Latest Eats in Northern Virginia

Last July I gave you a glimpse into what we’d been eating in our current location, and now seems like a great time to update that! I’ve expanded beyond Arlington to get a better glimpse at what’s available in the area.

Piola

black olive pizza

I came to Piola twice to meet a friend (she had forgotten about the meeting the first time so I just ate at the bar). They have a few free food appetizers at happy hour. The pizza is pretty good. The first time I got one with goat cheese and black olives (above) which had way too few olives. The second time I got a Carbonara pizza, which was good after a while but the fact that the eggs were scrambled weirded me out a little.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 1550 Wilson Blvd (Rosslyn)
  • Hours: 11-11 most day, open until 1 am on Friday and Saturday
  • What to Expect: Decent Naples-style pizza and pasta at medium-high prices.

Continue reading

This Fall in Reading

Each month (or thereabouts!) we round up the best things we have read. September was hectic what with getting ready for the wedding – my work threw me a shower and then I had a bachelorette party – we did an aerial silks class, then did dinner and karaoke! In October we dined at Rose’s Luxury, got married, and had one heck of a honeymoon! November involved getting back into the swing of things at our respective jobs and lots of tasty eating. This post is far overdue!

Rachel’s Reads

Blogs 

Books – I read 11 books in September, plus one that I quit. In October I only read 3 books. I read 9 books in November. 

 

  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson – 3 out of 5 stars. I can’t believe I gave a Sanderson book 3 stars! But yeah, it was just okay. I haven’t been into this era of the Mistborn series. Had trouble getting through the middle but it got better near the end.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 3 out of 5 stars. It was fine but not worth all the hype. At least it wasn’t terrible like Gone Girl. Not as dark. But still, not the sort of characters I root for.
  • After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 out of 5 stars. Great depiction of a relationship and someone trying to learn how to fix a broken relationship (or if it even should be fixed). Very realistic.
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – 4 out of 5 stars. It’s like an episode of Buffy where it only focuses on the extras. It was quirky and cute. Liked it a lot!
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler – 4 out of 5 stars. A 70s era black woman accidentally time travels to the antebellum south to repeatedly save her white ancestor. Pretty well done. Also it takes place pretty close to where I grew up. Worth a read!
  • Over You by Amy Reed – 3 out of 5 stars. I like what they did there partway through. But it wasn’t my favorite. In fact, pretty forgettable. It’s about two friends who are really bad for each other and learning that that is the case.
  • Pawn by Aimee Carter – 2 out of 5 stars. Kitty Doe (yes really) is surgically transformed into the Prime Minister’s niece! Dystopia! Annoying characters! It’s all very ugh – I like this review which sums it up well.
  • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews – 4 out of 5 stars. The latest in the Kate Daniels series. I was interested to see where they’d go with it, and was pleased with how it turned out.
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone – 5 out of 5 stars. I learned a lot from this book. Great tips on making conversation more effective and communicating better. Especially great to help you be less emotional during a hard convo. But it’s going to take a lot of practice!
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – 4 out of 5 stars. Very enjoyable! Comparisons to Patrick Rothfuss make sense structurally. I will continue the series.
  • Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe – 3 out of 5 stars. An okay romance novel. Not sure how to feel about characters falling back in love when there had been so much pain in the past, and it seemed obvious that old patterns would re-emerge.
  • Paper Towns by John Green – 3 out of 5 stars. I have mixed feelings about John Green novels usually. No exception here. Some very nice writing, but: felt too similar to Looking for Alaska, and again the characters weren’t totally believable.
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – 4 out of 5 stars. This is the second in the Diviners series. I really enjoyed the first one. This one was also quite good (with a different focus character, though there is character overlap).
  • Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan – 5 out of 5 stars. I can’t get enough Saga, gimme more!!!!
  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore – 3 out of 5 stars. A Dirty Job was great (this is the sequel) but I have definitely enjoyed more recent Moore books less than his earlier ones. This was fine but nothing special. It had its moments.
  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center5 out of 5 stars. Gorgeous! Sweet and inspiring and insightful.
  • Murder With Peacocks by Meg Langslow – 3 out of 5 stars. Quick but kind of annoying. The weirdly British sounding dialogue (set in and written by a Virginian), the inexplicable fact that every unattached male wants the main character and all but one physically assaults her to show it, and the uncanny timing of interruptions were all annoying. At least the main character was likable even if her best admirer wasn’t fleshed out like a real character.
  • The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron – 5 out of 5 stars. This is a compendium of three novels. It’s awesome! I love Eli & Miranda and the world building is good.
  • Rat Queens, Volumes 1 & 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe – 3 and 4 out of 5 stars, respectively. The first volume was cute – this second was awesome!
  • The First Bad Man by Miranda July – 3 out of 5 stars. After reading I wrote: WTF did I just read? It’s good…ish but also bad…ish. I can’t decide.
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal – 4 out of 5 stars. This follows a bunch of different characters while both tangentially and directly telling the story of one great chef. It’s quite good!
  • On Paper: The Everything of Its Two- Thousand-Year History by Nicholas A. Basbanes [quit] – no rating. I tried but it was just written in too pretentious a style for me.
  • Delicious! by Ruth Reichl – 4 out of 5 stars. So this was a fun read. I want to have a magnificent palate too! I feel like the main character was a little too good at everything despite her Tragic Past.

