That’s how Maryland does it: Mike’s Crab House

As the summer winds down, I feel like I am desperately trying to to squeeze in as many outdoor activities as possible, before my tan fades, the temperatures start dropping and I start complaining about wearing pants again. A must during the summer in this area is getting on a boat at some point. That had not happened yet for me this year, but luckily my wonderful Johanne sent me the following sweet text:


Well, at least you can count on your true friends to keep your ego down. So on an absolutely beautiful Sunday morning, I drove to Annapolis to meet up with Johanne and some of her friends from Columbia. They had rented a 22 foot boat, and seven of us hopped on, armed with Bud Light Limes, Coronas and seven bottles of sunscreen (white people). After spending the morning tubing, drinking, and swimming in the South River, we decided that we needed actual food to pad our stomachs in order to make it through the next few hours.

The pros in the group picked Mike’s Crab House, and we docked the boat and headed on their pier. This large, casual restaurant offers “traditional Maryland seafood” and with its location right on the water, is understandable packed during the summer with people wanting to enjoy crabs along the river. We lucked out and only waited for about five minutes before our buzzer rang, and we got were seated on a large picnic table outside, overlooking the water. Johanne and I were both starving at this point, so we immediately put in an order for crab dip and steamed shrimp before anyone else had even opened up a menu. These arrived fairly quickly, and we all dug in. The crab dip was served in a bread bowl, and they definitely did not skimp out on the large chunks of crab meat (which were covered in warm, gooey cheese). The shrimp was also good, cooked well and slightly salty.

Next up, we ordered three dozen raw oysters for the table. The large, briny oysters were slurped down easily by most of us, and we were ready for the main course: steamed jumbo crabs. We decided to start off with two dozen, and our server came around and prepped our table by covering it with paper before providing two rolls of paper towels, several pitchers of water, and plastic bowls of butter. Not too long after, our giant trays of crabs arrived:

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I actually have not had crabs all summer, and I definitely made up for it by gorging myself with crabs here. They were seasoned to perfection, and the juicy meat was slightly sweet and oh so heavenly. I managed to finish off four of these bad boys, which included their crab brains as well, which apparently freaks/grosses everyone out. Good thing I didn’t let it phase me and just slurped up the discarded brains from everyone sitting within arm’s length of me. We all felt absolutely satisfied and happy at the end of the meal, and I thought the price for our meal (around $55 per person, which included drinks) was totally reasonable for the amount of food consumed. I would recommend Mike’s to anyone looking for a casual spot on a beautiful day to enjoy the Maryland’s specialty.

Restaurant Week Review: Nonna’s Kitchen

Our second Restaurant Week meal this summer was at Nonna’s Kitchen. This restaurant opened in November 2014 above the more casual Alphonse Italian Market and Osteria on U Street, and aims to serve “classic, old world Italian cuisine with a modern twist.” I’ve heard great things about the spot, so A and I made reservations there for what turned out to be a surprisingly rainy Thursday night. The door to Nonna’s Kitchen is found at the side of Alphonse, and once you head into that entrance, you feel like you are leaving bustling, overcrowded U street far behind.


At the top of the staircase, there is a small, intimate dining room (with only 24 seats), and a large open kitchen. The owners have strived to make this restaurant really channel “Nonna” (grandmother in Italian) with its lush red walls, Italian cooking books lining the kitchen, and absolutely adorable mismatched floral china.

A and I were seated right by the open kitchen, and a well-dressed waiter, complete with a heavy Italian accent, explained to us that tonight they would be offering a 3 course menu for $35, as well as a 5 course menu for $55. Although the $55 menu did seem like an excellent option (especially since the 5 course menu typically goes for $90 here), for once we did not jump at the opportunity to overindulge. A had eaten a heavy lunch, and I was preparing to start a juice cleanse the next day, so we decided to be reasonable, pass on the lamb and truffles, and pick the 3 course option:


While waiting for our first course, the waiter brought out bread, along with pesto, and carefully plated it on our dishes before brushing every single bread crumb that had fallen onto the white tablecloth. Now that is what I call attentive service! The bread was crusty, hearty bread and the pesto was traditional and good. A and I happily munched away, especially satisfied since for a brief two minutes we had panicked and wondered if this was one of those places that had done away with the bread basket. Nonna’s Kitchen has no idea how close they came to having two weeping Asian girls in the middle of their fine dining restaurant. Luckily, the “modern twist” of the restaurant did not mean that they had chosen to forgo the best way to begin a meal (which is by lining your stomach with some carbs).

Then our first courses arrived, along with the same well-dressed waiter, who put our beautiful plates onto the table with the same care you use with a newborn baby. I went with the beef tartare, served with pickled onions, and shaved tangy Parmesan cheese. It was excellent.


