Growing up, food was the staple for every major event, and my family made it a point to introduce me to many different cuisines. They might also be to blame for my slight obsession with cocktails and small plates. I mean, I was the 5-year-old at dinner ordering a virgin Pina colada and shrimp cocktail! Nevertheless, they ingrained in me my love for food and the amazing abilities it has to bring people together.
“Don’t tell me what you ate, tell me who you ate with.” (Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain)
I recently relocated to Washington D.C., from New York City and am obsessed with the D.C. brunch scene! Something about the casualness of drinking bubbly in the middle of the day really speaks to my soul. I also have a weird obsession with cupcakes and cheese, not together, but if someone could make that work, I’d be down.
I’m excited to share pieces about my brunching adventures, happy hours, and classy things in between that are best spent with friends and/or loved ones, as well as sharing experiences from D.C. foodie events. Check out more of my champagne-ing, cupcake eating, D.C. life at my blog Cupcakescaviar.com.
Brunch is a staple here in the DMV. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, hundreds of residents stumble out into the streets looking for the best brunch cocktail, and a comfort dish to cure their lingering hangover! With so many options to choose from, restaurants work hard to stand out and provide menus and offerings that will leer the mimosa craving patron into their doors.
For the DMV, a good brunch isn’t just a meal, it’s an experience. I can make brunch dish at home, but I can’t make an Arepa Eggs Benedict with an art gallery as my backdrop now can I? That’s where Palette 22 steps in.
Palette 22 gets the experience of brunch right. It’s a restaurant as well as an art gallery. On any given day, local artists can usually be seen working in the space and almost all of the art shown can be purchased. I loved walking in and checking out some of the pieces while we waited for our table. Though I didn’t buy any, there were a few I put in my mental wish list.
This past Wednesday, over 2,600 DC foodies, including myself, flooded the streets of 14th St and Penn Quarter to participate in José Andrés’ Dine-N-Dash charity event. The event raised over $543,000 for his non-profit World Central Kitchen, which helps fight poverty and hunger internationally through the power of food.
Will all my DC foodies please stand up?! Dine-N-Dash is back for its fifth year and better than ever! My favorite Chef, José Andrés, along with special guests Ted Allen (host of CHOPPED) and Andrew Zimmern (co-creator of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel) will be hosting this year’s event on June 7th starting at 6:00 p.m.
For one night only, guests will be able to “taste the city” and have access to unlimited food and drinks at over 30 restaurants in DC’s Penn Quarter and 14th Street Corridor neighborhoods. Leave your wallet at home and eat and drink to your heart’s desire until 10:00 p.m while enjoying live music as well.
Worried about crowds and lines? Don’t be! Event guests will have different restaurant starting points, and wait staff will be there specifically for the event. There will be ample opportunity to sample everything!
Tickets start at $125, and all proceeds benefit World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization started by Chef José Andrés that uses the “power of food” to strengthen communities through health, education, and jobs. Go grab your tickets right now here. You’re sure to have a serious case of FOMO if you don’t!
I don’t think it’s any secret that brunch is my favorite meal of the day. I usually judge a restaurant based off of its brunch menu too. So, when I tell you a spot is legit a great spot for brunch, just trust me.
A couple of weeks ago I met friends for an al fresco brunch at Courthaus Social, in the Clarendon area of Arlington, VA. Clarendon is located just outside of DC, and Courthaus Social is right down the block from the metro. This means there is really no excuse not to check it out!
Courthaus Social is a beer garden and restaurant that prides itself in being a “from scratch kitchen” that only uses fresh local ingredients. It’s fairly new and having been open for two years. In these two years, they’ve evolved from serving frozen bar food to having an extensive dinner and brunch menu, as well as an impressive beer, whiskey and cocktail list. In addition to draft beers, Mimosas and Bloody Marys are served for brunch as well!
My favorite thing about Courthaus Social though, is its back story. The owner, unhappy with his job as an investor/banker at the time, decided to quit his job and follow his dream of opening and running a restaurant. What a risky move! With the support of his wife, and a few investors, he bought the space and has worked tremendously hard to make it the success it is today. Including, flying out a Chef from Chicago, Thai Dang to help customize the menu and train kitchen staff.
