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Best Thing You Ever Ate - VA/DC/MD/Baltimore Edition

*Borrowed from the New Orleans Board*

"I got caught up watching the new show on FN titled "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," and have really enjoyed some of the episodes. It's a documentary style show in which has some of the Food Network stars talk about the "one dish" of a particular style that was the "best thing" that they ever ate.

Last night while watching an episode, I began to think about some of the best meals I have ever had, then did my best to narrow it down to a specific dish. So here are the rules:

Bame the best thing you ever ate in VA/DC/MD/Baltimore.

1) One dish.
2) One restaurant.

Do your best to give a description and be as specific as possible, including the restaurant where you had it. It could be a dish you had one time or something you have often. Stick to restaurant meals, because even if the best thing you ever ate was at your grandma's house, it wouldn't do much good to the rest of us. This could be a great starting point for first time visitors to the city.

In an effort to avoid cliche (cause I could think of at least 5 places in DC proper that i'd take prospective transplants in order to convince them to stay)

1) A Pit Beef Sandwich
2) Pioneer Pit Beef

Considering how much I gorged myself on high dollar menus all over DC, for whatever reason I got inspired to take a drive to Baltimore. In search of PB, I went to the very popular establishment whose main claim to fame seems to be its proximity to a "gentleman's club". Apparently the shake is supposed to add flavor to the steak....

I went in.
I ordered.
I received.
I added some tiger sauce.
I noshed.
I was unsatisfied.

"Well I carried on" (c) Pretty Blood

There was one other place to try.

A shack close to something called Johnnycake Road.
I think of it as near to the Security Square mall, but that's neither here no there.

I walked up.
I reviewed the menu choices (few)
I ordered
I received
I added some tiger sauce
I noshed

And I was in one of the lower levels of Carnivore heaven.

The right amount of smoke
The right amount of char
Still rare
Bun was the appropriate softness
The tang of the horseradish was just right

I finished the first sandwich in my car and got back in line for 2 more. (for research purposes, of course)


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  1. The first time I had a chorizo taco from TECC when he was still in the trailer.
    I got it, and a chicken taco,
    I went to my house on Columbia Pike,
    ate the chicken first - not bad but not good
    ate the chorizo taco
    Got back in my van to drive back to the trailer to get two more.

    1. The Palak Chaat from Rasika. It's probably my favorite thing, and if I could have it every night, I would.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jeserf

        After the roasted katsikaki at Komi, the Palak Chaat from Rasika is a close number 2 for me!

      2. at proof. two years ago, it was a roasted pork tenderloin and butternut squash risotto...absolutely exquisite. also, the lamb carpaccio from the inn at little washington.

        4 Replies
        1. re: littlew1ng

          Am with Little Wing here on the restaurant, though possibly not the dish. It'd be the tuna-that-thinks-it's-a-steak (or whatever they call it!) at the Inn at Little Washington

          1. re: DonaldGately

            man, that one is pretty amazing. that seared chunk of foie gras on top, whoooosh! gotta get back there soon.

            1. re: littlew1ng

              Haha — whooosh! Somehow I'd forgotten all about the foie gras topping, which is something of a sin (both the forgetting and the topping itself). I too should get back there soon, though it's all but unjustifiably expensive in this economy (damn wine). That and I've no one to go with. (That sound you hear is a tiny violin playing just for me.)

            2. re: DonaldGately

              Agreed. Love that tuna foie gras thing - probably one of the best things i've eaten ever anywhere.

          2. Gosh, the first ones that come to mind are
            DC-seared scallops with chanterelles and chardonnay sauce at Corduroy. Wonderful! Always order it when dining there
            B'More-rosemary and garlic fries at Brewer's Art. Very addictive on own or as a side.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MrsWheatie

              Thank you for the scallop recommendation----

            2. In the late 80's on Belair Road in Baltimore, "The Garden Inn" served crabs in what looked like a wood paneled clubbasement. I had never see crabs so huge before (or since), they were delicious and so big I could only eat 3. The owner stopped selling crabs after a year or 2 because he couldn't get them that size anymore.

              1. 1) Gnocchi
                2) Palena (Back Room)

                It was really hard not to list more, but I am sticking to it. We should do all the categories- Sweets, Fried, etc.

                1. I can't argue with the terrific original post by WestIndianArchie.

                  1. The first thing that jumped in my head is what I'll go with - the roasted kasikaki at Komi. I am not a big meat person, generally. I think that is why this was such a revelation - a range of amazing flavors and textures in the same dish. The fresh, hot pita and the amazing sides that came with it completely put this dish over the top for me.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      This is the place WIArchie recalled. The others that get coverage by empty suits like Raichlen and Bitman are low-quality and low taste, but easier to find.
                      Pioneer Pit Beef
                      1600 North Rolling Road
                      Baltimore, MD 21244
                      (410) 455-0015

                    2. Your post is great, and inspired a haiku!

                      Fish noodles delight
                      as does the triple treasure.
                      Grace Garden's the place.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: baltoellen

                        My first bite of Peking Duck
                        At Peking Gourmet, circa 1977
                        Great googly-moogly!

                        Love those fish noodles at Grace Garden. We are making a detour there on our way home from the shore today. Giddy-up!

