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staycation lunch spots!

So next week I'm not working but can't afford to travel..but i CAN afford to treat myself to a few lunches at places I wouldn't ordinarily be able to get to on a weekday since I'm stuck in farragut area. So far I'm planning on going to:

Taylor Gourmet
Taqueria Nacionale

Anything else I should add? Also, I'll be going out to Great Falls (va.) one day, so any foodie recs between here and there would be appreciated!

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  1. maybe add the Majestic in old town for lunch?
    they have a lunch special that looks really good - check out their web site.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jeserf

      i've long been curious about majestic. their special does look like a great deal. thanks for the tip! i had no idea they were one of the good lunch spots around....figured they were probably only open for dinner!

      1. re: littlew1ng

        It's great - I really need to get back there.

    2. You can see the new instant city at Reston Town Center and check out PassionFish when going to Great Falls.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Dennis S

        Not sure if you've done any of these or not, but CoconutMilk's post for some reason triggered this. Go on a "Steve" tour of sorts, and check out a lot of little places in a day eating trip. A taco at TECC, then drive North and get the veggie tostada (or whatever they call it) at La Union, then drive to Caribbean Grill, etc.

        I might have to take a day or two off and do the same - for me it'd be Thai Xing, Pepito's, Oohs and Aahs - something like that (maybe Thai X-ing last so I can take home leftovers).

        1. re: Dennis S

          oohs and aahs is a fabulous idea. i've wanted to try it forever. are they open for lunch?

          1. re: littlew1ng

            I'm not 100% sure, but I think they are. I tried to find something online to no avail, but I did find a phone #:
            (202) 667-7142

      2. I have heard that Poste has a great lunch special right now, where you choose a lunch and a glass of wine for $12. If you have a job where you can't normally enjoy wine with lunch, this would be a great time to try it.

        1. The Eve lickety split lunch is fabulous and a great deal (with that kind of savings you can treat yourself to an extra Tod Thrasher cocktail and staycate a bit) at $14. I wish I could eat at it way more often.

          7 Replies
          1. re: ktmoomau

            I second this one. If you metro, stop on your way back up King at La Fromagerie and/or Butcher's Block and then have a dinner picnic at home.

            For Thai, I always return to Rabieng. The market next door is a fun place to prowl for noodles, canned items, and cooking implements.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              yes that's a fabulous idea! I've wanted to try Eve forever and while i can't afford the tasting, i can def do a $14 lunch by myself at the bar :) is there a particular house cocktail you recommend?

              1. re: littlew1ng

                The only time I can go is when I have court in Alexandria and am headed back to work so no drinks, but any Tod Thrasher cocktail is good. If it were up to me I would get the Bittersweet, but I am a big gin fan. The Irish BLT has what I want to say is closer to a pork cutlet than bacon in there, but is spectacular. They had a pulled pork sandwich that was great too. The gnocchi is good as a starter course I would pick it as a main.

                And the birthday cake is a small individual size birthday cake (3 small layer, pink icing that is very good and multicolored sprinkles) that is really cute. I really want to try their other dessert, I hope I have another case their soon.

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  The soups are usually very good too. For a while this spring, they had a terrific asparagus crab soup that was unbelievable. I am not a big fan of the birthday cake but in general I am not a sweet eater. Their wine selection is nice too; you can have a glass as one of your choices or just go hog wild and order one in addition.

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Thanks for the tip. I'm in Old Town, have the afternoon off, and am meeting a friend there for lunch today.

                    1. re: weezycom

                      I was there for lunch today too, for the first time. Had the heirloom tomato salad, gnocchi, sausage sandwich and birthday cake. Everything was delicious!!

                      1. re: lindsayblake

                        My friend and I got the tomato veloute, gnocchi, salad with chanterelles and salmon rillettes, and the coconut cream rosemary tart w/ blueberries. And I got a glass of Chilean white wine from a "lost" rootstock that was lovely -- a bit dry but with tropical fruit notes. Definitely an excellent meal!

                        I almost went with that sausage sandwich. It sounded marvelous.

