We may be communications professionals by day, but at night we consider ourselves full-blown D.C. foodies. Our team members are as adventurous with their taste buds as they are with their social media campaigns. So although September may mean “back to school” for some Americans, for our team, it means back to some of our fall favorite spots. We hope you enjoy reading about our food-ventures!
Lunch at Rural Society: Dining with Agrarian, Argentinian Flair
By Lisa Campbell
When we aren’t working hard in the office, you can find our team out on the streets looking for the next foodie hit. Our latest adventure was at Rural Society where we had some delicious Argentinian cuisine. Although technically inside a hotel, Rural Society has a cozy dining atmosphere. The décor and design created a perfect experience. The ceiling was draped entirely in hundreds of pieces of rope. We appreciate restaurants with unique decor and Rural Society did not disappoint. They had a lot of chopped wood neatly displayed in front of the grill, waiting to be put into the fire to cook your food, adding a nice level of authenticity.
The lunch menu is extremely diverse in portion size and offerings—from elaborate meat dishes off the grill, or simpler (yet still delicious) sandwiches and Fugazzas (Argentinian style pizzas). We sampled the Medialuna Sandwich, the Tradicional Fugazza, and the Margerita Fugazza. The Fugazzas were delicious, although a bit more like breadsticks than pizza. The sandwich was sweet, savory, and bitter (from the arugula). The sweet mustard probably should be substituted with brown mustard because otherwise it is too sweet—plus the croissant bun was sticky. Little handy naps could be provided after its consumption to allow the diner to clean their fingers if they happened to pick up the sandwich while eating.
Overall great feel and style—good service, too. We’ll be back to try more lunch choices!
Level One Brunch: Disco, Divas, and Delicious Food
By Kate Connors
Level One is a must brunch spot for anyone who considers themselves a D.C. foodie. I have to admit – I was skeptical the first time I ate there. The restaurant also operates as a night club and generally the idea of eating in the same place where people partied the night before makes me cringe. That being said, the staff does a fabulous job separating the two identities. Although the inside portion of the restaurant still has a bit of the night club feel, the fun music and friendly staff make it feel like a classic diner breakfast spot rather than a D.C. dance floor.
I recommend going to brunch on Sundays. Why? Because it is Disco Sundays of course! The staff are very fun and engaging and one time they even got up and danced disco with us. They have a 90 minute table limit because of popularity – and because they offer a great deal on bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys. I always say you can’t go wrong with a classic choice for food My go-to order is the breakfast sandwich - two eggs fried over hard with cheese and bacons. And the home fries are to die for!
Fresh from Farm to Table: Brunch at Founding Farmers
By Lisa Campbell
Situated right down the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is one of DC’s favorite brunch and dinner restaurants: Founding Farmers. Serving fresh farm-to-table food, Founding Farmers is always busy due to their delicious plates and friendly service. Sunday is a great time to go for brunch because the portions are generous (but not overbearing) and the atmosphere is cozy.
The staff comes across as friendly and approachable, due in part to their jean and polo shirt attire. It *almost* makes you feel like you are out in the country. I personally love all the wood accents in the restaurant that make the place just a bit more rustic. The service this time was very good and attentive, which was a welcome improvement over my last brunch visit.
Founding Farmers prides themselves on fresh, quality food and their environmentally friendly practices. The food was definitely of good quality. I ordered the roasted vegetable pan scramble, with a side of hash browns and whole grain toast. The scramble was packed with spinach, peppers, and carrots – delicious and a great way to get your daily dose of veggies! The hash browns were pretty good, although could have been crispier, in my opinion. My roommate sampled the Founding Farmers breakfast that lets you order two eggs, and a choice of meat, bread, and a side (hint: upgrade your bacon, it is worth the extra $3!)
My biggest piece of advice: Make a reservation at least a week in advance. Founding Farmers is always crowded. I had a reservation but another party that tried to just drop in was told they had a 90-minute wait time.
Taking on DC Restaurant Week: Richard Sandoval's Toro Toro
By Lisa Campbell
A block away from McPherson Square Metro Station sits one of Richard Sandoval’s newest DC Restaurants: Toro Toro. Since it’s restaurant week and you can get fabulous three course meals all over the city for just $35, I decided to try it out. The chic décor adds to the Latin feel and compliments the food beautifully. Calf hair and rich leathers accent the restaurant.
I personally started of with the Empanada Criolla, which came with the most delicious aji verde sauce. The potatoes added just the right texture to the dish. For the main course, I chose the Churrasco Grilled Picanha Steak (since it is a steakhouse) and I was not disappointed. The meat was rubbed with sea salt and cooked to perfection, although I am glad I kept my extra aji verde sauce from the starter to eat with my steak—yum! Some friends tried the Pistachio Crusted Mahi Mahi and seemed equally satisfied with their meal. Chocotora Argentine was my dessert selection. It topped off my meal with chocolate cake with kaluha and cream cheese filling topped with a delicious strawberry glaze. The staff was friendly and timely with our food, but did not rush us out. I would definitely go back to Toro Toro, the great décor, lounge feel, delicious food, and good service all make it a great place for a meal!
