Happy weekend—hope everyone is having a good one! I, for one, am so excited that spring seems to be creeping in and the days are getting longer. And, as it relates to dining, I am so excited for outdoor dining to return in full force! We got a taste of that here in DC the past few days; unfortunately, this week, it’s supposed to be a little bit cooler, but April and May look ripe with al fresco dining opportunities!
It’s been a while since I shared a Dinner Club post here on A Touch of Teal—the most recent one I wrote was back in November! I’m pretty good about sharing where I am eating or ordering takeout from in real-time over on Instagram, and have several Instagram Story highlights that archive where I am eating around Arlington and DC. The post below includes some restaurants I went with my dinner club—we try a new-to-us restaurant each month and it’s the inspiration for this series!—as well as some places I went with other friends. Over the last few months, I’ve also been to some tried and true favorites, too, like Le Diplomate, Filomena, and Screwtop.
If you’ve been to any great restaurants in the DC area lately—please don’t hesitate to let me know! I keep a running list of places I want to try and am always looking for new spots to try out.
ST. ANSLEM | UNION MARKET
November’s dinner club was my pick—and it was also coincidentally my birthday month! St. Anslem is one of my favorite restaurants in DC; the vibe is rustic and western and Americana—which is unlike a lot of other DC places—and the food is just so dang good. It was also a really fun night because my cousin, Kara Marie, just so happened to be dining at St. Anslem with her friends the same night!
At dinner club, we pretty much always share family style, even if it’s not a tapas-style restaurant. We did the buttermilk biscuits + pimento cheese, the NY strip, half chicken, crispy smashed potatoes, and broccoli. I loved that our steak was served on a plate with the Kennedy’s on it—there are touches like that throughout the restaurant. Can’t recommend St. Anslem enough!
THE HAY ADAMS | DOWNTOWN
The Hay Adams is a hotel and DC institution, and in the before times, their Off the Record bar was a place to see and be seen. I loved meeting up with friends there after work! Their menus and coasters feature caricatures of DC politicians and big whigs and just add so much character.
Before Christmas, I went to the Top of the Hay for a fun, celebratory dinner with my friends Kristyn, Laura, and Kate. We try to get together about once a month or so for dinner—I love a good girls’ night. It was freezing and windy outside, but we ventured out for a photo with The Hay Adams’ iconic view of The Washington Monument and White House in the background—the photo above is the best we got because it was so windy, hah!
We made it a burger and champagne kind of night, which is truly my favorite.
NORTH ITALIA | TYSON’S CORNER
In December, The Boro in Tysons invited me out to check out their holiday art installation that featured these stunning giant gift boxes with festive cutouts. It was a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit, and I brought my sister Jennifer along—we made a little night out of it. Located right near my office—that I now haven’t been to in over a year, which is crazy!–it my first time visiting The Boro, which is a new mixed-use community, anchored by a Whole Foods, with 30+ other retailers and restaurants. After we checked out all the holiday nights, we grabbed dinner at North, an Italian restaurant, and it was so good. It seriously is now one of my favorite spots; the restaurant decor and ambiance was amazing.
We split a bottle of brut, and started with meatballs, grilled bread, and Caesar salads. We also both got pizzas as our main course, but the majority of each came home with us in a to-go box because we were stuffed from our ambitious first course. I am still thinking about those meatballs months later…
The Boro gave me a gift card for our meal, but all opinions are my own—I *loved* this restaurant and want to get back ASAP! I keep telling my parents they would love this place, too.
NOSTOS | TYSON’S CORNER
Nostos was our first dinner club restaurant of 2020, and it was a great way to kick off the year! Also located in Tyson’s near my office, it’s definitely worth the trip out that way. Everything we ate, we shared family style–pita and all sorts of hummus, feta, tzatziki dipping sauces, fried zucchini, spanakopita, chicken skewers, octopus.
I also may or may not have cheated on Dry January during this meal…it was worth it! 😉
HOT LOLA’S | BALLSTON
I used to work right near the Ballston Mall—only difference is when I worked there, it was nothing to write home about. Since then, they’ve remodeled the whole thing and opened up so many amazing restaurants. Hot Lola’s had been on my “to eat” list pretty much since the pandemic began last year, but I never got around to ordering. One Friday night in January, I had no plans and decided it was a great night to treat myself to a hot chicken sandwich and French fries. I went to pick mine up in person—but I ordered online ahead of time, which was definitely the move! The in-person line was long, which is a testament to how popular this place is. You can also order for delivery.
