Thursday, March 7, 2013

Places in D.C. You're Not Frequenting, But you TOTALLY Should Be

On a recent Saturday night, I was out with Jules and some of her friends for a U Street bar crawl. We traipsed up and down the street, waiting for a spot to reveal itself as the ideal place for booze, conversation and, of course, the menz. We eventually turned the corner onto 14th Street and spotted a line emerging from a bar, wending its way halfway down the block. We tiptoed closer to see where it led: El Centro D.F.

I was skeptical, but a million and one Washingtonians itching to get into this bar couldn't be wrong, could they? We joined the crowd waiting in the chilly winter air to get inside for margaritas.

And we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The line was moving SO slowly and the bar was letting so few people in that eventually, we just gave up! And the whole time, I couldn't help but think to myself: "What friggin' for?!?! My past experience here was utterly disappointing -- I can't imagine it's improved THAT MUCH!!!"

My theory is Richard Sandoval made a deal with the devil to make this a place where people are willing to sacrifice warmth and personal welfare in a 45-minute line for a chance to cross the threshold, but I have no way of proving that.

Instead, here's what I can do. I have recently discovered a few places that are ACTUALLY awesome, and yet there is NO ONE crowding them. Consider the following a list of places you're not going to, but you totally should be:


The address is actually a little misleading -- SUNdeVICH is truly located in an alley off 9th Street in between N and O streets.

Every gourmet sandwich here is named after an international city and is based off the local flavors. For example, the Istanbul has ground beef and lamb, onions, tomato and tzatziki sauce. And holy shit, is it delicious.

It's like a flavor party in my mouth!
SUNdeVICH also features plenty of vegetarian options, so this is a place everyone can agree on. (Dare I say it? I like it better than Taylor Gourmet!)

BURLESQUE BRUNCH: SAX Restaurant and Lounge, 734 11th St. NW

A few weeks ago, I needed a last-minute brunch reservation, and SAX, which had a decent looking menu, had many available reservation spots on OpenTable. I noticed it advertised a burlesque brunch; I sort of figured that dancers would walk around, meeting and greeting diners in costume.

What came next blew my mind: The bar has a gigantic mirror behind it... which lights up every 20 minutes to reveal a stage, where burlesque dancers titillate and tease until the music stops.

I believe they were dancing to "Lady Marmalade"
I have been to several burlesque shows in D.C., and the dancers at SAX are by far the most polished/sexy. I can't say enough good things about the show.

And then, of course, the FOOD -- I had my birthday brunch there this past weekend and ordered the braised short rib, which is served on a bed of grits with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. It was INCREDIBLE -- the perfect blend of breakfast and lunch, sweet and savory.

Perhaps the most incredible thing, however, was how few people were dining there on Sunday. There were large swaths of tables with nobody at them. And for $30 prix fixe per person, the only thing more I can say about SAX is WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE NOT GOING HERE FOR BRUNCH?!

WINE TIME: The Tasting Room Wine Bar, 5330A Western Ave., Chevy Chase

The Gamma Girls got invited to a wine event at this charming little bar in Chevy Chase a few weeks ago, and I was so glad I went. It's low-lit, romantic and, as you can see, it comes with that fancy Enomatic machine that pours individual tastings of wine after you insert a prepaid card. (It's pretty much how I envision the Jetsons getting drunk.)

It's tucked away in a shopping center, so I can see how people would miss it/not realize it's there. But it seems to me like the perfect place for a first date.

There you go, folks, three different places at which you should become a regular. If nothing else, go once and throw some business their way. You'll have a good time, I promise!