Sunday, August 29, 2010

Metro Halal Food Cart

4201 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22203

August 29, 2010

Yum to the friggin goooooood!!

For those of you that can only eat Halal meat, this little cart is for you. For those of you like me that can eat any dead animal regardless of how it was killed, prepared and blessed...this cart is for you too. Set up across from Ballston Commons mall, you have probably walked right past this cart on your way to some meeting or other local restaurant. It's a small unassuming little set-up but don't be fooled by the exterior...the food they're cooking inside the Metro Halal Food Cart (MHFC) is dee-friggin-licious!

I ordered the combination platter which had two types of meat: (1) gyro like cubes of ground spiced lamb and (2) thin slices of tasty pan fried chicken breast. The meat was served on top of a bed of cumin flavored rice and a simple lettuce and tomato salad. The entire dish was covered with a generous helping of yogurt sauce and a splash of some red spicy sauce that really brought together all of the flavors. The ground lamb cubes had a crisp exterior that added to the taste and texture of the entire dish.

The first bite did not disappoint and neither did the subsequent bites. I ate and ate, not really pausing to take a breath as I couldn't believe how delicious this food cart meal was! The combination platter was a generous serving of food all for the very cheap price of $6!!! Holy crap! The "enh" food of my office cafeteria (with bland and unimaginative flavors) doesn't even come close to the tasty food put out by the MHFC. Adding to that, the food at my office cafeteria is ridiculously overpriced and $6 would NOT get me a meal as bountiful and tasty as the combination platter from MHFC.

Although I didn't see any signs (and I had cash on me), I'm almost 99% sure they don't take credit cards. Just to be safe and to avoid any delays in stuffing your face, bring cash. From my first lunchtime experience, I think a $10 bill will buy you plenty of food to make your tummy happy.

I was blown away and will most certainly be back to sample some of the other dishes. Hopefully my future visits to the MHFC will be as great as this first one....

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dogfish Head Alehouse

Seven Corners Shopping Ctr
6220 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22044
(703) 534-3342

June 29, 2010

Checked out this place the other day during a lunchtime outing with my buddy Steve L. Although I wanted to hit Bangkok Golden's AYCE Thai lunch again, I really I wanted to try out the Dogfish Head Ale's food and possibly one of their brews. While we were there, I checked out the menu and saw a lot of great looking food that would be perfect for those imbibing in some drinks as everything seemed hearty and a perfect compliment to a beer drinking visit.

The lunchtime menu had a variety of food ranging from sandwiches, burgers and salads to hearty entrees of gumbo and fish 'n chips. There's pretty much anything for everyone on the menu and they even had a good veggie friendly offering. After scanning the menu, I settled on the BBQ chicken salad (lunch special for that day) while Steve ordered a basket of fried goodies (onion rings, fresh potato chips and french fries) and a Garlic Caesar salad.

When my salad arrived it, the presentation was quite nice. The beans, corn, BBQ chicken and green onions were each given 1/4 area of the salad bowl which looked very nice. I mixed up the ingredients and took a bite. The flavors and ingredients combined well and the BBQ sauce from the chicken gave the salad an extra tasty flavor. The only criticism I had about the salad was that they were a bit heavy handed with the dressing which made the salad super rich.

I told myself that if I ever ordered a salad again at the Dogfish that I'd ask for the dressing on the side to control the amount of dressing that goes into my belly. :-) Steve's basket of fried stuff was a mountain of crispy goodness. On bringing out the huge basket of fried stuff, two large onion rings accidentally escaped the server's tray and fell onto the floor. The server was very apologetic and promised to make it up to Steve. A few minutes later he brought out a few more onion rings to replace the ones that had fallen from the basket of fried goodness.

I must now talk about this basket. Wow! It was huge (that's what she said) and was filled to capacity with freshly fried potato chips, huge onion rings and French fries. The cool thing about the onion rings were that they were made with red onions which gave them a bit more flavor. Steve was kind enough to share the bounty of the basket and I happily dove in chomping down onions rings and fries.