I did the sandwich, which is a mashup of Sichuan and Nashville Hot Chicken flavors, with an extra side of comeback sauce. For spicy level, I went with shy guy—and it was definitely flavorful enough, without being hot. While I think I like classic Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches better, I have no regrets about trying Hot Lola’s—and I definitely understand the hype. (The fries were amazing, btw.)
COURTHAUS SOCIAL | COURTHOUSE
I love living a few blocks from Courthaus Social! Last summer and fall, I was a regular on their patio–often going with friends for an afternoon of eating and drinking. Given winter isn’t the most conducive for patio sitting + sipping, I started grabbing takeout from Courthaus Social once every couple of weeks as a way to support a great neighborhood spot—and truthfully, because I missed the food. Everything is so good—do they do really great bar food that actually tastes good. I love their grilled chicken sandwich, shown above, but I also love their salads and appetizers. Really whatever you order, you can’t go wrong.
The next warm day, I am running over to their patio for an orange crush! And if you love beer, they’ve got a great selection.
In January, my sister Jennifer and I spent a lovely afternoon at The Village at Shirlington, hitting up two of our favorite spots: Dudley’s and Carlyle. The Village at Shirlington now allows you to take your drink to-go so you can sip, stroll, and shop. Dudley’s is one of our favorite sports bars—they have an amazing rooftop and so many TVs inside. On Saturdays, they do a bottle of champagne for $5 and a carafe of OJ for $5, so we took that to go and walked around the shopping center. We had the best time and it was the perfect way to get out of the post-holidays slump. To cap off our afternoon, we grabbed Carlyle to-go. Carlyle is one of the Great American Restaurants, which has long been my family’s go-to for special occasions—or “just because.” Their Tex Mex egg rolls and grilled chicken + havarti sandwich are my go-tos!
The Village at Shirlington gave me a gift card for our food and drink, but all opinions are my own—and these are two restaurants I frequent often on my own dime!
VERRE WINE BAR | COURTHOUSE
A few weekends ago, I was able to grab takeout from Verre Wine Bar, located just down the street from me here in Courthouse. In the “before times,” Verre Wine Bar was a go-to happy hour spot for me and I am so glad they’ve been able to open back up for delivery + takeout. In addition to still offering the wine, cheese, and charcuterie boards I used to enjoy with friends after work, they’re now offering organic chicken meals with farm fresh sides.
To go along with my chicken, I ordered the mashed potatoes, balsamic brussels with pecorino, and parmesan roasted broccoli. But my favorite part of the meal? The amazing sauces that go with the chicken—I don’t skimp when it comes to sauces, so I tried them all: fiery diablo, bbq, chimichurri, lemon herb, and green goddess (which was my favorite!).
You can order Verre Wine Bar via their website for contactless curbside pickup or for delivery via Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, or GrubHub. (I always try to order directly from the restaurant when I can because every little bit helps!)
Verre Wine Bar treated me to this amazing meal, but all opinions are my own—I loved this delicious meal and will definitely be back again soon!
MI VIDA | THE WHARF
My dinner club had planned to go to Mi Vida in February—it was my month to pick and despite being down at the Wharf several times a year, I had never actually made it to this Mexican spot. The day we were supposed to go, it snowed and the roads were pretty bad, so we ended up doing a wine night closer to home and ordering Courthaus Social takeout. It was such a great night!
Fast forward to March and we decided to try hitting Mi Vida again and went on an unseasonably warm day—quite the opposite weather from our first attempt. Mi Vida is huge–they’ve got three stories inside and a sprawling patio outside. It’s right on the water, so the views are gorgeous. We kicked things off with a pitcher of margs, queso, and guac. I was in heaven! For my main meal, I did the carnitas tacos and we split a few sides of rice and beans. I can see why it’s always so hard to get a table at Mi Vida on nice warm days—it’s such a fun spot with great food.