A went with the fluke carpaccio for her first course, which was thinly sliced, and topped with raw onions, herbs and a citrus dressing. She approved, and we both polished off our respective raw animals quickly.


For my main course, I decided to stick with the red meat path and picked the veal. The sizable chunk of baby cow was served with tomato sauce over creamy polenta and garnished with springs of parsley. The veal breast was sooo succulent, perfectly cooked and well seasoned. It was a simple, rich, and incredibly delicious. A comfort dish for a rainy night.


A also continued to stick with sea dwellers and ordered the cod, which was topped with thin slices of beets, and some creamy sauce (maybe eggplant?) that the waiter poured out of a mini teapot. I tried a bite of the fish, which was slightly buttery, and smokey. I enjoyed it, and A agreed that it was good, but a little too heavy on the sauce.


Our waiter recommended the cheese dessert, so we both decided not to argue with that. This last dish consisted of a slice of wonderfully sharp, tangy cheese, topped with a thin savory cracker, fresh figs and was drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Every factor of the dessert went together perfectly! I made sure to eat every last crumb on my plate.


Overall, this was a fantastic meal. The old-school, attentive service made us feel relaxed and at ease, the perfect portions were satisfying, and the food was just wonderful. The restaurant and the food served managed to evoke a rustic, comforting yet elegant vibe in a beautiful setting. I am sure that the fixed-price menus would be worth the price based on our little experience here, and I’m noting this spot as a great place for a special occasion with my imaginary boyfriend.

Restaurant Week review: Sushi Taro

DC Restaurant Week comes around twice a year, and both my metabolism and my wallet suffer greatly as a result each time. This year, summer Restaurant Week fell the week before my friend’s law school graduation pool party. Normally I would just say, whatever, throw on a bikini and just try to remember to suck it in when standing around a cute guy. However, my friend Shay happens to have 1.3% body fat, the world’s most defined 16 pack, and probably a smaller waist than me (his thights are definitely more slender). So I would like to appear as slim and trim as possible around him. Bad timing for Restaurant Week meals, but I figured throwing in a couple of long runs, spin classes, and prayers might balance some things out.

A (fake roomie) and I decided to make reservations at Sushi Taro and Nonna’s Kitchen this time around. I tried Sushi Taro during a previous RW, and thought that it was a great deal. The morning of our roommate date, I woke up at the crack of dawn to head to the gym for a spin class. After a crazy day at work, I was exhausted by the time I got home so I passed out for a quick power nap, but woke up completely disoriented and out of it. By the time I got to Sushi Taro, I felt like I was nursing a hangover, without having any alcohol in my system for at least 48 hours (yo, is that a record?). Luckily the RW menu did not have too many choices to pick from:


We both decided to skip any alcoholic beverages, and focus on the food. The first course was a mini bento box, consisting of cold soda noodles, tuna and salmon sashimi (4 pieces) and edamame.
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The cold soba noodles were fine, but very mild and unmemorable. The sashimi was incredible, and a good indicator of the quality of the sushi served here. The yellowtail tuna was slightly fatty, just a little chewy and so fresh. The silky salmon just melted into my mouth, and I tried to make each slice last as long as possible before swallowing (weird, normally I totally avoid swallowing… KIDDINGBUTNOTREALLY). The edamame was also fine, but of course paled in comparison to the sashami.

Next up, I ordered the panko fried soft shell crab with vegetables, while A ordered the 10h braised black pork belly in sweetened soy.

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The panko fried soft shell crab was THE BOMB. It was insanely good. The crab and the vegetables were perfectly crispy, with light breading that did not overwhelm the crab at all. The incredible breading, bear with me here, reminded me of what a McDonald’s chicken nugget should be covered in if the world was fair and just. And I am still thinking about how mouth-wateringly sweet the large chunks of crab meat were. The tiny little crab at the top was also edible, and crunched in my mouth like a giant potato chip.

Next up was the nigiri. We both went with the regular 7, and picked the salmon avocado option for our half roll. In addition, we decided to order the spicy spider roll (for $9) to make sure we would not still be hungry at the end of the meal. Yes, you might think that should be plenty of food for two small Asian females, but we are also the same two girls who ravage Falls Church sushi buffets until our dining companions are lying horizontal in the adjacent booth after trying to keep up with us.

