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Restaurants that live up to the hype

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Given the other two threads about restaurant you love that others hate and restaurants you hate that others love... are there restaurants that you had high expectations for and they lived up to it?

I'd have to say Rays the Steak. I'm not much of a meat eater to begin with and so many people gush about it but I was so pleasantly surprised that it did live up to the hype. I thought the steaks are perfectly cooked, loved the sides, thought the service was excellent. We did eat very early to avoid the rush but thought the whole experience was great.

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  1. As I posted on the other thread- I think Againn lives up to the hype. All the dishes I have had there have had great flavor, texture and balance and a unique-ness to them. I like their cocktail program.

    For me Central really lived up to the hype, but I know other probably don't agree on that. I thought it did.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      I'm going to go high and low end here. First, Komi lived up to the hype for me. I've eaten lots of pretty amazing meals in my life and nothing comes close to the adventure I had at Komi. The highlight remains the amazing moment when we were brought baby octopus with pimientos al padron at the same time as we got our glass of txakoli...really hard to forget.

      The other one I want to mention is Amsterdam Falafel. I don't think there's a better 5 dollar meal in this city once you learn to balance your condiments.

      In a town where so many restaurants are not quite worth the money, I think these are the two that really are.

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      Komi
      1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

      Amsterdam Falafelshop
      2425 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

      1. re: badschiraldi

        Amsterdam Felafel doesn't compare well to Max's in Wheaton.

        1. re: Steve

          i agree and think Max's has the best falafal for sure in the metro area.

          1. re: dining with doc

            Third.

          2. re: Steve

            Went to Max's today. Had felafel and schwarma. Both fantastic. But the felafel was the best we have had in about 30 years (guess we have been in all the wrong places). We went there based on the review here and I have to say -- THANKS! We'll be back!

            1. re: MarietteB

              Awesome - I do not get up to Wheaton as often as I should.

              Next project: Have you tried the spicy boneless duck at Ruan Thai?

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              Ruan Thai Restaurant
              11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

        2. re: ktmoomau

          What's a cocktail program? Drink three, get one free? :)

        3. The bulgogi cart in Franklin Square at Vermont and K Street (not to be confused with the disgusting bulgogi cart at 14th and L.) I know food carts are all the rage right now, but this is seriously the best food cart I've ever patronized...$4 for homemade kimchi, perfect sticky rice and sweet bulgogi, or $7 for a larger serving of it...great, simple food at a good value. couldn't ask for more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: littlew1ng

            Thanks for the tip on this food cart. I ate at the one at 14th & L a couple of years ago and wondered what the fuss was. But lunch today from the Vermont & K stand was very tasty.

          2. Hong Kong Palace in Seven Corners. Outstanding Szechuan food, including dishes rarely or never (the fried corn!) seen elsewhere. And Peter Chang has never set foot in their kitchen (AFAIK).

            Max's in Wheaton. The felafel is incredible. The last time I was there, the felafel guy shaped the felafel balls and fried them as I watched. Can't get any fresher than that. And the way he assembles your sandwich -- felafel, some toppings, more felafel, more toppings -- is the work of a master. Every bite you take is a marvel of flavors. Ok, I'm drooling. I'll stop now.

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            Hong Kong Palace
            6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bob W

              Already thirded Max's, but I'll second HKP - good call for this thread.

            2. Speaking of high end, for me Marcel's lives up to the hype. It is pricey, but they put a lot of care and good ingredients into each dish.

              For me Georgetown Cupcake lived up to the hype. I am really really picky about frostings and there are only some I will eat, I really like what they have.

              Nando's Peri Peri lived up to the hype when it opened (no more hype now). It was cheap and very tasty, especially the wings.

              For me Rasika also lives up to the hype. I really have loved going there.

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              Rasika Restaurant
              633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

              Georgetown Cupcake
              1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

              5 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau

                I have to try out Georgetown Cupcake. I've heard so many good things about it (actually nothing bad yet). I'm so picky about my baked goods.

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                Georgetown Cupcake
                1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                1. re: ktmoomau

                  I feel the same about Georgetown Cupcake and Rasika. They both live up to the hype.

                  I'll happily stand in the long line at Georgetown Cupcake. I've tried about half a dozen different flavor combos and they've all been great. And both the food and the service at Rasika are amazing.

