Thursday, July 10, 2014

Washington D.C. Part 4

The food.  Oh the food!  We tried so much new food!

If you've done any reading here, you'll know that The Man and I are picky eaters.  That isn't to say that we're "refined" in our tastes as much as "cheap."  We prefer PB&Js and plain lettuce salads to fancy stuff.  Our biggest complaint about restaurants is that they so often cover food we do like (fish, chicken, pasta) in food we don't like (tomatoes, goat cheese, sauce of any kind).  So when we set out on the Grand Adventure in Washington D.C., we knew we'd be out of our food comfort zone.  We promised each other that we'd not eat in any restaurants there that we could eat in at home (so no Olive Garden, no Burger King, no PizzAmore--how we love thee!)

We left on Saturday morning at promptly hit up the McDonald's at PDX.  Still in Oregon, so McDonald's was not breaking our rule--plus The Man has a thing for egg mcmuffins that I don't really understand.  We scarfed down our breakfast before boarding the plane.  During the four-and-a-half-hour flight (plus three hours time change), we enjoyed a packed lunch of fruit leather, pretzels, crackers, jerky, and cheese.  Nothing new yet, but still delicious.

After landing and getting oriented at our hotel, our first opportunity to take in the Washington D.C. food scene was at Ella's Wood Fired Pizza.  DELICIOUS!  We are true pizza connoisseurs and still managed to rank this in our top three favorite pizza places of all time.  If Ella's moved to Oregon, we'd have to rethink our budget.  The prices were very reasonable, the service excellent, and the atmosphere pleasant.  We each got a pizza and didn't have much left over because it was that good. 10/10!

Still stuffed from the night before, our Sunday morning breakfast was a bit of cheating by having McDonald's again.  The Man really likes it, and while we will eat at McDonald's in Oregon, we never eat there for breakfast.  Eating there for breakfast is sort of like a totally different restaurant, right?  Whatever.  It was fast and close to our hotel, and we were in a rush to get to the monuments. 4/10.

After walking around for forever on Sunday morning, we stumbled around trying to find the Potbelly Sandwich shop close to our hotel.  We got turned around (not lost--just unsure where the shop was) and ended up finding a different location just a block or two away from the one we were trying to find.  Potbelly is pretty much a local version of a Subway.  It wasn't exactly special, but it was still tasty.  6/10.

For Sunday's dinner, we took the Metro back to Farragut West to eat at Noodles and Co.  I had never been to a restaurant with so many pasta options, but after walking over ten miles that day, those carbs were much appreciated.  I had the mac and cheese with shrimp.  Not the best mac ever--a little too creamy for me, and the shrimp were overcooked.  On the other hand, I didn't have to cook it.  And they had free pop refills.  But don't call it "pop" there--we had learned by this point that just calling our fizzy drinks by their actual brand names was easier.  I learned to only say "Diet Coke." 7/10.

Monday's breakfast was both special and very unusual.  We ate at Lincoln's Waffle House right across the street from Ford's Theater (which we didn't see due to time and massive hordes of tourists).  The waffle house is a bit rundown.  Seating is all communal, but we managed to get space at the bar right next to the kitchen.  It was loud, stuffy, and full of smells--both good and unpleasant.  The waffles were very crisp, which I love and The Man doesn't care for.  The bacon was salty, the sausages very salty, and the eggs were either undercooked or stiff as shoe leather, depending on the bite.  It wasn't expensive at all, and I might go back just for the waffles, but I certainly won't fly to D.C. just to visit this waffle house again.  4/10.

After wandering through the Smithsonian museums all morning and planning to do so in the afternoon, we elected to eat at the Stars and Stripes Café in the Museum of American History.  This was an unusual cafeteria from what we're used to on the west coast.  We walked in, grabbed a tray, and started loading up.  Only after reaching the cashier did we realize that the cost wasn't per person but rather per item.  We'd each grabbed modest portions of chicken strips, fries, a small salad, and a drink, and we were over $40!  Apparently the salads are $10 just to pick up the bowl.  Drinks were $3.50 each.  We were both choked down our meals and vowed to never let that surprise happen again!  And the food wasn't very good, either.  3/10.