If you’re walking too quickly down 18th Street in Adams Morgan, you might pass this nondescript but mind-blowing ramen restaurant. Set in the basement of a rowhouse, Sakuramen’s chill, laid-back vibe is a pleasant contrast to Adams Morgan’s normally bustling (a.k.a. wild) 18th Street scene.
Sakuramen is a small restaurant and decor is minimal. They do not take reservations and there is usually a wait. Don’t be alarmed if you’re hovering over a table where others are eating. Everyone who goes to Sakuramen knows that, because of its size, you’re bound to be up close and personal with your neighbors — but that’s what adds to its charm.
I’ve been dying to try Doi Moi since I moved to the DC area last year. It’s one of those restaurants you hear spoken about through the office, or during happy hour when your friends discuss their top 10 best meals (or do those types of conversations only happen when I’m at happy hour?). Finally, last week I was able to try out this DC gem and it was well worth the wait!
Doi Moi is a Southeast Asian restaurant located in the Logan Circle area of DC, specializing in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Their name, which translates to “new changes” is meant to be symbolic of Logan Circle’s renewed neighborhood and the renovation of the historic building they are housed in.
The space is beautiful! The restaurant decor is clean and open, with a large bar in the middle perfect for grabbing a glass of wine from their extensive drink menu.
Doi Moi’s dinner menu consists of small plates and shareable plates, including a fried whole branzino! Bonus: They offer a rotating selection of soft serve ice cream! Yes Lawd!
One of my favorite go-to cocktails is Sangria! You can have it red, you can have it white, you can have it sparkling, and you can have it all…year…long. With Fall finally here and temperatures dropping, a Spiced Red Sangria sounded like the perfect cocktail for the season!
As soon as temperatures dropped past 65 degrees here in D.C., I knew it was time to get in the kitchen and do a little recipe testing for a delicious Sangria. I decided to use the tastes and themes of Fall as inspiration and create a Spiced Red Sangria.
This super easy recipe uses Red Table Wine, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Brandy and Triple Sec. The Spiced Rum and Brandy are what make this particular Sangria so comforting (caution: this recipe is strong). A little orange juice and fruits round it out to create a Sangria that will leave you feeling warm & fuzzy all over.
To start, cut up two apples, two oranges, and one small pack of blackberries. Add your fruit to a pitcher.
Then, pour in one 750ml bottle of your favorite red wine (Syrah, Cabernet, and Pinot Noir work well).
Next add 1 1/2 cups spiced rum, 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup triple sec, 1 cup orange juice and mix.
(*Please note: This comes out on the stronger side. Feel free to start with less rum and brandy and work your way up to your desired potency.)
Instead of orange juice, you can also try apple juice to give it a more spiced cider taste.
Once all ingredients are mixed well, chill the Sangria for 4 – 24 hours. When you are ready to enjoy, serve your Sangria over ice. For an extra level of classy, garnish your glass with an apple and orange slice.
Sangria is such a versatile drink, and you can really make it your own. Plus, it makes a great pairing for any dish and can be a real standout at your next dinner party.
Sit down, relax and enjoy the cool Fall weather with a glass of delicious Spiced Red Sangria!
The brewpub is easy to miss if you’re not looking. It’s located on a small side street off the main road and next to the iconic Howard Theater. From the entrance, it seems small but inside is a large bar and tons of seating space. You can choose from a more bar-standup-table feel in the back, or sit in the restaurant and enjoy both private and communal dining.
Led by Executive Chef Jonatan Bohr, expect to see many southern staples coming out of his kitchen like Fried Okra, Fried Chicken, Fried Green Tomatoes & Grits and of course Baked Mac & Cheese. The dessert was the only slightly disappointing part of the menu, except for the “Messy Ice Cream Sandwich.” I’ll come back for that.
Lastly, of course, since it doubles as a brewery, make sure to try one of their craft beers! Right Proper has a 5-barrel brewing system, which is small enough to allow them to experiment with new beers, so expect the beer offerings to change almost daily.
You can order a plate with 3 or 5 kinds of cheese and choose from a list of 15-20 options.
Baked Six Cheese Mac & Cheese
It should be a rule of thumb that you never pass up Mac & Cheese when it’s on a menu. This Mac & Cheese was a bowl of ooey gooey cheese-y perfection and the perfect portion for one.
Housemade Hot Wings
Made with their house wing sauce, these were crack!
