Java Cove is an Indonesian food truck. You can find their location on their Twitter. I always appreciate it when a food truck offers a cuisine that is difficult to find elsewhere, and Java Cove delivers in this regard. I ordered the beef rendang with spring roll and crispy Indonesian bread on the side. The spring roll was good, while the bread was a bit odd for my taste. The beef rendang was just ok- the rice was a bit clumpy and the beef curry had a flavor that wasn’t entirely to my liking, though I admit I am unfamiliar with Indonesian food and it could well have been the way it was supposed to taste. Overall, this food truck gets points for bringing Indonesian food to Downtown DC, but I didn’t love my lunch all that much.
El Pollo Sabroso is a Peruvian-style chicken restaurant located at 3153 Mt Pleasant St NW, with an additional location a few blocks away at 1434 Park Rd NW. This basic and authentic spot in Mount Pleasant serves chicken, steak, chorizo, and a few other dishes like pupusas, quesadillas, tortas and Latin American soups. The ambitious can order a whole chicken, but I stuck with the quarter chicken and chorizo combo, served with rice and salad (mainly lettuce). The chicken was very tasty and moist and came with a spicy green sauce and a creamy white sauce. The chorizo was large and flavorful, if a bit too salty for my taste. Fortunately, since I went on a hot night, I was able to pair my food with a cold tamarindo.
Gus & Gus Place is an old-fashioned boardwalk diner located 15 South Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, DE. We were nearly scared off by the classic, but faded and drab interior that had a number of flies, but we’re glad we stuck around for the food. This place provides excellent value and classic, basic and delicious boardwalk fare. I ordered the fried clams, which while nowhere near as good as the ones from my favorite spot on Long Island (Bigelow’s Seafood), were a solid deal at $7.70. My friend’s shrimp platter was a similar price. Another friend really enjoyed his fried chicken, and the burgers, which range from $3 to $5.50, are a steal, if a little on the small side. The best looking item at our table was the soft shell crab sandwich, which was also a great deal at $9.75. Be aware, however, that it is cash only (they have an ATM, though) and they don’t do separate checks. That said, this is a very solid and cost-effective spot to grab delicious beach fare in an authentic, classic spot- it sure beats the concession stands that I grew up with at Jones Beach, NY.
Zogg’s Raw Bar and Grill is a restaurant and tiki bar located at 1 Wilmington Ave in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Rehoboth Beach is one of the most popular destinations for people from the DC area looking for a quick beach trip. It is a classic American beach town, featuring a boardwalk full of salt water taffy, funnel cake and Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard. Given the town’s popularity in the summer months, places there could easily get away with being poor-quality tourist traps and some places undoubtedly do. But Zogg’s, tiki bar though it is, is actually an excellent spot to have drinks and/or a meal with a resorty, islands vibe and friendly staff. We were well taken care of by our cheerful and exceptionally cute Irish waitress who was here to work for the summer. We were also treated to live music including the obligatory Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett and steel drums.
Dogfish Head Brown Honey Rum, distilled right here in Rehoboth Beach, DE.
They have a great beachy drink selection, including mojitos and rum punches, but what really makes them stand out is their list of dozens of rums from around the world. Rum is often thought of as a mixer, but rum can be as complex as whisky and a good rum can be sipped like a scotch. While I had many countries of origin to choose from, I decided to go local and order a Dogfish Head Brown Honey Rum on the rocks. It is a little-known fact that the Deleware-based Dogfish Head, which is known for their craft beers, operates a tiny distillery in its Rehoboth Beach brewpub. The rum was light, smooth, slightly sweet, and very approachable. And at $7 for a generous serving of a local, award-winning rum on the rocks, Zogg’s didn’t charge me an arm and a leg for it.
The food was totally delicious as well. I ordered the jumbo (think burrito-sized) Key West Grouper Taco, which was a delicious combination of fried grouper, shredded cabbage, radish, tomato, avocado, and key lime aoli with a side of delicious, creamy mac and cheese. Its location right off the boardwalk couldn’t have been better.
El Rinconcito is a Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant located at 1326 Park Rd NW with an additional location at 1129 11th Street NW. This cozy restaurant is one of DC’s best spots for a hearty, tasty, and inexpensive Salvadoran meal. Like at other Salvadoran/Mexican places, I stick to the Salvadoran offerings because that’s what they truly specialize in. They offer a wide selection of tasty pupusas, which range from $2.13 to $2.35 a piece and are a great deal.
