13 days, 6 locations, and 2999 miles later, we’ve finally made it home. It’s with mixed feelings that I write this last foodie-finds post. On one hand, I’ve never loved my bed so much, but on the other hand, I’ll definitely miss the exploring we did over the past two weeks. I saw and ate SO many new things, that I’m already dreaming of the next adventure I’ll be able to go on.
We ended our trip in the most fitting place: Washington D.C. For those of you who don’t know, I lived in D.C. for a magical couple of months a few years ago. I never really got over the whole living-in-a-postcard thing, so going back to this second home was very special. Because this city represents such an odd mix of tradition and constant change, my food choices followed suit. I returned to some favorite places of mine, and also tried cuisine I had never even considered before. So, without further ado, some of my favorite finds from D.C.
For this one, instead of telling you about our finds in chronological order, I tell you all about savory finds first, then sweet treats after…both new and old. Up first, an oldie but goodie: Burger, Tap and Shake, or as most DC locals know it, BTS. At BTS, you can find a variety of cleverly named burgers, deliciously seasoned fries and quite a few milkshake options. You can choose to go safe with a classically flavored shake, or you can be a badass and get a cocktail inspired one.
Because I was feeling super nostalgic at the time, I ordered what I’ve always ordered. My (slightly modified) version of the SoCal Pilgrim consists of a juicy turkey burger on a whole wheat bun, topped with smashed avocado, greens, red onion and tomato. For a little extra jazz, you can throw some provolone cheese and chipotle ranch on there as well. And, because burgers and fries are best friends forever, I also chowed down on some crispy sweet potato fries. Guys, this may seem like a simple meal, but it’s so good. That avocado is EVERYTHING.
Later that day for dinner, we went with another historic choice: Founding Farmers. Not only did I remember this place as being top notch, but it’s also known as a “must-go” by many D.C. critics. And, if the reviews weren’t evidence enough, the million hour wait was. But, anyways. Founding Farmers prides itself on serving high quality food, that is locally sourced from community farms. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and if you’re lucky to be close to it on a weekend day, a KILLER brunch.
By the time we were seated, we were starving. Hence, our multiple appetizers: the skillet corn bread with honey butter, and the whirley pop kettle corn pot. Oh my Lord, I could have just eaten these for dinner. The corn bread had a bottom layer of real and fresh corn, while the top muffin layer was light and fluffy. And, the kettle corn? They weren’t kidding. They mix that stuff up and just put the pot right on your table in front of you. And, if you’re like me, you eat it by the handful with no table manners whatsoever. Luckily, after eating my way through our corn themed apps, I had room for my actual meal: a long roasted pork chop with sides of green beans with candied lemon and mint watermelon with sea salt. I had always heard of the watermelon/salt combo going around, but always kind of shuttered at it. Well, I take the shutter back because that ish was delicious.
Okay, now for my newest savory experiment. Guys, I tried Lebanese food. Now, for some of you, this might not be all that impressive. Especially when I tell you what I tried. But, still! In the most American place in America, I was pretty proud to have stepped out of my comfort zone! For lunch on our second day, we went to a hole in the wall place, popular amongst locals: Muncheez. Located in Georgetown, Muncheez looks like it could either serve the most delicious or sketchiest Lebanese food. After trying it out, I’m glad to say, the former is true.
Teetering the line between being adventurous and wanting to be able to still function for the rest of the day, I decided to go with an option that I didn’t need to Google the name of: a shawarma platter. On this platter, you could choose either chicken or beef shawarma to go with hummus, a mixed greens salad, a pita…and some french fries? Despite that last American twist there, it still seemed pretty legitimate as I watched them carve my chicken off of the spit and place it directly on to my plate. And, eating with my greasy hands as I made my own little pita, hummus and shawarma wraps was pretty fun as well. Apparently, it looks like I’ll need to be seeking out international street food more often!