Southern Fried Chick-Filet
Of course, no Southern-inspired meal would be complete without fried chicken. The chicken was moist on the inside and extra crunchy on the outside, just like I like it. The addition of Boursin cheese created a mouthful of flavor.
Right Proper’s Shaw Brewpub felt very much like a neighborhood bar/restaurant, where the staff is chill and laid back, welcoming you into their “home” and hosting you as an esteemed guest. The “southern hospitality” vibe is real here, which pairs well with their southern comfort inspired dishes. Can’t wait to come back!
Located in the hopping Shaw neighborhood of D.C., 801 Restaurant is making it’s mark in the area’s competitive restaurant scene. Arriving at about noon, it was already packed with lively diners enjoying their Sunday afternoon buzz. As we waited for our table, I overheard a few groups praising the menu items as well as the bottomless mimosa options and confirming 801’s quick reputation as the new gem in town.
801 Restaurant has two floors of dining space, a rooftop bar, and three additional bars. The atmosphere is laid back and chic, with fresh flowers adorning each table as well as around the restaurant. Being from New York, it reminded me of sitting in a little cafe in Astoria, Queens, so I love 801 Restaurant even more for the nostalgia it gave me of back home. Service was also attentive, and everyone from the wait staff to the managers was busy making sure diners had a comfortable and welcoming experience.
To kick off our brunch, our waiter Mel (so wonderful) served us our bottomless mimosa bar. It consisted of a bottle of Prosecco and four juices: grapefruit, strawberry, blood peach and orange. The bottles of Prosecco and the juices were refilled upon request; THIS is how you do brunch my friends!
Next, we were served five dishes from 801 Restaurant’s Chef Javie’s arsenal. Chef Javie expressed that these were his top five dishes on the menu, and so we were ever so grateful to experience them.
Greek yogurt topped with mixed berries, apples, and their homemade pistachio granola. The pistachio granola was a pleasant addition and added a delicious sweet & savory flavor.
Avocado Breakfast Toast
Fresh avocado over toasted multi-grain bread with a sunny-side up egg and a green side salad. I have to admit I’ve been trying to avoid the “avo-toast” craze but today became a believer. I 100% believe that “love” was the secret ingredient.
Bailey’s French Toast
French bread dipped in their special Bailey’s batter and topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. The French bread was a pleasant surprise, and it had the perfect balance of sweetness. Hands down my favorite dish of the day. The portion was also very generous!
Avocado, poached egg and tomato on an English Muffin topped with Hollandaise. I appreciated their decision to do an Eggs Benedict sans the meat. It contained all of the same flavors but felt a lot lighter and clean.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in… – The Godfather
Just when we thought we were done, Chef Javie hit us with the game-changer:
The 801 Breakfast of Champions
A hash containing bacon, sausage, ham, and cheddar cheese, topped with a sunny-side up egg and avocado, over a salsa verde. LAWD! This dish definitely came in as a tie for my favorite dish. Reading the description on the menu, I wasn’t expecting it to be a hash of all of the meats, so I was pleasantly surprised. The salsa verde gave it a perfect little kick as well. It is absolutely the “champion” of their brunch menu.
All of the items served on 801 Restaurant’s menu are classic brunch staples with distinct little touches of their own that make them stand out amongst their brunch competitors. Prices are also reasonable ranging from $8 – $16 an entrée. Right now, brunch is only served on Sundays from 11-4p.m. but will kick off on Saturdays as well beginning Labor Day weekend.
Overall, 801 Restaurant & Bar has proven to be a standout addition to D.C. and the Shaw neighborhood. I can’t wait to go back and finish out the summer on their rooftop!
What better way to honor this French national holiday, which celebrates the unity of the French people after the storming of the Bastille, then enjoying its rich culture and culinary delicacies!
If you are looking for a place to indulge in French-inspired cuisine or want to feel whisked away to the French countryside today, then La Madeleine Country French Cafe should be on the top of your list.
To celebrate Bastille Day, La Madeleine will be offering a free mini Liberté Tart all day today.
The Liberté Tart has fresh blueberries, raspberries, and whipped cream, to represent the blue, red and white of the French flag. There is no purchase necessary, just simply request your free tart and enjoy!
However, while you’re there, you shouldn’t just stop at dessert. La Madeleine also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, as well as wine, which is important because French food should always be accompanied with wine, in my humble opinion.