Sixes & Sevens is a British food truck- I’m not entirely sure what the name refers to but it somehow sounds British and reminds me of a British children’s book series that I grew up with, “The Secret Seven” by Enid Blyton. You can find their location on their Twitter. Sixes & Sevens is run by a friendly British lady and serves three main items: bangers and mash, tea, and scones with cream and jam. I had their classic pork bangers and mash with peas on the side, which was delicious, though the wait for my food was a bit lengthier than the five minutes they said it would be. There are a bunch of sausage choices and sides choices, so this is a great spot if you’re looking for sausage and mashed potatoes. Sadly they don’t have fish and chips, but Sixes & Sevens is overall a nice change from the falafel and kebab food trucks.
Laab with chicken.
Fried duck heads: a bit like wings, but with virtually no meat on them.
Thip Khao is a Laotian restaurant located at 3462 14th St NW. I had heard fantastic things about Thip Khao, but the first time I went I ordered the exact wrong things. Since I consider myself an adventurous eater (I’ve had the grasshopper tacos at Oyamel) I figured that I would be able to handle the chicken heart kabobs, fried pig skin, and fried duck heads. The chicken hearts were decent enough, but the fried pig skin was both tough and fatty and the fried duck heads were somewhat reminiscent of chicken wings, but with hardly any meat on them. I did have fun quacking them and saying I was Donald Duck, probably to the annoyance of those around me. I’m never one to penalize a place for serving authentic delicacies that can
be hard for an American to stomach. When I went back, I had the Muu Som (Rice-cured sour pork belly wok tossed with ginger, garlic, onions, bell peppers, dried Thai chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fried red shallots) and the chicken laab, both of which were beautifully cooked and full of flavor. When I tasted them, it was clear to me why Thip Khao is widely considered one of DC’s best ethnic restaurants. Reasonable prices and a great location right in Columbia Heights are great bonuses.
Fried pig skin.
The Muu Som.
Ahhh Wah Gwaan is a Jamaican food truck. You can find their location on their website. I may be a bit jaded because I have been to Pimento Grill out in Southeast, which is another level of Jamaican food from what I’ve had anywhere else, including at Ahhh Wah Gwaan. I also was a bit bothered by the fact that they describe themselves as “The Reeaal Jamaican Patty Shop on Wheels,” despite the fact that all of their patties are prepackaged. Granted, they do have a wide selection of patties and most places use prepackaged patties. That said, I was hoping that these “reeaal” patties would be different. I ended up going for the brown stew chicken, which was good but nothing too special, and pretty steep at $12. If you’re craving Jamaican food, Ahhh Wah Gwaan will do, but it’s nothing extraordinary.
Chao Ku is a fast-casual Chinese restaurant located at 1414 9th ST NW. To a large extent, DC is a Chinese food desert. While great Southeast Asian food abounds, most Chinese places are carryouts specializing in wings and mumbo sauce over fried rice (this is a beautiful blend of Chinese food and African American cooking in its own right, but isn’t exactly authentic Chinese food. Most of the restaurants in DC’s meagre Chinatown are touristy and poorly rated. There are, of course, a few diamonds in the rough. Aside from some great Chinese food in the suburbs, Great Wall Szechuan does a mean hot pot and China Boy makes a simple but excellent beef chow fun. Aside from these options, however, Chinese food in the District proper has been limited. Chao Ku is a welcome addition. Chao Ku offers both small plates and more substantial entrees at reasonable prices, in sleek surroundings and with friendly staff. It’s partway in between fast casual and waiter service because there’s a carryout downstairs and upstairs you fill out a card with what you would like to order, and then a food runner brings your food. My friend and I got the pork dan dan noodles and the fried catfish. My friend, who is a Chinese food expert, said that the dan dan noodles were not spicy enough to be authentic, but were still tasty. The fried catfish was excellent, with a generous coating of delicious batter. This place will never be an authentic Chinese spot of the sort that you’ll find in Flushing, Queens, but it does offer a tasty, fresh take on Chinese and Chinese-inspired dishes that are a welcome change from the typical general tsaos chicken and beef and broccoli of American Chinese food. It’s definitely worth checking out!
Kochix is a small Korean fried chicken carryout located at 400 Florida Ave NW. Kochix provides a cool Korean twist on the classic DC carryout. Like typical carryouts, Kochix offers an eclectic mix of food: chicken wings, drumsticks, Asian food, fried seafood, cheesesteaks, and more. But in this case, instead of being doused in mumbo sauce, the fried chicken comes with honey spicy, honey spicy hot or soy garlic sauce. And instead of Chinese food, Korean options like bibimbap and bulgogi are on offer. Otherwise, the typical carryout atmosphere is there. There is no decor, and just a couple of stools and a very small counter to sit at. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered the three piece drumsticks with one soy garlic drumstick and two honey spicy drumstick. They were messy but delicious, and I certainly enjoyed the option of drumsticks instead of wings, since I prefer meatier drumsticks to more meager wings.