Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thirsty Thursdays: Happy Hour at Cuba Libre DC

The other night I found myself being talked into going to a CAPS game. I am really not a sports person unless there are drinks and snacks around. I agreed to go if we could go to happy hour before and we ended up at Cuba Libre. I have been by other times and it was super packed, but people must like to take it easy on a Monday as there was no problem finding seats anywhere. 

Happy Hour Menu
$4 House Wine and Sangria
$5/$6 Caipirinha
$3.50 Rotating Beer
$4-$6 Small Bites

Throughout the night we tried the Sangria (I liked how it was not too sweet, as I am not a fan of sweet sangrias), the Caipirinha and the Guava Caipirinha - both delicious. I love guava so I had two of those - be warned, they are very sugary. I had the bartender put less sugar in mine. 
We also tried a wide variety of their food on happy hour specials and there were 3 standouts. They were the Pineapple Guacamole Cubano $4, Chicharrones de la Pollo $4 and the Churrasco Steak Slider $5. We also had some empanadas which were okay, and the tuna ceviche, which we really did not like. 
Service was great. The restaurant was a little slower so the bartenders really had time to be attentive. Because we left the ceviche pretty much untouched he took it off our bill which was a nice touch. A good place for happy hour. 

Would I come back? Yes...I'm curious about their dinner and bottomless brunch. 
801 9th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Metro: Chinatown/Gallery Place
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
  Image Map

Friday, January 8, 2016

Downtown Annapolis: Brunch at the Iron Rooster

During college football season my bff was given tickets to a Navy Football game and she graciously invited me along. Sports really aren't my thing, but I do enjoy watching some live football, especially when food and drinks are consumed beforehand.
The lovely lady who gave her the tickets also wrote us out a list of good places to brunch so we decided to take her advice and go with her top choice, Iron Rooster. They don't take reservations and it was game day but we decided to try our luck anyways. We ended up sitting at the bar which was just fine but the wait for two was only about 15-20 minutes. 

No brunch is complete without a mimosa and I went with my favorite, grapefruit, while Carrie stuck with the original OJ. Both had the right proportion of juice to bubbly.
We split two breakfast items. The first being SMOKED BRISKET BENNY jalapeno cornbread waffle / fresh tomato salsa / caramelized onions / poached egg / hollandaise $13.95. The eggs were perfectly poached, and let’s talk about that waffle. Crunch on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, with a slight kick from the jalapeno. Benedicts with a twist are my favorite. The other item that caught our eye was the SMOKEHOUSE BREAKFAST BURRITO thinly sliced smoked beef brisket / roaster corn salsa / scrambled eggs / sautéed peppers / onion / wrapped in a flour tortilla / smothered in roasted poblano sauce / topped with queso fresco / freshly chopped tomato $14.95This dish was just ok, not living up to the expectations that the description set on us. It was a little bland overall and missing a fresh, crunchy element to the inside of the burrito. A couple of people around us also ordered the Shrimp and Grits and while I don't eat shrimp the dish looked out of this world..and people cleaned their plates - something else to think about :) 
In a touristy part of town, the Iron Rooster manages to be a step ahead of many other places I’ve eaten at in Downtown Annapolis with good food and great service. 

Would I come back? Yes, definitely. I would love to come back and try some of their cocktails and other brunch items (like biscuits and gravy). 

12 Market Street
Annapolis, MD
Iron Rooster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Springfield Town Center: Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill

Hailing from California, Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill boasts an impressive menu of Barbecue and other delicious items. Part of the newly renovated Springfield Town Center (mall), Wood Ranch is a welcome addition to class up the area. 

Below is their happy hour menu - I highly recommend the wings and shredded onions which you will see photos of below. I also really like how they offer a deal off of their specialty cocktails!
We tried two of their margaritas and they were good. They didn't have that margarita mix taste that you often get at restaurants. 
These rolls taste as good as they look. Served with your meal, they are covered in olive oil and herbs and fresh and fluffy and tasty. You are not given butter because you are meant to dip your bread in their original barbecue sauce.
I love trying different varieties of barbecue sauce and Woodranch's did not let me down. I was a big fan of the original, peach habenero and cherry chipotle. Their Carolina sauce was not as vinegary as I would like so I stuck to the other three sauces. *Side note - Wood Ranch's original sauce is available for purchase, and I have been making BBQ chicken salads with it all week long - so delicious* 
We started off our meal with an order of the Famous Shredded Onions and the Killer Wings. Typically I prefer my wings with buffalo sauce, but this sauce was spectacular - the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. 
We tried two of their salads, BBQ Chopped Salad Chicken or Tri Tip. Mixed lettuces, Monterey jack, grilled corn, black beans, tomato, tortilla strips, carrots, scallions, cilantro, ranch, Original BBQ sauce and the Kale Salad (which I can't find on their online menu). I was pretty much obsessed with the BBQ chicken salad (and even recreated a version of it using their BBQ sauce for my lunches!). The kale salad is a great way to get some nutrients into your system in a delicious way. Be wary, if you are not a fan of the taste of kale, I wouldn't recommend this as the taste was stronger. However I like kale so I enjoyed the salad. 
Now onto the fun stuff, BBQ. We sampled the Carolina Pulled Pork and the Wood Ranch Tri Tip. The tri tip was hands down my favorite! I would say it is similar to a sirloin cut of beef and I love read meat! The pulled pork was good, but because it wasn't the tradition Carolina sauce it wasn't my favorite.

