Friday, October 12, 2012

Washington DC: Croissants for Breakfast

For some reason, I always end up getting croissants for breakfast when I travel.  When I think about it, it is probably because it's hard to mess up a croissant and it's somewhat less messy... so a latte and a croissant is my usual morning combo.

I saw a Le Pain Quotidien my first night in DC right from the hotel, so decided to stop by.  I had it get it to go since I didn't have much time before meeting my co-worker.

Le Pain Quotidien
2000 P St NW
Between N 20th St & N Hopkins St
Washington, DC 20036
Dupont Circle

Le Pain Quotidien is actually a chain so I know what to expect.  Sometimes, that's the best way to go when traveling, going for what you are familiar with, especially if you are short on time.

Iced latte.  Even though Le Pain Quotidien call it their iced latte, they make it more like iced macchiato.  Instead of milk added to espresso for latte, espresso is added to milk.

pain au chocolat
Pain au Chocolat.  Fancy term for chocolate croissant.  Glad to say that it is exactly like any of Le Pain Quotidien's croissant that I've had.  Solid Belgian chocolate bar in the croissant.  Would be better if warmed.


The next day, I woke up a little earlier because I wanted to try something local.  I was gonna stop by a cafe, but once I got ready, it was too late so I aimed for Firehook, a bakery around the Dupont Circle Metro stop.

Firehook Bakery
1909 Q St NW
Between N 19th St & N 20th St
Washington, DC 20009
Dupont Circle

firehook bakery
Firehook Bakery is actually a small chain in the DC/Virginia area.  It was really busy when I got there.

latte & croissant
Again, went for the latte + croissant combo!

cup sleeve
Their logo on the cup sleeve.

Latte.  Nothing fancy about it :P

chocolate & almond croissant
Went for a chocolate almond croissant this time!

Croissant was definitely more buttery than Le Pain Quotidien's.  About a 50/50 mix of chocolate and almond paste.

Glad I got to try a local place, and something that's well-known like Firehook, although if there was a McDonald near by, I probably would've got that :P  


A little extra to close out the Washington DC posts.

Generally I try to avoid eating at the airport but Dulles International was just SO FAR AWAY.  After we were done with the day, hopped onto the Metro with our luggages and transferred to a shuttle stop to head straight to the airport.  The whole trip took close to an hour and 40 minutes.  Since we left straight for the airport, we just camped at the Gordon Biersch Airport Restaurant at the United terminal.

I actually like these restaurant & brewery places (Gordon Biersch, BJ).  Since this is an airport location, the beer is mircobrewed off location somewhere, but the beers are solid.  Went for the hefweizen.

marzen bbq chicken
BBQ Marzen Chicken Sandwich.  Why not use beer to make your BBQ sauce!  The sauce was good, but damn that chicken was just so dry =|

garlic fries
Gordon Biersch's garlic fries.  Tastes better at Dodger's Stadium haha.

After this work trip, I'm convinced that I need to come back to DC on my own time and explore more of the capital.  I want to do all the touristy crap too since I was a kid when I went to DC and I barely remembered the trip.  Time to save up more of the airline miles.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Washington DC: Obama Ate Here!

Gonna be a short post, but I had to give Ben's Chili Bowl its own!  Ben's Chili Bowl is one of those... places that's made famous by their famous patrons and the history of the place.

Brief history of the place and why it is famous: essentially, Ben's Chili Bowl opened in 1958, and since it was near a theater, plenty of celebrities frequented the place.  Bill Cosby was one of its biggest supporters, and there's pictures of him all over the wall!  It's been through several riots, and played a significant role throughout the city's history, serving food through these troubling times.  In 2009, President Obama also dined at Ben's and you can see that all over the place as well.  There's even a little note on the cash register that says "only Bill Cosby and President Obama eat for free!"  

With over 1700+ reviews on Yelp, although very mixed, I convinced my co-worker to take the Metro with me to check it out.

