Food & Drink

D.C.’s Food Court: Fine Dining, Food Trucks and Everything in Between

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(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

In D.C., two things are certain: Politics and food. From the latest restaurants to the newest trends, we got you covered with a smorgasbord of information. Email me [Courtney] at FoodCourt@wnew.com with your Food Blog ideas!

NY Times Creates List of Most Googled Distinct Thanksgiving Dishes in Each State

The New York Times has put out another Thanksgiving list, following the controversial one from the Food section a few weeks ago about which Turkey Day dishes “evoke each of the 50 states” the most.

Many comments on the Times’ Facebook page seemed to indicate that some people had even never heard of, let alone eaten, the dishes assigned to their state on the first list. Minnesotans seemed particularly irked by the idea of “grape salad” being their signature side.

“The piece – and the many reactions to it – got us wondering what a democratic version of the project might look like,” the Times wrote in a new piece, published Tuesday. “That is, if the residents of every state could vote for distinct Thanksgiving dishes, what would each state’s dish be?”

As it turns out, still pretty weird. With help from Google researchers, the Times says it found the most distinct searched-for dish in every state. They left out the ones that show up a lot everywhere, like turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing, because those staples aren’t really specific to any one area of the country.

Sauerkraut, apparently a popular Thanksgiving dish in Baltimore, led the Google analysis for Maryland. Meanwhile, a lot of Virginians looked to the search engine for collard greens recipes. Washingtonians wanted help finding corn pudding recipes.

Nothing super out of the ordinary locally, but we want to know what is so appealing about “frog eye salad,” a popular dish in Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming and Colorado, and what on Earth a Louisiana “mirliton casserole” is.

Also, in case you were wondering, Minnesotans did not search for grape salad recipes most often (or at all), but rather wild rice casserole.

To see the wide range of Thanksgiving favorites throughout the U.S., visit NYTimes.com.

Coca-Cola Releasing It’s Own Brand of Milk

The famous caramel colored beverage company is taking a trip to the dairy farm. Coca-Cola will soon release its own brand of milk.

The milk, called Fairlife, will have 50 percent more protein and 50 percent less sugar than regular milk.

You might remember Fairlife getting some flak earlier this year when it launched in Minnesota. It’s controversial ads depicted women in dresses made out of milk.

The company says it’s looking to emulate the Simply juice line, which is marketed as healthier, never sweetened and never frozen.

Beloved College Park Pizza Joint to Close

The iconic “PIZZA SUBS WINGS” sign belonging to Ratsie’s, the Route One pizza joint in College Park, will go dark soon, according to The Diamondback.

While the college town has been inundated with pizza restaurants in recent years, owner Mike Falamoun says he’s closing up shop simply because the job is tiring and he needs a break.

The Diamondback report says Nando’s Peri-Peri, a Portuguese flame-grilled chicken chain, will move into the Ratsie’s building.

An exact date for when Ratsie’s will close is not yet known.

Budweiser: No Clydesdales For 2014 Holiday Ads

Everyone’s favorite beer-hauling horsies will be benched this holiday season because Anheuser-Busch has decided to aim its advertising at younger consumers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With light beers, craft beers and malt beverages taking up more of the market than they used to, classic Budweiser is getting crowded out, the report says.

Apparently, the people in charge of advertising decisions at A-B have ruled that getting 21- to 27-year-olds to pop a tab on a Bud should not involve the iconic Clydesdale campaign.

Though many will undoubtedly be bummed to see the equines kicked to the curb, going after a younger demographic now may pay off.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association says 2013 saw the largest number of new drinkers since the Baby Boom, with about 4.6 million people turning 21.

New Phone App Gives You Personalized Beer and Wine Recommendations

A new free app called “Next Glass” (for iPhone AND Android) helps you pick out new beers and wines to try based on what you already like.

The Next Glass description on iTunes and the Google Play Store says you build a “Taste Profile” by rating your favorites, then scan labels while you’re at the store to get a personal score for that brand. You can also search for brand names at home to find out how much you’re likely to enjoy them.

“Next Glass has tested tens of thousands of wines and beers, analyzing over 20,000 compounds within each bottle to identify what the tongue perceives as ‘taste’. The chemical makeup (or ‘DNA’) of each bottle is then stored in our one-of-a-kind Genome Cellar.”

So, basically, it’s like Pandora for booze. There’s also a social media element that allows you to see your friends’ preferences if you’re shopping for a party or gathering.

Check out a video description of how the app works below.

Cat Cafe “Crumbs and Whiskers” Announced Plans to Open in D.C.

The plans are all very mysterious right now, but a “cat cafe” called Crumbs & Whiskers says it plans to be D.C.’s first feline-friendly food establishment.

According to the website, a Kickstarter will soon be launched for the project.

To keep up with the plans for C&W, sign up for updates on the site, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Starbucks Offering BOGO on Holiday Drinks Through Nov. 16

Starbucks will be offering a BOGO deal on its holiday beverages from 2 to 5 p.m. through Nov. 16.

For My Starbucks Rewards members, the happy hour lasts until 6 p.m.

This will give you a chance to try the chain’s first new holiday drink in five years, the chestnut praline latte, on discount. You can also enjoy one of the other red-cup favorites: peppermint mocha and caramel brulée latte.

Dunkin’ Donuts Introduces Its Answer to the Cronut

Not only has Dunkin’ Donuts finally taken the “cronut” craze mainstream, but you can get a free “Croissant Donut” in Arlington today (Nov. 13) and potentially win a year’s supply of donuts, too.

The Dunkin’ Donuts Croissant Donut Truck (which is on tour at the moment) will be parked at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Fort Myer Drive this morning from 7 to 9 a.m., and visitors can pick up a Croissant Donut and dark roast coffee on the house (or on the truck?).