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From left to right (in the bottom box), the top row consists of tuna, yellow tail, salmon, whitefish. The bottom row is shrimp, omelet, and eel. As expected, these pieces of nigiri tasted like bites of heaven. The omelet, which I typically don’t care about, was creamy, fluffy and light. My absolute favorite piece though was the eel which was carefully caramelized and burst into a sweet, rich, salty flavor explosion, combined with perfectly cooked rice. The soft shell crab in the spicy spider roll unfortunately did not have the amazing panko coating, but the breading was still light and crispy and the generous chunks of crab definitely filled us up.

Our final dessert course was black sesame mochi, which was excellent. The sweet sticky rice flour and the slightly salty filling was the fantastic way to end our meal. With the additional roll, tax and tip, our bill was around $50 per person, which I consider a great deal for Sushi Taro. Usually, the pork dish goes for $15, while their nigiri ranges from $5-$8 per piece. So I highly recommend this spot for an amazing meal at a very reasonable price, especially when you are trying to budget your life after you realize that being single also means you’re paying for all your meals  and drinks now.


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Oriental Garden: dim sum in NYC

I love New York City during the summer time. Sure, the smell of various stranger’s body odors seems to get a little stronger, and I immediately start sweating as soon as I take my first step down into the subway station, but I forget about all of that as soon as I realize I am surrounded the most amazing, constant sensory stimulation (ah! noise! colors! attractive people! delicious food!) in this incredible, bustling city. My friend and her roommate (who has never been to NYC), and I decided to head up for a visit at the beginning of August to see a bunch of our college girlfriends. I always get a little stressed because I usually end up running all over the place trying to squeeze in time to see as many friends as possible, even though it is always worth it in the end. This trip was not much different. Between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, I managed to fit in dinner in Hoboken, a day trip to Long Beach (who knew there were beaches outside of Manhattan??), a visit to my friend’s beautiful $3,800/month one bedroom apartment (HOW DO PEOPLE AFFORD TO FUNCTION ON A DAILY BASIS IN NYC?), an evening out in Meatpacking, falling in love with a French man during a 45 minute conversation in a basement bar, and a dim sum lunch on Sunday with my sister before heading back to DC.

This particular Sunday morning was beautiful, so I decided to walk the 2 miles from my friend’s East Village apartment to Chinatown, where I was meeting my sister at Oriental Garden. As I walked down Elizabeth Street towards the restaurant, I was terrified to see the massive crowd outside, but I realized that it was for Jing Fong’s dim sum next door. I was extremely relieved to see that Oriental Garden was much more low key, especially since I was extremely sweaty, dehydrated and starving by this point. My sister arrived shortly and we immediately started to dive into our meal. To start, we got some shark fin dumplings, beef tripe, shrimp dumplings, and shrimp & pork shumai dumplings. 

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Now, I recognize that I was ravenously hungry when I sat down, but I found each of these dishes to be absolutely delicious. The shark fin dumplings were bursting with salty, flavorful meat. The beef trip was incredibly tender, chewy and slightly sweet. Oh god, I love beef tripe so much. The steamed shrimp dumpling wrappers were thin and delicate, encasing large, crisp and fresh pieces of shrimp. The shumai was dense, chewy, and bursting with ground pork, shrimp and fat. Each bite oozed flavor into my cheeks and down my throat. We inhaled our first round relatively quickly and eagerly flipped open the menu to find our next victims.

I appreciate that you can also order from the dim sum menu at Oriental Garden, instead of chasing carts and being limited to what’s leftover by the time a server arrives at your table. We perused the menu and also ordered the fried taro dumplings , which were perfectly light and crispy. The Crispy Crullers Rice Noodle was an interesting dish: consisting of a salty fried Chinese “cruller” (or dầu cháo quẩy in Vietnamese), wrapped in a tender rice noodles and doused with sweetened soy sauce. Definitely a delicious crispy/slippery/tender contrast! We also got the Shanghai buns, which were plump buns stuffed with pork and delicious garlicky chives that had been steamed, then pan fried. They were similar to potstickers, but about 10x tastier. My absolute favorite part of lunch were the Hong Kong style dumplings. I can best describe these as savory pork-filled Asian doughnuts. The outside is crispy, light, slightly sweet, and the inside is full of savory, juicy, minced meat. I could feel myself filling up, but pushed past the point of pleasantness in order to consume an additional few bites.

I usually don’t like doing dim sum with a small crowd because I feel as though I do not get to try as much, but my sister and I definitely did good work here. The only additional dish I would have ordered was the custard buns (the crunchy skin on top looked spectacular), but by the end of the meal, my stomach had expanded pretty much as far as my skin would allow. After we paid our bill ($37 total, for a massive amount of food), I stood up and felt slightly ill when I realized just how full I was. We decided to walk around a little bit, in the direction of my bus stop, so that my stomach could start the long, slow process of digesting the mountain of food inside of me.