When I visited La Madeleines location in Alexandria, VA, not only was I able to grab my free Liberté tart (they also offered this promo on the 4th of July) but I was also able to try their new French Tartine Trio sandwiches, and of course topped my meal off with a glass of Rosé. I couldn’t pass up on Rosé!
The French Tartine Trio sandwiches are three open-faced sandwiches. One had chicken & goat cheese; another had Roasted Vegetable and the third ham & swiss. They were each baked on herb ciabatta bread and paired with a Cranberry Pecan Salad. Each sandwich was better than the last and perfectly flavored. I remember being slightly bummed when I finished because there was no more left. That could be the fatty in me, but I’m almost positive it was mostly because the dish was excellent!
My husband had the Chicken Friand, a puff pastry with balsamic chicken and mushroom filling topped with wild mushroom sauce, which was to…die…for. Of course, I couldn’t snap a picture because he eats so fast, but I was able to try it, and it did not disappoint. The pastry melted in your mouth, and the flavors of the balsamic chicken and mushroom sauce combined were out of this world!
The delicious French inspired dishes coupled with the casual countryside decor makes La Madeleine an excellent choice to celebrate today’s holiday.
So, make sure while you’re out celebrating Bastille Day today, that you stop by one of La Madeleines locations for your free Liberté tart and a sure to be filling, relaxing, magnifique breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The Pig is located in the Logan Circle area of D.C. amidst a lively nightlife scene, which makes it perfect for date night!
On a gorgeous Friday evening, my husband and I ventured to The Pig for dinner. The decor was casual, with barn wood accents that made it feel cozy and welcoming. They also had outdoor seating which is a plus when you want to enjoy warm D.C. nights.
The menu, as described by its website, “is a celebration of pork and the whole animal.” Indeed it was. They also locally source their ingredients and own a farm in Maryland where they grow their own fruit and produce. If you’re a pork or sausage lover and appreciate small business and locally sourced produce, then this is most certainly a place for you!
A few dishes we enjoyed and that I would recommend were:
Bacon with Soft Shell Crab
The bacon was flavorful and melt in your mouth delicious. The soft shell crab was a fun and surprising pair.
Sausage stuffed pork belly with berries
I would have never thought to pair berries with pork belly and sausage, but the combination of flavors was fantastic! Sweet and savory at its finest.
Gimme S’more dessert
One word: BOMB! There is something magical about chocolate covered in toasted marshmallow served with a side of smoked vanilla ice cream. This dessert was the icing on the cake to a delicious meal.
In addition to a creative and tasty menu, The Pig also specializes in craft cocktails and has an impressive list of whiskies. During happy hour (at the bar) they offer tasting flights of their 3 “Whiskies of the week” for only $8! Bacon and whiskey? Yes, please!
We had a great experience at The Pig. The freshness and quality of their ingredients, along with their creative menu, attentive service, and charming decor, made our evening there very memorable, and I can’t wait to return.
On Tuesday night we stepped out on the town and into the Sofitel DC hotel for a night of luxury and bubbly. Sofitel, the premier hotel in Washington D.C. was host to the kick-off event for the Nuit Du Champagne nationwide tour. Starting in the District and moving west, the tour’s goal is to reaffirm to the nation that French champagne is the only authentic champagne!
In partnership with Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and other leaders of the champagne industry, Nuit Du Champagne allows event attendees to sample and purchase a variety of champagnes directly imported from France’s Champagne region, located in the northern part of the country. The Champagne region of France is so treasured that it has been named a UNESCO world heritage site.
Highlights of the Event
The Sofitel hotel served as the perfect backdrop for this event. The hotel itself oozes elegance and luxury, so the added glam of French champagnes, caviar and chocolates just put it over the top.
At the event, we were able to sample the Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial with strawberries and raspberries. The flavor was crisp, fresh and light which makes it a perfect beverage for hot summer nights. We recommend adding some mint as well to give it some extra pizzazz.
Also offered was a cheese spread, various small bites and chocolates from La Maison Du Chocolat, to pair with the different champagne options. If you have not tried truffles from La Maison Du Chocolat, we suggest you give them a try asap!
Overall it was a beautiful event and spotlighted some of the great bottles of authentic French bubbly we all know and love.
The tour’s next stop will be Houston. Tickets start at $70. Learn more and purchase your tickets on their site.