First round is on me, Beltway guys and gals…

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Tod Kelly says:

    Note to other contributors: Because this is an invite, I am making this post a sticky for a bit. If it’s gumming up a new post, let me know.Report

  2. Mike Dwyer says:

    If you get over to Two Amy’s (pizza and etc) order the deviled egg appetizer. I cried myself to sleep the last time I had it.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I’m a big fan of Two Amy’s, though I wish it was more conveniently located (when my then-girlfriend lived around the corner, it was perfect, but once she moved… not so much). Never had the deviled eggs… but I take that as a strong recommendation.Report

  3. Dan Miller says:

    I’d love to come out–Thursday or Friday is best for me. Are you looking for places near the summit?Report

  4. I won’t be able to make it down since I’ll be in upstate NY that weekend. But if you get the chance to cross the river into Arlington, there’s a Peruvian chicken joint called El Pollo Rico that is nothing short of a religious experience. It’s near the GMU metro stop, basically diagonal from GMU Law School in a ramshackle building next to an auto repair shop. The line is usually out the door from 11:30 until it closes after dinner (basically whenever they run out of chicken), but due to the nature of the place, never takes longer than 5 or 10 minutes of waiting to get to the front. The menu pretty much amounts to “Quarter, Half, or Whole,” and there is chicken roasting on spits everywhere you look.

    Back when I lived in Arlington, we used to hit it up about once a week, and a year or two ago it was featured on No Reservations. Best cheap food in the area, IMHO.

    Also, you can’t go wrong with Vietnamese food in the area, especially Pho, but the Chinese food outside of a few joints in Chinatown is absolutely terrible. The Italian food is not much better, and Washingtonians wouldn’t know a good pizza if it smacked them in the face.

    Fine dining-wise, there are quite a few good options nowadays, but most of them seem to have opened after I left, so I don’t have much in the way of recommendations. When I was there, your best option on that front was usually one of the overrated and/or stuffy steakhouses or seafood joints, plus maybe Jaleo (which I’ve been told has gone downhill).Report

    • Your position on El Pollo Rico is absolutely correct. It’s amazing. Nearby Ray’s Hell Burger is also one of the very greatest restaurants in DC that’s actually in Virginia.

      You are also right about Chinese food and pizza. There’s a newish place on K St called Sichuan Pavilion that’s probably the best regular Chinese place in the city, and it’s merely pretty good. Ma La Tang (also in Arlington) does legitimately excellent hot pot, though.

      Otherwise, the food (and cocktail) scene in the area is quickly approaching first-rate. BBQ is the new trend, and we are up to our ears in actually-very-good places to get it. Seafood is fresh and amazing almost across the board – this may mean little to someone who lives on a coast anyway, but a Michigan Man weeps with joy at the quality of the crabs and oysters.

      Hands down the best places to do drinks, IMO, are the Gibson and the Passenger. The sheer quality of drinking establishments, though, makes it almost irrelevant. Pick a neighborhood at random and you’ll find something excellent. (Near where you’re staying, in Adams Morgan, is my favorite place in all of DC – Bourbon – which has an astonishing bourbon menu. Nearly next door is Jack Rose, which broadens the scope to all of whiskey. These are potentially must-sees.)Report

      • Dan Miller in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        Mostly true for pizza, anyway. Pete’s Apizza and Italian Pizza Kitchen are both OK. And Ray’s is absolutely incredible. The best burger I’ve ever eaten, I think.Report

        • Hmmm….I’ll have to check into this “Ray’s” next time I’m down there. It seems to have opened after my time. I should mention I also lived briefly around the corner of the original Five Guys in Alexandria; it was slightly better then than it is now, but it’s still pretty darn good.

          But I am unwilling to even consider arguments that DC now has a passable pizza joint. That is physically not possible, and only a fellow Jerseyan or NYC native has any credibility with me on this subject.Report

          • Pete’s is “New Haven-style”, so there’s that. I’m told by people I know who went to Yale that it is close enough to their standards of what that kind of thing is supposed to be like. I find it merely okay.