Post a photo of yourself at the truck on Instagram, Twitter or the Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page with the hashtag #CroissantDDonut and you could win a Dunkin’ gift card, as well.

Mom’s Organic Market Opening First D.C. Store Friday

Mom’s Organic Market will open its first D.C. store in Ward 5 this weekend, as part of Douglas Development Corportation’s mixed-use Hecht Warehouse District on New York Avenue NE.

The grand opening, which runs Friday through Sunday, will include local samples, kid’s activities, and reusable MOM’s bags packed with goodies (while supplies last). Five percent of grand opening sales will be donated to Sasha Bruce Youthwork (SBY), a local youth shelter and services provider.

This comes as good news to the Ward, parts of which the United States Department of Agriculture classifies as a “food dessert,” or an urban area where a significant number of residents live a mile or more away from the nearest supermarket.

The opening comes just a bit more than a week after the city’s fourth Harris Teeter opened on 4th Street SE, in the new Forest City Washington mixed-use center in Ward 6. That chain now has four locations in D.C.

Huge Food Convention Coming To D.C. This Weekend (Nov. 8-9)

MetroCooking DC’s Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this weekend, and will feature celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri.

Tickets cost between $10 and $500, depending on the events you choose to participate in.

Exhibitions include tasting and entertaining workshops, celebrity book signings and cooking presentations.

Get all the details about the event on MetroCookingDC.com.


Courthouse California Tortilla in Arlington Offers Free Burritos Thursday

The California Tortilla at 2057 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington has a new franchise owner and has been closed for renovations, according to ARLnow.com.

To celebrate its reopening, all customers can get a free burrito and a drink from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The first 20 customers in line will win free burritos for a year.


D.C. Ramen Restaurant Offers Special Menu For Godzilla’s Birthday

Godzilla’s birthday was apparently Monday (Nov. 3), and a D.C. Ramen restaurant will be offering specials throughout the week to celebrate.

Daikaya, located at 705 6th Street NW, also had a party and film screening for the movie monster.


Harris Teeter Opens 4th D.C. Location

D.C. got a new mayor and legalized recreational marijuana Tuesday, but something else big happened, too… at least if you’re a foodie.

The city’s fourth Harris Teeter opened on 4th Street SE, in the new Forest City Washington mixed-use center.

The high-end grocery chain now has four locations in D.C., five if you count the one in Arlington.


The Most Trending Halloween Candy in 2014 for Each State

A map put together by SumoCoupon shows the trendiest treat in each state, determined by Google searches.

(Photo/Map by SumoCoupon)

(Photo/Map by SumoCoupon)

For Maryland, a treat most might not even consider candy made the top trending Halloween treat…raisins. Virginia also has a questionable treat show up. Although it is candy, it’s not necessarily a popular choice, or one you see often — Pez.

The map also includes D.C. with a treat most people can get on board with — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.


Celebrate American Beer Day With Award-Winning Local Brews

The 2014 Great American Beer Festival competition (the largest commercial beer competition in the world, held October 2-4) awarded more than 250 medals to commercial breweries throughout the United States.

The competition involves a blind taste test from industry professionals in each specified style category to identify the three beers that best represent each style.

Below are the local beers and breweries that medaled. If you’re celebrating American Beer Day, consider doing so with a bottle of one of these.

Gold

  • Rauchbier, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Annapolis, MD, Smoke Beer
  • Schwartz Bier, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, German-Style Schwarzbier

Silver

  • The Citizen, DC Brau Brewing Co., DC, Belgian- and French-Style Ale
  • Turbo Cougar, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, Bock
  • Belgian IPA, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Rockville MD, American-Belgo-Style Ale
  • Old Pro Gose, Union Craft Brewing, MD, German-Style Sour Ale

Bronze

  • Sweet Baby Jesus!, DuClaw Brewing Co., MD, Chocolate Beer
  • Gold, Heavy Seas Beer, MD, Golden or Blonde Ale
  • Alt Bier, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, German-Style Altbier
  • “Hydraulion” Red, Three Notch’d Brewing Co., VA, Irish-Style Red Ale

To see if your favorite beer is on the full list of winners, click here.


Dutch Guys Fool Food Expo Attendees Into Complimenting McDonald’s

You may be familiar with the Jimmy Kimmel Live segment, “Lie Witness News,” during which crews from the show do things like go to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and ask people their opinions on bands that do not exist.

People (the ones who make it on air, anyway) pretend to be knowledgeable so they don’t look dumb on camera. Of course, the end result is they end up looking REALLY dumb.

Well, a couple of Dutch guys have adopted this concept to fool foodies into thinking McDonald’s grub is delicious.

The video begins with footage of them visiting a McDonald’s, buying several menu items and deconstructing them — cutting them up into smaller pieces and arranging them so they won’t be recognizable.

Then they drive to a food expo to, as the English subtitles explain, “serve some McDonald’s snacks to the biggest food experts of the Benelux [Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg], yet telling them they’re trying out a new, organic alternative to fastfood.”

The video shows several expo attendees reacting well to the food, and then the pranksters begin asking them specifically how the snacks compare to McDonald’s.

That’s when things get funny for us, but embarrassing for the people on film.

Watch the video below, and click “settings” to add the English subtitles.


Starbucks Announces New Holiday Latte

You COULD roast chestnuts on an open fire this holiday season. Or you could take the easy route and head to your local Starbucks.

This year, the coffee chain will introduce its first new holiday beverage in five years. The chestnut praline latte will be alongside other winter favorites like the eggnog latte and peppermint mocha.

