Tagged Again!

I was recently tagged by my new friend Foodette to do a new meme. Foodette writes the blog Restaurant Review World, all about restaurants around the Los Angeles area. Since Matt’s family lives in the LA area, I will be certain to check out her picks on the next trip out there, and if you live in LA or are visiting, be sure to stop by her blog!

So this meme asks me to pick my 5 favorite restaurants in my city. I had to think about this one for a while. DC and Northern Virginia have a ton of fantastic restaurants and I love lots of them for different reasons. To combat that, I’ve decided to stick to restaurants that are affordable on our everyday budget and offer great service and food for the money. My first pick was easy:

1.) I love Pizza Paradiso. There are two locations in DC and each one has its charms. The location in Dupont Circle is tiny, really tiny. If you go on Friday or Saturday night, be ready to wait for one of the 8ish tables or to sit at the bar (which is actually great as it’s right in front of the oven and you can watch them toss and cook the pizzas in the open brick oven). In Georgetown, the location is much bigger, but be prepared for lots of college students to be there. My favorite thing to eat there is the Pizza Paradiso with fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. Be sure to check out the huge beer selection (sacrilege, I know, but it’s seriously good) and try the tiramisu!

2.) My second pick is also Italian (I love Italian food, my grams is a tiny little Italian woman who is the best cook!) and would be the Odeon Cafe. It holds a special place in my heart as we ate there the night we got engaged. (Insert sappy moment here.) The food is always excellent, the portions are big and the service is great. The Odeon Cafe is also located in Dupont, we used to hang out there quite a bit when Matt first arrived in DC. I recommend the bruschetta, but be sure to request it with fresh mozzarella as it is billed with just tomatoes! The olive oil dip on the table is to die for to put your bread in and the four cheese fettucini is my favorite. Good prices, always a seat available, and a special memory for me, I can’t ask for more.

3.) Next would be the Lebanese Taverna. The first time we went was to the one in DC near the National Zoo. Matt had to drag me kicking and screaming but now I can’t get enough. I love everything we have there, we even went twice last week! My favorite appetizer is the Jibneh Halloum, which is salty, delicious Lebanese cheese served with olives, tomatoes and onions. My favorite dish is the Shwarma, the house special, perfectly cooked slices of lamb and beef over a bed of rice pilaf. There’s always a seat available and the service is impeccable.

4.) It hasn’t gotten such great press, but Bebo Trattoria in Crystal City, Arlington certainly makes my list of great affordable places to eat. Our bill here is the best part. We rarely spent over $60 for 2 meals, an appetizer and a bottle of wine. For DC, that is fantastic! The wine list is pretty good, the service is really the most attentive I have ever seen and I really like all the pastas I have tried. Go for the sausage in orange sauce with cheese appetizer and be sure to stock up on the yummy bread.

5.) Last but not least is a recent affordable and fun place, one that’s perfect for a quick, cheap weeknight meal. Mackey’s Public House in Arlington. Things I love about Mackey’s: the first time we went we had 5 pitchers of beer and it only cost us $30, they have dart boards and pool tables, and the food is actually really good for pub grub. I recommend the nachos, the homemade mac and cheese, and the mozzarella sticks. Delicious, open late, actually an okay wine list for a bar and plenty of beer, sports and games.

Thanks for tagging me Foodette! If any of these bloggers care to indulge, I’d love to hear about the best restaurants from David of Cooking Chat, Winedeb of Deb’s Key West Wine and Gardening, Leah of DcGastronome (I bet she has tons of great ideas for my area and I’d love to hear her picks!), Brooklynguy of Brooklynguy’s Food and Wine Blog, and John of Brim to the Dregs. Hope you will play along!

Q-ing Up!

That’s right folks, here I am, drinking from my WineQ again. The wines arrive, I drink them…..it’s a vicious cycle 😉 The night’s wine was the 2004 Lava Cap Reserve Zinfandel. Lava Cap hails from El Dorado, California.

The wine weighed in at 15.6% alcohol, cost me $19.99 (free shipping!), and had a real cork closure.

My photography skills are not fabulous, but I hope you can gather the translucent ruby color that this wine presented in the glass. I found it very pretty to look at.

The alcohol on the nose was a bit strong, but blew off to reveal black currants, blackberries, spices…nutmeg and cloves I believe and oak. In the mouth there were big dark berries, with hints of the spices that came through on the nose. It also had an earthy quality. However, I wouldn’t describe this as a full-bodied wine, despite the high alcohol. Overall the wine was a bit tannic and left a spicy finish in the mouth.