DC Slices

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13224261_10154216933613011_736783150_oDC Slices is a food truck serving pizza. You can find their location on their Twitter. DC Slices is popular with some of my colleagues and I was craving some good pizza the day I tried it. Sadly, the pizza just wasn’t very good. The crust was flimsy and soggy and it was far too greasy. They also asked if I wanted fresh basil, and the little shriveled shreds of basil that I got were an insult to the meaning of fresh basil.  Plus, it wasn’t even priced well- $4 per slice is far too expensive when I can get a jumbo slice for $5 13223430_10154216933623011_946484740_oelsewhere. Jumbo slices may not be the world’s best pizza, but a jumbo slice from Duccini’s or Pizza Boli’s sure beats this. For good pizza from a food truck, head to Killer Tomato instead. For other good pizza in DC, check out Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza (delicious, $2 slices after 9 pm on weekends) or Wiseguy’s New York Pizza. Give DC Slices a miss.

Lapis

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Lapis is an upscale Afghan restaurant located at 1847 Columbia Rd NW. While most Afghan restaurants have rather predictable names that inevitably include “Kabob,” “Afghan,” “Grill,” and/or “Kabul,” Lapis’s name is the first clue that this is not your average Afghan place. Don’t get me wrong, I love Afghan food. In fact, Afghan food is probably my favorite cuisine. But Lapis takes things to another level by providing a more extensive menu than most Afghan restaurants with chic, tasteful decor, and some of DC’s best cocktails.

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The “Five Lions”

Let’s start with the cocktails: Afghanistan is sadly a dry country, but it doesn’t lack delicious ingredients that provide inspiration for interesting and exotic cocktails. I have now tried a number of their cocktails. The “Afghan 75” is tasty, but I would mainly recommend it as a brunch drink. It is a light, bubbly cocktail, made with cognac, cardamom syrup, and champagne. The “Five Lions” (gin, cardamom syrup, egg white, fresh lime) and the “Khyber Pass” (bourbon, creme de violette, and blood orange) are both absolutely fantastic. I also tried a sip of my friend’s “Gulistan,” which is made of rye, house-made rose grenadine and pressed lime, and it was also excellent. I would not recommend the “Karakoram” (gin, orange blossom orgeat, lemon, and soda) so much because the ice and soda dilute it such that it doesn’t have all that much flavor and is a rather weak cocktail (unless that’s what you like).

 

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Aushak

In terms of the food, I haven’t yet tried something there that I didn’t like. I went with a large group of friends and we ordered a bunch of different dishes. Among the appetizers , I have had the Sambosa Trio (phenomenal) and the Bolani with pumpkin and beef. Bolani is essentially a stuffed flatbread and both the pumpkin and beef fillings were excellent. I have had both types of Afghan dumplings, Aushak “and Mantoo (with beef) and both were tasty as well, if perhaps less memorable. That might be simply because I have had both of these dishes many times before.

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Mantoo with beef.

 

 

 

 

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Mixed Grill.

We also ordered the mixed grill (chicken, lamb and ground beef kabobs) which was spot on and the “Qabuli Palao,” which is an Afghan pilaf topped with carrots, raisins and lamb was tasty as well, if a bit of a small portion.

 

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Dal.

All Afghan places have at least a handful of vegetarian options, but Lapis provides an exceptional array of choices, including a vegetarian tasting menu, a wide range of veggie dishes and a number of other dishes that can be made vegetarian. We sampled the sabzi (a spinach dish a bit like Indian saag), the dal and the buranee kadoo, which is sauteed pumpkin topped with garlic yogurt and dry mint. They were all great, but the buranee kadoo was especially excellent.

 

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Buranee Kadoo.

 

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Brunch featuring Karayee, the Sambosa Trio and the “Afghan 75” cocktail.

Lapis also does a nice brunch, and while a large portion of the brunch menu consists of American brunch food, I ordered the tasty Karayee which consists of eggs over sauteed tomatoes, potatoes, onions and hot peppers, which I enjoyed.

 

Fortunately, Afghan cusisine does not lack dessert options. In this regard, Lapis offers the holy trinity of Afghan desserts, Sheer Yakh (vanilla ice cream with rose water and a pistachio garnish), “firnee” which is a custard,  and “sheer berenj,” which is a rice pudding. I found the “sheer yakh” to actually be a little less flavorful than versions at other Afghan places, which often add cardamom and saffron to the mix. I haven’t tried the “sheer berenj” or

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Sheer Yakh.

the “firnee” yet, but I will in the future. Despite the less than perfect ice cream, Lapis is an excellent place that can appeal to people of all tastes, carnivores and vegetarians, and lovers of sophisticated cocktails.

 

 

 

Killer Tomato

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13241529_10154216913893011_924312990_oKiller Tomato is a food truck serving wood-fired pizza. You can find their location on their website. They make solid pizza with that delicious wood-fired flavor that is very difficult to find outside of New York. They use fresh mozzarella, an ample helping of basil, and a perfectly sweet, fresh tomato sauce to make a pizza that’s at least reminiscent of the pizza made by Pasty Grimaldi and his relatives in New York. It’s not quite on that level- the crust is a little flimsy – but it is from a food truck and is prepared to order, while you wait. I ordered a Margherita pizza and they gave me a discount ($10 instead of $12) because they were out of buffalo mozzarella and had to use regular mozzarella. It was still totally delicious and I appreciate that they lowered the price accordingly. The service is friendly, but they could streamline things a bit by bringing on a third person and having people order out of the front window of the truck. When I went, there were only two people working, one of whom was both taking orders and assisting with making the pies. They were remarkably efficient, all things considered, though. This place earns five stars despite it’s (minor) flaws because it serves some of the best pizza in DC to hungry office workers from a food truck. If you’re trying to choose between Killer Tomato and DC SlicesKiller Tomato is the winner and it’s not even a contest.