 

 

Jeff’s Reads

Books – I read 20 from September through December including a few that I didn’t finish

  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson – There were a few interesting hints into Cosmere related stuff, but not one of Sanderson’s better novels.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – The story of when a not very good detective tries to track down a not very good criminal and must contend with her own drunken blackouts.
  • A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar – Quite a good book. The movie doesn’t really communicate how much of a monumental asshole John Nash was.
  • Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews – I love how rich a series gets after it has a whole bunch of novels worth of world building under its belt.
  • Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan – I continue to enjoy this.
  • Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center – Pretty good story with a pretty good message.
  • The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron – I was finishing up this compendium right around our wedding weekend. I really enjoyed it. Some of the tropes and visual themes strongly remind me of shonen anime.
  • Rat Queens, Volumes 1 & 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe – Not a big fan. I found this series way too cheesy.
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal – 4 out of 5 starsI liked the story a lot, but I disliked almost every viewpoint character. Overall, I would recommend.
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon – I was unable to finish this one. After Kavalier and Clay, I had such high hopes.
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Rachel and I read this one together out loud to each other. It was a pretty decent story, but was also enjoyable to make fun of.
  • What If? by Randall Munroe – I enjoy the blog, but the book has extra content/content that I’ve forgotten. It was a quick read.
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski – A very good piece of nonfiction that covers some interesting sexuality research.
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – I haven’t read anything by Dave Sedaris in several years after not really enjoying Naked. I enjoyed this book a bit more, there were a few essays that were pretty funny, but I was only lukewarm about this book.
  • As You Wish by Cary Elwes – Growing up I probably saw The Princess Bride over 100 times. It was the movie we watched any time we were home sick from school. With that background this history on the movie’s production was fascinating.
  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown – For this sequel to Red Rising, Rachel and I once again read it out loud to each other and I once again had a great time!
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – Well written. It’s amazing how quickly Shonda Rhimes was able to turn her life around; going from extremely successful and unhappy to extremely successful and happy.

 

What did you read this fall/winter?

TV Shows I Am Currently Watching

Whenever I’m not traveling (and even sometimes when I am), I seem to gravitate towards TV shows. I have found lately that I am less inclined to watch movies and much more inclined to watch TV either on Netflix or through the website of the appropriate network. Here are the ones I’m watching (some of them are not currently active, but I will get around to it).

Grey’s Anatomy

  • My Rating: Currently, 9 out of 10 black panties on a bulletin board.
  • Why I Love It: It’s super dramatic, almost basically a soap opera. But even though the cases are ridiculous (bomb in a guy, tree through a guy, etc), the relationships and characters feel real.
  • Favorite Characters: Cristina Yang, Addison Montgomery-Sheperd, Meredith Grey
  • Last Episode I Watched: Season 3 Episode 2 (I Am a Tree). Actively bingeing this one really hard.
  • Status of Show: Season 12 resumes on February 11.

Continue reading

Latest Eats in DC

Even though we aren’t currently living in DC, we still go in to the city quite regularly (or, for Jeff, every day, since he works in the city). Here’s where we’ve been eating.