According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, the addition of new drink is one of many initiatives to boost end-of-year sales, which dropped off last year due to more customers skipping the mall and turning to online retailers, instead.

“Holiday 2013 witnessed a seismic shift in consumer behavior in which many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers experienced a decline in foot traffic compared to significant growth in online shopping,” he says.

“Since that time, we have been focused on radically redefining the Starbucks retail experience for our partners, customers and stores. As a result of the work we’ve done, Starbucks is poised for a great holiday – our innovation pipeline is strong and we have a number of initiatives ready to launch during the holiday and into calendar 2015 and beyond.”


Lay’s Do us a Flavor Contest Winner Announced

Starting in July, the race was on between four fan-submitted Lay’s potato chip flavor ideas.

Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese, Cappuccino, Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger were in the running, and consumers could vote on Facebook and Twitter for their favorite.

Well, the votes are in, and Wasabi Ginger is the champion. About 1 million votes were cast online for the promotion, according to an Associated Press report.

The woman behind the idea, a nurse from New Jersey, will get $1 million or a portion of a year in sales, whichever is more.

Last year’s Do us a Flavor contest winner, Cheesy Garlic Bread, is still on shelves.


Carve Yourself a Pumpkin Keg

Pumpkin beer straight from the tap or liquor store is so last year. Now you can take a new twist on carving pumpkins and actually carve yourself a pumpkin keg.

The good folks at Mashable created a video of how to turn your pumpkin into a beer keg, and it may not be as complicated as you think.

Here’s what you need:

- Medium to large-sized pumpkin

- Large carving knife

- Pumpkin carving kit, or small carving knife

- Marker

- Spigot

- Spoon

- Bucket

Once you have the materials, carve out the top of the pumpkin, remove the seeds and pulp (like you would for a jack-o-lantern) and then make room for the spigot.

See the video and full instructions HERE.


Open Table Releases List of Best Wine Restaurants

You know what they say. Life is too short to drink bad wine.

Thank goodness, then, for Open Table’s newly released list of the restaurants with the best wine lists in the U.S. The reservation site says it analyzed more than 5 million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country to compile the list. Here are the local restaurants that made the cut by “offering the finest selections to complement every dish.”

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar
Columbia, Md.
Italian

Bistro Blanc
Glenelg, Md.
Contemporary American

Cinghiale – Enoteca
Baltimore, Md.
Italian

The Curious Grape
Arlington, Va.
Contemporary American

Grand Cru Wine Bar & Bistro
Arlington, Va.
French American

Iron Bridge Wine Company
Columbia, Md.
Contemporary American

Pairings Bistro
Bel Air, Md.
Contemporary European

The Vineyard Wine Bar
Havre De Grace, Md.
Tapas / Small Plates

Vino Volo
Bethesda, Md.
Contemporary American

The Wine Kitchen on the Creek
Frederick, Md.
American

WK Hearth
Purcellville, Va.
Italian

See the full list HERE.


Several Local Independent Restaurants Among Top-Grossing in U.S.

Restaurant Business Magazine (RBM) is out with its annual list of the 100 top-grossing independent eateries in the nation, and several from our area made the list.

3. Old Ebbitt Grill, D.C. — $26,687,861
The highest ranking establishment from our area is this historic restaurant located near the White House. Having opened in 1856 as a saloon, several presidents were known to dine and drink there. According to its website, Old Ebbitt serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and is famous for its oysters. (owned by Clyde’s Restaurant Group)
Average check size: $40
Square footage: 25,000
Number of seats: 508
Number of meals sold: 600,000

15. The Hamilton, D.C. — $17,855,655
The Hamilton’s restaurant serves everything from burgers to sushi, and its music venue serves up live tunes. (owned by Clyde’s Restaurant Group)
Average check size: $45
Square footage: 40,000
Number of seats: 1,000
Number of meals sold: 400,000

34. Sequoia, D.C. — $15,000,000
Sequoia has every kind of seafood you could imagine, plus views of the Potomac, the Kennedy Center, Roosevelt Island and the Virginia skyline. The menu items tend towards Latin flare.
Average check size: $46
Square footage: 26,000
Number of seats: 1,000
Number of meals sold: 300,000

62. Mike’s “American”, Springfield, VA — $12,880,000
Mike’s “American” lives up to its name with burgers, classic beef dishes, roasted chicken and ribs on the menu. As for decor, it’s all about neon, baseball and other Americana flares. (Owned by Great American Restaurants)
Average check size: $26
Square footage: 44,049
Number of seats: 300
Number of meals sold: 440,000

71. Tower Oaks Lodge, Rockville, MD — $11,800,002
Timber, fireplaces and a boathouse bar define this rustic restaurant, which serves up hardy surf and turf options and also offers a raw bar. (owned by Clyde’s Restaurant Group)
Average check size: $23
Square footage: 21,000
Number of seats: 525
Number of meals sold: 450,000

82. Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food & Lucky Lounge, Reston, VA — $11,200,001
This restaurant describes itself as “an upbeat 1940’s dinner house,” and it’s menu is enticing if you’re in the mood for beef or fish filets. It even has a few sushi rolls available. (Owned by Great American Restaurants)
Average check size: $26
Square footage: 11,000
Number of seats: 260
Number of meals sold: 415,000

94. Coastal Flats, Fairfax, VA — $10,560,000
Don’t be afraid to wear flip-flops to this beach-themed joint, which serves a lot of seafood sandwiches and entrees. (Owned by Great American Restaurants)
Average check size: $25
Number of seats: 180
Number of meals sold: 400,000

98. Willow Creek Farm, Broadlands, VA — $10,220,570
Reminiscent of the 1800s with its stone and timber dining room decorated with weather vanes, Willow Creek Farm’s menu is full of stick-to-your-ribs dishes like chicken cassoulet and pumpkin ravioli. (owned by Clyde’s Restaurant Group)
Average check size: $29
Square footage: 35,000
Number of seats: 782
Number of meals sold: 361,000

100. Sweetwater Tavern, Falls Church, VA — $9,890,000
It’s all about beer at this microbrewery but if you want something to wash down, it has all the basics — burgers, ribs, steak, roasted chicken and a few seafood and pasta options. (Owned by Great American Restaurants)
Average check size: $24
Square footage: 21,144
Number of seats: 280
Number of meals sold: 400,000

See the full list HERE.


