Thursday, September 15, 2011

quality hanging out

Frankly, friends, this life can be a bit of a bummer. Correction: this economy can be a bit of a bummer! Jobs are few and far between and the few jobs to which I qualify I must vie for in competition with people with master’s degrees and decades of work experience, who also have no job.

One way of dealing with these things is to kickbox, and while kicking and punching the air picture the faces of the executives at Goldman Sachs, and Lehman Brothers, and all their buddies in the government who made sure they could make a killing while screwing everyone else.

Another way, though, is to spend time with nice people, and get yourself a change of scenery. Lately I’ve been craving intellectual chats in coffee shops; hidden hole-in-the-wall gems; romantic outdoor dinners; and most of all good company.

Good company would definitely include my boyfriend. Steve lives on Columbia Pike. Columbia Pike is great if you like affordable housing and pupusas. Not so much if you’re into.. greenery. Or retail stores. But anyway, Steve and I set off on a stroll down Columbia Pike mainly cause we were bored and wanted to find somewhere to go.

Steve had been itching to go to, as he put it, “this place that is literally a shack in a parking lot”. Which, yes, it is.


But, go figure, it’s famous!


The writeup:


The menu is standard- pick a tortilla, pick a filling. The thing that was unique about it was the amazing hot sauce selection. LOOK AT ALL THIS HOT SAUCE!


Bless their hearts, they had tortilla chips to try them. They know how to make me happy.

I had eaten brunch not that long before this, so I decided to abstain. But Steve got a burrito, and for his hot sauce selection opted for the Cilantro 15. But don’t they all sound SO DELICIOUS?! That is a hard decision.


And piled it onto a burrito the size of a newborn.


It was massive and delicious.


Another exciting stop for me was this Bolivian place I’d heard was good that had no English whatsoever on their menu. I recognized every 4th word or so.



A menu of the day that involved peanut soup or some other kind of soup… pork made of chicken?… fake rabbit?!… various kinds of… meats?… fish… chicken or chorizo or something sandwiches… saltenas which I gather are like Bolivian empanadas… and ice cream.

(The thing that most intrigues me is falso conejo. Fake rabbit?!)

It was an overcast day and what I really wanted to do is hang out somewhere serene and drink coffee and stare out the window. And that compulsion grew as the clouds overhead grew increasingly more ominous looking. And then we were walking by Dama, my favorite place to eat Ethiopian food, and I remembered the always cute-looking Dama cafe that’s next to the sit down restaurant. And that sounded great!

The inside was adorable and dotted with whimsy..


… and filled with wonderful bright orange (I almost painted my room that color but was talked down by my mom and it’s cantaloupe color. But maybe some day I’ll paint some room that color!).

Also pretty paintings and many smiling, happy people. It’s clearly a quality Sunday afternoon hangout.


They all seemed to be drinking the same thing, so I sidled up to the impressive looking espresso bar by the pretty teal accent wall…


Pointed to the thing everyone was drinking, and said, “one of those, please!”. Which apparently was, as they put it, a “tall macchiato”.

Which appeared to be…. kind of a cappuccino? I did it for the pretty glass!


We decided we were hungry for sort of… linner. Yknow, that kind of Sunday-ish-meal that broaches lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.

So we went next door to the sit down restaurant part… and watched the sky OPEN UP.


And ate what I always eat (and thus get those who eat with me to eat) at Dama, the vegetarian sampler. Split between Steve and I. Plus extra injera.


I just never get sick of this stuff, man! Green salad, rich and tangy collard greens; sweet and tender cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; spicy chewy lentils; earthy yellow split peas; and amazing spiced lentil puree.


Also fun: because you eat with your hands, they give you moist towelettes to wipe off with when you’re done. What a nostalgia trip these things put me on! Declined the toothpicks.


Another weekend, another change of scenery. One intermittently sunny Saturday, my visiting best pally Lyddie and I headed to Georgetown. And did the things one must always do in Georgetown (or at least I always must): go vintage shopping at Second Time Around (I didn’t find anything that exciting but Lydia got a belt) and then headed to Baked and Wired, my fave bakery there.

Enjoyed some vanilla black tea (and the hilariously hopped-up-on-at-least-caffeine-and-possibly-more barista gave me a free second round of hot water). Lydia had a raspberry bar, of which I enjoyed a few delicious bites.


We sat by a wall which people can decorate with quotes/poems/songs of their own or others’ creation. Some were extremely cheesy. Some were good.


Finally, a beautiful Friday night after a lot- a LOT- of rain. Steve had just finished his second first week of work (he’s staying on for another Americorps year) and I kind of just showed up at his apartment. So we went to Shirlington, because it’s lovely for eating outside.

Went to the Carlyle, where I haven’t been in awhile. It’s right there on the nice outdoor strip they have running along Campbell Avenue.


Carlyle’s part of a local chain (ish) of restaurants. But they all kind of have their own unique spin. Carlyle is the most glamorous, I think, because it’s in an old hotel and has a cooler vibe.


But, like all the Great American Restaurants, as they’re called, Carlyle gets its bread from Best Buns, which is sooooo tasty. This basket included a yummy sourdough and a lovely raisin-nut. Though I slightly mourned that it did not contain the jalapeno cheddar and teeny little donut rolls, two of my favorite Best Buns offerings.


I opted to have two appetizers for my dinner. Our waiter read off the specials and he mentioned bruschetta and heirloom tomatoes and balsamic reduction and I was like “Yes. I need that in my life.”


I received it and immediately gave a third of it to Steve, one because the bread was super oily and rich and voluminous and two because normal restaurant entrees are already insufficient to make Steve full PLUS he’d barely eaten anything that day.

And I also had a yummy salad to finish! Just the house salad they offer is great. Normal stuff- lettuce, tomatoes, corn- but also fun additions- dried dates! pine nuts!- that make it special. Plus a smashing buttermilk dressing.


Not feeling like being indoors at all, we concluded our evening at Northside Social, a hipster but pleasant coffee shop/wine bar in Clarendon. Squeezed at a communal table with a dude seemingly immersed in his laptop. Enjoyed the evening air and Spanish guitar wafting outside.


Steve got a chai latte, taking pains to ensure they had whole milk (hahaha I love how differently we view the goal of food). I got some very excellent peach white tea, which came with its own teapot…


And a little hour minute glass to time the steeping to ensure my tea was properly steeped. So fun!


1 comment:

Erin Lee said...

I loved Northside Social. It was hardly hispter, the baristas are hotties, and i met like 3 dates there (although none of them stuck).