Worn out from our museum hopping, we dined just up the block from our hotel at the Corner Bakery.  Just a head's up now: we ate here three more times by the end of our trip.  Who knew that one of the best places in D.C. was so close to where we were staying!?  Awesome pastas, great sandwiches, filling and delicious breakfasts, plus the quiet and cool atmosphere was incredibly welcome.  We loaded up on pasta again, partly because our bodies were craving carbs after our walks, and partly because it looked so good.  9/10!

Tuesday was an early day as we had to get to the pier to catch our cruise ship by 8:00am.  The only restaurant open at 6:30am was McDonald's, so we didn't have much of a choice.  We wolfed down more breakfasty greasyness before taking the Metro down to the pier.  3/10.

Though we learned our lesson about cafeteria-style food the day before, we were both getting "hangry" by lunchtime at Mt. Vernon.  The cafe there boasts several different mini-restaurants, and we happened to get in line behind an entire school trip at the pizza place.  A twenty-minute wait was hardly worth it for low-quality pizza, but at least we didn't get price gouged this time.  The nearby gift shop was the best on the trip, so if you do get to Mt. Vernon, know that food and shopping are close together. 6/10.

For Tuesday's dinner, after the ridiculously expensive drinks on the cruise back up the river, we went cheap at the food court near our hotel.  I had some "Mexican" food at Moe's, and The Man had some slimy-looking teriyaki.  However filling our dinners may have been, we weren't exactly impressed or ready to try those eateries again. 4/10.

Wednesday morning included another trip to the Corner Bakery.  Baked french toast?  Toe-curling good! 10/10.

After our looooong tour at Arlington, we rode the Metro back to Gallery Place and had our first experience at Chop't.  Think of it like a Subway except for salad.  You pick your base salad, add veggies and meats and whatever you want, and they chop it right there in front of you.  Then they put on the dressing of your choice and mix it all up.  The salad gets thrown into a huge bowl, and you pay for your meal a bit down the line.  It's pretty awesome.  The Man and I have talked at length about how much we'd love to have a Chop't in Corvallis (there is zero opportunity for a proper salad in this area!). 10/10.

With all of the success of our lunches, we were excited to try something new again for dinner.  Though we have a Five Guys not too far up the Interstate, we have never eaten there.  We decided to try the Five Guys in D.C.  Let's just say that we won't be making a special trip to visit one of those again.  Having Burgerville's deliciousness just a short drive from home, many brewpubs and bars with incredible burgers all over Oregon, and In and Out just across the border in California, we know a good burger.  Five Guys isn't it.  Greasy, greasy, gooey burgers.  Salt-slab fries.  Awful mess!  2/10.

Thursday morning?  Corner bakery.  Seriously, can we just move in?

We toured the Capitol and needed something to eat before heading back.  The eateries on Capitol Hill are all swanky or froofy with the exception of We, The Pizza.  The Man and I ordered personal pizzas and guzzled copious amounts of pop due to the heat.  The pizza was good--not Ella's good, but still good.  6/10.

Our one snack break of the week was at FroZenYo near Metro Center.  We stopped due to the heat and humidity of the day, and we were rewarded with very tasty frozen yogurt and the cheapest bottled water in D.C. at $0.29 each!  Score!  8/10.

The last night of our trip included a return to Ella's.  Though We, The Pizza was good, it left a longing to return to Ella's one last time before leaving the city.  Yes, we ate pizza twice in one day (no judging, they were completely different styles).  Ella's delivered yet again, and we were stuffed when we left.  So good, so very good!  10/10.

Friday morning saw us back at the Corner Bakery.  Though it was delicious, we also treated ourselves to Starbucks coffee and tea at our hotel.  8/10.  We didn't have another opportunity for food until we landed in Portland twelve hours later, so it was important to have a huge, late breakfast.

Once we got back to our sales-tax-free homeland, we spied a Wendy's not too far from PDX.  It was such a thrill to see a price and know that we'd only be paying that price.  (I'm not opposed to sales tax--just put it on the pricetag!)  Wendy's gets a 7/10, one extra point for awesome chicken nuggets.

We ate so much good food, and we ate a lot of it to be sure, but neither of us gained any weight on our trip due to the forty-two miles we walked in six days.  Glad to be home, glad to have my own homemade food again, glad to not pay 10% prepared food tax on top of sales tax!

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