Read more about DC Restaurant Week, the week where hundreds of restaurants offer three-course lunch and dinner at a set price with multiple options to choose from!
Nage: The Perfect Upscale Comfort Meal for A Cold December Day
December 8, 2014
By Kate Connors
Our team at MAC Strategies have become somewhat of Nage regulars. Yes, it is close to our office,e but we also love their food which reminds us of southern comfort food with an upscale twist. Located in the Marriott Courtyard Embassy Row hotel, some people might brush this off as another restaurant hotel but it is much more than that. Dwayne Motley, Executive Chef at Nage, changes the menu constantly depending on the season, but thankfully keeps some favorites on the menu. The staff members are always enthusiastic and more than willing to offer recommendations for their favorite dishes or what wines to pair with the meal.
What is our recommendation for the December holidays? I started with the French Onion Soup, which was delicious. For a main course, I recommend the Lobster Mac & Cheese or the Crab Cake Sandwich. For companies looking to do a business dinner, Nage also offers private dining rooms and business conference areas which is perfect for businesses located in downtown D.C.
Art & Soul- The Shrimp & Grits
November 17, 2014
By Danielle Blevins
During a midday lunch, a friend invited me out to Art & Soul a few blocks from the Judiciary Square Metro subway stop on the Red Line in Washington, D.C. This restaurant’s friendly service atmosphere and amicable staff made it quite the location for a midday lunch. The waitress promptly came to our table as I was seated. The menu held many items including personal favorites, the BLT and calamari. Even so, my companion, who often visited the restaurant, knew exactly what to order.
For my companion at Art & Soul, it was the shrimp & grits. As my companion relayed to me, the chef gets creative with this simple, low-country dish each time it is ordered. Now as a Southern girl, it is not hard to convenience me to order any dish with grits. However, I was a little skeptical because non-Southerners should not make grits. But this being a southern-themed restaurant, I listened for more. My companion said, “It is never the exact same dish.” I asked for further explanation. It turns out, the chef makes the dish different ways, and the diner never knows what particular dish they will receive when it is ordered. As such, my companion had eaten it multiple times in many different ways. This fact intrigued me. Intrigued me enough to order the dish for myself.
When the entrée arrived, it was every bit as fulfilling as my companion had promised. There was okra, chives, and other spices blended together for a delicious meal. On this particular version, a red sauce that made this white-grits lover go, “Hmm.” As I devoured every bite and left an immaculately clean plate, the waitress’ jovial nature made me quietly pleased that my companion chose this delightful spot to dine. Being “up North,” one learns that everyone cannot and should not make grits. For this experience, Art & Soul is on my “Grits Allowed” list.
November 17, 2014
By Kipp Lanham
As if we do not review enough brunches, here’s one more at Acre 121. Walking in this Columbia Heights locale, you immediately sense a sports bar appeal with the altar of Washington Huskies and Seattle Seahawks memorabilia on the wall. Acre 121’s claim to fame is it's barbecue but we went with more traditional brunch fare. Friendly waiting staff made sure our waters and mimosas were topped off as we waited for our low country-style eggs benedict with pork belly instead of Canadian bacon and the inclusion of green tomato. The hollandaise sauce was supposed to have a spicy kick but our penchant for pepper was underwhelmed and needed to supplement it with Tobasco. We also ordered a biscuit and honey and should've stuck with that as it hit the spot better than the eggs benedict. The side of potatoes with peppers and onions and peprika seasoning were "meh.” We would give this another try as other items looked appealing and coming at a later time for BBQ and football is a must-do.
Old Ebbitt Grill & Doi Moi
November 13, 2014
By Kipp Lanham
Old Ebbitt Grill
As one of the top independently-owned and financially successful restaurants in the US, Old Ebbitt has not only a vaunted history but the dollar bills to back it up y¹all! But what about the actual experience inside? The staff are all dolled up in bowties and suspenders constantly moving between table and kitchen with endless verve and electricity. It is hard not to hear the whisper of feet on carpet or the clinking of glass or dishes. It is a pleasant symphony to accompany a scrumptious brunch after a tourist¹s run of museums on the Mall. Attention to detail is not lost on the servers in making sure the diners are delivered to with a fork, iced coffee instead of hot, and that dab of hot sauce for the yummy eggs benedict or corned beef hash (the potatoes could use some more imagination but are definitely not your canned course). The prices are typical for DC brunch in the $10-20 range. If you lubricate up on an alcoholic beverage, expect that bumped up over $20 as the bubbles will keep flowing in those mimosas! The dark woods of the long bars are classic accompanied by mirrors to give more depth to what is already quite a spacious restaurant. Ambiance, service, and quality cooking add up to a worthwhile visit. But do be aware reservations for such a tourist hotspot are a must unless you think you can wing it. My friend and I did but that shouldn¹t be your calling card!
