I've been away for sometime, but am returning to the living to give some mini-updates and reviews.
Pho VN One Beltsville
Today's trip to Pho VN One was long overdue. As fans of Pho 88, Pho 75, and various places at the Eden Center, we've pretty much covered the pho landscape. Or so we thought. My pho ga (chicken) was the best I have had. Cleaner than most, and more flavorful than all. Ts was more complex. The brisket in his bowl was tender, flavorful, and succulent. A sweet anise made friends with the meaty broth and they enjoyed one another's company. Pho VN One is generous with the noodles and the salt balance was perfection; We will be back. Maybe soon
El Tapatio Bladensburg
I have enjoyed a few of the selections at Tapatio. Ever bite into something and try to taste, swallow, and praise it's fabulosity at the same time? El Tapatio's tacos al pastor are worthy of such oral confusion. Robust, spicy, warm and packed in a soft white corn tortilla. The salsa has that hint o cumin that you love and the horchata is sweet and refreshing. Go.
Cafe Atlantico (vegetarian tasting menu) DC
We've been to Cafe Atlantico before and enjoyed the full tasting menu for "Latin Dim Sum". A culinary dance marathon with a finish line where they ask you if you want to repeat any of the 743 dishes you have just sampled before you roll out onto the street somehwat high from the whole experience.
The vegetarian tasting menu was a shadow of its version for omnivores and appropriately priced at about $10 yes. Seriously, this is some mighty fine cooking. Great presentation, too. I would do it again, but I must admit that I was pining for items like the conch fritters with a liquid heart (beer makes this one zing), and the duck. Still, items like the coconut rice, mushroom quesadillas, and quinoa couscous are absolutely delciious. Dessert both times was a freakishly tasty pan dulce, but I would like to see that rotated with some of the other gorgeous desserts I saw going by.
Saravana Palace Vienna
Look for a full review of our meals at Saravana Palace, but for now, just know that this is a new favorite. An incredible vegetarian menu with a wide variety of breads, sauces and more. Dishes were either quite good or best in class each time we went. Service can be slower when it is crowded, but it was never too bad.
Los Tios Del Ray
I'm a simple man. Give me fresh, delcious Tex-Mex meal, margarita not from some sugary mix, and a bowl of fresh chips with salsa, and I am set. For my birthday, I wanted a simple and delicious meal and we chose Los Tios, which, again, did not disappoint. Chicken fajitas, my old standby were served piping hot with plenty of grilled onions and the standard-issue side plate of rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, and pico de gallo. I wanted something a bit hotter for the occasion so they brought out a special habanero sauce that I loved. Use is sparingly though. Oh, and my margaritas were the best I have had since Andale closed downtown.
Dairy Godmother Del Ray
It would be crazy not to mention that the Dairy Godmother is that frozen cup of America that I just love coming back to. Delicious, innovative, clean, community dessert place. The mango lassi sorbet is tangy, sweet, and fruity. The custard is fabulous. Thick, cold, comforting. And anything topped with marshmallow sauce and/or sour cherries, is just heaven.
The Ugly Mug Capitol Hill
I have had consistently good food here. They have a spinach salad with potato croutons and blue cheese that is one of my favorites. Barbecued chicken pizza, pepperoni rolls, or a heaping plate of calamari -- all washed down with a Shiner or a Magic Hat. This is bar food elevated to yummy. I don't expect service like The French Laundry. This is a place to unwind and grab some tasty grub.