Happy hump day, y’all! I hope everyone’s week is going well—mine is going well, even though I feel like it’s always hard to go into the week fresh after Super Bowl Sunday. Luckily, I haven’t had too many things going on this week, so it’s been easy to get back in my routine of sleeping well and working out. It’s also been pretty mild for February in DC this week and it’s done wonders for my mood; I just don’t think I am the best version of myself when I have to basically wear a sleeping bag to walk around outside! Let’s just say, my trip to Miami two weeks from today can’t come soon enough.
Anyway—I am excited to get today’s post up as I shared a while back I was thinking about reformatting dinner club posts for 2020. While I love the idea of writing a dinner club post about each restaurant in theory, I felt like I had to write a book report on every restaurant I went to, and since I often dine out at night, the photos I snap on my iPhone aren’t always the highest quality. That being said, I do want to share the restaurants I’m trying around DC since a lot of people ask me for recs and I want to make sure I’m sharing new ones as they pop up vs. making folks wait for a full neighborhood guide. (And then there are some neighborhoods I just don’t get to often enough to write a full guide about!)
So today, I wanted to try a new format I thought might work well—rounding up the restaurants I try or visit on a monthly basis. Y’all still get my DC restaurant recs on a pretty frequent basis, but I don’t feel as much pressure to get a ton of great shots or document my whole meal from start to finish. The great thing about blogging, unlike a book or a printed magazine that has a publish date, is that you can try things as you go. I’ve tried a lot of things on TOT that have gone the way of the buffalo, but I’ve also tried a lot of things that worked. So, we’ll see how this goes!
BAR A VIN | GEORGETOWN
So I’m technically cheating because I went to Bar à Vin in December, but I wanted to roll it into this roundup since it’s a great place. Located in Georgetown right next to Chez Billy Sud, it’s actually their sister restaurant/more casual offering. If you’re looking for the coziest spot for girls’ night or date night this winter, I would so recommend Bar à Vin! I came in a few days before NYE with some friends from high school and we had the best time catching up here. And because its owned by Chez Billy Sud, you know the food is good. I splurged on the steak frites, but also love the mussels!
MINTWOOD PLACE | ADAMS MORGAN
I rung in the new year with two of my closest friends, Jackie and Molly, and for dinner, we knew we wanted to go to a fun spot with good food, but didn’t want to commit to a prix fixe menu. Mintwood Place has always come highly recommended to me, and it seems like people especially love it for brunch. It really is a cute spot, but we weren’t blown away by the service. Granted it was NYE, but when we walked in, we had to wait a while for our table despite having a reservation, but there was no good place to wait, so we were constantly in everyone’s way. The restaurant did make things right by giving us a free glass of champs when we were seated, which was so nice, and after that, things were smooth sailing. In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one, my last meal of the decade was a delicious burger and French fries!
RESIDENT’S CAFE & BAR | DUPONT CIRCLE
I’d walked by Resident’s dozens of times since it opened last fall, but finally made it in for happy hour with a friend. A coffee shop during the day, a bar at night, I’m a big fan of this spot. I went with my old coworker, Louisa, and when we first arrived, we couldn’t find a seat (it’s pretty small!) so we stood near the bar. Within seconds, a waiter came by and handed us a drink menu and circled back quickly to take our order. After less than half a drink, we scored two bar seats and ordered some food. We opted for the shishito peppers, French fries, and an eggplant humus dip, all of which was delicious. Resident’s had a really European vibe and I will definitely be back. I’d recommend going with just one other person, given the size and the fact they don’t take reservations, it’ll be easier to grab a table that way.
KRAMER BOOKS & AFTERWORDS CAFE | DUPONT CIRCLE
Kramer Books is my favorite bookstore in DC and one of my favorite places in Dupont Circle. A few weeks ago, a few friends from high school and I were having a reunion happy hour and I suggested their Afterwords Cafe. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday and do the American classics really well. It’s definitely not the trendiest atmosphere, but there is just something special about eating in a bookstore that is great. When we went, I had the fried chicken sandwich and would totally recommend.
MEXICUE | 14TH STREET
Y’all know I love Mexican food, so I was really excited to try Mexicue since it has been crazy busy ever since they opened a few months ago. If you’re familiar with 14th Street, you’ll know this as the space where Meatball Shop used to be. Apparently that concept wasn’t performing well in DC, so the owners switched it over to their other restaurant—Mexicue—and I am a big fan! When you go, definitely treat yourself to a marg and the four dip sampler—you’ll get sizable portions of queso, guac, salsa, and black bean dip. I also ordered some tacos, and for all you Torchy’s fans out there (if you know, you know!) they have fried avocado tacos, so you know I ordered those. If you want to go at a peak dining time, I would highly recommend getting a reservation.
MEZ CALERO | COLUMBIA HEIGHTS
Mez Calero is my favorite Mexican restaurant in DC—my boss actually recommend it to me, and I went fo the first time over the summer with my old coworkers, Gabby and Olivia. I loved it so much that I chose it as the spot to celebrate my 29th birthday this past November. A few weeks ago when Gabby, Olivia, and I were scheduling a happy hour and trying to decide where to go, we all decided another visit to Mez Calero was in order. They don’t take reservations and it’s a popular spot, so if you go at a busy time, definitely be prepared to post up at the bar with a marg while you wait. The food is so great—the chips are incredible, the guac is delicious, and they make mean fajitas (my Mexican go-to!). It’s definitely a no-frills, fun Mexican cantina vibe that’s reliably good every time.
BAD SAINT | COLUMBIA HEIGHTS
For my real-life dinner club this month, we went to Bad Saint in Columbia Heights, which serves up Filipino food! It’s a small, cozy restaurant that has the best ambiance, and I would not try to go unless you have a reservation as even the bar seats are saved for those with reservations. Everything is meant to be served family-style, which is our favorite way to eat at dinner club so we can all try a little bit of everything. I hadn’t had Filipino food before so this was a fun culinary adventure for me. The menu changes often, but on the night we went, our favorite dishes were the Vigan Empandas, which were stuffed with beef and served with spicy tomatoes, and a Tofu Stir Fry with Mushrooms—two ingredients I don’t normally gravitate towards. Our waitress was so helpful when we were looking at the menu and trying to pick out dishes, and the kitchen is open, so you can get a visual sneak peek of everything you might eat, which is super helpful!