            Ray owns a few restaurants. Ray’s the Steaks is a pretty awesome place to get a traditional steak dinner, where you pick a giant slab of meat and then order some family-style sides, and it’s priced very competitively. Ray’s Hell Burger (notice these names?) was his second restaurant, and owns all the bones. He might have a few others as well.Report

          • Dan Miller in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Chicago-raised. Those are fighting words, or would be if I didn’t subscribe to Sam-style agnosticism on aesthetic matters (which food certainly falls into).Report

            • I’ve no doubt as to the existence of good “Chicago Pizza,” while I have plenty of doubts that there exists good “pizza in Chicago” – “Chicago Pizza” is not “pizza,” no matter how good it may be.

              Similarly, I have affection for a good Cincinnati Chili. But Cincinnati Chili is not “chili.”Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Ray’s started as a steakhouse in Virginia (Ray’s the Steaks… GET IT?!?!) and has branched out into another steakhouse in Silver Spring, Maryland (Ray’s the Classics) and a burger joint (Ray’s Hell Burger).

            I’ve eaten at the SS joint and it is, dollar-for-dollar, the best steak I’ve ever had. Unlike other places, they give you creamed spinach and mashed potatoes without charging you $10 each… they’re included with the meal. They cook their steaks old school style, which means if you say “medium rare” they will bring you out what used to be consider medium rare, which is more akin to what we consider rare (there has been some inflation on the doneness skill, largely due to liability reasons, as I understand it). They also give it a hard char unless you request it otherwise. They actually implore you to read the “Ordering Instructions” so no one ends up with a steak that is nothing like what they want. But it’s great and, like I said, very affordable (a couple can get out of there for under $100, which is great for high quality steak). Apparently they use steak-quality meat in the burgers, which explains the amazingness, which I’ve never had. I heard the SS location serves them at the bar, too.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            Regarding pizza, Two Amy’s is good, but is Italian-style brick oven. It’s not NY slice pizza. The closest approximation I found is Vace in Bethesda. They have a location in Cleveland Park, but I never ate there. I’m pretty sure the whole place is a front for the mob, since they sell imported Italian delicacies for less than the regular super market sells store brand versions. But, the pizza is good, with the primary complaint being that the sauce is a bit too sweet for my liking.

            There are some other quality gourmet style pizza joints but, yea, you’re not getting slice pizza there. I didn’t eat pizza for most of the two years I resided there.Report

        • Ryan Noonan in reply to Dan Miller says:

          Yeah, I think Ray’s is a legitimate contender for Best Hamburger on Earth.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      there’s a Peruvian chicken joint called El Pollo Rico

      Anything like the Chilean joint called Los Pollos Hermanos?Report

  5. Michelle says:

    Too bad we’re not still in the Philly area as it would be worth the drive to see you again and show the husband DC.

    You’re a brave soul to enter the Values Voter Summit. I may have to pray for you.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Michelle says:

      Wait – didn’t you just move to Philly? Or am I remembering incorrectly?Report

      • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        You remember correctly, Tod. We were in Philly for all of nine months when my husband’s employer decided he should be in Greensboro, NC after a departmental shake-up. The writing was pretty much on the wall after our first couple of months.

        We moved here at the beginning of August on the corporation’s dime. I think (fingers crossed) we’ll actually be here for quite a while; at least I sure hope so since, thus far, we really like it. The area is beautiful; the food’s great; the cost of living quite reasonable; and we’re only a short drive away from all kinds of cool places. Plus, I’m really tired of being a middle-aged nomad.Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    If anyone needs further enticement, none other than myself will be there, possibly adorned with my Tom Selleck t-shirt and Italian party shorts.Report

  7. Benjamin Daniels says:

    Ah, I just left DC for London. Anyway, you should:
    brunch at Meridian Pint (not sure of the hours, but the downstairs tables have built-in taps, also not sure if you can eat downstairs)
    drink at Red Derby (a ways uptown but $2 PBR etc)
    drink/dance at Madams Organ (close to the Omni and LIVE JAZZ)
    Have fun!Report

  8. damon says:

    I really liked “Founding Farmers”. The deviled egg app, with versions of regular, crap, smoked salmon, etc. was fantastic.

    I direct your attention to

    Also, might want to research No Reservations for locations too–if you’re into that kinda thing.Report