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Food at or near Birchmere

  • j
  • Jon Parker Aug 4, 2005 11:22 AM

We have tickets to the Liz Phair show tomorrow night at the Birchmere. I've never been there before. I know they serve food -- is it good or at least not bad?

Alternatively, is there anyplace good to eat nearby where we could grab some dinner after the show?

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  1. The food at the Birchmere is actually quite good. I've only been once or twice but remember having some very good wings there and also a yummy taco salad. The food is pricey, but defintely better than your standard bar food. I think the menu is available on their website.

    Another idea not far from the Birchmere would be the Taquiera Poblano on Mt. Vernon Ave. closer to Del Ray. Probably less than 2 miles up Mt. Vernon from the Birchmere. Great Baja style tacos and very quick service.

    1. I think it's pretty bad. I'd go to Taqueria Poblano or Evening Star, both of which are really good and right down Mt. Vernon Ave.

      1. If you want to get a good seat, I'm not sure you can avoid eating there. I disagree with the previous poster about the quality of what my wife and I had, which was something approaching zero. I can't remember, though, what we ordered. It's called repression.

        The tacos al pastor at nearby Tacqueria Poblano are an otherwise hard-to-find treat.

        1. The food at the Birchmere is okay for bar food -- the pulled pork, burgers and salads are good choices. For after the show, you might have a problem finding a place that still serves late dinner. One great option that does is the new Del Maerie Grill -- just up the block on Mt. Vernon Ave, in the strip of shops where the Calvert apt bldg is. It's where the Calvert Grill was for years, and has been completely renovated and has great food and service and stays open later for post Birchmere dinners. It's American food with a southern influence. There's also a good Thai restaurant, Po Siam, also on Mt. Vernon, just before the Birchmere, and I'd recommend Los Tios, further down Mt. Vernon, over the Tacqueria for Mexican and Salvadorean dishes -- better service, bigger space and better food.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JRib

            We tried Los Tios and were less than impressed. I thought it was pricey and the service was just plain bad. I know it is a neighborhood place, but it was obvious to my husband and I that if you didn't come there often enough to be recognized, then they didn't give you the time of day. We won't be going back again to be "recognized" so we can receive decent service.

            To the poster who complained about the stingy amount of chips and salsa at the Taquiera - did you ask for more? We eat there quite regularly and have never been turned down when we asked for a refill - which is pretty much every time because we love their tangy salsa!

            1. re: DC Gal
              (
              ((((((al))))))

              >We tried Los Tios and were less than impressed. I thought it was pricey

              I agree Los Tios is no bargain, but pricier than Taqueria Poblano? No way. It cost me a lot less to "fill up" at Los Tios than Poblano. The amount TP charges for a teeny-tiny taco ($4-5, depending on the "filling") is absurd.

              > and the service was just plain bad. I know it is a
              > neighborhood place, but it was obvious to my husband
              > and I that if you didn't come there often enough to > be recognized, then they didn't give you the time of
              > day.

              The two times I've gone to Tios, I didn't notice this to be the case. I'm not saying you didn't get lousy service -- it's a small operation, I think there was only one waiter working the last time I was there, so I'm sure it can be slow, particularly if it's crowded. But, with only two visits, they certainly didn't recognize me, and I got fine service.

              > To the poster who complained about the stingy amount
              > of chips and salsa at the Taquiera - did you ask for
              > more?

              That was me. And, yes, TP always bring out more when I ask. But, the portions are so ridiculously small -- it can't be more than two tablespoons of salsa and a handful of tortilla strips -- that at some point you just get tired of asking. Which, I suspect, is what they're counting on.

              Clearly, we disagree about TP (and Tios, though, frankly, I haven't been there enough times to be counted as a true fan). But, regardless of preferences, at least we can agree that there are credible alternatives in Del Ray to the Birchmere's food...

              1. re: ((((((al))))))

                tacos al pastor - $2.95
                crispy taco - $3.25
                fish taco - $3.95

                Tacos al carbon - $10.95-$11.95 for what would easily translate into 3 tacos, plus rice. Nothing on the menu is over $12.95.

                The statement that their prices are high for stuff that will fill you is just not founded. Los Tios and the taqueria also have different focus, so I wouldn't know why it'd be a one or the other kind of thing.

                Link: http://www.taqueriapoblano.com/menu.html

                1. re: xdcx

                  Thanks for looking up the menu - your information is helpful in showing that the Taqueria is a great place for good cheap tacos. We typically get two tacos each (2 beef for me and 2 pork for my hubby). They are absolutely STUFFED with meat, cheese and fresh pico for less than $4.00 each. To me, one of the best bargains around! I agree that some of the other entrees at the Taqueria are pricier, but I stick with the tacos anyway because there my favorite. They make the Washingtonian's Cheap Eats list every year.