Local Breweries Medal at Essentially the Olympics of American Beer

The 2014 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition (October 2-4) awarded more than 250 medals to commercial breweries throughout the United States. GABF is the largest commercial beer competition in the world. This was its 28th year.

GABF invites industry professionals from around the world to blindly taste beers in each specified style category to identify the three beers that best represent each style.

Here are the local breweries that medaled:

Gold

  • Rauchbier, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Annapolis, MD, Smoke Beer
  • Schwartz Bier, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, German-Style Schwarzbier

Silver

  • The Citizen, DC Brau Brewing Co., DC, Belgian- and French-Style Ale
  • Turbo Cougar, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, Bock
  • Belgian IPA, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, Rockville MD, American-Belgo-Style Ale
  • Old Pro Gose, Union Craft Brewing, MD, German-Style Sour Ale

Bronze

  • Sweet Baby Jesus!, DuClaw Brewing Co., MD, Chocolate Beer
  • Gold, Heavy Seas Beer, MD, Golden or Blonde Ale
  • Alt Bier, Devils Backbone Brewing Co., VA, German-Style Altbier
  • “Hydraulion” Red, Three Notch’d Brewing Co., VA, Irish-Style Red Ale

To see if your favorite beer is on the full list of winners, click here.


Pumpkin Spice Mania

It’s that time of year again — when pumpkin, apple spice and candy corn-flavored wares seem to fill the shelves of grocery and liquor stores everywhere. Check out our list of the most interesting specialty products you can find out there this season.


Soda Makers Pledge to Reduce Calorie Consumption

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper said Tuesday they’ll work to reduce the calories Americans get from beverages by 20 percent over the next decade by more aggressively marketing smaller sizes, bottled water and diet drinks.

In recent years, soda makers have faced pressure over the role sugary drinks play in fueling obesity rates. READ MORE


Thrillist Creates Metro Food Map

Thrillist has created a map that shows you which restaurants are closest to each Metro stop. Check it out HERE.


Krispy Kreme To Offer “Ghostbusters” Doughnuts

There’s something delicious in the neighborhood. If you live near a Krispy Kreme, that is.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Ghostbusters,” Krispy Kreme and Sony Pictures have crossed streams joined forces to produce two commemorative doughnuts that will be available in stores Sept. 29 through Oct. 31.

One is described as a marshmallow Kreme-filled shell topped with a Slimer-inspired green splat of ectoplasmic residue icing and the Ghostbusters logo. The other, also marshmallow Kreme-filled, is decorated with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s face and his hat, made of hardened sugar.

Photo credit: Krispy Kreme

Photo credit: Krispy Kreme

To find a Krispy Kreme near you, click here.


Eating Guide: Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the two-day celebration of the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday evening.

Into a holiday feast, but not so into making it? We have a guide to local restaurants offering special foods for the high holiday HERE.

Or if you want to drink to celebrate instead, you can make your own sparkly cocktail featuring classic Rosh Hashanah flavors: apple and honey.


In-N-Out Delivering Frozen Burgers

For one day, D.C. residents won’t have to travel all the way to the West Coast to get a famous In-N-Out burger.

OrderAhead, a food delivery app, just launched in DC and has an offer for “Double Double” burgers to be delivered straight to your doorstep on Thursday, Sept. 25.

After filling out the online order form you download the app and pay for it Thursday. Then enjoy your frozen burger after nuking it in the microwave.

OrderAhead also offers delivery and pickup from several D.C. restaurants including Smoke & Barrel and Ben’s Chili Bowl – whose food is fresh, not frozen, of course.


Oktoberfests in the DMV

You don’t have to fly to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest — just take a quick trip to D.C., Maryland or Virginia and partake in beer-centered festivities.

Click here to see our guide of upcoming Oktoberfests in the D.C./Baltimore area.


Starbucks Testing Stout Latte

In select markets in Ohio and Florida, Starbucks is testing a latte that it says has the “savory toasty malt” flavor of a foamy mug of stout.

Read more about the beer-flavored brew here.


&pizza Bringing 9 New Locations to the DMV

&pizza, the local, assembly-line style pizza chain commonly referred to as “the Chipotle of pizza places,” is bringing 9 new locations to D.C., Maryland and Virginia by early 2015.

Currently, there are five &pizza shops in D.C. and one in Bethesda.

Coming soon: A much anticipated Virginia location (in the Springfield mall), three Maryland locations (one in Gaithersburg, one in Germantown and one TBA), a location in both Dulles and Reagan National airports and an additional three in D.C.


Butter is Coffee’s New Best Friend

Forget zero-calorie sweeteners and “skinny” lattes – butter is the new trend for coffee lovers.

Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Coffee, is credited with the trend. Asprey’s recipe calls for blending the butter and coffee to make it a frothy, creamy drink.

He says everyone from celebrities to business executives are taking their morning coffee with butter now and drinking it in place of breakfast.

But not just any butter will do. The Bulletproof concoction requires you use two tablespoons of grass-fed butter because of its higher fat content.

