Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Category Archives: District of Columbia

Naan and Beyond

More than anything, MG and I needed to get out of the sweltering heat. We were on the National Mall, jaunting from museum to museum, going from air-conditioned treasury of art to air-conditioned treasury of art, when we got hungry. This meant venturing away from the immediate area to find some lunch.

While there are plenty of options nearby, even a four block walk in 100 degree heat with over 80% humidity feels like a venture through hell.

Sidebar: Why are all the food trucks near the museums and the monuments exactly the same? Every truck serves hot dogs, pretzels, and has the same signs out front. Did the city award an exclusive contract to one vendor? I would imagine that this would be a prime area for a plethora of cuisine options. Unfortunately, the pickings are pretty slim.

Naan Beyond Logo
A quick search on the cell phone, and we located Naan and Beyond. Finding the restaurant is a little difficult. It is located on the top floor of a hotel, but almost completely hidden from view from the street.

Lamb Tikka Sandwich
Inside Lamb Sandwich
The Lamb Tikka sandwich ($7.75) is incredibly tasty. The lamb it mixed with cabbage and tomato inside a fluffy disc of naan with a bit of mayo. It was wonderful. However, I do have one complaint: There was barely any lamb in the sandwich. They should have called it Essence of Lamb Tikka. I understand that lamb may be expensive, but really?

Chicken Tikka Platter
Chicken Up Close
MG fared much better. She got the Chicken Tikka platter ($8.95). It was chocked full of chicken, rice, and two sides. There was a little bit of a language barrier, so MG employed the point and “Gimmie that,” method. What she ended up with adjoining her chicken was a chickpea concoction covered in the same Tikka sauce as chicken. Her other selection was a curry cauliflower. Everything was very good. The Tikka had plenty of spice, the chicken was tender, and the curry was savory. The platter also came with a bit of naan, fluffy and warm.

Naan and Beyond is located in a food court about the same as you would find in any mall in America. It is short on ambiance, but long on taste. Skip the sandwich and go for the platter.

Naan and Beyond
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20045
202-737-0890
(Google Map)

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Comet Ping Pong

Outdoor Sign
This is yet another location that MG and I visited based on the review of a certain peroxide-bleached, spikey haired, sports car driving, restauranteur and chef on a gastronomically centered network. Comet specializes in pizza and ping pong. It looked like a place that was both trendy and intimate, kind of cooky and cool.

Tin of Beer
If you drink beer, you are in luck. Comet has an interesting selection. I got a can of Old Chubb Scotch Ale ($5.00). It was a dark, nutty drink. I would definitely recommend it to go along with pizza or any form of salty food.

Pint O Margarita
If you do not want beer, the pickings are kind of slim. They don’t have a very well stocked bar. However, they were able to scrounge together the makings of a margarita for MG. It was OK. If you drink beer, get a beer instead.

I’ll use this space to give big props to our waitress, Liza. She was fantastic. She was friendly and informative, nice without being sickeningly sweet, and ready with recommendations. The bar took a very long time to get MG her margarita, and Liza just removed it from the tab without any prompting. Big thumbs up!

Small Salad
We started with a small salad ($5.00). They have a house dressing that is vinegar based. While MG will eat that with no problem, it causes me great stomach pain. I asked if there was another option. Liza said that they had a house dipping sauce that was sour cream based with horseradish. I asked for a bit on the side.

The house dipping sauce was pretty good. However, the salad was not. This was not a salad. This was a bit of dark greens, nothing else. There was no tomato, no cucumber, no onion, no nothing. It was not salad, this was a little bit of arugala and spinach. They should either make this better or just remove it from the menu. Weak.

Pepperoni Pizza
MG got their pizza. Each pizza is an individual 12 inch pie ($7.95). She kept it simple with just a topping of pepperoni ($1.00 extra).

Pizza Upskirt
The crust is well toasted without being burnt.

The pizza is another well made boring pie. The sauce had no distinguishing characteristic, and the cheese was largely forgettable. Chalk this up to being another well-made waste.