My sister suggested getting some bubble tea at Kung Fu Tea, which at first I turned down because I was a little lightheaded after our intense lunch. All of my blood was churning through my stomach, which meant my brain was functioning at a very low well. But, I figured since I had heard so much about this bubble tea stop, I should should at least see if it lived up to the hype. To be honest, I was skeptical about because, really how much better can bubble tea get? I’ve had plenty of bubble tea in Eden Center, and they have all been relatively refreshing and yummy. I realized my misjudgment when I took a sip of the taro milk tea with tapioca pearls and black grass jelly that my sister and I decided to split. Guys, it was the best bubble tea I have ever head. The tea is so creamy and perfectly sweet, while the tapioca bubbles are chewy without an ounce of toughness. We had no problem finishing off this drink, but my stomach was hating me for it. By the end of the drink, I was completely stuffed and ready to pass out on the bus ride back to DC. It was a great way to end another wonderful trip to NYC.

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El Rey late night: my achilles heel

In general, I try to lead a relatively healthy lifestype. I run or go to the gym 6 days a week, stick to eating salads for lunch during the work week, and try to go low-carb when I am cooking for myself. Now when I eat out, I go hard, but that’s because I believe in balance (and in the occasional indulgence). What is not supposed to be included in this balanced diet is drunk eating. I do try my best to stay away from eating at 2am after a few drinks because I know I’ll wake up the next morning filled with sodium and guilt. Unfortunately, my self control goes completely out of the window if someone mentions eating at El Rey at the end of the night.

This past Saturday, we had a couple of friends from college come visit from Baltimore, so we headed to American Ice a little past midnight. Shortly after arriving, I met Gordan, a guy with too many buttons unbuttoned and a permanent smirk on his decently good-looking face. After a brief chat about book clubs , he leaned in and asked if I had a boyfriend (points for directness, I suppose). I jokingly replied that I currently seeing several non-special men on Tinder but did not have a significant other. So he grabbed my phone and put his number in before heading back over to his friends. A few minutes later, I felt my phone buzz and checked. Oh Gordon:


Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you chivalry is dead. Clearly, romance is alive and thriving and it comes in the form of a cocky man offering to drunk drive you home because he doesn’t have a free app on his phone. Since I was definitely not hungry for d*ck (hard pass, Gordon), when a few friends mentioned stopping by El Rey on the way home for food, I enthusiastically agreed to join.

El Rey, located on U Street, opened in December 2013 by the Hilton brothers, the same team behind American Ice, Brixton, Satellite Room, Marvin and several other bars. The tacqueria/beer garden is built out of brightly painted industrial shipping container, with a take-out window at the side so that you don’t need to deal with the drunk 22 year-olds inside of the bar (just the wasted 22 year-olds fighting or crying outside).

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The line moves fairly fast, and you are served your food immediately. Well, unless you put in a colossal order (for example: two orders of nachos, 4 taquitos, 2 tamales), then the cashier tells the rest of the line they have to take a 10 minute break to frantically prep your food. After I produced a river of saliva in anticipation, we grabbed our mountain of food, hopped into an uber and headed back to SBS’s apartment to consume everything. The El Rey nachos con carne are giant pile of crunchy tortilla chips drowning in meat and cheese, although I have noticed that the serving is more generous when ordering and eating the dish inside of the bar. One of the most important, basic criteria I use to judge nachos is the quality of the chip used. The El Rey nacho chips manage to stand up to the heavy assault of the hot, gooey toppings. Speaking of toppings, these chos are covered in shredded beef, black beans, jalapeno peppers and an incredible cheese sauce that manages to stay creamy (and un-congealed) down to the very last chip. Now to be fair, I do not actually think these nachos are the best nachos in the city. The toppings can be a little one-dimensional, and the layering of the toppings versus chips could probably be slightly more even, but when it comes to late night eats, this definitely hits the buzzed spot in my brain and stomach.

We inhaled the two messy pile of chips within a few minutes, and after wiping away some of the melted cheese spilled all over SBS’s coffee table, moved onto the next victims: the tamales and taquitos. The taquitos are covered in shredded lettuce and sour cream, which is completely unnecessary because if I wanted a salad I would not have gone to El Rey. Well, actually if I was craving a salad at 2am after too much wine, I would be wondering if someone had secretively given me a lobotomy. Anyway, the El Rey taquitos are filled with your choice of beef or chicken, and lightly fried to perfection. Despite being pre-fried, they are not dried out, and taste best when rolled around in the leftover nacho cheese sauce (it’s all about resourcefulness). By this point, my stomach was starting to feel a slight resistance from the waistband of my dress so I took it as a sign that I should throw in the towel and make my way back across the street to my apartment. The next morning, I woke up feeling completely dehydrated but not at all regretful. I mean, come on, I’d rather have ended my night with cheese sauce then Gordy’s sauce (kidding, that was never even entertained as an option).