Fans of the drink claim the butter’s high-fat content will slow the time it takes for your body to metabolize the caffeine, giving you prolonged energy. However, critics of buttery coffee say it’s not healthy.


DC VegFest, Capitol Bacon Festival Both Coming to Capitol Riverfront Saturday

Just a few blocks away from each other, veggie enthusiasts and bacon lovers will be gathering near Nats Park for food festivals this weekend.

The Vegetarian Society of DC founded DC VegFest, which “aims to highlight how easy and delicious it is to choose vegetarian foods in and around the nation’s capital” in 1997.

Admission and food samples are free, and the festival will also feature more than 100 vendors, a beer garden, live music, cooking demos and presentations from authors and food celebs.

VegFest will be held at Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Then from 1 to 7 p.m., the inaugural Capitol Bacon Festival (at the Half Street Fairgrounds) will feature bacon eating contests, bacon cooking demonstrations, live music, bacon cooking competitions, full service bars and a vendor village.

Organizers describe the festival as a “bacon-themed block party.”

General admission tickets are $25.


H Street Festival Will Have Marinara Dunk Tank, Eating Contests

Among other things, this year’s H Street Festival (Sept. 20) will feature several eating contests and a marinara sauce dunk tank.

Pizza Parts & Service is behind the dunk tank; according to its Facebook page, buying two slices of pizza will also get you three free throws. If you manage to dunk someone, you’ll get an entire pie on the house.

Po Boy Jim is hosting one of the eating contests, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The winner will get a trophy and the opportunity to customize and name a po boy to be on special at the restaurant during the first week of October.

Ben’s Chili Bowl will host its second annual half smoke eating contest, and the official H Street Festival events page says the Ben’s Chili Bowl Fashion Stage (at 10th Street) will host burrito and pie eating contests, too.

Lots of H Street restaurants will also offer festival specials.


Testicle Festival Coming To D.C.

Just when you foodies thought you’d sampled everything D.C. has to offer, along comes The Festicle.

In case the title doesn’t make it clear enough, it’s a festival featuring a celebrity chef testicle cook-off. That’s right, Rocky Mountain oyster fans. This is your chance to get your hands on some professionally-prepared animal genitals.

To be held at the D.C. fairgrounds (1299 Half Street SE) on Sept. 21, the event will also feature bands, “micro-wrestling” and aerial performances. Tickets cost between $20 and $25. You can purchase them here.

Festicle organizers advise you to “step right up and have a ball (literally).” No word on if there will be grilled wieners available for those who don’t prefer roasted nuts.

For updates, follow TheFesticle on Twitter or Facebook.


Chuy’s Opens Location in Fairfax

A favorite restaurant among Texans has opened its first location in northern Virginia.

Chuy’s famous “big as yo’ face” burritos, Chuychangas, margaritas and “Texas martinis” can now be found at 11219 Lee Highway in Fairfax.

The restaurant is known for fun decor, and this one will be no different.

There’s already chatter about a nacho bar car, a nacho bar inside a vintage car trunk. Bonus — the nacho bar is free to visit during happy hour, according to Washingtonian.


It’s National Cheeseburger Day!

It seems like every food has it’s own “day” anymore, but if there’s one you should celebrate as an American, it’s this one.

It’s National Cheeseburger Day, and we have lists of the best creative burgers in the District and in Baltimore.


Olive Garden Defends Report Attacking Its Breadsticks

You can get much further with a kind word and breadsticks than you can with a kind word alone. A famed Italian-American said that once… or something similar.

And Olive Garden’s parent company (Darden Restaurants Inc.) said essentially the same thing Monday in response to a nearly 300-page report penned by restaurant investor Starboard Value that dissed the Italian chain’s practice of liberally distributing breadsticks to customers.

Starboard is lobbying to gain control of Darden’s board of directors at the company’s annual meeting Oct. 10, according to the Associated Press.

But Darden, even though it has struggled to boost sales at Olive Garden recently, says its bread baskets convey “Italian generosity” and “have been an icon of brand equity since 1982.”

To read more about the breadstick bickering, click here. Starboard also criticized Olive Garden’s salad and dressing techniques, its apparently-unsalted pasta water and even the length of its asparagus spears.


Southern Comfort Introduces Gingerbread Spice Flavor

Everyone’s all about pumpkin spice right now, but Southern Comfort is already looking ahead to the holidays.

Starting in October, you’ll be able to buy a Gingerbread Spice-flavored version of the New Orleans liqueur, according to FoodBeast.

Be forewarned, though, traditional Southern Comfort is 35 percent alcohol by volume. At just 15 percent, the Gingerbread Spice flavor is considerably weaker.


Red Robin’s Fall Menu Includes Baconized Shake

Through Nov. 2, of-age Red Robin fans will be able to enjoy a maple-y, bacon-y dessert along with their burgers and fries.

The Beam®-N-Bacon Boozy Shake is made with Jim Beam® Maple Bourbon, caramel and vanilla soft serve ice cream. It’s topped with bacon bits AND a strip of candied bacon.

A spiced pumpkin pie milkshake that was introduced last year is back on the menu through Nov. 2, too.


McDonald’s Trademarks ‘McBrunch’

The trendy midday meal known as brunch isn’t going anywhere, and it looks like the world’s biggest fast food chain knows it.

McDonald’s has filed a federal trademark registration for the word “McBrunch,” according to Burger Business.

The report says the chain applied for a similar trademark back in 2001, too, but later abandoned the pursuit.

However, considering the restaurant’s falling sales figures, the powers that be behind the golden arches may be looking to boost profits with fresh menu items.

As a matter of fact, The Associated Press wrote earlier this year that McDonald’s was eyeing making breakfast available past its famous 10:30 a.m. cutoff time.