I definitely enjoyed my visit to the Dogfish and will be back! Looking forward to trying out some more of their beers. Oh yeah, I had a beer with my lunch...and it was tasty. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone!!!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jason's Deli

7505 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22043
(703) 448-5514

June 27, 2010

Had you asked me about Jason's Deli a few months back I would've told you they're a 4-star place due to the consistency of the food and generous portions.

Now, not so much....

The food has changed a bit as some of our favorites are made a bit differently....almost knocking Jason's off of our favorite local stuff yo face places for lunch.

Example: The Sgt Pepper Po Boy used to be stuffed with a ton of roast beef, roasted red chili peppers and smothered in so much cheese your doctor would smack you in the back of the head and ask, "Seriously? Seriously? You're really going to eat that much cheese?". On recent visits, the same sandwich seems a bit "anemic" with less toppings and size that's no longer impressive.

Yes, size does matter.

The free ice cream is good, not the highest quality stuff but how can you really complain when it's F-R-A-H?!?! It's a great place for us to bring the monkeys when they're in a rowdy mood as they can munch on their food and then we can tame the little beasts with an ice cream dessert.

Another favorite which hasn't changed too much is the baked potato with chicken and pico de gallo sauce. Oh yeah, if you're never had one of their full sized baked potatoes they are friggin ENOURMOUS monsters!! The wife and I usually end up sharing one as it's just way too much carbs for a single person to ingest in a single sitting.

Their chili also pairs well with their baked potato as we've been known to order a small cup and pour some on our baked potato goodness.


Hopefully the quality of the food will not decrease and will go back to the same level as when they first opened. I'm no longer inclined to order their sandwiches anymore but will probably go the salad bar or the baked potato route on future visits.

BTW, the one thing I love about this location is being able to call ahead and place an order for pick-up. On days when there's no food in the house or the monkeys have been especially crazy...I've been known to call Jason's Deli and placed an order for pick-up. It's a great way to score extra points with the bossy lady and cuts out the need for either of us to cook after a long day. The food is always warm, well cooked and as long as I arrive there in time to pick it up makes it to our little home fresh and warm.

Although the pick-up service is great, my choice is still to eat in so I can enjoy the free ice cream. :-)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baked & Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-2500

June 26, 2010

Despite the nickname of "Cupcakes Antonio" bestowed upon me by my most favorite Yelpers, I had yet to:

1) Visit a cupcake place in DC
2) Write a review about a cupcake place in DC

Well my friends, the time has come for me to lose my cupcake virginity by reviewing my first "mini cake" place. What better place to be the source of my first cupcake review Baked & Wired (BW)? Here's how it went down...

This morning (Saturday) I packed up the monkeys while the boss lady slept, filled up the minivan with petrol and made a mad dash to DC. I was excited at the idea of arriving right at 8am when they opened to beat any sort of rush and to avoid the infamous Georgetown traffic.

We arrived right at 8am and found a parking spot right in front of the store. Schweeet-ah! I unloaded the monkeys, grabbed them by the hands and headed into BW.

The inside had that very clean appearance with the beverage section split from the pastry section by a brick wall. The pastry area had a variety of sweet offerings under glass domes while a representative of each cupcake offering was proudly displayed on a plate next to their name. My mouth was watering and I was glad that I hadn't had anything to eat just yet.

I decided to walk on the edge of danger by pushing my body to the brink of becoming a diabetic; I ordered 7 cupcakes. Here's a list what I ordered (descriptions from their website):

1) Chocolate Cupcake of Doom - Chocolate cake with a dark chocolate satin frosting

2) Vanilla Latte - Vanilla cake with an espresso buttercream

3) Strawberry - Vanilla cake with fresh strawberries folded in the batter finished with a swirl of pink buttercream.

4) Red Velvet - A little chocolate, a little vanilla, and lots of deep red color, topped with a heap of cream cheese frosting

5) Mocha - Chocolate cake with a mocha buttercream

6) Razmanian Devil - Lemon cake with a raspberry jam center topped with lemon buttercream

7) Smurfette - Fresh blueberries are baked into vanilla cake, topped with lemon buttercream

The 7th cupcake was for the boys who were already tugging at my leg and shorts asking me, "Daddy cupcake? Daddy cupcake?". The gentleman that took our order was very kind and placed 6 of the 7 cupcakes in a box and just as I had requested, put the 7th on a dish to eat there.