Summer 2015 DC Restaurant Week recs

The end of summer is quickly approaching (WHAT? Did July not even occur?), which means it is almost time for DC Restaurant Week. This year, Restaurant Week falls between August 17-August 23. A list of the participating restaurants can be found here. While each year, more people complain about the downsides of Restaurant Week, I still believe if you pick well, you can eat some great meals at a much cheaper price ($35.15). Some of my picks for Restaurant Week this time around:

  • Birch and Barley: Always a solid restaurant choice, and this can be a good deal, since the entrees are upwards of $30. They have not uploaded their RW menus yet, but I assume that they will not be skimping out on the choices available. Also, let’s talk about THE BREAD BOARD there. This might be my favorite bread board in the city. As soon as I sit down for dinner there, I feel like I immediately start shaking in anticipation of that wonderful platter of carbs. There has never been a time where I went to Birch & Barley and did not overindulge on the pretzel bread, mini brioche and incredible butter. Which usually means I’m stuffed by the time my entree comes around, but I just do not have the willpower to say no to those fluffy bites of heaven.
  • Casa Luca: The more casual of Fabio Trabocchi’s spots, Casa Luca offers incredible Italian food in a beautiful setting (love the outdoor patio along 11th street!). The RW dinner menu has some great offerings, such as their filet, which normally goes for $32! The pastries here are delicious (a sampling below) that I never pass on, no matter how full I am towards the end of my meal.

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  • Centrolina: New to City Center, this restaurant comes Amy Brandwein, who previously worked at Alba Osteria. I have heard nothing but praise for this Italian restaurant and market, and have listed on my places to try, eventually. They have not posted their RW menu, but their meat dishes range from $28-$42, while their pastas go from $18-$28 so I assume that you are getting a pretty good deal when RW includes apps and zerts as well.


  • Del Campo: The amazing “South American grill” from Victor Albisu has a great lunch and dinner menu offered for two weeks (RW extended until August 30th!). The grilled short rib & chorizo option sounds incredible, especially since these meals will be beginning with their famous bread and smoked olive oil.
  • Fig and Olive: I put this on here because this restaurant recently opened in City Center amidst a lot of hype, and is the first of a few NYC spots to come to DC (Come one Momofuku, I am dying of anticipation). I am not sure if it has since lived up to this hype, since I’ve heard complaints about spotty service and an extremely loud atmosphere, but if you are thinking about trying it, RW seems like a good time. Their menu offers some good options, such as the Paella Del Mar which usually is $29, and the tajine which is $27 a la carte.
  • Mintwood Place: This always has been great for Restaurant Week because their dinner menu includes most of their regular menu (makes my heart throb like good puppy YouTube video when I see restaurants that do this). Mintwood always makes me so happy because the food never fails to satisfy me, the service is always friendly and perfectly attentive, and the atmosphere of the restaurant just generally makes me feel warm. I would recommend going here with a group so you can order every since one of their insanely delicious desserts:

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  • Nonna’s Kitchen: The Italian restaurant above Alphonse on U street has gotten a thumbs up from my real roommate, who is perhaps the pickiest and second most pretentious man that I know (first place goes to my ex-bf who once told me the vegetable selection at the new O street market Giant was “atrocious” and he could only buy greens from Whole Foods). In my mind, this means I must eat here because Jason has expressed approval for approximately 4 things since I moved in with him three years ago. The menu looks like good, solid Italian food, and I look forward to eating here because it usually only offers a 4, 5 or 7 course tasting menu (for $75, $90, $110).
  • Pinea: Located on the first floor of the W hotel downtown, A and I tried this restaurant shortly after it opened during Winter RW a few months ago. We both thought it was a great meal, and appreciated that they offered their entire menu for RW (simply pick an app, main course and dessert). The RW menu this summer gives you the same options, although the menu has changed slightly since the winter. The rack of lamb and bouillabaisse entrees sound delicious.
  • Rural Society: The Argentinean steakhouse is on the pricier side, so this is a good chance to eat here for much less. I thought our meal here was absolutely delicious during RW this past winter, and the menu looks the exact same this time around. Note: drink lots of water because they are slightly heavy-handed with the salt, and I woke up the next day convinced I would never be able to take the ring off of my puffy finger again.
  • Sushi Taro: I am coming back here (first went last summer during RW) with the fake roomie because it is just that good. It is also just that expensive during dinner, and I love a good deal, so RW is the best time for me to have some fresh, silky sashami in my mouth.