Philly Calzone
I got the Philly Calzone ($14.00). It features their house roasted pork, broccoli rabe, and provolone cheese. It was very good. I’m not sure that the blend of ingredients is exactly what I would order again, but the calzone had much more flavor than the pizza. The pork was pretty tasty, but I’m not sure that provolone was the best compliment. Some ricotta might have been better.

If you have the chance to dine at Comet, get a calzone. See if you can get it customized, perhaps with some pepperoni, ricotta, and garlic. THAT would be something special.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
The Salted Caramel Ice Cream ($2.95) was excellent. Liza said it would be great, and it really was great. Really great. It is served in a generous scoop atop a warm chocolate chip cookie. The cookie and the ice cream were both wonderful. This is a must order.

The ping pong section is separate from the dining area, so you don’t have to worry about ping pong balls ending up inside your dinner. There is a dining area in very back of the space complete with a DJ booth. I’m not sure when that is hopping, but it might be interesting to check out. Pop in. Have a beer and a calzone. Skip the pizza.

Comet Ping Pong
5037 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
202-364-0404
(Google Map)

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Chili Bowl at Night
There are a few signs that sum up the vibe at Ben’s Chili Bowl. One reads “Black Owned and Operated Since 1958”. The other says “Only Bill Cosby and Obama/Family Eat Free. All Others Must Pay”. Nice.

The jukebox was playing James Brown, and Smokey Robinson. The folks behind the counter were dancing, chatty, and full of smiles. MG and I took a seat at the counter at 1am on a Thursday, and the place was hopping. We scanned the menu on the board above the griddle and decided on the signature dish, though in different ways.

Large Bowl of Chili
I got a large bowl ($5.95) of their chili. This was very different from the chili that I’ve had at most barbeque joints. This is closer to a beef stew. While loaded with beans, it was not dominated by them. The chili certainly had plenty of kick and a good meaty flavor. The meat was tender and tasted fresh.

Cheese Fries
I wanted to try the potato salad, but they were out of it. Instead I got an order of cheese fries ($4.50). The order is very big. The fries are not exceptional, but are well prepared. They do not skimp on the cheese. Granted, this is not a fine cheese made from a blend of gruyere and cheddar. More akin to the liquid cheese they use at movie theaters for nachos, this goop was applied liberally to the spuds.

Chili Cheese Fries
Instead of having the ingredients separately, MG just combined them all together in one dish of Chili Cheese Fries ($5.70).

This was junk food. Wonderful junk food. Junk food of the highest degree, the kind you have after an evening of downing beer and shots. It definitely left me with a doing 20 in a 50 kind of feeling. The sort of brick in the belly and steam coming out of my ears that only high-end junk food can bring. This is not a place for the health conscious. The menu also has a number of freshly made cakes and shakes.

Though we were there on a Thursday night, business was brisk. I’m sure that on a Friday night, the walls are rocking. They are open until 4am on the weekends.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
202-667-0909
(Google Map)

Amsterdam Falafelshop

Amsterdam Sign
MG and I were looking for a snack after going to the National Zoo. A quick search on the old cell phone, and we found Amsterdam Falafel. The reviews were overwhelmingly good. MG and I hopped in the car and made for the restaurant.

Simple Menu
We didn’t really read through the reviews. We just saw “Middle Eastern” as the description and decided to make our way to the shop. I figured that they would have many of the usual Mid-East fare. Amsterdam Falafel is very accurate in the description of their menu. They serve falafel and fries. That’s it. There’s nothing else. When you go to Amsterdam Falafel, you will probably get a falafel, and perhaps some fries.

Amsterdam Toppings
The toppings bar is pretty big. It has hummus, babaganush, pickles, red pepper flakes, cucumbers, tomato, and a gang of other goodies.

Star of the Show
Here is the star of the show. MG and I both got a regular with a wheat pita. The falafel balls are pillowy and soft, well fried, but not greasy.

The menu recommends that diners mash down the falafel balls in the pita to create room for the fixings. They ask that you not return for seconds on toppings (except for tahini and garlic sauce). There are no plates. Your falafel is handed to you in a paper pocket, ensuring that you do not abuse the salad bar.