Beefsteak

Kimchi Wa at Beefsteak

This is Jose Andres’s fast casual vegetable joint. The Foggy Bottom one is on the GWU campus, basically. I had the Kimchi-wa bowl and it delighted my tastebuds with flavor memories of Korea.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 800 22nd St NW (Foggy Bottom) and 1528 Connecticut Ave NW (Dupont Circle)
  • Hours: Foggy Bottom location is open 10:30 am to 10 pm daily
  • What to Expect: Huge bowls of tasty vegetables.

  Continue reading

It’s a New Year

New Year = New Goals! I don’t normally do resolutions, but I have some goals this year.

Blogging Goals

  • Write more! This blog has been neglected for too long. I want to at least start strong and do a post a week.
  • Add more content relevant to my current life. Yes, I’m still eating, so I can still write about that, and I’ve got plenty of travels to reminisce about. But books and TV have become more central to my life, and I want to write about that too.

Personal Goals

  • Say Yes. After reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, I realized I sometimes say no for no real reason. So I want to say yes to having fun, say yes to being kind to myself, say yes to getting involved in my passions.
  • Exercise and eat better. I pulled a muscle in an aerial silks class and am working my way to recovery. I want to be able to go back to aerial silks stronger and better than ever, and eat so that I feel better on a daily basis.
  • Write! Work on my next novel, which has indeed been started. Hopefully finish it this year!
  • Read a lot. I don’t like to quantify but around 100 seems to be my usual number and that sounds fine.
  • Travel out of the country once per year. This is a long-term goal.
  • Start volunteering at a library, to see how I like it.

I’m using the Passion Planner to hopefully take my goals from aspirational to realistic. So far I’m loving it!

What are your goals for the year?

Best Food of 2015

We continue to eat well, no matter how much or how little we travel!

January

pimento toast at LeGrand Kitchen

We tried LeGrand Kitchen in Norfolk, VA – it was awesome. I loved this pimento toast and the beet salad I got. They offered to cater our wedding for a mere $10,000. Yikes!

Continue reading

This Summer in Reading

Each month (or thereabouts!) we round up the best things we have read. June and July were pretty hot. I had a dress fitting and a few other wedding-planning related items. We attended a 4th of July party. We went to Water Country USA (fun!) and I was the best female bowler in my firm’s bowling outing. I went to the Delaware State Fair with my mom, and at the end of July Jeff went to Gen Con. On the other side, I had a lot of health issues. It turns out everything is okay, but it was scary for a while. I may write about it later to be less vague. August was pretty nice in terms of weather. I went on a trail ride in Rock Creek Park and Jeff was at Gen Con. We played plenty of board games, got our marriage license, and had an engagement party.

Rachel’s Reads

Blogs 

Books – I read 6 books in June, plus one that I quit. In July, I read 8 books. I read 10 books in August.