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Buffalo & Bergen: a reason to run

I was in the mood for a good bagel sandwich, and I knew exactly where I could it: Buffalo & Bergen, located in Union Market. Buffalo & Bergen opened in 2012 by Gina Chersevani (of PS7 and Hank’s Oyster Bar). Named after two streets in Brooklyn where her mother grew up, this spot is inspired by old timey soda shops. Egg creams, homemade fountain sodas and malts are included on the drink menu, while the food menu has bagels, sandwiches and knishes.

Since I did not want to deal with the guilt that occasionally follows my carb-binge eating sessions, I figured I should squeeze in a long run beforehand. So on a beautiful Saturday morning, after 11 hours of sleep (credit goes partly to the extremely strong dirty martini from Poste), I headed for a pre-bagel workout. Ten minutes into my run, I realized that “beautiful” Saturday morning means one thing when I am looking out of my window at the sun from my bed, and it has a whole different meaning when I am running up the steep 13th street hill in 90 degree, humid weather. By the end, I was so sweaty that bugs were literally drowning as soon as they hit my sticky skin. It was definitely time to replenish my body with some nourishment. I met up with my friend/ex-bf, Ben, outside of Union Market and despite the crowds, managed to snag two seats at the counter of Buffalo & Bergen.

Ben loves a basic breakfast sandwich, so he ordered bacon, egg and American cheese on a wheat everything bagel. I was absolute starving, and went with smoked salmon, egg, onions, capers and avocado on a wheat everything bagel. Look at this beauty:

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This massive sandwich along with coffee (free refills at the bar) was exactly what I needed. The smokey salmon and creamy avocado make a great combination with the perfectly cooked eggs, sharp onions and tangy capers. The bagels here are a little on the denser, but I didn’t mind the chewiness since it held up well despite the heavy sandwich toppings. It was a great way to reward myself after a long run, and I would recommend this spot to anyone looking for a satisfying load of carbs. While we were sitting, we noticed a few people ordering the Lox’d & Loaded, a spicy Bloody Mary topped with a fresh-baked bagel and smoked salmon. It looked absolutely amazing, but I had hit my carb limit for the meal and wanted enough space in my belly for some ice cream. Unfortunately, the line for Trickling Springs stretched all the way around the corner of Union Market so we decided to skip the sweets (for now). After catching up with a few friends drinking outside at Surburbia, Ben and I decided to continue our daytime activities at the 3 Stars Brewery.

While I love 3 Stars beer, I had never been to the brewery. Since Ben currently can’t drink, he offered to be my responsible DD, which he probably immediately regretted as I blasted Carly Rae Jepsen the entire drive to Takoma Park. 3 Stars first started in 2009 as a homebrewing operation from Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey, and it is amazing to see how far they have come today. The Takoma Park brewery opened in 2012, and has expanded production by an insane amount since then. We got to the brewery, located in an industrial brick building, around 3pm and found it relatively crowded. After some samples in the tasting room, I ordered the Citra & Lemon Peel Saison from the main bar. This light, summery beer is so refreshing and has just the perfect hint of tartness. Although it is inside, there is no AC in the brewery, so I continued to sweat an incredibly inappropriate amount which I think led to a quicker buzz. My chaperone drove us know back to Union Market, where we both inhaled some Trickling Springs soft serve and I decided to invite myself back to Ben’s place because I just didn’t want to deal with my post-break-up blues just yet and there is a certain comfort in spending time with someone who has seen you at your worst and still laughs at your jokes.

So we spent some time of his roof which has probably the best view of 14th street, and I felt so grateful to have a friend in my life who I spend a consecutive 12 hours with, even if I still smell like smoked salmon and my face is bright red from booze (thanks Asian glow).

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The Red Hen: great date spot for a not-so-great date

In an attempt to proactively tackle the sad feelings after the TBM break up, I have rejoined Tinder and have told myself that diving headfirst into the dating world is a good way to keep my mind off of things (obviously I am failing at this). My first post-break up Tinder date was a dud and lasted about 45 minutes before I stood up and frantically told him I had to leave. My second date option with Benjamin seemed more promising. He was a relatively funny messenger, and we seem to have a decent rapport over the span of a few days before deciding on a Thursday evening date. The day before the scheduled date, he messaged me:




I replied that I love Red Hen (who doesn’t??), and waited for him to let me know what time would work for his schedule. He did not respond that night, and he also did not get back to the me the following day. I just assumed he was ghosting me, and I was kind of looking forward to an evening at home in my robe, so I decided not to follow up with him either. As soon as I got home, I took a long shower and changed into my robe, took out my contacts, put on my giant glasses, and flipped on HBO. At 6:37pm, my phone flashed with a Tinder message from Benjamin:


Oh dear god, #tinderfail. Why would I be at Red Hen?? I was thoroughly confused because he had not confirmed a time, and for all I knew he could have work until 7pm usually. He acknowledged the misunderstanding and asked if I wanted to meet him later that evening or just reschedule. I looked down at my robe, then over to the couch longingly…. umm definitely reschedule.

