At long-last, DC has a Georgian restaurant. While many people are confused that Georgia is, in fact, a country in addition to being a state, Georgia has one of the world’s greatest cuisines and one of its oldest wine cultures. In fact, Georgians will claim that the country is the world’s oldest wine producer but the Cypriots and people from several other countries would beg to differ. Regardless, Georgia makes some truly excellent wine, and the beautifully-decorated Supra is a perfect place to savor some. Some Georgian wines are fermented and aged in a large clay jar called a qvevri and Supra offers several of these. At the friendly Georgian waiter’s recommendation, I had the Orgo Saperavi. At $16 for a glass, it certainly was expensive, but it was an excellent red.
The food was fantastic as well. We started with the tasting board, which includes pkhali (a type of ball of vegetables that is hard to describe but that tastes amazing), three Georgian cheeses that could stand toe to toe with the world’s best, eggplant, additional spreads and warm, delicious fresh bread. It was beautifully presented. Then we moved on to khachapuri. Georgia has many kinds of khachapuri, which are stuffed breads. We opted for the ajaruli, a boat-shaped khachapuri that is filled with cheese and an egg. We finished with khinkali, Georgian soup-dumplings that are a bit similar to Chinse xiao long bao. While tasty, they could have had a higher soup to meat ratio and were only lukewarm inside. That would be my only criticism of what was otherwise a fantastic meal.
Supra is located at 1205 11th Street NW.
DC is known for its Ethiopian food and for good reason: there are probably more Ethiopian restaurants in this city than there are lame, overpriced steakhouses that K Street lobbyists frequent (THANK GOD!). But this overabundance of Ethiopian restaurants poses a conundrum: which should I eat at? Zenebech and Keren (technically Eritrean) are word-of-mouth favorites and Ethiopic is the home of bougie Ethiopian food (all are excellent). But Chercher is the lone Ethiopian restaurant on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list, making it worth a try. I started my meal with tej (Ethiopian honey wine). I brew tej from time to time at home and have had the homemade tej from Habesha- both my home-brew and Habesha’s were significantly funkier and drier than the tej at Chercher, which I suspect is made sweeter to conform to the American palate. That said, it was tasty and Chercher does boast an impressive selection of Ethiopian wine and beer. For food, I ordered kitfo, an Ethiopian version of steak tartare that comes with a side of cheese and collard greens. It’s worth noting that kitfo (best eaten raw) is mixed with ghee, making for a very rich and heavy meal. It was delicious, but I felt overstuffed without even finishing it. Also of note, it’s not worth ordering the delux version that comes with qocho, a flatbread. A few pieces of bread is simply not worth an extra $3, especially when you’re given plenty of injera. Decor is cute, prices are fairly reasonable and the spot is date-friendly.
Chercher is located at 1334 9th St NW.
Do you miss ShopHouse? I know ShopHouse wasn’t the most authentic Southeast Asian food around, but I did miss being able to go for a cheap and quick Southeast Asian meal. BKK Cookshop, while it is more authentic, a bit pricier and has waiter service, does provide eaters with delicious and fairly quick Thai meals at reasonable prices and with friendly service. From the people who own the popular Beau Thai, BKK Cookshop is a great spot to grab a bite to eat, especially if you can sit on the tranquil patio out front on a nice evening. The menu is full of noodle stir fries and noodle bowls, but I opted for the spicy basil rice, a fiery fried rice dish described as the “Kitchen Special” available with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or shrimp. I opted for beef at the waitress’s suggestion, and while the beef could have been a bit more tender, the dish was bursting with flavor and was that perfect level of spicy such that it had a serious kick to it without being so overwhelming that you had to stop eating.
BKK Cookshop is located at 1700 New Jersey Ave NW in Shaw.
Red Toque Café, a Pakistani restaurant in Shaw, is not quite what I expected it would be. Given the interesting name and its location in Shaw, I was expecting an interesting and cutely decorated spot. But the interior is the definition of drab and the food is average and not especially cheap. I ordered a lamb kabob with rice and spinach, which was just ok. I would have preferred for the kabob to be a bit more char-grilled and flavorful. The spinach was on-point, as was the rice. The naan, however, was not as buttery as I expect and prefer. Ultimately the place isn’t bad, but it’s honestly nothing special.