  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler – 4 out of 5 stars. There is some good stuff in here! It’s not 100% amazing, but what is? A little bit felt like overt name-dropping… but anyway for the most part I was indeed saying yes please!
  • It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario – 3 out of 5 stars. Lynsey Addario has had an interesting life and career and takes excellent pictures. However, she is not the best writer. The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic. The writing makes the story a little less engaging than it could be.
  • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews – 3 out of 5 stars. For some reason I didn’t like this as much as the usual Kate Daniels. Still enjoyable though!
  • The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin – 3 out of 5 stars. I probably would’ve liked this more if I could’ve found Sieh a sympathetic character. I do like how the whole trilogy is pretty different for each book.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – 5 out of 5 stars. I’m actually really glad I didn’t remember/figure out that I’ve read a book by Novik before until halfway through this, because I wasn’t a big fan of His Majesty’s Dragon. Anyway this is totally different, about a girl who gets taken to a wizard’s tower and finds out she has magic. It may be a standalone fantasy but it still has three distinct parts, with the middle being the weakest. However, I LOVED this book. I loved the characters and just got really into the story. It wasn’t quite as predictable as some books and really just swept me away! Definitely recommended!
  • Sea Swept by Nora Roberts – 4 out of 5 stars. Got on a tiny romance kick after reading this NPR list of 100 great romances. I really enjoyed this one set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore because: A) nearly hometown setting, depicted fairly accurately; B) good characters with good chemistry; C) a leading lady who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. Yay!
  • A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev – 3 out of 5 stars. My other romance for the month. It’s pretty formulaic stuff but set against an interesting cultural background.
  • Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans – 4 out of 5 stars. An orphan and a scam artist team up and have some fun adventures and misadventures during the Blitz. Pretty cute.
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen – 3 out of 5 stars. Inspirational and heartfelt with a nice message. Super short chapters keep the pace flying. Nearly a tearjerker.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – 4 out of 5 stars. A showdown between two people with superpowers, who each think the other is a villain. Pretty cool.
  • Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett – 2 out of 5 stars. I cringe at rating this, one of Terry Pratchett’s last published books, so low. But the truth must prevail – it is not very good. In fact I only finished it out of a sense of guilt and duty. I have in general not liked the more recent Discworld novels, and this was no exception. I’m not sure if the jokes are already played out or if the humor/satire is just not as on point. At times passages approached the series’ former glory, but overall, it was skim-worthy.
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King – 2 out of 5 stars; audiobook. The audiobook reader for this was pretty good. That may have been the best part about it. The story is not as tense as it should be (that may have been down to how long it takes me to finish audiobooks), and grosser than I wanted. The villain is just way too ridiculously insane. There is a line in the book that goes, “…but Morris Bellamy possesses the strength of insanity,” which made me laugh because it was dumb. Also, the hero detective is casually sexist towards his probably-autism-spectrum assistant Holly, telling her things like “you should smile more, you’re pretty when you smile” and thinking that she would be beautiful if only she wore eyeliner. Plus I feel Holly is just depicted in kind of a condescending manner. Didn’t really like this one despite liking the first in the series (Mr. Mercedes).
  • The Pelican Brief by John Grisham – 3 out of 5 stars. Darby Shaw is a law student who is really smart, but pretty much no one talks or thinks about that. They notice and comment upon nearly only her physical features, especially her legs and her hair (before she cuts and colors it because she’s running for her life – then they just say things like ‘gee, why did you cut your hair? It was so great). Of course, they can’t totally ignore her brain because it’s the product of her brain that causes her to be hunted by assassins (although people have a real tough time believing her about that). I think more than the blatant sexism, it’s the way that Darby Shaw is depicted as not minding/liking the attention even while running for her life, and quick to pass over her dead boyfriend for the next dude who wants her. It’s perhaps not totally unreasonable to think about sex when you’re constantly in fear for your life, but I feel it might suppress your sex drive just a little.
  • Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern – 3 out of 5 stars. A big book of greasy diners and other restaurants to eat at around the country? Yes, please!
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 5 out of 5 stars. There are multiple (okay, four) universes, which were once connected by a series of doors. Some are more or less magical, and have different relationships with magic. Now, only a couple of magical people can travel between them (they all have a London, by the way, where this takes place). This is a fascinating, well-written tale of Kell, one of these super-magical folks, and the trouble he brings by accidentally smuggling a dangerous magical artifact into his London, and the thief who helps him, Lila. It’s fun, well-written, and I liked the main characters. When Jeff and I were discussing it, he noted that Kell is basically one of the most powerful people in the universe, so why does he have so much trouble with some of the things he should be easily able to do? And I can’t answer that. But I still loved it. Lots of good exchanges in this book, but this is one of my favorites:

“I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely.”

  • Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews – 4 out of 5 stars. I thought this held up as the 6th in the Kate Daniels series, although the whole book is spent in annoying relationship-misunderstanding-land. Curran is pretty awful in the book. And I got annoyed with the Hugh storyline too. But at least it didn’t go where I feared it would! If I think about it, I don’t remember why I gave this 4 stars instead of 3. Oh well.
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – 3 out of 5 stars. At first I was confused – everyone is referred to as “she,” even the definitively male characters. But it comes to light that it’s because the language of the main character doesn’t have gender. Okay, that’s cool. But sadly, this is one of those interesting concept (the main character is a ship’s AI!) but boring plot books. It didn’t do much for me. But, like, everyone else loves it if Goodreads is any indication, so maybe read it if you’re into sci-fi?
  • The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax – 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed this romp through different food trends. The author attempts to give us more general food trend categories, but succeeds more in spotlighting particular trends. But it’s still quite an interesting read. Although not totally sure why he thought it was a good idea to whine about being annoyed with/tired of/hating food trends in the last chapter. I know it was supposed to be “gee there are a lot of food trends this is exhausting you guys, they really never stop” but it came off as “food trends are dumb; I decided to write this book and had all these amazing experiences that will make foodies jealous but they were all dumb.”
  • Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan – 2 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Blood Song. I spent this book thinking this is boring and am I supposed to care? Too bad.
  • Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan – 4 out of 5 stars. Very good book about marketing with actionable ideas!
  • AMC’s Best Day Hikes near Washington, D.C. by Stephen Mauro – 4 out of 5 stars. Good collection of day hikes in my area. I used it to make a nice list for the next time I’m feeling like walking a lot.
  • The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat by Alan Levinovitz [quit] – No star rating. I’m not the target audience for this book in that I don’t blindly believe everything I read about nutrition (I’m quite skeptical, in fact). And so it felt kind of like I already got it. I did like the parts about why it’s so easy to believe those things but there wasn’t enough of that in the part I read, so I quit.
  • Blackout by Connie Willis – 2 out of 5 stars. A time-travel novel, in which time travel is well established and yet NOBODY HAS ANY CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING. It’s super frustrating. I know this is a book in a series and maybe the others explain why no one has more than one back-up plan, a plan that has a pretty major flaw? Why can people only get one implant? If you can download the time and place of raids for a three month period on one implant, why wouldn’t you just do it for the whole war? Or download way, WAY more information in general? Why do these historians have very little (day to day) information about the past where they are going, when presumably people from their time have been going to that time period for a while? Why doesn’t that one girl just BUY A FREAKING SKIRT? How could you possibly be in too much of a hurry to prepare properly for your trip to a very specific point in the past? WHY DOES NO ONE THINK TO WRITE A MESSAGE IN A NEWSPAPER? AHHHH!!!
  • The Authority Volume 1 by Warren Ellis – 3 out of 5 stars. Storyline is fine, but there’s no character development. I didn’t care what happened to anyone. Shrug.
  • The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob – 5 out of 5 stars. Wow! This is so beautifully written. It’s about family, belonging, the immigrant experience… I loved it!

Jeff’s Reads

Links

Books – I read 15 books this summer, unless I’m forgetting something.

  • The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman – It was a children’s book that I read because it was around. Go ahead an read it if you are a child.
  • Blackout by Connie Willis – I checked out this book because it won more than one of the most prestigious sci-fi/fantasy awards. HOW?!! Ugh, I was so annoyed that time travelers on dangerous and important(?) missions couldn’t find their way around such obstacles as renting a car or excusing themselves from a conversation.
  • Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan – While not as good as volume one, Blood Song, I definitely plan to read the next one. This book picks up right where the last one left off and I definitely didn’t remember enough to fully appreciate it. The fan base really needs to get on top of putting some good synopses online. Also, there was one character that I misread the introduction of so for the entire book I thought they weren’t a teenager, but a six year old with strangely active hormones and impressive fighting skills.
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler – This book was an enjoyable combination of raw honesty and comedy. The writing felt a little scattered though. There was a part where she mentions how hurtful it can be to look up reviews of yourself online. Amy, if you’re reading this I’m sorry about the “scattered” comment.
  • Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews – SPOILER TAG. One of my biggest issues with this culmination of a the first big Kate Daniels plot arc was that an author’s note at the beginning tells you that the book is the culmination of the first big Kate Daniels plot arc!
  • Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews – I tend to enjoy this sort of book more and more as the world grows in complexity. This book was no exception.
  • The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin – Do you like hot sex scenes featuring the god of childhood? I thought so.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Certain sections of this book were noticeably weaker than others. Still, I went through it quickly and enjoyed it very much.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab –  There were a couple pretty major plot points that kept bothering me. Like the main guy is supposed to be one of the most powerful wizards in the multiverse and yet he keeps being overpowered by just about everyone he meets. Oh well, I actually liked this book a whole lot.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I enjoyed Darker Shade so much in fact that I immediately put Vicious on hold. Vicious didn’t quite live up to it. I was certainly happy with the book, but I was not convinced to make a desperate grab at all remaining Schwab books.
  • Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett – Talk about disappointing. Terry Pratchett for many years was my favorite author and I ravenously consumed all that he produced. This book though I was only able to finish due to lingering sentimentality. The magic of my adolescence was lost and all that remained was one sermon repeated ad nauseam.
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King – I didn’t listen to all of this audio book, only clips and snatches here and there, but I got the gist. And for this book it didn’t feel like I needed more than the gist.
  • The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax – I, for one, am not fed up with fondue. I can’t recommend this book highly, but I’m glad I read it.
  • On Paper by Nicholas A. Basbanes – I was so excited for this book when I started it. I tend to love micro-histories, but I just couldn’t get into this one. I stopped after several chapters. There just didn’t seem to be a cohesive narrative and I couldn’t get into it.
  • The Authority Volume 1 by Warren Ellis – How much did I like this book? I had to Google it to remember whether I had read it or not. It seams I tend to like superhero novels more than superhero graphic novels.

