good fast food
- Cap Hill
I just looked through our messages and I don't think we've discussed anything like this before. What are the places in DC where you can duck in and grab a very fast, cheap, but good lunch? E.g. what are the equivalent of McDonald's for DC/Balto chowhounds.
I ask because I happened to stop in International Square which is a food court attached to Farragut West Metro's 18th Street exit today. While there I got food at a little place called Havana Square. (I think that's the name, unfortunately I was kind of wandering around in a daze and didn't keep my bill). The server/owner(?) was amusing in a NJ deli kinda way, chatting up and picking on his customers. When he ran out of the pork morsels to provide a full plate, I just said, give me what ya got and maybe something else and I'll be happy. I ended up with a nice little sampler platter.
I was served passable puerco asada, pork morsels which had been deep fried. They had a tangy vinegary taste which is probably not quite how they taste in Havana, but were actually pretty yummy. I also sampled the yuca con frites (fried yuca - starchy and relatively crisp), an empanada like item filled with beef stew - actually didn't really like that and black beans and rice. The black beans had a nice taste of garlic, but were a bit salty. It's not incredible Cuban - it might not fly in Miami, but it passes the bill for fast food as entrees are in the $5.25 area. You could also make a meal of 3 appetizers. The entrees are served from prepared food in those little silver containers under glass (what would you call that - cafeteria style??) so it's extremely quick.
There is a food court area in which to eat which features a rather pleasing two story fountain that mimicing rain and boulders. It reminds me of the rain forest exhibit in the San Diego zoo. Get there early or really late for lunch, if you want to actually get kind of close to the fountain - there are fewer seats around it, than in the food court proper. International Square also has a selection of several other places, Cajun, and ??? that I haven't tried. Has anyone else had experience with their fast food?
The idea of fast food alternatives to McDonalds also has me thinking of the 2nd floor of the Rosslyn Metro Mall. They have a really neat little Mexican Place, Chico Rico which I've mentioned before. For $.92 they will serve you a nice solid breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs and tasty potatoes accompanied by decent salsa. Their lunch is less impressive, but they serve the burritos all day.
OK, that's my contribution to fast food alternatives. Comments, critiques, questions, other places we should be thinking about for a quick bite???
P.S. Geoff - you missed some great chili this weekend(if I may quite modestly say so myself).
OK, here is my variation on this chili which has become one of my favorites:
Melt 3 T bacon drippings in your chili bowl and add 2 2 lbs of course ground lean beef and 2 lb of course ground smoked North Carolina sausage (I'll use Jimmy Dean if I can't get to the market for my own). Cook until meat is browned. Chop 2 large onions, 1 green pepper and finely chop 5-6 medium cloves. Add to meat until onions are translucent. Stir in 32 oz can of tomatoes, and 8 T of your favorite chili powder. (NOTE: Frequently I will buy my favorite dried or fresh chilis (ancho or pablano) and liquify them in 2 cups of boiling water and add to pot. Don't do this in addition to chili powder). Add 1 T Cumin and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least one hour.
This is my personal variation of my favorite cookbook, Chili Madness by Jane Butel. Everyone go out and buy it!
re: Cap Hill
We're lucky to have the Hard Times Cafe in Alexandria and other towns around here. They make a true Texas bowl of red with no tomatoes. However, tomatoes seem to work well in Cincinnati chili. My favorite chili recipe, which I might have posted here before, is extremely simple. It contains beef, ground chile pepper, garlic powder and oddly, a large quantity of whole comino. I'll find it if anyone is really interested. I have owned the Chili Madness book for many years, and enjoy it.
I like the burgers at Lindy's Red Lion. It's a couple of blocks away from Int'l Sq. at "2000 Penn. Ave." (actually Eye St.), outside the mall near the corner of 21th St. Real sirloin, cooked rare if you ask nicely. Very juicy, very tasty. Plus it's a dumpy, smokey bar - my kinda joint. I am ashamed to admit that I haven't gotten out to 5 Guys to compare, but this is the best burger I've had in DC proper in a long time. You can be easily in and out in less than 30 min. unless it totally mobbed. Fast enough?
In Eye Square, Burrito Brothers rules. As it does elsewhere (Dupont, the original; Madams Organ; and G'Town). Always go with the super; always ask for black beans; always ask for hot sauce; and if you're a carnivore, go with the pork (beef is fatty/chewy/wiry, and chicken is dry). Fastfood (schnellgrub) at its DC finest. Other reliables in the Square are the usuals, La Prima ("Sicilian" only) and ABP. Avoid the fausse-Grecian deli. Better to wait on line at 19th and M, and don't miss the souvlaki.
I'm with my bud Fred on the Lion at 2K Penn: definitely smokey and dumpy, and not a bad burger (ask for the special, with fried onions). Dank, too. Fred: 5 Guys makes a grossly inferior burger, and the service there is beyond stinkeroo -- probably the laziest,nastiest, least responsive servers in the area --, while the Lion's b-tenders are quite polite. For more atmosphere in the same hood, though, and nice servie, and just-as-tasty burgers, Sign/Whale is the place.
I look forward to trying Rossyln's mall. this is a great post, and I'll be back.
Since you're heading over to Rosslyn Metro mall, a little bit more info. I'd say that there isn't a huge draw there other than that it's right on top of the metro. Tivoli's Deli on the first floor (assoc w/ the Tivoli's restaurant upstairs) has good, but expensive lunch foods, as well as a decent selection of meats - check out the Pick Hungarian Salami. Unfortunately, there's not much more there than that. The Indian place went out of business and has been replaced by something called the Tummy Station or something featuring banal hotdogs - ok as a changeup if you're working in Rosslyn every day. the other places upstairs include a Philly Cheese Steak place (not too amazing which is unfortunate, this place could use a real philly cheesesteak) and a Korean inspired lunch place which if you order very very carefully you might manage to find decent food, but I never really managed the trick. So, good luck and be aware that the options are limited at Rosslyn.