              2. I took a look at your "Top 10 DC area restaurants" and it seems you are into bistro type places for the most part...if you get out of the DC area and are on a budget I would lean more towards ethnic spots like Thai (rabieng, bangkok 54, places in wheaton) or Vietnamese (present, huong viet, saigon cafe), which are cheap and fun to explore.

                If you want to stay the bistro route you might try liberty tavern in clarendon, which i havent been to but seems up your alley.

                pupatella is ok, not great, and is only open on thu/fri now I believe. i would go on a friday if you go so you could also peruse the ballston farmers market.

                also, if you go into the clarendon area for lunch i would go on a wednesday and hit up the wednesday farmers market there- small, but good vendors for sweet corn and fruit.

                taqueria nacionale is also good, not great. the aguas frescas and yucca are the highlights for me...the only decent taco I've had is the pork, best eaten with plenty of the salsa verde (the middle one of the 3 dispensers)....i don't think this is a destination spot by any means though.

                OH....i just had a good idea for Great Falls....on the way you could stop by in Mclean at a place called Evo Bistro...I've never been but its a newish wine bar with moroccan/spanish small plates that is favorably reviewed, that could be a perfect fit.

                6 Replies
                1. re: CoconutMilk

                  coconutmilk — i'll drive far for good tacos. really. is there a better taco spot besides taqueria nacionale you'd recommend?

                  1. re: littlew1ng

                    You've been to Tacqueria El Caminante? (butchered the name I know - it's been a long week).

                    The chorizo taco!

                    1. re: Dennis S

                      Somebody remind me to try TECC when it's more consistent outside-eating season. I've stopped in there a couple of times, but it's always been pretty busy (not a bad thing) and there's rarely an open stool at the counter. I don't want to take my tacos home, nor do I want to eat them in my car. So I've yet to sample this local treasure.

                      1. re: MikeR

                        consider my interests significantly peaked. where is this place? i've heard a bit about it here or there....arlington, i know, but what part?

                        1. re: littlew1ng

                          Wash Blvd just south of Pershing. There's a 7-11 on the West side of the road. TECC is the closest door to the 7-11 towards Pershing. I think there's a Z Pizza next door (I'm always too focused on TECC!).

                      2. re: Dennis S

                        Coconutmilk, I will second or third the recommendations for Tacqueria el Caminante Charito. Their menu is pretty deep, but the pork, lengua, goat, or chorizo tacos are all outstanding. They aren't sour cream and cheese tacos, they are more cilantro and radish, with straight up double wrapped corn tortillas that are grilled to perfection then wrapped around delicious ingredients and stuffed into a paper bag with a perfect salsa verde. The fish sandwich is actually fairly good and the tortas is very good as well, with a chunk of carne asada and a huge avocado slice to give it a bit of body. I have to admit that I go there more in the spring and the fall, grab my bag to go and drive 2 blocks west to the Lyon Park picnic tables at Pershing and Fillmore. As a bit of a plus, if you go on the second or fourth Sunday of the month, between 2 and 6, there will be tons of bluegrass musicians wandering around jamming. That is great fun!


                  2. Eammons A Dublin Chipper in Alexandria, dim sum at Fortune in 7 corners, VA, and a trip to Baltimore to Lexington market come to mind

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nickdanger

                      Eammon's is a good idea - I've always wanted to try it!

                    2. I just did a similar thing a few weeks ago. Restaurant Eve is a must as is Pupatella. Go on Friday when the have aronicini and the farmer's market is open. For your first visit I wouldn't stray from the basic margarita with buffala moz. Taylor Gourmet is good but it's open all the time; I would go for a sub at Literri's, which has limited hours, instead. I did a late lunch at the Old Ebbitt Raw bar, which is half price from 3-6. Also, Inox has a lunch deal which is worth the shlep. Have fun!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pineapple sage

                        Love the Pupatella. I work right next to it. It's only there two days a week now..usually Thurs and Fri. Farmers market on Friday is awesome. Live music and free samples! And speaking of Italian...If you are going to Great Falls...maybe to hike a trail or two...stop at The Italian Store on the way...pick up picnic food...hang out on the rocks.