The next day, I retold the story to AC over beers at Wonderland, she doubled over in laughter while exclaiming, “I feel sooooo bad for him!” After I thought about it, I suppose I felt bad as well. The poor guy showed up at the bar, probably sat down, ordered a drink, waited around awkwardly…. only to find out the other person just isn’t coming at all. I decided I should be a nicer person, and rescheduled the date to the following Tuesday at 7pm (and yes, both parties acknowledged the 7pm meeting time).

That evening, I made sure to head over early to avoid the confusion of trying to look for a white man of average height and weight sitting at a bar. Unfortunately, at 6:50pm, as I turned 1st Street NE, he messaged me “I’m here.” He was thwarting my game plan! I walked into the bar, which thankfully was relatively empty but also was occupied by four solo Caucasian male diners. I looked around to see if anyone made eye contact with me, but discovered that he was the one guy sitting with his back to the front door, and his head down. Reeeally keeping me on my toes here, Benjamin.

Now I love the laid back vibe of Red Hen. The big wooden bar in the middle of the restaurant and the open kitchen makes it a warm, neighborhood watering hole. And the rustic, comfort food has never failed to impress me so I was . I slid onto a bar stool next to Benjamin (why do men ever wear short sleeve plaid button-ups? Just say no, guys), and after about two seconds of interaction, I realized that there would be zero chemistry between us. He was a perfectly pleasant guy, but I felt absolutely no spark or physical connection with him. Also, while he was a very nice person, I appreciate it when someone can steer a conversation and I found myself forcing the conversation. After about thirty minutes of him not actually asking me a single question, I decided to just not follow up with more questions to him and see if he could actually come up with something. I got awkward silence. He cleared his throat as I looked around the restaurant and finally went, “so uh, do you do anything for fun?” No, Benjamin, I do nothing for fun. Let’s not even dive into his follow up question, “so the patients you work with must be cool?” Well, they mostly are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or are homeless schizophrenics who have lost their families/jobs/stable state of mind, so generally people suffering from currently incurable cognitive impairments…. therefore I am not quite sure what you mean by “cool.”

In between trying to think of more questions to ask him to avoid more awkward silence, we decided to order food: the Burrata with Grilled Asparagus Salad, Salami, Toasted Sesame, Oregano Vinaigrette & Breadcrumbs, as well as the Grilled Octopus with Spring Pea Hummus, Chickpea Salad, Fennel. I absolutely love burrata, ever since the first time I tried it at Fiola four years ago. The burrata at the Red Hen is so delicious, and oozes all over the light summer salad like the most sensual decadent dressing when you cut into it. The grilled octopus was wonderful: the firm octopus was perfectly smokey and charred, complemented by the creamy chickpea and fennel served alongside of it.

A little into the date, I started on a tangent about some awkward childhood story (there are so many to choose from), and as I delivered the punchline, I suddenly heard Benjamin unleash the absolute highest pitched laugh I have ever coming from someone with a Y chromosome. I was a little shocked, but continued talking only to hear him make that same noise again. Oh god. Now, when I like someone, I want to make them laugh. With TBM, every time I managed to make him smile that big, Crest-whitestrips-commercial worthy, toothy grin of his, or made him throw back his head and laugh, I felt a surge of adrenaline and pride shoot through my body. I strived to make him laugh as much as I possibly could. With poor Tinder Benjamin, the sound of his laughter make me instinctively curl up a little bit. I did not want to hear that noise anymore. Okay…. so I guess I only tell depressing stories from here on out, I was not trying to make him laugh again.

As we finished our delicious food and I finished my drink (he stuck with club soda), I told him it was time for me to head on home. It had been a pleasant dinner with a very, very nice guy, but definitely was not going to lead to more. I wish I could like these really, really really nice guys. If only he was a little more confident. Maybe with little bit more wit. Okay a lot more confidence and wit. So two disappointing Tinder dates post-break up…. I mean, this just means I’m putting in my time and something great is coming right? ………. Right? …………………Hello?