I walked the boys, my box of cupcakes and the dish holding the Smurfette cupcake to a lounge type leather seat/couch area. As soon as we sat down, the boys eagerly reached for the cupcake trying their best to wrestle the sweet goodness from my hands. I sat them down, told them to listen and proceeded to rip off pieces of the Smurfette cupcake.

"Ummm...ummm!" was the response I heard from both boys as small crumbs escapes their mouths and fell onto the leather couch. They clearly enjoyed the early morning treat and I felt like the father of the year feeding by sons such sweet treats so early in the morning. Please don't call child services on me!

I took a bit of the Smurfette cupcake and was impressed by the moist texture of the vanilla cake and the subtle sweet 'n tartness of the lemon frosting. Each bite had a blueberry and these bits of blueness each held its own tart goodness to further offset the sweetness of the cake. To sum it up, it was good. :-)

Once the boys finished up their cupcake, we hopped back into the minivan and headed home. I knew I couldn't properly try out the rest of the cupcakes with the boys around so I waited until they went down for a nap.

As the boys napped, and with a fresh homemade microwave latte in hand I began my work. I took a 1/4 from each of the six cupcakes to best sample them individually. Here are my opinions about each cupcake and a ranking based on my unscientifically and fatboy funded study:

6) Red Velvet - Surprisingly, it was a bit dry which made it taste not too fresh or appealing.

5) Razmanian Devil - I really hate raspberry, but tried this cupcake anyway. The cake was moist and was filled with a raspberry jam center. The lemon frosting was tasty.

4) Mocha - Tasty chocolate cake and the mocha butter cream was great!

3) Vanilla Latte - The espresso butter cream makes the vanilla cupcake shine!

2) Chocolate Cupcake of Doom - OMG, a dream come true for chocolate lovers. The frosting was so smooth, soft and rich that I want to come back (reincarnated) as this cupcake.

1) Strawberry - Wow, I never thought a fruity cupcake would be my favorite. This cupcake had it all: great flavor, not too sweet and an amazingly moist cake that had me saying, "Yabba dabba doo this is goooood!!"

All of the cupcakes had a great balance between the cake and their respective frosting. BW does a great job of not making the cake too sweet and really delivering most of the sweetness via the frosting.

I was very impressed and despite my body now asking me to eat a 98 oz steak to counter all of the ingested sugar...I'll definitely come back to try more cupcakes...just one per visit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Buns

4401 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 276-3032

June 18, 2010

Antonio likes the Big Buns....

Wasn't "wowed" but I enjoyed my first visit to the double-B.

Came here with two of my former coworker buddies for lunch. I was excited after visiting the BB website and after reading a few of the Yelp reviews. As much as I wanted to get a burger, I wanted something light and opted for the mahi mahi as the dead animal of choice.

All of the toppings are quite impressive and I placed an order for mahi mahi on a bun with a friggin' mountain order of toppings. I think the main reason I went crazy with the toppings order was to see how they could pile on all that goodness on my sammich. It was also a great way for me to sample the various toppings. Here's the list of toppings I chose for my mahi mahi (not to be confused with my wife of a similar name) sandwich:

- Pickles
- Jalapenos
- Lettuce
- Tomatoes
- Grilled Onions
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Roasted Corn Salsa
- Mushrooms
- Chipotle Pesto Aioli

As I finished placing my order, I was truly tempted to buy a beer to go with my drink but instead opted for a small fountain soda. I also ordered a side of fries and the bill for the sammich, drink and fries came out to just over $12.

The layout of this BB location is very similar to the layout of a Chipotle with benches and chairs in the center and a line area leading straight to the register. We found table, and chatted away as we waited for a server to bring our food. For those of you thinking of going there, when you order your food "to eat in" you're given a number and must then find a seat where a server will bring out your food.

