Langston Grille on Wheels

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

14349087_10154551957283011_673056222_nLangston Grille on Wheels is a food truck operation from Langston Bar & Grille, which is located at 1831 Benning Rd NE. You can find the food truck’s location on their website. The food truck bills itself as soul food, but the options were more cajun/creole, given the variety of po’ boys on offer. They do have a couple of soul food sides, like collard greens and mac and cheese, but at $4 a piece they seemed pretty steep given that soul food sides are typically included with entrees as real soul food restaurants like Florida 14383443_10154551957308011_690035771_nAvenue Grill and Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria. I ordered a shrimp po’ boy, which was small and disappointing. The price was steep at $12 for a small sandwich and the shrimp was simply boiled with absolutely no seasoning. The people are friendly at Langston Grille on Wheels, but the experience was otherwise a let-down. There is a real need for a good soul food food truck, but Langston Grille on Wheels just didn’t deliver.

Le Mirage

Rating: ★★★☆☆

13453401_10154306393848011_1828714257_o.jpgLe Mirage  is a food truck that serves Po’Boys and other fried fish items. They don’t appear to have a Twitter and this is a pretty bare-bones food truck. It lacks the fancy decorations of so many of the other trucks, which (predictably) means it doesn’t appear to draw very large crowds. My Po’ Boy was pretty good though, if nothing super memorable. The prices are reasonable, the portions are hearty, and the service is quick.

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Bojangles

Rating: 

13169795_10154199087533011_1564743202_oBojangles is, of course, a fried chicken chain (with a Cajun twist), as well as a trashy Pitbull song. And it’s not even a DC-based chain (it’s based in Charlotte, NC). I did, however, choose to write it up because there is only one Bojangles in DC (located in Union Station), plus a few in the suburbs, and this is one of the northernmost Bojangles that exists, aside from ones in Largo, New Carrolton, and Reading, PA. As such, not a lot of Yankees like myself regularly try Bojanglesand while writing up fast food might make me lose my street cred, I don’t care. Their fried chicken is tasty and their biscuits are rich and buttery. It is a bit odd that they claim to be Cajun since they’re based in NC and aside from a slight kick, their “Cajun Pintos” tasted pretty average. The real star of the show, however, was the sweet potato pie. It 13148422_10154199087483011_883938487_o (1)comes in a package that looks like a McDonald’s pie, but don’t be fooled. The crust is an amazing, deliciously greasy, fried piece of goodness and the sweet potato filling isn’t as sickeningly sweet and syrupy as its McDonald’s coutnerparts. I’ll be tempted just to grab a sweet potato pie next time I swing through Union Station. The Bojangles sweet potato pie may not have a viral video to go with it like the Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pies do, but it should. Voulez-vous manger avec moi, ce soir?

BBQ Bus

Rating: 

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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Vidalia

Rating: 

 

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Having my Mint Julep like Senator Lindsey Graham

Vidalia is a fancy Southern restaurant located at 1990 M St NW. I first went to Vidalia on a great date over the summer, just for dessert and drinks since I typically can’t afford their (very pricey) food. I had their pecan pie and a mint julep and had wanted to go back ever since. I finally got the chance after Santa Claus gave me a gift card for Christmas, plus an Israeli friend was in town and I wanted to take her for something very American and special. Against my better judgement (given the $78 per person price tag) my Israeli friend convinced me to order the tasting menu, which I don’t regret at all. Simply put, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in months; it was six courses including two appetizers, two entrees, a cheese course and a dessert. But since I had a friend with me, we each ordered different things, so we each sampled 1o dishes, plus the cheese course and other accoutrements.

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An amuse-bouche for you, monsieur.

It is worth noting what Vidalia is and what it is not. Vidalia serves food inspired by the cuisine of the Southern US, but made with French culinary training. As such, it has the feel of a fancy French restaurant, complete with great service by very professional, older waiters and an older, well-dressed crowd. It is not a hip, buzzy place like Compass Rose, which is why some reviewers complain that the food isn’t innovative and that the decor is tired. The decor is very tasteful and the food is classic haute cuisine with a Southern twist; not all fantastic meals have to be about reinventing the wheel and appealing to the 20s and 30s set.

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The breads were awesome.

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The foie gras.