Fourteenth Street has sprouted up this restaurant here and that restaurant there for blocks between N Street all the way up Florida Ave. How do you know what to choose from? For Asian food connoisseurs, Doi Moi sounds enticing. The all white interior and open seating at bars and the kitchen are quite inviting. Even in the back where the restroom is you find a splendid lounge decorated to transport you to another place out of New York or Los Angeles. But is the food there to back it up? With so many restaurants nearby catering to French, Italian, Spanish tapas, or American fare, this restaurant should have the area cornered. Perhaps I ordered wrong but the pork dumplings fried were lackluster and the sweet chili sauce had more seeds than actual sauce. The butternut squash coconut milk soup was astounding as both a seasonal pleasure and healthy vegetarian alternative to mostly meat items. Having bits of lemongrass though created an unwanted texture in your mouth but the flavors excuse it. Desert was rather comical with three house made ice creams claiming to taste like quince, plum, and another flavor I can¹t recall because everything tasted like vanilla. And the presentation on three cones like you get at a county fair just didn’t suit the fine dining sensibility of the restaurant. And the mess that came with it when it melted was like a leaky soft serve machine. The servers were attentive for the most part and knowledgeable of what you might enjoy. If I do go again, I would take them up on their recommendations rather than venturing off as I did in not so yummy dumpling land. With starters and small plates ranging $6-16 and main course items in the $15-30 and cocktails $10-15, do expect to make this a unique occasion.
Brunch at The Tabard Inn – Rustic Charm with a Twist
October 20, 2014
By Kate Connors
Since 1922, The Tabard Inn has been serving up wonderful stays and delicious meals. It has become a bit of a historical treasure in Washington, D.C. In fact, in its early years, the Tabard Inn was a popular meeting place for women’s social groups and clubs. With so much rich history and food, it is hard to know where to begin with this fabulous D.C. staple so I am going to go with my favorite meal – brunch. As their website highlights, “The Tabard Restaurant’s ever-changing seasonal dishes reflect global influences with a regional twist.” And even though some of the dishes do change depending on the season, there are some favorites that have stayed and will (hopefully!) never go away.
Starting with the Tabard’s own Freshly Fried Donuts is a must. These delicious homemade pastries are served with cinnamon sugar and vanilla whipped cream. For your main dish, I recommend any of their egg dishes but I have a particular love for their Huevos Rancheros. Typically, I stay away from Huevos Rancheros because I find it very heavy for an early morning delicacy but at Tabard the dish feels perfectly portioned and tastes absolutely delicious. The staff is very knowledgeable about the all the plates as well if you are having trouble figuring out a dish!
My biggest advice: Make a reservation. Getting a table on the fly is very difficult, especially with a larger party. If you are willing to wait, make sure to order a cup of hot coca and settle down in their big fluffy chairs in the lounge will you wait for your amazing meal!
Brunch Spanish Style: El Centro Restaurant
October 6, 2014
By Kate Connors
Brunch is weekend “must” for most D.C. residents, and El Centro does not disappoint. For $25.00 a person, you and your friends can enjoy all-you-can-eat tapas-style plates. (For $35.00, you can also have bottomless drinks and food.) Considering that each small plate is in the $10-15 range, this a great deal. One of the best parts of El Centro is that you can eat on the rooftop deck, the main floor traditional dining hall, or the basement which feels a bit like a Spanish discoteca. And no matter what floor you are on, the service does not disappoint. The food comes out quickly and the servers are happy to dish about their favorite plates if you need help deciding.
With so many delicious Spanish dishes on the menu, it is hard to pick favorites but my top five would have to be the shrimp ceviche, the steak tacos, the huevos rancheros, the chicken flautas, and the wonderfully sweet churros for dessert. Each dish is prepared with approximately three servings so keep that in mind when getting dishes for the table. And last but not least - I am a firm believer that spicy food deserves a spicy drink, so I highly recommend their Bloody Maria as a pairing for your meal.
Check out the full brunch menu here: http://www.richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf/uploads/menus/elcentrodf-brunch.pdf.
A Feast Fit for a President- Lincoln Restaurant
By Kipp Lanham
Lincoln, a restaurant containing all paraphernalia about the 16th president of the United States, offers a mouth-watering menu of small and large plates for the diner’s pleasure. Comfort foods abound, such as the macaroni and cheese, hush puppies, and bacon-flavored dishes. The salads are not to be missed as well, sourcing from local farms with the most seasonal offerings available. If having a cocktail is a must, the diner cannot go wrong with a bourbon-infused delight. Southern in its appeal and charm, Lincoln is worth the reservation (highly recommended due to its popularity at lunch and dinner as well as on weekends!).