                  As for the service experience - there were at least 4 or 5 people working the dining room the night we ate at Los Tios so the poor service cannot be blamed on low staffing.

                  But, I agree with you - thank goodness we have so many good choices to argue about in the Del Ray neighborhood!

          2. RT's Restaurant is practically across the street from the Birchmere on Mt. Vernon Ave. It's been a while since I have been but they serve seafood and cajun/creole food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lisa H

              RT's is ok, but more expensive than good.

            2. There is great Indian food to be had at Bombay Curry Club and it is only a couple of blocks from the Birchmere.

              1. (
                ((((((al))))))

                The food at the Birchmere is both overpriced and not very good -- it's reheated food from King Street Blues. The places we like nearby are Po Siam, just past the walls of the Birchmere on Mt. Vernon Avenue; Bombay Curry House; and Los Tios Grille (the latter two a little further south on Mt. Vernon Ave.). People seem to often post positive feedback about RT's (across from Birchmere) and Evening Star (in Del Ray), but we haven't been. Lots of people enthuse about Taqueria Poblano, but in my experience they charge too much for too little food -- and are way too stingy with salsa and chips.

                1. You don't "dine" at the Birchmere, you have something to eat so you can stake out a good table for the show. Stick to the simple bar food and go out to dine another night.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Mike

                    I second Mike. The food at the Birchmere is less than average, but in order to get a good table you have to beat the crowd. If you have time to go out to dinner waaaay before the doors open, I recommend RT'S across the street or Pho Saigon in the strip next door.

                    Edited: I just realized I am too late to post. Jon: where did you end up going?

                    1. re: xena1441

                      Yeah, it's a bit late -- three years. We planned to try one of these recs before the show but got stuck in horrible beltway traffic, so we ended up eating at the Birchmere. The food was extremely forgettable, but Liz was great.

                  2. When we go to the Birchmere, my wife and I tend to walk across the street and down a block to AJ's. Not cheap, but the food is good, and they have a very nice and relatively well priced wine list. Once we are at the show we have dessert and coffee there. I like their bread pudding, but then I never met a bread pudding I didn't like.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dinwiddie

                      Just wondering if some of these recommendations are still good? I am looking for a place that has good sandwiches or entrees in the $15-$20 range. I have eaten at the Birchmere, and would like to avoid that if possible.

                      1. re: GalwayGirl

                        Bombay Curry Club is still a good option and right around $12 entrees

                        1. re: daves_32

                          I second Bombay Curry Club if you like Indian. It's very reasonable, and all the dishes I've tried are uncommonly well seasoned and nuanced. Try anything with the spinach! The prices are very reasonable, and you can order smaller vegetarian "sides" for about $4-$6 each.

                          Here's a tip: the food is exceptionally good when their regular chef is working. I think his normal nights off are Sunday and Wednesday (last time I talked to the guy who seems to be in charge if not the onwer), so be sure to go Mon-Tues, Thurs-Sat.

                        2. re: GalwayGirl

                          The Cheesetique has a nice little light dinner at their wine bar. Very good.

                          http://cheesetique.com/bar/

                          Del merei grill has had nice things said about them.... I have not been though.

                          Dairy Godmother has great frozen custard, if you are up for dessert.

                          Everything else above seems current.

                      2. My girlfriend and I go there often. We have tickets for Boz Scaggs in a few weeks, Delbert McClinton in October and BB King in November. Here's the trick.

                        Get there in good time and go to the bar. Have a few drinks and some chips and salsa, which is so-so. Get a good seat when the doors open and they call your number, which is called in the order in which you checked in at will-call. So it pays to be early. Grab a good seat and order a bottle of wine and a salad. Then go to Del Merei for dinner afterwards....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BigEats

                          I went to Del Merei after it was recommended but was umimpressed (perhaps I should have ordered something else?). The frickles were tasty but the other food we had was bland and in my opinion overpriced. Is there something on the menu you "have" to order?

                          1. re: BigEats

                            Even with all the upgrades Gary has put into the place, the Birchmere was never about the food. The first incarnation was located next to Jack and Jill's Pool Hall in the old Four-Mile Run Shopping Center. It was a lunch counter that sold beer and had bluegrass bands at night. To tell the truth, the burgers back then were not too bad. Soon, they quit serving lunch and knocked down the wall to the place next door and the Birchmere as a top-shelf music venue was born. It was then people began lining up early for good tables and it's been that way ever since. So forget about the food (if for just this once) and enjoy the show. Party now, eat later is pretty much the drill.

                          2. i will have to disagree with the reviews on Los Tios. Not only is the food excellent, but so is the service. I have never waited for a refill on chips or drink, and their appetizers are to die for!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: shacker

                              I will disagree with your disagree on Los Tios. :-)

                              We have many great Salvadorean-run Tex-Mex places in the DC area, but this is not one of them.

                              1. re: shacker

                                They do have a great mango margarita....I have no complaints at all.