The falafel is very good. Not the greatest I’ve ever had, but really tasty. Aside from the good food and the nice vibe, it is nice that when you get to Amsterdam Falafel, there is no question about what to order. The food is good, it is inexpensive, and it is close to the downtown DC area. The parking can be a little challenging, but not impossible. If you are in the area and need a quick bite, definitely check them out.

Amsterdam Falafelshop
2425 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-234-1969
(Google Map)

Fuddruckers

Logo on Cup
This might be the longest “review in the making” that I have ever experienced. I have been trying to get to a Fuddruckers for the past year.

The last time I was at a Fuddruckers was when they had a location in Scarsdale. That outpost closed while the memory of the Mets 1986 World Series win was still fresh in the minds of New York. I was in grade school, and the friends I was hanging out with were ecstatic. They were frequent diners at that location, and it was my first time. I recall the experience being good for me, but it was not too long after my first experience that the location closed.

I had not thought about Fuddruckers for a long time because, out of sight, out of mind. However, about a year ago, I discovered that they were still in business.

Last year, as MG and I were on our way to Maryland, we attempted to stop at a Fuddruckers in New Jersey. We drove up to the door to find that it was closed, and out of business. MG and I ended up at a diner with incredible cinnamon buns and horrible burgers.

In January of this year, when we were in Florida, we spied a Fuddruckers on our way back home from a show. We were on our way to Tampa the next day and vowed to eat there for lunch. What do you know? My Grandmother made a gigantic breakfast the next morning to send us off properly and we were both too stuffed to even attempt to try going.

This year, we were heading back to the Maryland/DC area. Once again, MG and I swore to eat at a Fuddruckers, the build-up now a year in the making. We were going to get to the Columbia location early, have lunch, go to our hotel, relax, and meet friends for dinner and a show. Of course, once again we were thwarted. I forgot something at the start of our journey and had to turn around, loosing an hour of time. To add insult to injury, the traffic was ridiculous. DAMN!!! I was done. I told MG to forget it. This was obviously a cursed enterprise. I gave up. I was done trying to plan.

After going to the National Portrait Gallery, MG and I did a quick search for restaurants in the area. Lo and behold, a few blocks away, right at the opening to the Chinatown area, lay a Fuddruckers. I told MG.

She asked, “Do you want to go?”
“You make the call. I’m done trying to plan.”
“Let’s give it a shot.”

I fully expected to get to the location and find a pile of smoking rubble. I was convinced that this was a foray into disaster. Amazingly, Fuddruckers was there. It was not closed. It was not demolished.

The restaurant was as I remembered. Burgers are available in 1/4 pound, 1/2 pound, 2/3 pound, and a complete pound. They can be cooked any way you choose. After placing your order, you take your seat and wait for them to announce that your order is ready.

Fixins Bar
The fixing bar has a plethora of options. In addition to lettuce and tomato, there are pickles, salsa, onions, and other vegetables.

Condiments in Waiting
I was excited as hell. I got my mayo and ketchup ready for the impending burger. Other toppings are also available: mustard, steak sauce, barbeque sauce and more.

Burger and Rings Platter
Here it is. We both ordered a 1/2 pound burger, done medium, with a side of onion rings. The rings were pretty good. The onion was substantial inside its shell. The crust around was crunchy and not too greasy. Pretty good and definitely worthy of recommendation.

Toasted Bun
Check out that toasted fluffy buns. It is a fantastic burger delivery system. I think it was brioche. It was pillowy and delicious.

Bacon Cheesburger Up Close
On to the star of the show. The burger was better than I remembered. It was a perfect medium. There was a nicely salted crust with the right amount of pink in the middle. It was absolutely beautiful. MG was very impressed. She did not expect this kind of quality from a chain restaurant. I was equally as impressed.

Out of the chain burger restaurants that I have tried, Fuddruckers ranks as the best. The 1/2 pound burger seems to be the perfect size. I didn’t see what anyone’s fries looked like, so I have no idea whether they are shoestring or steak fries. Milkshakes are also available. Go. Give Fuddruckers a shot. Skip the chicken, have a burger.

Fuddruckers
Chinatown
734 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
202-628-3380
(Google Map)