                      2. Hope the week is treating you well, littlew1ng. Please report back - I want to hear about the forays.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dennis S

                          oh i definitely will. i've already had a few great meals...saving the details for one big post! :)

                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            I've been a few times and really want to support it, but I wouldn't say I've had anything particularly great there -- although I'm not sure if I've had tacos. Decent Argentinian empanadas, okay pupusas. Aguas frescas are awful. Not sure it's worth a special trip, but nice to have in the neighborhood.

                            1. re: mselectra

                              Not the best food but a nice staycation...

                          2. I think I gained 10 pounds in the last week. Of course, in my usual fashion, I didn't visit any of the places on my original list; however, I did manage to get in some great eating.

                            Tuesday went to Huong Viet for lunch. WOW. The food is as fantastic as the service is terrible. It was hot as hell outside, so I was desperate for a cold drink, but it took them about ten minutes to get us glasses of water. It was definitely worth the wait, though. I was so disappointed when my brother said he wanted to order spring rolls....why come to a place like this and get something so mundane, I thought. Well I was VERY pleasantly surprised. The spring rolls here were by far the best I've ever had. Crispy on the outside with a more textured wrapper than your average spring roll and a meaty, savory filling. SO good. I had the grilled beef with lemongrass, it came with cucumbers and marinated carrots that were incredible. Lettuce cilantro mint etc. for wrapping. I've been dreaming about it ever since.

                            For dinner we went to Liberty Tavern, and it wasn't quite as good as the other times I've been there, but still impressive and well-thought-out. We started with the crunchy shrimp and clams, which were good, but we didn't like the sauce served with — it was pretty bland, a creamy type sauce but with little to no zip. I had the fettucine carbonara with lobster, which was cooked perfectly but the dish was SO rich I could barely get halfway through it. It had corn in it, which was interesting and tasty, then the usual peas and bacon (which it needed more of). Fellow diner had the summer pizza, perfectly balanced with figs, onions, prosciutto and arugula.

                            Wednesday morning we had breakfast at Silver Diner. Nothing too special to report. I thought the sausage had too much sage in it. Cooked and ate at home all the way up through Thursday night...we had to make a last-minute trip to Richmond and I got to eat at ....wait for it.... SONIC. YES. Pretty happy about that one. jalapeno poppers and a chicken fried steak toaster, yum yum yum yum YUM. The friends I was with had never been to one before and were so excited they took about a zillion pictures.

                            Friday I attended a funeral so ate funeral reception food, followed by bar food at Front Page (Arlington). Though that place will never be my first choice for eats, I might as well tell you what to order and what to avoid if you're there and need padding for booze: chicken fingers, shrimp diablo, decent caesar salad, cajun chicken pasta, burger and french dip are all safe bets. Not amazing but edible. Avoid ..... everything else.

                            Saturday night we had dinner at Cava, which shot past and soared above my expectations. I expected some decent to good Mediterranean food, but I left stuffed, satisfied and salivating to return. The grilled octopus, which I was willing to try but not super excited about, was AMAZING. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, just a really special dish. Spanakopita was perfect, the crust sublimely flaky and light. We also had the "crazy feta" dip, which was feta cheese whipped with jalapenos and olive oil, it proved very addictive. Asparagus tossed with lemon vinaigrette and feta was grilled nicely. I had two delicious cucumber mojitos and a glass of white wine that paired with the octopus to a T. Cute bartender, too. :)

                            I finished off my week of indulgence with a trip to none other than Taqueria El Charrito Caminante. OH MY GOD. This was not only the cheapest, not only the fastest, it was also my favorite. I've been salivating for a good taco since I moved here, and I think I've finally found it. I had a lengua, beef (caldo de res), chorizo and goat. Wasn't a huge fan of the goat, but absolutely loved the other three. I read another thread recently where someone was saying they didn't like the radish; that's a shame, I loved the zip it adds. And that salsa? WHOOOSH. I want the recipe. Now.

                            Thanks guys, for all your great suggestions. As you'll see I actually took several of them! Chowhound power! Hahahaha. The next time I have the opportunity to travel for lunch I'll be definitely heading to Old Town.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: littlew1ng

                              Huong Viet is great. Who cares if spring rolls are a "mundane" order. Spring rolls their are one of the best things you can get anywhere. They are incredible. The grilled beef is also nice- you ordered well.