Young and Hungry

Flight of Fancy: Local Airports Are Getting a Dining Overhaul

Ben's Chili Bowl @DCA

If you fly out of Reagan National Airport, here are some of your options for a predeparture meal: a) a sandwich with wilted lettuce, wrapped in plastic, b) a slice of pizza that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for an indeterminate amount of time, or c) a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s.

If you’d rather choose d) none of the above, push back that trip, because within a year, you won’t have a reason to pack your own snacks. Terminal A, which is getting a significant renovation in an airport-wide overhaul, will feature restaurants from the likes of Brasserie Beck and Marcel’s owner Robert Wiedmaier and ABC’s The Chew co-host Carla Hall. Tables will be outfitted with iPads that travelers can use not only to check their email or flight status but also order and pay for their food. Elsewhere in the airport and at Dulles International Airport, national chains are being replaced by local eateries like Ben’s Chili Bowl, Cava Mezze Grill, &pizza, Taylor Gourmet, Chef Geoff’s, Bracket Room, Lebanese Taverna, Kapnos Taverna, and El Centro D.F.

D.C.’s airports seem to be the last place to catch on to the city’s food renaissance. (Even stadiums have upgraded from hot dogs to roasted cauliflower sandwiches.) But the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has been working to finally get with the craze around all things local. In 2013, the organization contracted a company called MarketPlace Development to manage and market the retail and restaurant offerings at both National and Dulles. (Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport is owned by the Maryland Aviation Administration, so don’t take up your gripes about the food there with MWAA.)  “About 85 percent of [leases] had expired or would be expiring in the next couple of years,” says Steve Baker, the authority’s vice president of business administration. “It gave us the chance to really update our program probably for the first time since the airports authority was created.” In the coming years, Dulles and National will revamp 150 shops and restaurants in total. The latest wave of new eating options was announced just last week.  Read more Flight of Fancy: Local Airports Are Getting a Dining Overhaul

The Sheppard Breaks Its Own No-Photos Policy

Washingtonian at the Sheppard

The Sheppard has just one rule: no photos. That rule has not only applied to cocktail drinkers with smartphones, but also to media writing stories about the "speakeasy" from Spike Mendelsohn and Vinoda Basnayake.

When Y&H asked the bar's New York-based publicist if we could send Washington City Paper's staff photographer to get a few shots of the interior for a print feature this summer, she replied: "No photos of the inside are allowed, unfortunately. You can shoot outside of the building or the lobby if that works for you. Otherwise, I have some stock images I can pass your way."

And when I took a few snapshots on my own and wrote about it as part of a larger story about phones in restaurants, Mendelsohn chastised me on Twitter:

We hashed out the debate further on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, which you can listen to here. Read more The Sheppard Breaks Its Own No-Photos Policy

Thai X-ing Opens Second, Larger Location Off U Street NW

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There are now two places to eat Thai X-ing's famous pumpkin curry. The Thai restaurant from chef Taw Vigsittaboot has expanded beyond its rowhouse at 515 Florida Ave. NW to a second location, which opened yesterday near the 9:30 Club.

Like the original, the new spot has no menu. Instead diners are treated to a parade of about seven family-style courses for $30 to $40. The opening night menu began with a vegetable soup and green papaya salad with cherry, tomatoes, green beans, and crushed peanuts. That was followed by lime-dressed glass noodles with minced chicken, peppers, herbs, and (curiously) black olives as well as wide noodles with fried tofu and peanuts. Two curries included the restaurant's popular pumpkin curry and another with root vegetables, pineapple, and tofu. Mango and sticky rice was dessert. Read more Thai X-ing Opens Second, Larger Location Off U Street NW

Taylor Gourmet Now Serving Cheesesteaks

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Taylor Charles Steak & Ice may be gone, but cheesesteaks are making a comeback at all Taylor Gourmet locations beginning today. Owners Casey Patten and David Mazza closed their H Street NE cheesesteak spot at the beginning of the year to make way for Pizza Parts & Service. Now, at last, they are making good on their repeated promise that "cheesesteaks are not dead."

Instead of the mix-and-match cheesesteak options that were available at Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, Taylor Gourmet has just three preset versions of the Philly staple. Each includes a choice of beef ribeye or chicken breast and American or provolone cheese. A classic version comes with meat, cheese, and grilled onions or mushrooms. There's also a cheesesteak with cherry pepper mayo, lettuce, roma tomato, and red onion, and another with marinara sauce and pepperoncini. All the cheesesteaks are $9.99. 