There has also been increased competition within the fast-food breakfast market recently (here’s looking at you, Waffle Taco), which could have spurred Mickey D’s to up its game.


Hershey’s New Logo Causing A Stink

The Hershey Company has rolled out a new logo. Some like it, while others are saying it resembles an unappetizing emoji character. Read more and see the logo here.


Starbucks Announces Early Release of Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin lovers, rejoice! Fall is coming early. At least in the form of a latte.

Starbucks announced that the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte will be available on Aug. 26 instead of Sept. 1 this year. But you need a special password to get it.

Starbucks even went as far as creating a Twitter and Tumblr account for the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The orange-sunglasses-wearing latte announced a “Spot the Spice” challenge to give the beverage’s biggest fans an opportunity to bring the drink to their stores early. The account tweeted a daily clue beginning Aug. 21.

On Aug. 26, customers who show or say the password to a barista in their local Starbucks store will “unlock” the beverage early, making the seasonal latte available to everyone who visits the store.

The first customer who unlocks a store will be acknowledged by having his or her name displayed on an in-store sign.


D.C. Startup Delivers Hot, $6 Lunch To Your Office

Hot, healthy, fast and cheap.

Those are the principles behind MunchQuick, a company that launched June 30 in D.C. and is looking to show District foodies that high quality meals don’t have to be expensive, and that cheap takeout isn’t the only thing that can curb appetites quickly.

Read more about MunchQuick here.


D.C. Eatery Named Bon Appetit Magazine’s Best New Restaurant

A Capitol Hill eatery is garnering national attention for its delicious dishes and difficulty getting inside the door — but both are expected after it was named America’s “Best New Restaurant.”

Read more about Rose’s Luxury, on 8th Street SE, here.


Five Guys Testing Milkshakes in 3 Northern Va. Locations

Five Guys already has the burgers and fries down pat, and now the chain is testing out the third element of the ultimate American junk food trio. That’s right — milkshakes.

The shakes will start out as plain vanilla, but customers will be able to add cherries, chocolate, bacon, peanut butter, Oreos, coffee, bananas, salted caramel, strawberries and/or malted milk.

The local test stores are the locations on Quander Road in Alexandria, Ox Road in Lorton and Stafford Market Place in Stafford.

You may even be recognized as an Official Five Guys Milkshake Tester and win a t-shirt if you post a photo of your shake on Twitter along with the #ShareYourShake hashtag.

Happy slurping!


Saturday Is National Rum Day!

Captain Jack Sparrow will be delighted to hear it — Saturday is National Rum Day!

To celebrate, we have lists of special events going on in honor of the island liquor, and the best places to get an everyday rum cocktail in D.C. Click here to learn more.


Do You Pay Attention to the Salt Content of Your Food?

High sodium intake increases blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and most people consume nearly double the amount that is recommended by the World Health Organization.

While adults should get less than 2,000 milligrams of salt per day, the average intake is more like 3,950, according to a new report from The New England Journal of Medicine.

Calories are what most people look for when they are determining how healthy a food is, but salt content is also important to monitor.

Check out this list of the fast food dishes that contain the most sodium. Some menu items might surprise you, like the offenders from Starbucks and Subway.


Which Restaurants Have The Fastest Wi-Fi?

If you often find yourself making a decision on where to go for a meal or coffee based on the internet speeds available there, you’ll want to read this.

According to a recent OpenSignal.com report, Starbucks blows other restaurants away when it comes to getting online. Thanks to Google, the chain’s download speed is up to 9.01 megabits per second (mbps).

It’s fastest competing food chain, McDonald’s, is less than half that fast, at 4.187 mbps. After McDonald’s comes Tim Horton’s (1.901), Dunkin Donuts (1.723) and Panera (1.042).

All the Open Signal report’s data on internet speeds comes from users of the OpenSignal app.


SNL Celebrates 40 Years By Making Jokes Like ‘Schweddy Balls’ A Reality

Next year, Saturday Night Live will officially be “over the hill.” The big 4-0.

NBC is planning a three-hour live special for Feb. 15, but that’s not the only celebration it has in mind.

SNL has paired with IT’SUGAR to make fictional products like Schweddy Balls and Colon Blow cereal a reality. They will be available online and in stores starting Sept. 13.

There will also be novelty candy bars based on characters like Bill Hader’s Stefon, Molly Shannon’s “superstar” Mary Katherine Gallagher and The Ladies Man.


Dunkin’ Donuts “Take a Bite, Take a Pic” For Shark Week

Shark Week has become a must-see and even celebrated television series on the Discovery Channel, and it begins again on Sunday.

Dunkin’ Donuts decided to celebrate the return of Shark Week with their “Take a Bite, Take a Pic” promotion, where consumers snap a selfie taking a bite of a breakfast item.

It’s not all for nothing, though. Those who post their photos with the hashtag #DDSHARKWEEK could have their photo featured on Discovery’s “Shark After Dark” and Dunkin’ Donuts’ Times Square billboard, a Shark Week prize pack or a $100 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.


Richmond’s Famous Sugar Shack Opening NoVa Location

Sugar Shack Donuts, a Richmond, Virginia staple, is opening another location in Alexandria.

The shop’s first birthday was in June, but it has already made a USA Today list of the nation’s best doughnuts.

The report said the store is “lovingly designed and run” and has “whimsical menu.” Flavors include maple bacon, gingerbread and Samoa.

According to a August 4 Facebook post, the new store will open in a few months at 804 N. Henry Street and it will be run “in the exact same fashion” as the original. That means you can expect a lot of quirk.

Recently, Sugar Shack has tweeted photos of Pac-Man themed pastries and offers such as “free donuts for blowing a kiss to your favorite flavor.”


