Dining

Platters/Chicken & Rice: NYC’s Best Street Food Comes to Town

Halal Guys' Facebook Page

Halal Guys’ Facebook Page

Have you stood in this line before? I have. Many, many times. In fact, every time I’ve been to NYC, I’ve made it a point to stand in this line. And if you know me at all, you know that I am NOT a line-stander-inner. But the greasy, delicious foil trays of food dished up at this stand are well worth the wait. (And it didn’t hurt that the line usually moved pretty quickly.) For years, this food cart has had a steady cult following amongst the south Asian community.

Back in the good ol’ days, the cart opened at 6pm and didn’t close til around 4am. The often line felt more like a giant family reunion than anything else, especially on weekends when families would commute in from the suburbs for this late-night treat. Minivans were parked illegally all over the place, and kiddos ran circles around the grown-ups waiting patiently in line. There was no real seating – on the steps and concrete planters of nearby office buildings, families huddled together next to 20-somethings taking a break from the club and harried suits who had just left work.

And what could they possibly have been serving that was delicious enough to be worth all this fuss? Well that’s the thing. Words don’t do it justice. The $6 plate of food – known as either “chicken and rice” or simply “platters,” back in my day – contained a mix of chicken, gyro meat, rice, and pita. And a little salad, if you were good. (I usually asked for extra pita in lieu of salad.) But the piece de resistance was the white sauce. Oh, that white sauce. Creamy, delicious, flecked with black – no one knew what it was, but everyone agreed that it was what pushed this meal over the top. I always asked for extra. There was red sauce too, for braver souls than I. I tried it once – just dipped the tip of my pinky into it and barely touched my tongue to the stuff. I kid you not, my entire mouth was on fire for 30 minutes.

Truth me told, I haven’t been to NYC in years, and so haven’t had the magical grease-fest in quite awhile. I haven’t tried any of their spinoffs, so have no idea if their quality control is up to snuff. But with a concept that simple, how hard can it be for them to duplicate their own recipes? Fingers and toes are crossed that the DC spinoffs – which are slated to start opening Q2 1015 – will be as delicious as the originals.

That’s right, spinoffS. Apparently The Halal Guys have franchised, and DC’s local franchisee plans to open TEN stores in the District alone!

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DC is Getting a Cat Cafe!

 

Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle from www.sfgate.com

Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle from http://www.sfgate.com

DC’s dog-lovers know that there are dog-friendly patios and yappy hours aplenty all over town. And soon, DC’s cat-lovers will have a space to play too! Crumbs and Whiskers Cat Cafe has announced that it will be opening a location in DC in summer 2015. Their website bills the space as a “Cat Shack. Tea House. Bakery. Art Lounge.” All the things I love in one place!

Crumbs and Whiskers

So what the heck is a cat cafe, you ask? It’s basically a coffee shop and cat adoption center rolled into one. Patrons can enjoy tea, coffee, and tasty baked treats while hanging out with friendly felines. The cats will be supplied by the Washington Humane Society, and will all be available for adoption. Not only is this a fun way for folks who can’t have cats of their own at home to get some kitty snuggles in, but I really think this is going to revolutionize the world of cat adoption.

The concept was first popularized in Asia & Europe, and the first American cat cafe opened in Oakland, CA just last month. If those photos are any indication, we cat-lovers have a lot to look forward to.

Farewell, Food Writing

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For nearly three years now, one of the hats I’ve worn has been as a food writer. I landed the gig as Dining Editor for Bisnow Media while I was still working as an attorney, and kept that going alongside my career transitions and endeavors for nearly two years. When the demands of the Bisnow gig became too much for me to balance with my burgeoning real estate career, I jumped ship and headed to Eater DC. Not only were their freelancing requirements much more reasonable than my role at Bisnow had been, but it was also really exciting to be writing for such a high-profile food site!

Between real estate, teaching yoga, and food-writing, my plate has been absolutely packed for the last couple of years. And the thing about a successful real estate business is that it’s constantly growing – the better your business is, the more of your time it demands. I’ve also taken on a more active role in managing GL Barnhart Construction, as there is a significant amount of crossover between our client bases. And through my yoga studio, I am making forays into the world of career/life coaching that really excite me (more on this soon). And my rule has always been: if your plate is full and you want to add something to it, you have to take something off first.