Okay, on to the sweet stuff! If you’re starting to doze off mid-blog, perk up, because it’s the time you’ve been waiting for! (Oh, you didn’t know you were waiting for something?) Like any worthy D.C tourist who has spent their time in this historic and educational city wisely, I put in some hard work and completed a cupcake taste test. The most popular cupcake rivals in the D.C are Georgetown Cupcakes and Sprinkles Cupcakes, both located in Georgetown. Now, to be fair, I’ve compared and contrasted these places (a few times) before. And each time, a certain place has won. So, this time, I decided to try it again, but add in another, lesser known player: Baked and Wired. I judged each competitor on three categories: frosting, cake, and overall appearance. Let’s not beat around the bush any longer. Here’s the breakdown:
Here, we waited for 30 minutes…surprisingly not too long of a time considering the lines I’ve seen wrap around this place before. When you walk in, there’s an attractive case and additional menu on a board that allow you to consider your options before you’re asked for your order. I ordered a coffee cookies and cream cupcake. For a single treat, the price was $3.25. For a traditionally sized cupcake, I guess that’s okay.
- Cake: The base was supposed to be a cookies and cream cake. What I found it to be was a bland vanilla cake with large chunks of cookie mixed in…doesn’t exactly lead to an overall cookies and cream flavor.
- Frosting: Strong coffee taste, but a little sweet and artificial.
- Appearance: Clean and simple with a garnish of cookies on top
Overall…eh. I will say though, they had the largest variety of any place I tried. I saw old flavors I remembered, and new ones I had never seen.
Upon walking in, there was no line for these cupcakes. This might be misleading, causing you to think that a lack of a line means a lack of quality. Wrongo! Selection wise, Sprinkles is a pretty classic place. There’s an acceptable amount of variety, but not a lot of change in selection. In fact, I only saw one new one since my last visit three years ago (although their menu says they have more choices on a rotating basis). I went with one I never tried before: the dark chocolate banana. A price for one cupcake was also $3.25.
- Cake: Holy Banana Cake. With chunks of actual banana mixed in, this moist cake had some genuine flavor.
- Frosting: Pretty run of the mill dark chocolate. Rich taste, smooth texture. But, the really cool part about the frosting? They sell it in shot form, for those of us who know that frosting is king.
- Appearance: The cupcake was topped with the signature Sprinkles button decoration, cute and simple.
Baked and Wired
This small batch bakery, full of references to activities that may or may not be legal in your home state, was a little off the beaten path, but clearly popular looking at the crowd inside. Single cupcakes of each kind were displayed on individual stands along the counter. If it weren’t for the menu that you could request upon entry, figuring out what you wanted to order could potentially be kind of difficult. Variety wise, there was a good mix of chocolatey, vanilla-y and fruity flavors. Each cake was $3.85. I went with the Smurfette, a lemon cake with blueberries baked in, topped with a lemon buttercream.
- Cake: This was a pretty large cupcake. The blueberries inside were real and it was moist, but the overall cake was pretty heavy, kind of like a muffin.
- Frosting: The buttercream had a real lemony flavor. You could see specks of zest mixed in, so you knew it wasn’t all extract. I just wish there was more of it, considering the cake was so big.
- Appearance: Like I said, the size was the largest and most importantly, it was wrapped in a really interesting way, using parchment paper instead of a liner. It was simply and classically topped with a fondant blue flower.
And, so… the overall winner was… Sprinkles Cupcakes! The cake put this place over the top, for sure. A close second goes to Baked and Wired though, for their genuine flavor and unique appearance.
My last noteworthy, and new sweet experience was at Ice Cream Jubilee. It’s been credited with having some of the best ice cream not only in the D.C area, but in America by publishers like Thrillist and the Washington City Paper. This shop is located in Navy Yard, the part of the city I used to work in. In the past three years, it’s transformed completely into such a beautiful place. One of the many upgrades was this Ice Cream Jubilee!
Just by looking at the menu, you can see how unique their flavors are. I ended up trying like four of them because I was conflicted. I ended up going with the most amazing flavor of them all: Banana Bourbon Caramel. Each one of those elements could be tasted individually and made such a good combo together. And, while you could combine flavors, and eat them in waffle cones or over cookies, you didn’t need to. A simple sugar cone was I all I needed to find perfect satisfaction.
And, that folks, is all she wrote. After such an amazing, but filling trip, I’m going to need to hook myself up to a lettuce IV for a few weeks. While, I’m doing that though, you can look forward to returning to our normal schedule. Coming up, you’ll find more French inspired goods, fruity creations, and… a baking competition!? Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!