Dunkin’ Donuts Releases Coffee Donut

America’s favorite donut and coffee chain already has several flavors of donut-flavored coffee, but now it has finally made a delicious move in the other direction.

Dunkin’ Donuts shelves will now stock two new coffee-flavored donuts.

That’s right, you can now sip donut-flavored coffee while chowing down on coffee-flavored donuts. It’s a turvy topsy world.


Baltimore and D.C. Restaurant Weeks Are Upon Us

Baltimore Restaurant Week is here, but it’s actually more like Baltimore Restaurant week-and-a-half. That means it will butt right up to the beginning of D.C.’s restaurant week, which begins on Aug. 11.

From Aug. 1 through Aug. 10, a slew of Charm City eateries will be offering two-course lunches for $15 and/or three-course dinners for $20-$30. Some will even offer brunch specials.

If you don’t get your fill of fancy food in Baltimore, restaurants in D.C., northern Virginia and Maryland’s D.C. suburbs will offer specials Aug. 11 through Aug. 17.

For a full list of participating Baltimore spots, visit BaltimoreRestaurantWeek.com. To book a table for the District’s restaurant week, visit RAMW.org.


Wegmans Plans 2 New Locations Locally

Wegmans Food Markets says it plans to add 10 new stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions over the next year or two, including two locations in our area. Click here for more info.


All-You-Can-Eat Wings At Hooters Tuesday

Wear your loosest pants to work on Tuesday. In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, Hooters restaurants are offering an all-you-can-eat-deal on what is probably their most famous fare for just $12.99.

NationalChickenWingDay.com claims that Americans ate more than 27 billion chicken wings in 2013 and that 1.23 billion wings consumed during Super Bowl weekend alone.

In case you were wondering, July 29 has been National Chicken Wing Day, as proclaimed by then-Buffalo, New York Mayor Stan Makowski, since 1977.


Wendy’s Testing Build-You-Own-Sandwich Concept

Beef or chicken? Pretzel bun or regular bun? And what kind of sauce? You’ll have so many choices if the fast-casual style program Wendy’s is testing in Ohio becomes a reality through the rest of the country.

According to QSR magazine, a build-your-own-sandwich program would allow customers to choose from burger or chicken patties, several cheeses, toppings like lettuce, tomato, red onion and seven different sauces.

New menu offerings and restaurant redesigns have been part of a “brand transformation that CEO Emil Brolick has stressed since coming on board in 2011,” QSR reports.

You may have also noticed the new, millennial-friendly “Wendy’s girl” in the chain’s commercials and revamped logo.


Old Bay Doughnut Chicken Sandwich Makes Debut at Astro

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, which has a brick and mortar store on G Street NW and a food truck that operates in Virginia, launched its new Old Bay doughnut chicken sandwich today.

Two halves of an Old Bay doughnut (with Old Bay in the dough AND sprinkled on top) surround a fried chicken breast, locally sourced lettuce and tomato, and the customer’s choice of bbq, blue cheese, ranch, Sriracha, buffalo, or honey mustard dressing.

The $9 sandwich will be sold Monday through Friday in the store and Tuesday through Saturday on the truck. No word on how long it will be on the menu, so get it while you can.

Old Bay doughnut chicken sandwich. (Photo credit: Astro Doughnuts)

Old Bay doughnut chicken sandwich. (Photo credit: Astro Doughnuts)


Gifford’s Ice Cream, A Maine Favorite, Makes Push Into Capital Area

A long-loved ice cream company based in Maine is trying to break into the D.C. market, and it’s spreading the word with an ice cream truck tour of the region.

The “Gifford’s Good Times Ice Cream Truck” has been making the rounds in D.C., Maryland and Virginia since late June.

Gifford’s expansion into the area follows its 2011 acquisition of Maryland-based Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy Co. Although the two companies share the same name and similar stories, the families are not related.

Gifford’s products have recently been introduced to customers at Whole Foods Market, Balducci’s, Wawa, and other grocery stores in the D.C. area. The “Good Times” truck has been increasing the company’s local visibility even further.

And, on Monday, U.S. Senator Angus King hosted a Gifford’s non-partisan ice cream social in his office to help his home state’s company earn some fans.

It’s worth mentioning that report about the expansion in the Portland Press Herald, a Maine newspaper, claims that competition in our area is “more fierce” than up north, “because ice cream sells better in the South, with its year-round warm weather.”

We guess they missed the fact that the DMV endured about 5,000 snow storms this past winter, but that’s OK. We will welcome their state’s cool and creamy desserts to our store shelves, anyway.


DC Restaurant’s Breakfast Sandwich Makes List of Must-Haves in the Nation

When people think of breakfast or brunch in the District, bottomless mimosas and bloody Mary bars are what come to mind first — the food is often an afterthought.

But one D.C. restaurant’s hearty breakfast menu item recently made a popular food blog’s list of “12 Must-Eat Breakfast Sandwiches Across America,” and it’s not taking a backseat to anything else on the table.

Red Apron’s “Buenos Dias” — egg, chorizo, cheddar cheese, pickled onion and sour cream on an Italian tigelle — “is a South American riff on an Egg McMuffin,” according to SeriousEats.com.

A tigelle, by the way, is a type of flatbread that’s cooked in lard.

“Bolder flavors and heat from chorizo and pickled onion, the Buenos Dias is a more adventurous breakfast sandwich with a bit of a kick. Every edge is griddled and fried to perfection, each bite is a satisfying blend of crisp, rich, savory flavor.”

And you can get all of that lardy goodness for just $5.50. A side of Red Apron’s brewed coffee is just $2.50. Not bad. Not bad at all.


