On The Menu

Washington DC Trip (Ben's Chili Bowl, Oyamel, The Diner, Martin's Tavern,Gordon Biersch, Woodley Cafe, Capitol City Brewery)


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Our recent trip to DC gave us some good eats. What we learned: there are at least two 5-star places in DC, breakfast is hard to come by, and a good bartender makes all the difference.

Ben's Chili Bowl

I've been here before. Abby hasn't. We are in DC, we had to go. There was a line outside the door. Ben's apparently has opened up a nicer place right next door which was empty, and since they serve the same food I'd probably go there if I lived in the area, but you just have to go to the historic location if you've never been. The line moved slowly, but was ok. There was a mix of locals and tourists in the crowd. Once we got to order we went with a chili dog, half smoked with chili, fries, and two chocolate milk shakes. When we paid we picked up two buttons that had the owner's face on it who passed away recently. We sat down in the middle back room and waited for our food to come. It didn't take that long, but it felt it because we were both hungry. Finally our food came and it was just as good as I remembered. Better even. The chili is a great beef/no beans chili and we knew right away we made a mistake not to put chili on the fries. The milkshakes were thick and rich and delicious. Sure we felt like we should run up and down the National Mall to make up for our lunch, but it was soooo worth it. I give Ben's Chili Bowl a 5 out of 5.

Ben's Chili Bowl on Urbanspoon

Gordon Biersch Brewery

A blah beer at a blah brewery. However, the restaurant itself is pretty nice looking with the columns and the ceiling. I give Gordon Biersch a 2 out of 5.

Gordon Biersch Brewery on Urbanspoon


I must admit, I've had a Jose Andres chef-crush the first time I've ever seen him on TV a couple of years ago. His passion and love for food is just infectious, even from on the screen of my TV. I've been wanting to eat at one of his restaurants for years. Now I royally screwed up and was one-day off on trying to make reservations at Mini-Bar. So we "settled" for Oyamel, his Mexican small plates restaurant.

Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, was absolutely delicious. The service was incredible and nice and fast. We ordered the famous margaritas with salt air and it tasted like a regular margarita just with very fresh components. The salt air was nice and light and added just the right amount of salt to the cocktail.

We ordered the cactus salad, papas al mole, and four different tacos (baby pig, pork belly, beef, and grasshopper) to start. The mole was fantastic and sweet and savory. The cactus salad was a pleasant surprise...I've never had cactus before. This was a very palate cleansing salad. But the greatest items on the menu are the tacos. The grasshopper was spicy and crunchy, pork belly was buttery, the beef taco was the mother of all beef tacos, and the baby pig...well that was just a religious experience.

Abby had to order a second baby pig taco, so we got that along with a tuna ceviche and the huevos with pork belly. I also asked if they could give us a small plate of the pork rinds that came with the baby pig tacos and they said sure. Now here was the problem...we were stuffed. I scarfed down the pork rinds (which are second only to the pork rinds at Publican in Chicago in my book) and Abby wolfed down the baby pig taco. They accidentally sent out a red snapper ceviche along with the tuna ceviche. Abby liked the former better, but I preferred the latter. Finally the egg and pork belly came out and it easily could have been the best thing I ate that night, but I was too damn full to take more than 3 bites.

I had very high expectations for a Jose Andres place and I was not disappointed at all. I will be back to Oyamel next time I'm in DC. I give Oyamel a 5 out of 5.

Oyamel on Urbanspoon

The Diner

The Diner was just ok. I got the croque and dagger, which was a great name, and Abby got an Egg Sandwich. Both were ok, but nothing special. I give The Diner a 3 out of 5. (Again, like most places in DC, the architecture inside the restaurant was pretty neat.)

The Diner on Urbanspoon

Martin's Tavern

Apparently a famous bar that we just happened to walk into for a beer and a snack. We got the crab cake sliders that were actually really good. Bartender was nice and personable too. I give Martin's Tavern a 3 and 1/2 out of 5.

Martin's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Woodley Cafe

It wasn't that crowded when we went in for breakfast but service was very slow. While we were waiting for our food, the line out the door grew and grew. The place was severely under-staffed for a Sunday morning. Eventually a few more servers arrived and started seating all the people waiting. However our food took forever to arrive. Refills on coffee and water also took forever. Our food was luke warm when we got it. I won't be coming back to Woodley Cafe next time I'm in DC. I give it a 1 and 1/2 out of 5.

Woodley Cafe on Urbanspoon

Capitol City Brewery

The beers were better than average. The prices for food were actually decently priced. But it was our bartender was fantastic. We talked NFL football and traded fantasy tips. He quietly slipped us two free beers and told us not to worry about it. I liked it. I give Capitol City Brewery a 4 out of 5.

Capital City Brewing Company on Urbanspoon


Whoa, your whirlwind DC trip makes me so hungry! I grew up in that area, so it really makes me miss home. I'm Urbanspoon's community manager, and thanks so much for being one of our top bloggers for Boston! I couldn't find an email address for you, but I'd like to invite you to claim your blog at http://www.urbanspoon.com/br/4/407/Boston/Sweet-and-Sour-in-Boston.html - It paves the way for much greatness :) Cheers! Feel free to email christine {at} urbanspoon {dot} com if you have any questions.