Like any fancy restaurant, the meal began with a delicious amuse-bouche and a great selection of artisan breads. For the first course, we ordered the seared Hudson Valley foie gras with a winter squash financier, pepitas, vadouvan, and buttermilk. The foie gras was totally on point and delicious and paired very nicely with the financier. We also had the heirloom beet salad with roasted beets, puffed farro, bleu cheese, and braised pear.

 

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The heirloom beet salad.

 

 

For the second appetizer course, we ordered the sweetbread & waffle, as well as the jumbo lump crab cake. The sweetbread & waffle (made with chicken fried veal sweetbread, lemon, baby bok choy, caper, and bacon fondue with a waffle) was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire meal. It was everything I love about chicken and waffles but the veal sweetbread melts in your mouth, almost like a fried oyster. The crab cake was excellent as well.

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The sweetbread and waffle was a star.

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The crab cake.

For the third course (fish entrees) we ordered the Point Judith baby monkfish with butter poached lobster, fennel, green olive, cucumber, lemon-celery root purée and the shrimp and grits with bacon, okra,  scallion, beech mushroom, and spicy shrimp butter. Both were delicious and the shrimp and grits was an excellent, upscale take on this classic southern dish.

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The monkfish.

 

 

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The shrimp and grits.

The fourth course was the meat entrees course. We ordered the quail with berbere spice, Carolina gold rice grits, baked, yellow split peas, and bacon jus, as well as the rabbit with bacon-wrapped rabbit loin with crépinette, hay smoked carrots, wild mushrooms, and foie gras-chestnut purée. Both were cooked perfectly. The bacon-wrapped rabbit loin was especially flavorful and extremely tender.

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The rabbit.

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The quail.

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The cheese course.

The cheese course was great too, as were our desserts: the pecan pie (as I ordered on my date) and the key lime pie. The desserts were complemented by a delicious selection of mini sweets on the house.

 

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The pecan pie.

 

I highly recommend Vidalia, and it is the kind of place that’s worthy of a very special occasion.

 

Astro Donuts and Fried Chicken

Rating: 

12476929_10153964474483011_927799449_oAstro Donuts and Fried Chicken is located at 1308 G Street NW (there is an additional location in Falls Church, VA, as well as a food truck whose location can be found on Twitter). They serve absolutely delicious donuts, as well as fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches served on unglazed, plain donuts. I have had both their maple bacon donut, which is phenomenal, as well as their chicken BLT sandwich. The chicken blt sandwich is fried chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato served on a donut- it is an utterly delicious and satisfying lunch but I have no desire to know what its calorie count is. Ignorance is bliss. They also serve coffee but don’t really have seating, so it’s not the sort of place where you can hang out. It’s a great place, for a fattening breakfast or a comfort food lunch (which those of us who work downtown could use sometimes). It also doesn’t seem to get as jammed as other downtown spots, despite its popularity (probably because it’s not the sort of stuff you should eat everyday if you don’t want to die of a heart attack at age 40). Highly recommended (in moderation- or not, #yolo). astrodonuts

Woodward Table

Rating: 

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Woodward Table specializes in upscale southern food and is located at 1426 H St NW. It is a very popular downtown lunch spot, including both a sit-down restaurant and an upscale carryout called Woodward Takeout Food, or WTF for short. Signs on the windows proclaim “WTF is for Lunch.” I see what they did there. For lunch, their oyster po’boy salad is especially good. It’s so delicious and must be healthy because it’s a salad right? That’s what I tell myself. But where Woodward Table really shines for me is as one of DC’s best-kept secrets for a classy, delicious. Since Woodward Table is primarily busy with the weekday business lunch crowd, people don’t think to go there for brunch. But it’s a pretty large restaurant which means that you can reliably get a table there for brunch without a reservation. Why reserve Founding

 

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Fried oyster frittata.

 

Farmers a few weeks in advance to eat their chicken and waffles, when you can have Woodward Table’s absolutely delicious chicken and waffles with no prior planning at all? The “Hot Mess” is also great- it consists of a buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, and sausage gravy; it doesn’t even pretend to be healthy, but it’s so good. Another winner is the fried oyster frittata. Bottomless mimosas are available as an option for those who want to turn up. This is my go-to place to bring visitors to DC for brunch since it’s classy and reliably excellent.

 

Bayou Bakery and Cafe

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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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.

 

Uniontown Bar & Grill

Rating: ★★★☆☆

12625939_10153920275928011_2016298868_n (1)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.

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