restaurant located at 705 6th St NW. Izakaya is located upstairs from its sister restaurant, Daikaya, which is a ramen place. Japanese food is not normally associated with brunch, but Izakaya’s Japanese fusion brunch might just be the best brunch in DC. An added bonus is that unlike some of the better-known brunch spots (read: Founding Farmers) it is not difficult to get a brunch reservation at Izakaya. Some of their most innovative and delicious brunch options include:
- A Japanese take on bagels and lox featuring a rice ball in place of the bagel and an assortment of smoked salmon, salmon sashimi ikura, picked onion and cream cheese.
- A Japanese take on crab cakes benedict with a Japanese-style crab korokke and tonkatsu sauce.
- A Japanese chicken and waffles with chicken kara-age and a waffle stuffed with red bean served with maple syrup and wasabi butter.
- Delicious french toast made with condensed milk.
One of the best aspects of their brunch is that it is served small-plates style, so you can (and should!) try a few. Excellent french press coffee sourced from Qualia Coffee in Petworth and tasty cocktails round out the meal nicely.
So why doesn’t Izakaya get five stars? I tried their brunch before their dinner and had high expectations that their dinner would be equally mind-blowing. It wasn’t. I ordered the “hambagu,” Japanese-style beef hamburger steak with red wine-Worcestershire sauce. It was reminiscent of meatloaf. I also had a fish dish, which was fine but nothing terribly memorable. The crab croquettes were very tasty, though. Izakaya also does a really cool take on the sake bomb: the sake comes enclosed in a ball (similar to a large pop boba) floating in the beer. When it hits your tongue, it pops, giving you a burst of sake.
The bottom line for Izakaya is that the brunch is phenomenal and deserves five stars. The dinner (at least what I ordered) wasn’t bad by any means, but was less exceptional.
Baked by Yael is a bakery primarily known for its cakepops located at 3000 Connecticut Ave NW. As my friends are well aware, as a Long Island native I am an honorary Jew. I even have a Jewish alter-ego named Rabbi Grovewitz. So I of course greatly appreciate the fact that in addition to cakepops, Yael bakes traditional Jewish baked goods, including ruggalah and black and white cookies, both of which are very tasty. It’s certified kosher, though by a Conservative rabbi, which isn’t strict enough for my Orthodox friends. It has Rabbi Grovewitz’s seal of approval, though!
Beignets and a chicory au lait.
Bayou Bakery and Cafe is a New-Orleans themed cafe located at 901 Pennsylvania Ave SE (there is another location in Arlington at 1515 N. Courthouse Rd). It is one of my favorite spots in DC because it combines tasty food, reasonable prices and great ambiance. I go for their chicory au lait and beignets (a generous portion for around $3) and I stay for the warm interior of a Carriage House built at the request of President Lincoln. They also have real food (po’boys and such), but I haven’t yet tried it. There is ample seating, and it is a great, cozy environment for a winter day. Highly recommended – you feel like you’re in a farmhouse in the middle of DC.
A coffee and a key lime cheesecake.
Capital City Cheesecake is a coffee shop and cheesecake bakery located at 7071 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park. It is a decent coffee shop that serves a variety of cheesecakes. I had a key lime cheesecake which was tasty but a little on the icy cold side and small for the price. It’s a good bet for a coffee shop if you’re in the area, though not worth a large detour.
Top: veggie dumplings. Bottom left: kimchi egg roll. Bottom right: kimchi pancake.
Mark’s Kitchen is a local, no-frills, eatery with a delicious blend of Korean food and American comfort food located at7006 Carroll Ave in Takoma Park, just across the DC-MD line. The place has no decor, but you won’t care because the food is excellent and the wait staff is very friendly. I went for lunch and got a trio of appetizers dim sum-style, including fried veggie dumplings, a kimchi fritter and a kimchi egg roll. All three were awesome, especially the dumplings which were some of the best I’ve ever had- crispy and fried to perfection. This place is a gem and a local institution and worth a detour. It’s great for vegetarians (vegetarian and vegan places in Takoma Park and Takoma are a legacy of the Seventh Day Adventists- Takoma Park used to be their world headquarters) but Mark’s Kitchen has plenty of meat options as well for the carnivore.
The potent “Anacostia River”- gin, rum, sour mix and Pepsi.
Cheers@The Big Chair is a bar, cafe and restaurant located at 2122 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE located across from the Big Chair in Historic Anacostia. For those unfamiliar with the Big Chair, it is (you guessed it) a really big chair that was installed in 1959 by Bassett Furniture, and was the largest chair in the world at the time of its installation. The cafe itself is a friendly locals’ watering hole that serves up mediocre coffee but tasty cocktails at a popular happy hour. Similar to other Historic Anacostia establishments, the place has an “everybody knows each other” vibe, which is a refreshing change from Downtown DC. This place gets four stars for their simple, but tasty and potent “Anacostia River” cocktail made with gin, rum, sour mix and a splash of Pepsi. It’s kind of like an Anacostia take on a Long Island Iced Tea. Downstairs is noisy with loud, upbeat hip hop music but there is a quieter upstairs where you can chat or even work on a laptop.
Banh mi sandwich with ham, paté, viet mortadella cha lua and head cheese.
Caphe Banh Mi is a cute and cozy Vietnamese restaurant located at 407 Cameron Street in Old Town Alexandria. It serves a variety of Vietnamese food, but I went for a Banh Mi sandwich with ham, paté, viet mortadella cha lua, and head cheese. It was really delicious and at $6 a great deal as well! Alexandria is a hike of course, but if you’re in the area and want a great place to eat, Caphe Banh Mi will hit the spot.
Mama’s Pizza is a friendly, small pizza place located at 2028 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE in a charming storefront in Historic Anacostia. The pizza is good, though nothing terribly out of the ordinary. It’s a solid choice for a quick lunch if you happen to be in Historic Anacostia, though not worth a detour.
Uniontown Bar & Grill is a restaurant and bar serving soul food and cajun-inspired cuisine as well as beer and cocktails located at 2200 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. It is a friendly establishment in Historic Anacostia where everyone seems to know each other. I love going to Anacostia for its small-town close-knit community feel, and the atmosphere at Uniontown Bar & Grill is a great example of that feeling. I ordered fried shrimp and collards, which were quite tasty, though I was a bit taken aback that I found a string of some sort in my shrimp (I would’ve given it a higher rating but for that). Their cocktails looked good, but I went for lunch on a weekday, so I didn’t try them.