Last weekend, Taste of D.C., a street festival showcasing a selection of restaurants in the District, took over Pennsylvania Avenue near The White House. Each restaurant at the event offered a tasting menu that required a certain amount of tickets, which could be purchased in advance online or at the festival that day.
When we spotted mini-lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster for five tickets each, Paul (my festival-going companion) and I thought we’d give them a try. Luke’s Lobster, a New York City-based restaurant serving fresh lobster, crab and shrimp roll, is located in D.C.’s Penn Quarter.
The lobster meat was served chilled in a toasted buttery bun with mayo. I didn’t expect the meat to be cold, but I really enjoyed it. The seasoning added a kick as well (I’m pretty sure it had some Old Bay in it).
Luke’s Lobster was just one of the interesting places I tried. Food tents from familiar D.C. spots, such as Ben’s Chili Bowl, BGR The Burger Joint and Medium Rare lined Pennsylvania Avenue near Metro Center station.
Ben’s Chili Bowl offered their famous half-smoke and chili con carne. Paul and I decided to share a half smoke, but this was a poor idea. Positive that I got away with the larger piece, Paul spent a good 15 minutes pouting over the loss of possibly two centimeters of half smoke. That’s just how good they are. Next time, we’ll each get our own!
In addition to Luke’s, we discovered Etete, an Ethiopian restaurant near U Street Station. This time, it was the other way around – Paul had never tried Ethiopian food before. The restaurant offered injera, the spongy flatbread used to scoop up stews of meat and vegetables. Essentially, injera is an edible eating utensil with the added bonus of soaking up sauces and juices from the meal.
To accompany the injera, Etete offered tender pieces of beef sauteed with peppers, tomatoes and onions. Paul refused to eat the flatbread with his hands, so I found some chopsticks for him, shaking my head the entire time. We both loved the savory flavors and spices.
Other places we tried included Amsterdam Falafelshop’s twice-cooked Dutch fries (I had two portions!), a vegetable spring roll from Mai Thai in Georgetown, California rolls from Sushi Rock in Clarendon and mac n’ cheese topped with chocolate covered bacon from Co. Co. Sala near Metro Center station.
We also wandered through a beer and wine tent, offering Dixie Cup-sized tastings. Each beer was one ticket, and most of the wines were two tickets. My absolute favorite beer was from Max Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church. The Oktoberfest I tried was by far one of the best I’ve ever had – smooth and not too hoppy with a slightly sweet aftertaste.
Taste of D.C. was a great way to introduce myself to more of D.C.’s vibrant restaurant scene. Now I have more places I can’t wait to try and write about!