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW
Between N 12th St & N 13th St
U Street Corridor
Washington, DC 20009

ben's chili bowl
Right outside the U Street Metro stop is Ben's Chili Bowl!

ben's chili bowl
Closer look.

half smoked dog & chili cheese fries
Of course, Ben's Chili Bowl is known for the chili, so decided to go crazy and went for their famous Half Smoke Chili Dog and the Chili Cheese Fries.  Quite pricey... the whole meal was around $15 with a drink!

half smoked
1/4lb. half pork and beef smoked sausage on a warm steamed bun and topped with mustard, onions, and spicy homemade chili.

hot dog
Michael strongly recommended this half smoke over the regular dog cause the casing had more of a snap.  Didn't really feel the snap, but I was too busy thinking about the chili!  It has a little bit of heat and it is all meat!  All meat chili trumps chili with bean any day. 

gooey cheese
Chili cheese fries.  Good, but to be honest, nothing too crazy about the fries, but wow they put a lot of nacho cheese sauce over it.  You're really getting it as a different vessel for the chili!

I actually liked Ben's Chili Bowl a lot!  I can see why people would dismiss it or think it is overhyped, because in the end, it is just a hot dog with chili over it, and you can get that everywhere.  Not the best chili I've had, but I do like the chili here and would even pay for a whole bowl of it!  It's just one of those joints serving simple American food and been doing the same way forever.  With all the history behind the place, it's just cool to check it out.  Plus, I can say I ate at the same place as the President now :P


After eating at Ben's, co-worker and I decided to stop by a bar to relax.  Ended up at Buffalo Billards in Dupont.  Just so happens they were showing the Presidential Debate on TV!  I find it weird that they would show it at a bar that oddly reminds me of Busbys in LA, but it is DC after all!

Plus, anything is interesting after a few pints of Yuengling :P

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Washingto DC: Taylor Gourmet Two Days Straight

For the two days I was in DC, I went to this sandwich shop near the convention center called Taylor Gourmet Deli.  The owners are from Philly and they saw a lack of hoagie options in DC so decided to start their own Italian hoagie shop!  It's also one of the top rated places in DC, and there's a bunch of framed articles and awards lining one wall of the shop.

Taylor Gourmet
485 K St NW
Between N 4th St & N 5th St
Washington, DC 20001

taylor gourmet
The place itself was pretty cool!  There's a roll-up garage door so on a good day, they can open it up to have an open-air feel to it!  Very industrial decor.  If this place was in LA, hipsters would probably swarm it :P

puck's soda fountain
Another cool thing about Taylor Gourmet is that their soda fountain is supplied by a company that does pure can sugar sodas, Puck's!  That means there's no HFC in the sodas.  Tried to find some info on them but could not find their online footprint.  It's my first time ever seeing one!  You can definitely taste the difference.  All the sodas are noticeably sweeter. and the flavoring is what you would expect from a bottle of old fashion sodas.  Cola has a medicinal taste, while the ginger ale has a strong ginger flavor.  The cola and vanilla cream were the top two for me.

A combo is a little over $10 for a hoagie, drink, and a bag of chips.

lombard street
Day one, I decided to try a cold sandwich, and went for the Lombard Street.  Sandwiches are named after streets.  Seems to be a popular thing to do nowadays.

sopressata, genoa salami, roasted red peppers, pesto, fresh mozzarella
Sopressata, genoa salami, roasted red peppers, pesto, and fresh mozzarella on a sesame wheat.  Classic Italian ingredients.  The pesto works well to have the sandwich be not as dry.  Not much in terms of protein, but Taylor is stressing more about the quality rather than the quantity.

