Google Street View of the blighted exterior.
Twin Dragon Carry-Out is a Chinese takeout place located at 5504 3rd St NW, and is one of the sketchiest-looking places I have ever seen. Most carry-outs in DC look pretty sketchy, with spare interiors and bulletproof glass separating the customer from the employees. Twin Dragon Carry-Out is, however, a sight to behold. There’s a boarded-up storefront next door, but the inside is where things get really interesting-looking. The interior almost looks like a bus station, with a row of plastic seats affixed to the ground attached to each wall.
This would make a great set for a horror movie.
What’s with the fancy-schmancy relief.
But in an odd way, the place has a certain faded beauty to it. Twin Dragon Carry-Out has been around for decades (at least since the 1960s) and has the feel of a bygone era, with a tin ceiling and an incongruously grandiose Chinese relief on the wall. Basically, the place would make a great setting for a horror movie.
So now you might be wondering, why was I there? Well, it turns out that Twin Dragon Carry-Out is known for their massive egg rolls, which people apparently drive from all over the DMV to get. I ordered two shrimp egg rolls for $4 and change and they truly were the largest egg rolls I had ever seen. They were basically my whole dinner for the night. Taste-wise, they weren’t anything special, though some mustard and/or duck sauce jazzed them up a bit. Nonetheless, Twin Dragon Carry-Out is definitely an experience, both for its somewhat spooky bygone look and its ginormous (and very cheap) egg rolls.
They really are massive… Note the quarter for perspective.
Brightwood Park might be DC’s most underrated food neighborhood. Sure, its main commercial arteries on Georgia Avenue and Kennedy Street haven’t taken off yet like other parts of NW have in recent years, but what the neighborhood lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. While I still have places in the neighborhood that I want to try, I can add Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant to a list of excellent local spots that includes Culture Coffee and Tony’s Place. Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant is one of a handful of Trinidadian restaurants in DC, and I’m surprised, given this place’s quality and authenticity, that it has so few reviews online. I’ll chalk that up to its location in
Massive curry goat roti.
a neighborhood that is overlooked by most people with poor public transportation access, aside from the #70 Georgia Avenue buses. This small, friendly hole in the wall serves up delicious home-cooked Trini food, such as rotis, doubles, and aloo pies. If foods like roti and aloo sound Indian/Pakistani to you, that’s because over 35% of Trinidad and Tobago’s population is of South Asian origin. Eighteen percent of the population is Hindu, while five percent is Muslim. Lovers of Indian and Pakistani food will find that they love Trini food too. I started off with doubles, which is fried bread filled with curried chickpeas. As you can imagine, it’s
The whole meal, including Sorrel.
absolutely delicious and pleasantly spicy. I also ordered the curry goat roti. The roti was made fresh on the grill and was wonderfully moist and savory. The curry goat was flavorful and tender- be aware that it is served on the bone in the traditional way. If you are afraid of meat on the bone, this is not the dish for you. Never fear, the menu is full of options and I want to go back to try the bake and shark- fried bread and fried shark. I also had Sorrel, a Trini hibiscus-flavored soda. It tasted too artificial to me, but it was interesting to try. This place is a wonderful hidden gem, and a must-try in DC’s ethnic food scene.
Tony’s Place is a small diner located at 622 Kennedy St NW with additional locations at 1400 Good Hope Rd SE in Anacostia and 1401 H St NE . This tiny, no-frills, counter-serve spot offers some of the best-value breakfasts in DC; I ordered the breakfast platter which includes 2 eggs any style, a choice of bacon ham or sausage plus toast and homefries or grits all for $5.19 (plus tax). The bacon was a little tough, but no complaints about the value overall. To me, this place is to the Kennedy Street Corridor what Ben’s Chili Bowl is to U Street and Horace and Dickie’s is to H Street NE, a classic spot serving up cheap, tasty food. They also have breakfast sandwiches with an astonishing array of meat options including ham, bacon, sausage, bologna, turkey sausage, ribeye steak, scrapple, smoked sausage, country ham, beef scrapple, turkey scrapple, and even salmon. Prices for these are also low and range from $1.99 for just egg to $4.39 for egg, ribeye steak, and cheese. There is also a wide variety of lunch options including DC classics like half smokes and whiting sandwiches, soul food classics like collards and smothered pork chops, the kinds of organ meats that another Tony (that is Anthony Bourdain) loves like gizzards and livers. They oddly serve boca burgers too. This place isn’t for those looking for an upscale experience; the interior is cramped, dim and basic, but for a tasty, hearty and cheap breakfast this place is hard to beat!
Culture Coffee is a coffee shop located at 709 Kennedy St NW. I had been curious about this place for a long time since it is pretty much the only independent coffee shop between Petworth and Takoma. In fact, I had never even been to the Kennedy Street Corridor on which this place is located, aside from the very edge of it at 14th and Kennedy NW. Kennedy Street is a mixed residential and retail street, but a large number of the retail establishments are vacant, likely due to the fact that this area is pretty far from a metro station (according to Google Maps, Culture Coffee is approximately a 30 minute walk from each of the closest metro stations: Petworth, Fort Totten, and Takoma). What this means is that Culture Coffee is a true neighborhood spot, with a homey, friendly vibe and an atmosphere where everyone seems to know everyone. They made a newcomer like me feel at home right away, though. “Miss V,” the motherly lady working the coffee bar is a total treasure and very warm. Plus, there is comfy seating and great coffee. I had a cup of Haitian coffee, which was delicious, even though I hadn’t been planning on having any more caffeine that day. I also had their sweet potato cake, which was a lot like a carrot cake, but I liked it. I’d recommend a trip to Culture Coffee for the friendly, neighborly vibe, and great-quality coffee.