We also sampled a few of their sides, Lauren's Favorite Macaroni and Cheese and Smashed Sweet Potatoes. The mac and cheese was perfect - that gooey, ridiculously cheesy that is crucial to every bite. Not being a fan of sweet potatoes, I still really enjoyed these. The coleslaws were average - the mac and cheese and sweet potatoes are definitely the star sides here. 
Although we were super stuffed, the Oreo Cookie Crunch vanilla bean ice cream hand-rolled in ground Oreo cookies,served with caramel sauce and fudge caught my eye. I can't say no to ice cream, especially when there are oreos involved. I loved this twist on a beloved favorite. 
Service was great. Food was delicious. My favorites were the BBQ Chicken Salad, Wings, Rolls (yes, they are that good!), Lauren's Mac and Cheese and Famous Shredded onions. 

Would I come back? Yes, this is a great addition to the revamped Springfield Town Center. And those wingsssss..need them again very soon! 

Town Center
6797 Springfield Mall
Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Image Map

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Washington DC Bottomless Brunch: Local 16 on U street

I hope everyone had a fabulous Holiday season! I definitely did, it was one for the books. Over the NYE break I ended up brunching twice in 4 days...eek (worth it though!). On Friday we brunched at Cava Mezze in Arlington (review here) - it was super delicious the second time around, and has to be one of my favorite places to brunch.  

On Sunday a big group of us had the ultimate Sunday Funday that started out at Local 16 on U Street. They have a great bottomless deal for $27 that includes an entree and bottomless drinks (mimosas, bellinis, pomegranate mimosas, beer and a few other drinks). There is a two hour time limit for bottomless which is more then enough time to get your drink on if that's your thing. The pomegranate mimosa was a little too sweet and artificial tasting for me, but I enjoyed the oj mimosa and the Bellini. The table liked all three. 
There were 11 of us there and we all got a pretty good variety of dishes. The most ordered dish was the Chicken/Lamb Karahi. I didn't get a chance to try the chicken, but the Lamb Karahi spicy tomato-ginger-garlic sauce, 2 over-easy eggs, home fries, Afghan bread, side cilantro-walnut-jalapeno sauce was out of this word. Perfectly cooked lamb, yolky eggs and the green sauce. If you enjoy lamb this a MUST have dish. So much so that the two people that have been to this brunch before ordered this again instead of trying something new. 

Jasmine ordered the Afghan Omelet tomatoes, spring onions, cilantro, mozzarella, home fries, side cilantro-walnut-jalapeno sauce. This is another must order dish. The cheese was gooey and wonderful on the inside and it was just the perfect omelet. Both the lamb and omelet were served with a cilantro, walnut, jalapeño sauce (green sauce as I like to call it) that was herby and fresh and I wanted to put it on everything. It's similar to those you get at an Afghan kabob house. 
I ordered the Spicy Lamb Sausage Pizza cherry tomatoes, spring onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella, potatoes, topped with an egg over easy. This was just ok - a little heavy on the potatoes and not my favorite pizza in general but I am a pizza snob. Liam ordered the Breakfast Platter two eggs any style, home fries, choice of bacon, spicy lamb sausage or chorizo which he enjoyed but thought was very basic. As a table we split the French Toast - it was a nice sweet bite or two and perfect dish for sharing. Although I didn't try it, I spotted the Eggs Benedicts at the other end of the table and they looked spot on. 
Service was great, mimosas were flowing and with the exception of the pizza the food was delicious. Worth going to brunch whether or not you do the bottomless option.

Would I come back? Yes. 

1602 U Street NW

Washington, DC 
Local 16 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Other Bottomless Brunches I <3
PJ Clarkes
El Centro 
Acre 121
Cava Mezze