So, it is with a heavy heart and sad stomach that I close this particularly tasty chapter of my professional journey. This month was my last writing for Eater, and my swan song piece was posted today. While I will continue to cover restaurant openings on Urban Living by Alia, for the foreseeable future I will no longer be writing for any external publications. But the good news is, I was able to end on a wonderful note: my final piece for Eater was on a subject near and dear to my heart. You can read it here: Does Virginia’s New Chuy’s Live Up to an Austin Native’s Memories?

Thanks to everyone who has been following my adventures in writing! I assure you, my writing days are far from over. My blog will only continue to get bigger and better, and have a few other writing-related ambitions up my sleeve for the next few years. So stay tuned – I’m just getting started!

Radici Now Open on The Hill

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From Marvelous Market to the Silver Spork and now Radici – with such a prime location, you’d think the space at the corner of 7th and C SE (right across from Eastern Market) would have no trouble staying in business. And yet here we are, with the third iteration in as many years. Here’s hoping this one sticks!

Radici will be a grab and go style cafe during the week, and will offer table service on weekends. Two Italian chefs – one from the north, one from the south – are running the kitchen, so we can look forward to a wide variety of pastas, small plates, and “pizzettes”. The detail that has me most excited? They serve Illy coffee!! I actually had the honor of trying their first-ever latte, and I have to say, they are definitely doing the Illy name justice.

The folks behind Radici put a lot of money into completely changing the space. Terra Cotta tiles imported from Italy and Venetian glass lamps are just a few of the fun highlights. But I’ll let the photos do the talking:

 

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Imported Italian lemon trees inhabit the two window seats. They should be bearing fruit by next year!

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Finger-Lickin’ Good News for Navy Yard!

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Bonchon, the infamously delicious Korean chicken wing chain, is FINALLY opening up shop in DC! The shops have dotted the MD and VA suburbs for years, teasing Washingtonians from across the border. But at last, it has been confirmed that Bonchon is opening up shop in the District. The news broke today that Bonchon will be opening up at Navy Yard in 2015. Hooray! You can check out the full story from The Washingtonion here.

Momofuku Ahoy!

Photo courtesy of CanadianBusinessJournal.com

Photo courtesy of CanadianBusinessJournal.com

The invasion of Manhattan restaurants continues in DC, and the latest addition to the list is a doozy: David Chang has announced that he will be opening a spinoff of his infamously delicious Momofuku Noodle Bar in City Center. Directly across from Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro. Between the high-rise design, sky-high pricing, and this obvious trend amongst its retail tenants, perhaps they should just go ahead and rename City Center “Little Manhattan?”

Whatevs. I’m pumped. Not only because Momofuku is SO tasty, but also because Chang followed up this announcement with a tweet that Momofuku Milk Bar will be coming to town as well! My sweet tooth just skipped a beat.

I’m fairly certain the place will be packed to the gills for weeks, if not months, after opening. Then again, he has 4500 SF to fill, so perhaps he will actually be able to squeeze in enough seating to avoid the epic waits his LES outpost still commands. Here’s hoping.

More details available at EaterDC and Washingtonian.com. 

Best. News. EVER.

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OH MY GOD IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED. Chuy’s is coming to the DMV!!!!!!!! What is Chuy’s, you ask? Only my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in the world – AND it’s based in my beloved hometown of Austin, TX, meaning that I’ll now have a true taste of home nearby! I dared to start dreaming of this day back when Chuy’s first opened in Richmond, VA. So close, yet so far! And now, at least, they are opening up within an easy drive. My waistline doesn’t stand a chance.

 

The new location will be at 11219 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22030 and opens on Tuesday, August 26. And THEN in October another DMV location will be opening in the Springfield Town Center! Yeah, I know it’s not DC proper (or even on the Metro), but hey – I’ll take what I can get! Jalapeno ranch dip, here I come! See you there?