The Chickery

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13199572_10154199002828011_823273688_o.jpgThe Chickery is a fried chicken fast casual restaurant located at 1300 Connecticut Ave NW near Dupont Circle. This place is to KFC what Chipotle is to Taco Bell; it offers a sleeker take on fried chicken without getting too fancy. In terms of boneless options, they offer both chicken fingers and “chicken feathers,” which are different styles. I ordered the Chickery Box, which provides a somewhat balanced meal, allowing you to eat fried chicken without feeling overly guilty. It comes with a small salad and a side. Sides are generally Soul Food-style options, like corn bread and mac n cheese. I ordered collard greens to feel (slightly) healthy. Everything was tasty and the service was friendly. According to their website, The Chickery is looking to franchise. I wouldn’t be surprised if they 13161203_10154199002798011_975918515_osucceed.

DC Pollo

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13152886_10154199070283011_1361096065_nDC Pollo is a Peruvian food truck. You can find their location on their TwitterDC Pollo serves up hearty portions of Peruvian food, including Chifa. For the uninitiated, Chifa is a form of Chinese food created by Chinese immigrants to Peru, who brought their culinary traditions with them. As a result, dishes like Arroz Chaufa (fried rice) and Lomo Saltado (Lo Mein) became wildly popular in Peru and Lima boasts an iconic, historic Chinatown called the “Barrio chino.” I tried the food truck special, “El Triple” which sounded fantastic. It is an Arroz Chaufa with sauteed sirloin steak, chicken breast and ceviche. It was hearty 13183036_10154199069773011_191355172_nand delicious but for the ceviche. I’m sure the ceviche is good on its own but it doesn’t belong mixed in with the Arroz Chaufa since the heat cooks it somewhat, harming both the texture and taste of a fresh ceviche. I had hoped maybe the ceviche would be on the side. This truck still gets four stars though for hearty, tasty food and friendly service. Just avoid mixing ceviche with fried rice.

BBQ Bus

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13148298_10154199013908011_620147946_o.jpgBBQ Bus is a barbecue food truck. You can find their location on their Twitter. They serve up tasty, hearty filling barbecue, and I love the fact that you can get a sampler platter of pork, beef and chicken, plus two sides and a biscuit. I got beans and mashed potatoes with bacon. This was one of the most satisfying and tasty food truck lunches I’ve had. My only slight gripe, which isn’t even enough to deduct a star, is that the bacon in the mashed potatoes with bacon was barely noticeable. That said, the barbecue, which is the main event, was fantastic.

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Dos Gringos

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13153480_10154199040923011_298360266_nDos Gringos is a coffee shop and restaurant located at 3116 Mt Pleasant St NW. This place is an amazing cross between the sort of hippie, health-conscious cafe you would find in Vermont and Latin American fare. You can (as I did) did into a tasty scrambled tofu breakfast burrito while sipping a cafe con leche on the adorable porch. The place is in a very cute converted rowhouse and boasts reasonable prices, a friendly owner, and a neighborhood everybody 13153482_10154199040858011_1516093707_nknows everybody vibe. A large number of the patrons are clearly regulars whom the longtime owner knows personally. Like Mount Pleasant itself, the crowd is a big mix of people. If you manage to snag a seat outdoors on a nice day, this is a particualrly excellent spot to enjoy a low-key, inexpensive, healthy, and tasty brunch.

Calabash Tea & Tonic

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13112670_10154199084363011_434477166_oCalabash Tea & Tonic is a friendly, funky, and awesome tea shop located at 1847 7th St NW in Shaw. Calabash Tea & Tonic boasts a colorfully decorated interior and, more importantly delicous and creatively-named teas. Names of teas include “Teayoncé,” “Nefer-Tea Tea,” and “Kiss Me Guido,” among many others. The teas are a bit pricey, but this place is a unique gem so it’s worth paying to drop in here from time to time. The owner is a fifth-generation Jamaican 13199151_10154199084343011_1674613831_oherbalist, so you know she knows what’s she’s doing!

Boccato

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13147911_10154189344023011_488313914_oBoccato Gelato & Espresso is a gelato shop and coffee house located at 2719 Wilson Blvd in Arlington. It is a spacious coffee shop with a cozy atmosphere and plenty of seating. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I ordered a chocolate Guinness-flavored gelato which was a cool concept. The gelato itself was a bit too icy and not creamy enough for my taste, but my latte was good. Overall this is a solid coffee shop in  Arlington to hang out in and work in.

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Simit + Smith

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13128719_10154189377983011_1885071649_oSimit + Smith is a Turkish bakery, sandwich shop, and coffeehouse located at 1077 Wisconsin Avenue NW in Georgetown. Simit + Smith is a small chain that currently has a handful of other locations in the NYC area, but this location is its first in the DMV. The namesake food at Simit + Smith is the simit, a Turkish, ring-shaped bread somewhat similar to a bagel but a much closer cousin of the Jerusalem bagel aka Jerusalem ka’ak. It’s covered in sesame seeds, savory and delicious. I had a classic simit sandwich with feta and tomato, which reminded me a lot of the delicious “bagel toast” sandwiches I ate almost 13169891_10154189377918011_1738572715_oevery morning for breakfast at the famous Arab bakery called Abulafia when I lived in Tel Aviv. They also make spot-on Turkish coffee which is an excellent accompaniment to a simit sandwich. Friendly service and a very cute atmosphere rounds out the experience. The only additional thing I’d like to see is a cheaper way to buy plain simits in bulk. Since this bread has a unique texture and flavor, I’d love to be able to buy a dozen to host a brunch. However, at $3 per simit, that would be awfully expensive just for some bread, however excellent that bread may be.

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