Red Toque Café is located at 1701 6th St NW in Shaw, with an additional, smaller, location in Georgetown.
Ivy and Coney is a Chicago and Detroit-themed dive bar and restaurant located at 1537 7th St NW. Without a doubt, this place has more personality than almost any other spot in DC. Their schtick is that they try to be as divey as divey gets, and their very amusing owner, who has an excellent and dry sense of humor is a perfect example of this. In a bit of an unorthodox move for a dive bar (and for brunch in DC) I went with my friends (one of whom is from Detroit and one of whom has lived for the past two years in Chicago) for brunch. Brunch options include the “eggs bene-dog” (sausage on a bun with a poached egg, bacon jam and hollandaise) and the “chicken and waffles-ish” (fried chicken sausage served over a pancake topped with bacon and hot sauce maple mayonnaise, alongside several equally comical (and comically unhealthy) choices and lunch options such as the Chicago-style dog and the Coney dog. You can pair it with a mimosa-ish (orange juice out of the fountain soda gun, mixed with cheap beer), just a cheap beer (like Stroh’s), or something stronger. We were the only people there for brunch and the owner was out of the beer on tap for the mimosa-ish and wasn’t serving hot coffee because of the hot weather. But that just added to the not-really-giving-a-f*ck charm of the place. We just chatted with the owner about how he once got Rahm Emanuel (whom he referred to as a f*cking a**hole – not even a f*cking a**hole-ish) wasted off of shots of Malort when he visited once and my Midwestern friends were thrilled to experience a little slice of home.
Compass Coffee is a popular local coffee shop with two locations in Shaw at 1921 8th St NW and 1535 7th St NW. It’s easy to see where this place’s popularity comes from; they roast their own coffee and make an innovative array of coffee drinks, such as nitrogen-infused cold brew. They also offer kolaches, which are savory, filled, pastries of Czech origin, but have become popular in Texas. Compass Coffee‘s Kolaches are made in the Texan style but with a twist; the day I was there, there were saag paneer kolaches and half smoke kolaches. I wish my half smoke kolache had been warm, but it was otherwise tasty. Seating at both locations is tight, which is probably Compass Coffee’s main drawback. It isn’t like Tryst where you can lounge on a couch, but I can’t dock them too much for being victims of their own popularity.
Calabash 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 herbalist, so you know she knows what’s she’s doing!
Rito Loco is a burrito place located at 606 Florida Ave NW (they also have a food truck). Despite this place’s excellent online reviews, I was not particularly satisfied with my burrito (the OG Beef). It essentially tasted like a bunch of ground beef wrapped in a tortilla without much flavor. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing, but I found it subpar.
Sumah’s West African Restaurant serves up Sierra Leonean food at 1727 7th St. It is a tiny hole in the wall with zero decor, run by Sumah himself, who hails from Sierra Leone. Be aware that this place is super spare. It has the atmosphere of a carryout, though it does have a few tables thrown in for good measure. Comically, the tables have little fake flower bouquets on them, as if that really adds something to the decor. The food, on the other hand, is definitely tasty and authentic. I ordered one of my favorite West African dishes, jollof rice with chicken, which was delicious. It’s not as cheap as you might think for this kind of place, though. The jollof rice was a very large portion but it set me back approximately $15. Nonetheless, if you want to eat authentic West African food in DC, Sumah’s should be on your list of places to try.
Uprising Muffin Company is a cafe and muffin bakery located at 1817 7th St NW. Given the fact that cupcake bakeries are all the rage these days, it’s unsurprising that the close cousin of the cupcake, the muffin, now has it’s own dedicated spot. I had a pumpkin muffin, which was tasty, though didn’t knock my socks off. Fortunately, unlike Baked and Wired, there’s a decent amount of space and good WiFi. They serve Stumptown Coffee and this is a good spot to hang out and work for a bit, even on the weekends.