When the sandwich finally arrived (at bit of a wait due to the lunch rush), I was impressed at the size of the *ahem* Big Bun and all the toppings piled high on my mahi mahi. At first glance, the mahi mahi was represented by a four thin strips of fish and had a flimsy dry appearance. I didn't wait and grabbed my monster sized sandwhich and took a huge bite.

The mahi mahi wasn't impressive in flavor but all the toppings did save the sandwich. There was so much flavor coming from the grilled onions and roasted red peppers that the bland taste of fish almost didn't matter. I really enjoyed the toppings and did my best to best navigate my mouth around the puffy bread without making too much of a mess.

One of my friends ordered the chicken sandwich which looked juicy and much more impressive than my thin mahi mahi strips. I coveted her sandwich and knew that I definitely need to come back to try the chicken or hamburger sandwiches.

Luckily I wasn't completely turned off by the flavor / size of the mahi mahi and would love to return and give BB another try. Next time I'll bring the monkeys and the wife who is our resident sweet potato fry connoisseur.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Smokey Glen Farm Barbequers Inc

16407 Riffle Ford Rd
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
(301) 948-9170

June 12, 2010

Smokey Glen and Cupcakes Antonio have a looooooooong history. Smokey Glen is like that crazy ex-girlfriend that loved to cook and feed me, but always picked the hottest days to throw her cookouts. No matter how much I'd say to myself, "This is THE last time I visit this crazy dame" she ends up wooing me back with her free food and grilled treats.

The first time I visited Smokey Glen was back in the summer of 1994 when the bank I used to work for held it's annual picnic on the ground. Although the bank was local, they went all out with the food at Smokey Glen and even served beer and alcohol to keep their bank employees "hydrated" in the hot summer sun. I worked at that bank for over 4 years (while in college) and each summer we'd all look forward to the summer trip to Smokey Glen to get our food, dessert and drank on until my belly was full of beer, grilled meat and various fruit pies cooked over hot coals...yum.

After graduating from college and leaving the bank, my annual summer BBQs at Smokey Glen came to an end. It was a bit sad but I figured the end of the free summer BBQ party was just a part of growing up; a post college life. But that would not be the last time I would see Smokey Glen.

Fast forward six years later. I met my future wife to be and surprise surprise! Her company held their annual summer BBQs at Smokey Glen. Free beer and free food had returned to the life of this fat boy. The food was the same (okay, not too bad) but was made even better by the cold frosty brews they happily served to all the visitors. Nothing says happiness in my book (the book of Antonio, King James Edition) than a cold frosty beer and some BBQ'ed chicken. Ummm....I once again had an annual summer trip to Smokey Glen. Yee-haw!

Once the wife left her company after the birth of our monkeys, the summer trips to Smokey Glen were no more. Sad Antonio. :-(

**insert sad sad violin music here by some classical artist that makes me sound much smarter than I am**

Stop the music...Smokey Glen was out of my life...but not completely outta my life. "She" came back into my life this year after receiving a company email a few months ago telling us employees to saved the date for the annual summer picnic at Smokey Glen.


Smokey Glen! I was so excited and thoughts of the BBQ'ed chicken and other dead animals roasting on hot coals filled my mind. And the beer...I knew they would have some frosty cold ones to ward off the hot summer heat and humidity... I really looked forward to the picnic as past experiences at Smokey Glen danced in my sum it up, I couldn't wait!!

When the day finally arrived, I was surprised to see that Smokey Glen had been completely redone. Gone was the single picnic area with a HUGE parking lot (field). Smokey Glen was not split into four different areas with their own parking areas, playgrounds and baseball fields. Everything looked new and better organized from my last trip a few years back.

As I walked up to the area designated for our company, my heart sank. The long army of grills stocked with chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs and steak were replaced by three grills roasting chicken. A few tubs of potato salad were in the "fixins" area along with some bean salad, lettuce and other sparse side items....


I told myself it was okay as I didn't need some burgers as the tasty Smokey Glen chicken was enough for me as long as they had some beer. Meeting up with my coworkers I set my plate on a table and asked about the drinks. One coworker told me, "They only have soda".