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                  Rasika Restaurant
                  633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  Georgetown Cupcake
                  1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                  1. re: Snd485

                    I don't go back to Georgetown Cupcake after trying Bakeshop in Arlington. Incredibly light and buttery cake. I didn't think anyone would top Georgetown, but it's not even close.

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                    Georgetown Cupcake
                    1209 Potomac St NW, Washington, DC

                    1. re: Steve

                      They use whip cream frosting at Bakeshop which I don't care for as much as that at Georgetown cupcake although their cake is very light and moist. I think both have very good cake though.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I agree. Georgetown cupcake is good but Bakeshop is better.

                  2. I know all the food snobs like to hate on it (as in "oh, that's so YESTERDAY"), but the Inn at Little Washington - although I haven't been there in 8 years, so I could indeed be wrong now. At least at its height, it was a great experience.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: a1234

                      I enjoyed the Inn. That one dish with the tuna masquerading as beef tenderloin was absoluletly deflightful -- both visually and taste-wise.

                      1. re: a1234

                        best meal i've ever had. 'nuff said.

                      2. Table 21 and Tosca.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Oooh I had a graduation dinner at Tosca and I had a veal entree that I cannot forget, it isn't on the current menu, but I am hoping it comes back.

                        2. Restaurant Eve. I've been going to the bistro and the bar and the tasting room for four years and have never left less than thrilled. But then again, I usually don't order the steak, eat it all, then try and get it comped because I couldn't flag down a waiter.

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                          Restaurant Eve
                          110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            I have only been to the bistro once, but I go to the bar for the lickety split a lot and absolutely love it. They have such creative and good things on the lunch menu.

                          2. Mine would have to be Oyamel. Heard a lot about it and finally went last Friday. I got there before the after-work crowd and my waiter was fantastic - he suggested a few dishes and I loved them all. Kellari would be another one. I had their pre-theater special - it remains the best meal I've had all year.

                            1. For me Komi totally lived up the hype. It was an out of this world, once in a life time type of meal. The service was probably some of the best I've ever had in DC and the food was fun and fantastic. I went with my boyfriend and parents and we all loved our meal.

                              That same weekend we went to Black Salt and that definitely also lived up to the hype. It's too bad that it's such a pain to get to because it is very, very good.

                              -----
                              Komi
                              1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Elyssa

                                I love Blacksalt. Hook lived up to the Hype before Barton Seaver left, for me it has never been the same since. And the dishes he took to Sonoma are now off their menu too.

                                -----
                                Sonoma Restaurant
                                223 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20003

                              2. Volt, both Table 21 and the regular menu. My two best meals of last year (when you could still get in).

                                Also, to the extent it has hype, The Source lives up to it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mnadel

                                  We were aThe Inn at Little Washington a few weeks ago. This time we had the chef's table in the kitchen, even though it is a little steep. The Chef's table is an additional $300.00/week nights, $450.00 on Fri, Sat, (payable when reservation ismade, non-refundable). The experience is as good as ever. Kitchen staff will interact as much as you would like. They walked me through the prep of the Soft Shell Crab, a special that night.
                                  "Faira the cow" is still one of the best cheese presentations anywhere. All in all, it would not become your neighborhood weekly spot. Dinners are $148.00/person to $178.00 /ppweekends, before wines, tax and tips.
                                  Still we can't wait to get back in the Fall. The Shenandoah is a beautiful area and to find such a treasure as "the Inn".

                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                    At $800 for two people at the Chef's table, plus tax, tip and drinks, "a little steep" is an understatement. Do any other restaurants in this region come close to that?

                                2. Volt - Table 21 - worth every penny

                                  1. The falafel stand at the JFX Market in Baltimore. This weekend, my falafel wrap included arugula, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn and peaches! Topped with the tahini sauce, homemade peach hot sauce and honey, it was bursting with flavor and every bite was delicious.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: exploravore

                                      That sounds very good.

                                      1. re: exploravore

                                        I had the falafal also at the JFX Farmers Market. Although it is not anything like traditional falafal, it is wonderful nevertheless. I agree totally with your review

                                      2. Grace Garden. Everything I've had there has been wonderful.

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                                        Grace Garden
                                        1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                                        1. Great question!

                                          I would have to say that 2941 delivered. My wife and I both loved it.

                                          Having said that, I am continuously amazed that Ray's rates like this. I just don't see it.