Friday, February 12, 2010

Our Favorite Neighborhood Restaurants

Enjoying the business of lunch is a PCG avocation, and we have more than a few great places in our West End neighborhood to justify a quick foodie tour of it. Here, then, are my Top 5 PCG lunch spots, in no particular order.

Jack’s Fresh – part of a chain, yes, but don’t forget that so are most of those steakhouses littering town. Jack’s is the source of some pretty great bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches in the morning, and even better grilled cheese for lunch.

Stick with: just about anything from the grill
Steer clear of: for me? Seafood. No way is that a good decision at a place where much of the food sits out all day on a buffet.

Famous Luigi’s – the unofficial PCG cafeteria, due to its Italian comfort food, amazing bread and great service.

Stick with: calzones and manicotti – there are other gems (the agnolotti with spinach and ricotta is a new favorite), but these two are the tops
Steer clear of: pizza – I’ve eaten enough of it working late in the office, but it’s heavy on the oil and the crust overdoes the buttery richness that has us demanding a bread basket the minute we sit down.

Vidalia – so much more than just onions. Rich, interesting takes on southern food are what this place is known for. Where Georgia Brown’s is low-country comfort food, Vidalia embraces the new south – elegant and if sometimes affected.

Stick with: the pecan pie. Rich enough to be a meal on its own; sweet enough to buy your dentist a new BMW.
Steer clear of: seafood. It’s not that the seafood is disappointing; it’s that the game, chops and steaks are so perfectly done, you’re missing out if you choose anything else.

The Palm – yeah, yeah, it’s a steakhouse. Bobby Van’s may have the lock on sides and the lobster at Smith and Wolenski is still a sight to see, but the steaks are better at The Palm than even the trendier places on the Hill.

Stick with: meat. Sorry, but this isn’t the place if you’re trying to wow your new vegan client.
Steer clear of: sides. I’m always disappointed here and wish I had just saved room for dessert.

West End Bistro – This place was hot in the office when it first opened, but has cooled considerably since. Despite that, the ingredients here were too fresh and the food too flavorful to leave it off. And every once-in-a-while, mega-chef Eric Ripert shows up.

Stick with: the burger is one of the best I’ve ever had.
Steer clear of: skate, but mostly for the presentation. All-brown plates don’t do much for me.

Honorable mention – Sam and Harry’s. My first “favorite place to eat in Washington” because this is where my wife and I went to celebrate our engagement. Remember, even the best meals don’t last very long, so the food will always taste better on the tip of your memory if you share it with someone special.

- Potomac Communications Group


  1. I love a list that includes both Jack's Fresh and the Palm. Nicely done! I still miss that place. Jack's that is. Yum! And say you want about seafood, but their salmon was great.

  2. I would add Nando's Peri Peri and Mai Tai to the list. Nando's is pretty much a regular Friday field trip and Mai Tai is the only place I can count on run into a PCGer while eating lunch.