Yep, no wine. The only thing available was water, Pepsi and lemonade. Ugh...apparently our company had not only taken the cheap route with the food but they also saved a LOT of money by not serving alcohol. I was so disappointed. The only thing that made a hot summer picnic bearable at Smokey Glen was a cold frosty beer.

That's when I realized that what made Smokey Glen fun in the past was the flowing beer. Without a cold cerveza, the food just seemed "okay" and the heat and sweat seemed to creep into all those cervices in my body. Ugh...I was SO disappointed.

Despite my great summer memories of the past, the Smokey Glen food was only worth 2 stars. I bumped them up to 3 stars because part of the new remodel create a ton of new play areas that kept my kids happy. I also loved the magician-clown that kept our boys entertained despite their fussy non-napping crankiness.

Will I return next year to Smokey Glen for the company picnic? Probably not...not unless they serve some brews. :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ledo Pizza - Falls Church

7510 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22043
(703) 847-5336

June 11, 2010

Let me start off this review by telling you that I'm not a Ledo's fan. My dislike of the pizza and this joint comes from years of frequenting this location and the Ledo's brand and still leaving unsatisfied.

As a kid the parental units would bring us to this Ledo's or would pick up a square pizza on the way home. The same thing would happen, my stomach would bloat up and I'd end up feeling like a human Goodyear blimp for the rest of the day. Something about the cheese or sauce they use leaves my mouth super-dry, makes me drink a ton 'o water which then ends up making me retaining water like a mo-fo.

Once I was a big boy and could buy my own food and be all Mr Responsible, I never went back to Ledo's. There were so many other pizza joints I'd rather patronize where the quality of the pizza and the environment was so worth my time and money. So how did I end up at Ledo's after learning my lesson all those years ago?

Work. Yep, my office had a two hour lunchtime webinar where our supervisor decided to treat us to pizza. Awesome! Then it was revealed the pizza was ordered from this Ledo's location. Grumble... I went with a fellow coworker to pick up the pizza and was initially surprised how this location had "remodeled" their bar area into a sports themed set-up. Gone was the smokey bar with ball cap wearing patrons hoisting their beer with nicotine colored fingers...

The bar area now boasted almost 7 flat screen TVs perfectly positioned to watch your favorite sporting event. As we waited for the pizzas, we checked out the World Cup schedule and even considered coming to catch one or two of the 2pm games. Our pizza was ready and the manager told us we owed almost $55 for two large pizzas (one veggie lovers and one meat lovers) and a medium Hawaiian pizza. $55 seemed a bit too pricey for 3 Ledo's pizzas and I secretly wished we could have spent this money at 2 Amys...

Hurrying back to the office the car took on a thick and heavy pizza smell which made us all the more hungry. Although I was starving by the time our webinar started, memories of that water retaining bloatedness came into my head.

Should I eat this pizza?

Will the pizza make me swell up like a balloon?

Am I gonna have dry mouth after eating this pizza?

Will it give me bubble guts?

What is the square root of 455933? :-)

I ate the pizza, thought the flavor was okay but then the cheese seemed a bit heavy. I don't know how to explain it but it just didn't seem right. The crust was okay and maybe due to all of the veggie toppings and the fact that our pizza was in a box, the bottom of the crust ended up sticking to the thin sheet of wax paper...

The flavor didn't wow me and I was happy to give this pizza 3 stars. Then it happened...

As the meeting went that dry mouth feeling returned and I ended up drinking all of my water. Soon the bloated feeling returned and I felt as someone had filled my stomach with a ton of air. belt tightened and my pants felt uncomfortably tight...

Thoughts of going home and changing outta my work slacks and into my comfortable Umbro shorts danced in my mind. I couldn't concentrate on the rest of the webinar and just wanted to go home.

Damn you Ledo's and your dry-mouth bloat my fat belly recipe!! I guess I was hoping that after all those years of not eating your pizza I'd be surprised; surprised that a new recipe / ingredients would prevent me from swelling up again...

For that, you lose 1 star. Based on past experience and just an overall aversion to your pizza, I can't see myself ever going back to try anything from Ledo's again.