Monday survival guide

One of my favorite thing these fast few months has surprisingly been Monday nights. Monday should be my least favorite day of the week; it starts with an alarm ringing at 6am, followed by a battle between the angel on one shoulder telling me to get my ass to the gym, and the devil on my other shoulder who reminds me that I’m probably just going to eat too many chips tonight anyway, so why even both trying.

10 Reasons Why Mondays Are The Absolute Worst

After this, I always end up drinking way too much shitty office coffee before 10am, which is of course results in a stomach ache. But then I remember that Monday nights means getting together with a group of my favorite girlfriends and watching The Bachelorette. Now before you get all judgmental and throwing around the word “basic,” keep in mind that I fully accept that adjective when describing myself. I am relatively new to the Bachelor/Bachelorette phenomenon, but now that Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton have ended their marriage, as well as Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, we need something else to believe in. Why not pick a show with a 0.3% success rate?? Because we are optimists, dammit. I have come to love the two hours I get to spend binge eating snacks, chugging wine, and playing Bachelorette Bingo each week while watching a such a good trainwreck go down, especially when I am surrounded by the absolute funniest women commenting on it.


Each week, we pick someone’s apartment to host, and show up shortly before 8pm, armed with food and/or booze. We aren’t picky, just hungry, plus the best part of these nights is the company. We all have relatively busy lives, and after a weekend of activities, Monday night is the perfect time for the nine of us to debrief. Oh, our resident ice queen SM stayed out with a man until 5am? DETAILS, girl. Spit out every dirty piece of information. Okayyy, I just found out that I once dropped off a guy at a fake office because he lied to me for 2 months about his actual job? OBVIOUSLY I’m going to not shut up about this (blog post coming) during every commercial break.

And there are just so many reasons why The Bachelorette makes for great entertainment. First of all, it’s kind of nice to feel a little superior. Sure, we’ve all done some crazy shit (I am currently setting alarms to remind myself to look at a certainsomeone’s snapchat stories 1 minute before they expire so he cannot see I’m the least bit interested in his life), but at least none of us have used the phrase “Villians gotta vill” in a serious conversation. I can also confidently say I have not ever had a man tell me, “I am an enigma and who I am is a gift that you unwrap for life.” Who I am. Who you is, Ian, is a man with two balding spots and an impressive amount of self-delusion. The Bachelorette also provides a nice outlet to escape into a world where love seems to simple. Oh, you can find your soulmate in 12 weeks, after traveling to a few countries together and an uber-cheesy, overnight trip to the fantasy suite? Welllll then, there’s hope for all of us, phew. Also, The Bachelorette just gives us the chance to talk some SERIOUS shit for a few hours. I would like to think that, in general, we are a group of relatively nice, thoughtful people, who try to do the right now. BUT come on, for these episodes, we are not going to hold back. Plus, if you’re agreeing to go on national television, maybe don’t show up wearing a wrist full of wooden bracelets and what I assume is the constant creepy smile of a sociopath. Yeah, looking at you, Nick V. And by the end of the season, we all are obviously rooting for one specific guy, which you know, really makes us feel like we are bonding. Granted, I have kept mascara around longer than Kaitlyn and Shawn’s relationship but whatever, I am still rooting for them to make it.

For The Bachelorette finale last week, we decided to get together at SM and N’s apartment. After meeting AC post-gym and updating her on the blonde hottie I met at my friend’s pool over the weekend, I realized I literally only had 20 minutes to shower, wash my hair, and get a snack ready for the big night. Thankfully, I had a bag of popcorn kernels in the pantry, so I decided to make some Old Bay popcorn, which is a great recipe to have around in a pinch:


  • Between 2/3 and 3/4 a cup of popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of butter
  • Old Bay to taste
  • Garlic salt to taste


  • Throw olive oil into a big pot and turn the stove on medium heat.
  • Toss three kernels into the pot and cover.
  • Wait until three kernels pop.
  • Throw the rest of the kernels in (I used about 2/3 of a cup) and cover the pot.
  • Occasionally shake the pot.
  • Wait for the popcorn to pop.
  • Melt butter in the microwave. I like to use 3 tablespoons to start, but if you are worried about osteoporosis and would like to have as much dairy in your diet as possible, feel free to throw in a few extra tablespoons.
  • Pour butter over popcorn and toss the popcorn in the butter.
  • Sprinkle generously with old bay.
  • Sprinkle slightly less generously with garlic salt.
  • Taste and adjust.
  • Serve immediately.

This was all done within 10 minutes and we headed over. SM provided a generous amount of cheese, in addition to several dips and we all dug in as we caught up on our real love lives and ABC’s fake love lives. We judged and we judged hard while using this as an excuse to fill our stomachs up with wine, and by the time the night was done, it was great to realize there were only four more days to the work week. Monday, conquered.