What did you read this summer?

Latest Eats in Arlington

While we still have the chance to travel occasionally, we are currently pretty well immersed in the day-to-day of working 9-to-6 office jobs. It’s not like we don’t have fun or try new restaurants, though, so I’d like to premiere a new series of posts on new restaurants we’ve tried. Since we are living (and for me, working) in Arlington, I thought I’d start with new Arlington restaurants we’ve tried lately.

Bob & Edith’s Diner

My friend Greg is a big fan of the original Bob & Edith’s on Columbia Pike. When we heard that a new location was opening up right near us, we decided to finally try it. It was a Sunday at dinner time, and most of the 4 person booths were full. There weren’t many people on staff, which is perhaps why it took absolutely forever to get our food. When it finally did come, mine was pretty good. I got 2 eggs with corned beef hash. The eggs were cooked well, the hash browns were fine, and the corned beef hash was nice and salty which was what I was in the mood for. Jeff said his fried chicken dinner was under-seasoned. The atmosphere and menu are very classic American diner, and made me feel right at home. While the food was slow in coming, the service was friendly and fairly attentive. The bill came to $20 before tip which is good for 23rd Street, though there are also cheaper items on the menu than what we ordered. I would probably go back if I wanted a milkshake, pie, or something greasy late at night. The 24 hour open time is a nice feature.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 539 23rd St S. (Crystal City); 2310 Columbia Pike (Columbia Pike – the original)
  • Hours: Open 24 hours
  • What to Expect: Greasy American diner food at any time at an okay price.

Kapnos Taverna

After receiving good news on the medical front, I wanted to go somewhere interesting to celebrate. I pulled together a couple of friends and a reservation at Kapnos at the last minute. I was sort of surprised when I got there and they seated me right away despite being only one of four, but then noticed that at the time (6:30) it was not at all crowded. It is a fairly large restaurant with nice décor. It’s big and open but surprisingly not too loud. Kapnos has Greek small plates so we all shared everything. We ordered 8 plates for 4 people to start. The waiter had recommended 3 dishes per person but one of us wasn’t too hungry.

As everything came out, we were happy to have not ordered more. These were not the usual tiny tapas portions, they were pretty big. Our first dish to arrive was the three dip sampler with tyrokaftari (cheese dip), taramasalata (potato, cauliflower and roe dip) and favosalata (lentil and black garlic dip). They came with two pieces of large, freshly baked flatbread. The bread was delicious and so were the dips. Next came the kolokithokeftedes, or zucchini and cheese patties. They were also awesome. The beet salad was quite tasty.

I can’t quite remember the order of the other dishes, but they were as follows:

  • Saganaki – I liked the honey. It was sadly not on fire. Also, I feel it should have come with bread.
  • Spanakopita – Good but nothing special.
  • Asparagus – Nicely grilled, but the peppers underneath were overpoweringly spicy.
  • Cremini mushrooms – I didn’t try these.
  • Horta – This was a kale and chard dish. It was fine.

Overall, the dishes were not evenly tasty. Some of them were excellent, but others were not. The price of the meal wasn’t terrible for a fairly upscale small plates place. The dips were the real stars.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 4000 Wilson Blvd (Ballston)
  • Hours: Lunch and dinner Monday thru Friday (closed 3-5 pm); brunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday (closed 3-5 pm)
  • What to Expect: Fancy but hit-or-miss Greek small plates.

Big Buns

Someone I met at a networking lunch shared a love of travel and Southeast Asia so we decided to get another lunch together to talk about that. She works in Ballston so I suggested Big Buns as it had been on my list of places to try. I got a burger with cheddar, grilled onions, pickles and lettuce. I also got ranch dressing, and a side of fries.