‘Dogfish Inn’ Now Taking Reservations

Can’t decide what you like more, craft beer or the beach? No worries. Reservations are now being taken for the 16 rooms at the new Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware.

“The Dogfish Inn brings Dogfish Head’s signature off-centered approach to hotel culture and beer tourism,” according to the brewery’s website. It “celebrates the scenic beaches, charming towns and outdoor adventures coastal Delaware has to offer.”

The inn, which is about 11.5 miles from the actual brewery in Milton and about 7 miles from the brewpub and restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, is basically an expansion of the Dogfish Head Brewmaster’s Suite at the Inn at Canal Square, also in Lewes, which has already been around for nearly a decade.

To see photos of the quirky hotel, visit the Dogfish Inn website.


Behold: The Selfie Toaster

For the low, low cost of $75, you can own a toaster that burns an image of your face into bread.

Just upload a high-resolution photo of yourself to the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation’s website and they’ll send you back the vainest product of all time, complete with the original photo you sent printed on the side.

This is the same company that offers the Jesus toaster, the Edgar Allen Poe toaster and the peace sign toaster. Check out their other products here.


Two Local BBQ Joints Make List of Nation’s Best

Two local barbecue joints — one in D.C. and one in Maryland — made Open Table’s list of the nation’s top 30.

To see where to go to get the best brisket, ribs and pulled pork in our area, click here.


All-Vegan Restaurant to Open Two D.C. Locations

Native Foods Café, a casual, all-vegan restaurant chain founded in 1994 in California, will open two D.C. locations in September.

So far, the only locations found outside California are in Colorado, Oregon and Chicago.

D.C.’s Native Food Cafés will be at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 1150 Connecticut Avenue NW, and will feature menu items like Seitan meatball subs, Tempeh atop kale with sesame sauce, non-dairy desserts and, of course, salads.


Lay’s Announces Crazy Finalists in “Do Us A Flavor” Contest

The Frito-Lay company has announced the four finalists for its 2014 “Do Us A Flavor” contest. They are Cappuccino, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger.

They will be found on grocery shelves beginning later this month, and snack enthusiasts will then be able to vote online for their favorite through mid-October.

Last year’s contest finalists were Chicken & Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Sriracha. Cheesy Garlic Bread was the winning flavor.


Appliance of the Future: Calorie-Counting Microwave

This sounds like something Joan Jetson would have.

General Electric researchers are working on perfecting the prototype of a device that can scan foods and deliver an approximate calorie count, reports the MIT Technology Review.

Matt Webster, the GE employee who invented the machine, says the technology may eventually be incorporated into a kitchen appliance such as a microwave. That would be particularly fitting, since it works by sending low-energy microwaves through the food it’s measuring.

The prototype only works on “homogenous mixtures,” according to the report, but GE scientists are hoping that more advanced versions will be able to count the calories in, say, an omelet or a cheeseburger.

The three data points used to measure the calories are fat content, water content and weight. Meanwhile, calories from sugar, fiber and protein “can be approximated by subtracting the water and fat weight from the total weight,” the report says.


TGI Fridays Introduces Endless Apps

Endless summer? That’s a pipe dream. Endless appetizers, however… that’s attainable.

This week, TGI Fridays announced a summer-long promotion during which diners can choose any one appetizer from a list of the restaurant’s most popular and receive unlimited refills of that starter during their visit.

The apps included in the promotion are: loaded potato skins, garlic & basil bruschetta, mozzarella sticks, boneless buffalo wings, tuscan spinach dip, crispy green bean fries, and pan-seared pot stickers.

So, is this going to bring in money for TGI Fridays this summer, or are people fill up on their chosen appetizers and then leave?

David Corsun, director of the University of Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, tells CBS News he’s not sure the promotion was the best idea for the company.

“I hope for their sake they don’t run it long-term,” he says. “It’s a loss-leader. They’re not going to make money on it. They’re trying to drive [customer] traffic — the question is whether they drive in the traffic they want.”

The appetizer promotion comes on the heels of announcement that the Carlson Group is selling the chain to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners.


General Mills Takes a Page From Taco Bell’s Book

Great news for those of you who love nacho cheese-flavored taco shells so much that you need access to them 24 hours per day, not just until the drive through closes at 2 a.m.

The Old El Paso brand of Mexican foods, owned by General Mills, is riding the wave that began with Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco.

Coming soon to your local grocery store: the Old El Paso Bold Taco Kit. It includes 10 “Stand ‘n Stuff” hard taco shells “blasted with nacho cheese flavoring inside and out.”


At a 7-Eleven Near You: 3-D Doritos Filled With Cheese

As if taquitos, Big Bites and Slurpees weren’t enough temptation, 7-Eleven now stocks a snack that is basically a 3-D Dorito filled with cheese.

Doritos Loaded® cost $1.99 for a four-pack. They are apparently crunchy on the outside, encrusted with the classic Doritos Nacho Cheese flavoring, and melty on the inside. They are also served warm and come in a handy to-go box.

A news release says Doritos Loaded® were actually first tested in a few D.C.-area stores earlier this year, and the locals who discovered them “created demand for the product.” Way to go, D.C. snackers!

You can find the closest 7-Eleven store that stocks Doritos Loaded® at doritos.7-eleven.com.


Cold Stone Creamery Launches Bottled ‘Milk Shakers’

Just in time for the dog days of summer, there’s a more convenient way to get a cold, creamy treat from Cold Stone Creamery.

Cold Stone Milk Shakers™, which were launched last month, are now available at select 7-Eleven and Duane Reade stores, as well as at several other gas stations and convenience stores.

The available flavors are Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Strawberry Swirl and Simply Vanilla. Calorie counts range from 390 to 450 per 12-ounce bottle.

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