Check out the full fall/winter menu below. Read more Taylor Gourmet Now Serving Cheesesteaks

Last Night’s Leftovers: Metro Eats

20121218_metro_map-1_345x234Where to eat at every Metro stop [Thrillist]

Sakuramen expanding to upstairs space in Adams Morgan. [PoPville]

Ten places to get your pumpkin fix [Zagat]

Tom Sietsema recommends the fluke and the baked Alaska at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. [Post]

Meet the woman who's worked 51 years and only called out sick once. [Eater]

New York's The Smith not coming to CityCenterDC but still looking in D.C. [WBJ]

Drunk teen tries to stab people at Ballston sports bar. [ARLnow]

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

Spawn of Seitan: Native Foods Cafe Opens Today With All-Vegan Menu

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A bacon cheeseburger without bacon or beef is not actually a bacon cheeseburger. But that's not stopping Native Foods Cafe, an all-vegan fast-casual restaurant that opened at 18th and M streets NW today, from calling its seitan patty an "Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger." The restaurant, founded in Palm Springs in 1994, has locations throughout California as well as Illinois, Oregon, and Colorado. And in addition to its new downtown D.C. locale, it's coming to Penn Quarter, too. I braved the long line (stretching out the door!) to taste test three dishes that seemed least suited to veganization.  Read more Spawn of Seitan: Native Foods Cafe Opens Today With All-Vegan Menu

Gut Reaction: Try the New Traditional Thai Menu at Tsunami Sushi

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Despite the restaurant's name, sushi is not what you want to order at Logan Circle's Tsunami Sushi & Lounge. Located above and from the same owners as Thai Tanic, the place was previously limited to so-so spicy tuna rolls and unadventurous nigiri platters.

But about a month ago, the restaurant debuted a new Thai menu, under the name Baan Thai, in response to all the customers who came upstairs asking for Thai food. Instead of Americanized Thai staples like pad thai and panang curry that you'll find at Thai Tanic, the upstairs restaurant features a completely separate menu—no substitutions allowed—with more authentic dishes from across Thailand, including the more sour, funky, spicy flavors of the northern part of the country. It's one of the most unexpectedly delicious meals I've had in a while.

The crispy rice cakes are a worthy starter. The puffed-up crackers come with a sweet-savory dipping sauce of ground chicken and shrimp, ground peanuts, onions, and coconut milk. Meanwhile, a bamboo shoot salad dressed with chilies, lime juice, scallions, shallots, mint, cilantro, and roasted rice powder tastes just like something you'd find at Little SerowRead more Gut Reaction: Try the New Traditional Thai Menu at Tsunami Sushi

Last Night’s Leftovers: Kimchi Edition

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Where to find kimchi on everything from tostadas to hot dogs [NoVa Mag]

11 hottest brunches in D.C. [Zagat]

Alba Osteria owner to open French restaurant in Mount Vernon Triangle [WBJ]

Tom Sietsema's number 10 restaurant this fall is Boss Shepherd's. [Post]

Rudy's Mediterranean Grill returns to Tel'Veh Wine Bar. [Popville]

Zabver Thai takes over former Adam Express space in Mount Pleasant. [The 42]

Zentan becomes an izakaya and hires a new chef. [Washingtonian]

Willie's Bar opens in Chevy Chase. [Eater]

Kimchi photo via Shutterstock

Sabra Opens Georgetown Pop-Up Restaurant Devoted Entirely to (Duh) Hummus

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Pop-up restaurants are going corporate. Hummus-maker Sabra will be shilling its products with a month-long eatery in Georgetown called Hummus House. The temporary restaurant will serve daily lunch and dinner starting at 6 p.m. today through Oct. 26.

“The focus and star of the restaurant is really hummus,” says former Food Network Star contestant Mary Beth Albright, who will serve as Hummus House chef. “A lot of people eat hummus plain, but we’re putting on a lot of different combinations that maybe people haven’t thought of.”

The menu features hummus dishes almost exclusively: sundried tomato hummus paninis; a microgreen and farro salad with hummus vinaigrette; a “global tostada” that layers tortillas with hummus, guacamole, and cilantro-lime slaw; and of course, just plain hummus. Some other highlights include made-to-order hummus and an “East Meets West” platter that includes three hummus samplings with topping combinations like edamame, crystallized ginger, and sesame oil or roasted pepitas and pumpkin oil.

Read more Sabra Opens Georgetown Pop-Up Restaurant Devoted Entirely to (Duh) Hummus

Chef Barry Koslow Swaps Pastrami for Pancetta at Pinea

Pinea Restaurant – W Hotel Washington DCOne of the biggest differences transitioning from Jewish deli food to Mediterranean? "I can cook with a lot of pork again," says chef Barry Koslow, "which is something I kind of missed." The former DGS Delicatessen chef is now overseeing the kitchen at Pinea, a "Southern European" restaurant that opens Oct. 1 in the W hotel.

But the move is about much more than a bounty of prosciutto and shellfish. "Mainly it was just a great opportunity to open another place and work in an awesome hotel that wanted to do something cool," he says. The new job also gets him closer to his fine dining roots, which means "a price point where I can really go out and bring in the best of everything." (Koslow previously worked at Citronelle, 2941 Restaurant, and Circle Bistro.)

The W decided to go with the Mediterranean theme at the suggestion of a consulting firm's market research and analysis, Koslow says. "It's a way to try to figure how not to do what everyone else is doing, but to do something that still will fit with what is happening in your neighborhood," he says. "A lot of hotels use that sort of formula to come up with concepts." Read more Chef Barry Koslow Swaps Pastrami for Pancetta at Pinea

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