The fries were thin and crispy and pretty good. The burger was good though I wish they let you pick how it’s cooked with a burger that thickness (not over-thick, but not thin enough that you don’t care if it’s well done – that is, if you prefer medium or medium-rare as I do). The flavors reminded me of Five Guys (perhaps partly because of my chosen toppings) but it’s more expensive. I don’t think it’s too likely that I’ll go back.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 4401 Wilson Blvd #104 (Ballston)
  • Hours: Monday thru Saturday 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday noon to 8:30
  • What to Expect: Decent fast-casual burgers with lots of topping options.

Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream

I had some medical testing at Virginia Hospital Center and Jeff picked me up afterwards. He suggested ice cream and Yelp pulled up this little shop in Westover. It’s small, with not much seating. The staff was nice, and the ice cream was good. The price was right: a little over $2 for “1 scoop” of ice cream that was really two scoops. Westover is a cute little neighborhood; I’d definitely go back if I was in the area!

At a Glance:

  • Location: 5849A Washington Blvd (Westover)
  • Hours: Monday 7 am to noon; Tuesday thru Friday 7 am to 9 pm; Saturday 8 am to 9 pm; Sunday 8 to 8
  • What to Expect: Tasty and fairly cheap ice cream; not many seats inside.

Bakeshop

This has been on my “try” list for so long that I only vaguely remember the source of the recommendation, but I think it was some kind of list of nutella dishes in the DC area. They do, indeed, have a nutella cream pie, which is what I got. It is ridiculously rich and hard to eat the whole thing – it is possible that, maybe, I don’t like nutella as much as eating this pie requires. It was good though, and I’d like to come back sometime to try a cookie or cupcake.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 1025 N. Fillmore St (Clarendon)
  • Hours: Monday thru Thursday 8 am to 9 pm; Friday open til 10 pm; weekends open at 9 am until 10 (Saturday) or 8 (Sunday)
  • What to Expect: Cute little bakery with cupcakes, macaroons, and cookies, mostly.

Green Pig Bistro

This cutely decorated neighborhood bistro made this year’s Washingtonian Top 100 Restaurants. Jeff and I went here one Sunday evening without a reservation and didn’t have to wait. We shared a skillet full of cornbread (quite good, but not Founding-Farmers-level good) and a cheeseburger. Everything was very good, but we definitely felt the price was quite high. Not necessarily that it wasn’t worth the price, but it didn’t exceed our expectations so therefore we are unlikely to want to go again since it’s more than we typically want to spend on dinner.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 1025 N. Fillmore St (Clarendon)
  • Hours: Open for dinner at 5:30 every day except Tuesday; brunch at 10:30 to 2:30 on the weekends
  • What to Expect: Fancy dishes at fancy-restaurant prices that are good, but too expensive.

Osteria da Nino

Our friends are regulars here, and it’s easy to see why. Things I love about it:

  • Some of the best service around
  • The owner will come to your table and ask how you’re enjoying the food. I like that personal touch
  • Amazing, incredible pastas
  • Wonderful desserts
  • Pesto dip with the bread
  • The atmosphere – somehow both a friendly neighborhood spot and also kind of upscale. Nice enough for a first date, but no need to dress better than casual if you don’t want to.

It’s not cheap, unfortunately: pastas are around $16-20 per dish. But let me tell you, it is worth it! I can highly recommend the bucatini carbonara and the orechiette con salami anatra. For dessert, the panna cotta is fantastic. I’ve been twice, and I know I will be back.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 2900 S. Quincy St (Shirlington)
  • Hours: Sunday thru Thursday 11 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm
  • What to Expect: A non-pretentious but slightly pricy place with some of the best Italian food around.

Courthaus Social

This place opened up recently near my work in the former Velocity 5 spot. As it turns out it has the same owners and even mostly the same staff, but it’s been redone inside. I never tried Velocity 5 because it seemed kind of grimy, but my coworkers report that the food is better and the decor is better. I had a sausage platter that was really decadent for lunch. The sausages were really nice. I don’t know if they’ve improved them but when I went (during the soft opening) the chairs were torturously uncomfortable (at least the ones inside). I know they do District Trivia and that the beer garden is quite popular.

At a Glance:

  • Location: 2300 Clarendon Blvd (Courthouse)
  • Hours: Every day from around 11 am to around 1:30 am
  • What to Expect: A beer garden with decent German food and uncomfortable chairs.

Where have you been eating lately?