You can definitely tell the mozzarella is fresh because it just crumbles.

vine street expressway
For Day 2, I liked the pesto so much, I decided to get a hot sandwich with pesto on it, and got the Vine Street Expressway.

italian breaded chicken, prosciutto, pesto, sharp provolone
Italian breaded chicken, prosciutto, pesto, and sharp provolone on sesame wheat.  Not a thick cut of breaded chicken, but wow, the breaded chicken has a lot of flavors.  Italian seasoning + fried chicken is awesome.

pesto & sharp provolone!
Pesto and the prosciutto is great but the real star is the sharp provolone.  I love that piquant flavor.  It's weird though, I usually see sharp provolone on sandwiches in the East Coast, not so much in Cali.

jalapeno chips
Both lunches, I went with the jalapeno chips.  My favorite all time is Ms. Vick's but the Herrs was not bad at all.  It is kettle cooked so it's a lot crunchier than your normal chips.

Very cool sandwich spot.  Really did wish I had a few more days to try out their other hoagies, especially the meatball.  Somewhat jealous of the people that work around that area :P

Monday, October 8, 2012

Washington DC: Pizzeria Paradiso

Last week, I went to Washington DC for a 2-night trip for work.  It was a short trip, and I didn't have as much free time as I thought, so I barely explored the city.  There were a few places I wanted to stop by, but since time was limited, I decided to stick to areas I could reach via Metro.  Thanks to the really handy Metro system, I was able to check out a few popular places in DC.

Left for DC at 6am that morning from LAX, and as usual, flight was delayed -___-  8 hours later, got to DC, hauled all the luggages to the convention center.  By the time my co-worker and I finished setting up, it was already 7pm EST.  Took the Metro to Dupont Circle since we stayed on a hotel on Embassy Row.  Yelped around the area and I found a pizza place that is literally around the corner from where we stayed!

Oh the pictures will be... quite horrible :[  I totally forgot to change the color temperature setting and it was so dark in there, so I did a little post editing.  May not look that good, but trust, very delicious :P

Pizzeria Paradiso
2003 P St NW
Between N 20th St & N Hopkins St
Dupont Circle
Washington, DC 20036

pizzeria paradiso dupont circle
Turns out Pizzeria Paradiso is a pizzeria that specializes in using traditional ingredients, but with their own spin on things, with a heavy focus on their crust.  They use a wood-burning, domed, stone oven to cook at a temperature of 650 degrees, so a few hundred degrees less than the Neapolitan style, even though they do bake their pizzas in the same fashion.

A portion of the menu.

variety of olives
They start you off with a variety of olives!  I don't know much about olives and there were some I definitely prefer over the others haha.

Hofstettner Hochzeitsbier von 1810
Besides being a pizzeria, it is also a birrieria, which meant they have a bunch of beers on tap.  Since it is fall now, they have a variety of autumn & seasonal beers.  Decided to start with a Hofstettner Hochzeitsbier von 1810, a lager from Austria.  A little hoppy, but good beer with the olives!

Pizzas arrive!  We went for the 12" instead of the 8" since we didn't eat on the flight at all.

Macellaio with Paradiso tomato, pepperoni, mozzarella, sausage, and red onion.

Paradiso Tomato, Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Sausage, Red Onion
Love the huge chunks of tomato.

It's just a simple sausage pizza done really well.

Bosco with Paradiso tomato, spinach, mozzarella, mushroom, and red onion.  No protein, but this was my favorite out of the two!

slice 2
The crust is definitely the star of the pizza though.  They let their dough slowly rise before they handle it, and you can tell they took the time to develop the recipe for it!    A bit thicker than the thin crust, and the crust really held up to the ingredients.  Sometimes the crust gets too soggy, but not here.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
I was feeling a märzen for the second beer so I went for the Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen.  Ayinger, one of the oldest brewery in Germany, knows their beer.  Malty, a little spicy.

Somehow on these trips, I always end up at a pizza place, but they never disappoint!  Originally I wanted to walk and explore the area for a bit but with the long flight, we were pretty beat by the end, so I went back to the room and just passed out.