                        1. re: baltoellen

                          I finally made it to Grace Garden on Saturday. Fully concur with fish noodles and triple treasure as all that.

                        2. Great idea for a thread! Sadly, the best dish I ever ate was the fig cake at the late, lamented Inn at Easton, followed closely by the Inn's beef shorts ribs. Even sadder, I dined on these the night before the Inn closed! :( Honestly, if the Inn had not closed, I probably would have needed to move to Easton so I could eat there frequently.

                          Best thing I ever ate at a restaurant still in business: the "Caesar Salad" at Komi. Everyone who was with us the night that we ate that (about 13 months ago), still talks about it. Of course, everything we ate at Komi was fabulous. The caesar salad was incredible -- and it was one bite!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: foodtrip

                            Mighty Mo. NOT a Mighty Mo from the '70's or '80's but an original Mo from the '50's or the '60's. Still, the single best bite of anything I have ever tasted in my life. Second, might be a fish sandwich from Benny's on Maine Avenue from about the same time. Robuchon, Ducasse, Le Calandre, SantiMaria are all after these although Roberto's Duck Stew challenged the Mo.

                            Because this is local I am excluding the first bite from a Double Double at In-n-Out with extra spread and grilled onions when this is taken from the side of the burger where the juice is spurting out. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/298616

                            1. re: Joe H

                              A bag of Little Tavern burgers on the Route 1 curb at 2am on a Sunday morning.

                                1. re: SimonF

                                  No. Hungover. Yet the combination of grease, fried onions, cheese, and steamy dough were EXACTLY what I needed at that time. The memory lingers long after meal went the way of all "belly bombs."

                                  Funny how memory plays tricks with you. You remember fondly your first kiss, but you don't recall those screaming matches and flung vases. Similarly, you remember that one perfect burger, but you can't recall the catastrophic underpants failure. Both money and time behave like loose quicksilver in a next of cracks: once they're gone, you wonder where they went! And what the devil you did with them!

                          2. A few years ago, I had the 7 course tasting menu at Kaz Sushi Bistro. One dish was described as salmon foie gras. It was sinfully fatty and just dissolved in my mouth. The texture was really like seared foie gras.

                            1. Boy tough to decide but here goes
                              1). Lobster, coconut milk, white peach dish
                              2). The Oval Room

                              1. 1.) Peanut soup with duck confit
                                2.) Citronelle

                                Seriously, this was the Best. Thing. Ever.

                                1. it's a tie for me:

                                  Sichzuan Beef Proper at Peking Gourmet about 1987 or so (never had anything like that before, and it was very well made then, not the super-sweet mess it is today); and

                                  white truffle risotto paired with a Languedoc wine at CityZen a few months ago.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: weezycom

                                    Go and try the SBP at Joe's Noodle House, though I think it's called Szechuan Spicy and Dry Beef Saute (H-08). But you'll have to ask them to tone down the heat. it is too blazing hot for me.

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      I like to use the spicy dry beef as a condiment, sort of mixing it with the shredded orange beef. It has a way of bringing out the flavors of the other dishes. On it's own, this stuff could be dangerous.

                                  2. Lived in Northern Virginia for 25 years and now am in south central PA. I still go down to Annandale to Duck Chang's for their Sizzling Rice Crust soup - haven't met its match in any Chinese restaurants I've been in across the country (traveled a lot when I worked in DC). Wish I could reproduce it here in Pennsylvania!

                                    1. Braised lamb shank at The Majestic in Old Town. This was last fall/winter, and they don't have it this year, which severely disappointed me! But I still love the place, and it was the best lamb I have ever had in my entire life. Even reheated as leftovers for lunch the next day, it was incredible. I won't even bother trying to re-created it in my own kitchen. I know I'll never achieve that perfection. Heh.

                                      1. Beef short ribs at Aida Bistro - the chef said he cooked them for 6 hours. It was for a wine tasting dinner at Aida. Wonderful Just melted in your mouth.

                                        1. I believe this answer will depend on so many factors, my mood that day, the weather, my $$, parking, Waiter's attitude, and if they did everything correct.

                                          Well in 2009 it happened just once the "Perfect Meal"

                                          And it was at Hank's Oyster Bar.

                                          I was craving seafood and was very hungry... I finally lost 40 pounds and was going to celebrate... Partner got a new job, I bought a new dress... found parking and the person who left that space, left for it already paid.

                                          We arrived, I got the table I like... they had the oysters I love...

                                          My fries were perfect.
                                          The oysters were fresh and it was like kissing the ocean.
                                          Po Boy was delicious, just great breading and fried without hurting my delicious oysters
                                          The bread was buttery, toasty outside and soft inside.
                                          Cole Slaw was crisp, sweet and salty
                                          Lobster Roll was just out of this world in compare to the ones i've had before.

                                          I wanted to keep pushing my luck that day and ordered Caramel Bread Pudding. It was just as mama would make it except that it didn't have Ron Abuelo.

                                          After that I went home and just drank water... didn't want to eat until the next day to not forget them romance between Oysters and I. =D

                                          Thanks very much WestIndianArchie, now I want Oysters!!! =P

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: helenahimm

                                            Great reply. I haven't been to Hanks since the summer.