Do you ever kind of… go into a restaurant and then decide it’s not for you? It’s probably the equivalent of climbing out the bathroom window on a blind date gone wrong- at its best, peculiar; at its worst, downright insulting.
Still, when you are people like my boyfriend and I who are really into eating food and prefer it to be really really good, it seems to be something that just… happens from time to time.
I was SO delighted to discover Delray, a new-to-me neighborhood here in the DC ‘burbs, courtesy of the ravings of my two coworkers (who both happen to be named Amy). It is totally adorable, charming, and community-oriented with lots of locally owned shops, restaurants, and galleries.
There is a fancy cheese shop:
Where you can also buy cheese accessories:
And eat in their restaurant which features all kinds of head-spinning-sounding combinations of grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese. And where, though there’s a long line, people seem to thoroughly enjoy waiting for a table by milling around with wine.
There’s also Caboose Cafe, our original destination in mind. It drew our attention on Yelp by marrying a cozy cafe vibe with an optional Ethiopian menu (!) because of its Ethiopian owners. I love when the line between “ethnic” and “regular” restaurants is blurred. Like, hello? Melting pot!
Three cheers for their adorable, warmly-lit, kid-friendly in a non obnoxious way atmosphere. Love the hearth-y look up front.
Love love LOVE the centerpiece
We were welcomed with delicious fresh bread and butter
And, at the BRINK of ordering dinner off the Ethiopian menu, were DEVASTATED to learn that they were out of injera. As anyone who has ever eaten Ethiopian knows, Ethiopian food without injera, the spongy bread that flavors every bite with its curious sour flavor and serves as a delicious utensil with its delicate texture…. just isn’t worth it.
So we left.
And went to Taqueria Poblano.
(Well, actually, we went to Taqueria Poblano, were told there was a 40 minute wait, and hung out in the coffee shop on the next block. Where there was life music. And where I managed to finish a Friday New York Times Crossword puzzle YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS)
Steve fell in love with the Christmas lights at the bar. Steve loves all things Christmas lights.
The vibe was cozy and friendly, with a crowd of young but not excessively hipstery people, many of whom seemed to be regulars. The servers and bartenders were all really nice and enthusiastic. I appreciated being seated far inland, away from the door letting in the draft from a rather icy evening. And though the restaurant was crowded, that made for fun eavesdropping!
The chips weren’t freshly fried, but were good. The salsa was GREAT.
They make a vair tasty house margarita. On the rocks, salted, the only way I like it.
I counted: this many sips of margarita is the amount that gets me to tipsy. It is nice and economical being a lightweight. Also, Steve always drives.
Steve played mixologist and started combining the last of the salsa with the very intriguing and good hot sauces on our table. That red one was almost curry reminiscent!
I’d had a snackish, low-on-veggies sort of day and since we were sitting down to dinner at like 9 at night was not especially hungry. So I went for the tapas version of Mexican food. Glad their menu offered some options to mix and max!
My “main dish” was a shrimp taco with pico de gallo, avocado crema, and escabeche onions.
Whoooooooooooooooa this was the best taco I have had in like… a good long while. The shrimp was DELICIOUSLY marinated and PERFECTLY cook. The onions had a fabulous zing. The avocado crema was entirely indulgent. I kind of didn’t have super high expectations of a taco place in Northern Virginia, which isn’t exactly known for authentic Mexican cooking. I can’t vouch for this taco’s authenticity, but I can for its deliciousness.
I want to eat this baby again!
Also, was delighted to see that they offered JICAMA! Why is it so hard to find jicama?! It is one of my favorite vegetables! Theirs arrived sprinkled with chili powder and garnished with a wedge of lime, which I promptly squeezed upon it.
And finally, also rounded out with chili powder and lime, Mexican slaw.
Another false start: Steve and I were due for a night of R+R after he finished the GRE. He fancied a trip to Yechon, a Korean barbecue joint in my area notorious for being open 24 hours a day- and ALWAYS being crammed. Based on the Yelp reviews, this is particularly true for the not-sober crowd at 2am or so.
I was stoked to sit down to adorable detailed cutlery.
And warm and delicious barley tea. This picture nicely evokes the surprisingly soothing, dark-wood atmosphere of the place. (It’s probably more soothing at like 7pm when we went than with the 2am crowd :D)
But then the prices were somewhat alarming. We were told that you had to order two servings of Korean barbecue for them to cook it tableside (otherwise they’d cook it in the kitchen). And Steve in particular wanted the theater of tableside Korean barbecue. The other menu items seemed lackluster in comparison when perused.
So we booked it to the equally popular Korean bakery next door.
I was excited to see a late night deal I’ll be following up on again in the future;
Still a rockin’ selection of baked goods
And samples so as to be an informed buyer. Why aren’t all bakeries as generous with samples as Korean bakeries?! I love love love love that they do this.
Steve and I ended up with a sampler platter- my dinner, his dessert.
Along with some delicious rooibos tea in the most alarmingly heat-insulting cup I’ve ever received (like, burn-your-tongue hot twenty minutes after it was poured), we got a wide range of goods.
Steve selected that popsicle in the foreground (and sorry, there is just no good way to photograph someone eating a popsicle. Hahahahahah.) It was shockingly good- it really was just like someone pureed fresh melon and stuck it on a stick. Except it wasn’t that icy, it was creamy and delicious.
He also selected this ridiculously good sesame donut:
I went for things I’ve tried before, because I am always drawn to the same thing at all those delightful Korean bakeries.
Sapporo bread, which arrives with the most extraordinary rich and dense and crumbly and sweet thick peanutty crust (around airy fluffy white bread which I typically ignore and Steve eats)
And bread stuffed with sweet bean filling. This particular day I tried the green bean filling. You can’t really tell from this picture but it really was, other then a few possibly decorative dots of red bean on the outside, shockingly green. Tasted the same as all the other sweet bean fillings though.
It was PACKED in there- like, who knew that a Thursday night at a bakery would be so hoppin’? They also had the most peculiar color-changing light encircling the upstairs lounge room- it went through the entire spectrum, which is part of the reason the evening’s pictures alternate between such peculiar light. Anyway, I always enjoy the feeling of finding something cool and secret that other people have discovered and now I have too.
Worth a few false starts!