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January 2004

December 2003

Cactus Cantina

Cafe Deluxe was totally packed last night because Monday is half-price wine night. Instead of waiting an hour, we walked down to Cactus Cantina. It was mediocre at best. There was like a pound of cheese on my enchilada, the plate was piping hot (good sign it had been sitting under the heat lamps for a while.) Amy's salad was a big bowl of lettuce, a few bits of chicken and a handful of overcooked corn. Blech!

The only things that are good at this place in any sort of consitant manner are the chimichanga and the fajitas. It is pretty much impossible to mess either of these up and you can get them everywhere.

Oh. One other thing, The margaritas suck here. They are all mix and no tequila.

I think the only reason we ever go here is when we try to go to another place and it is too crowded (like last night.)

2 Amys

I'm going to sum up this review in one sentence...

Two Amys is hands-down, the most wonderful place in DC to get gourmet pizza.

Go there now!

Now for my review.

Located near the corner of Wisconson and Macomb in NW, 2 Amys is the most kickass gourmet pizza in DC.  Notice that I said gourmet pizza, and not just pizza. There are sometimes that gourmet pizza just doesn't cut it. When I want a slice of plain old New York-style pizza, I go to Vace on Connecticut Ave., or one of those places on 18th St. in Adams Morgan with the oversized slices. (Best drinkin' food there is.)However, if I want to sit down for an excellent Italian meal, I go to 2 Amys.

2 Amys is loud, loud, loud and busy. If you are looking for ambiance and romance (and I can't stress this enough), don't go there. There is a small bar in the back where you can wait, but there is seldom space to sit or stand. If you go any night (even weekdays) between 7 and 8:30 you are looking at a 30 minute wait or more.

What 2 Amys does have though, is excellent food. Most of the menu is in Italian, but don't hesitate to ask the friendly servers...they're used to it.  To start with, the appetizers are some of the best I have had in the city. Suppli a Telefono is an unusual appetizer: risotto rolled into balls, stuffed with mozzarella cheese and then deep-fried. The app-sized meatballs (Polpettine) are perfect precursor to a pizza. They bake them in a shallow dish with homemade marinara sauce. We'll often get these and dip our pizza crusts in the leftover sauce. Mmmmm, tasty.

The pizza, as I said before, is the best in DC. 2 Amys is a member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), which is a pizza-makers' guild that enforces the authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe and process. As an AVPN member, 2 Amys must follow strict rules about everything used in the pizza -- from the types of flours and yeast used for the dough to the tomatoes and cheeses permitted as toppings.  The pizza is made in a giant wood-burning stove that you can see at the entrance. As the pizzas come out of the oven, the cooks throw a generous swirl of extra-virgin olive oil on them. Quiet, olive oil is good for you!

The crust tastes better than any other I have tasted -- seriously. That's says a lot from someone whose family comes from NY and has probably eaten more pizza than any of y'all growing up. The toppings are fresh and original. Where else can you get a pizza with cockels (clams) on it -- and in the shell no less? Anyway, most of the time we usually get the Norcia which has salami, sweet peppers, garlic and mozzarella.

My wife and I have been to two Amys so many times that we order off the specials menu more and more. It is rare that we get a special that we do not like. Antipasto with fresh cheeses, fruits and meats, or an excellent green bean and speck salad.

The special desserts are our favorite part. I highly recommend the homemade ice cream (especially the chocolate barley malt or chocolate chip pistachio, if they have it.) Also, if they have the baked apple pie, order it as soon as you sit down. The one time they had this, it sold out and I was the last person to get one. Your momma's apple pie deoesn't stand a chance against this (sorry mom.) My wife does not even like apple pie and she could not get enough of this.

(Unfortunately, this can be a common occurance -- 2 Amys often sells out of the specials, sometimes relatively early in the evening. So if you've had a long wait, or are just there late, save yourself the torture and don't look at the specials menu to see the amazing stuff you can't have.)

Another highlight is the wine list. 2 Amys has many Italian wines that aren't served anywhere else. If you order a glass, they don't serve it in a typical wine class. They serve it in a regular drink glass and fill it up generously. One glass at 2 Amys is usually about 2 normal glasses of wine elsewhere -- perfect for all you alcoholics out there.

I could go on and on about how wonderful the food is at 2 Amys, but you will have to go and try it yourself to believe me.  See you there!

2 Amys
3715 Macomb St. NW
Washington, DC

Mon 5pm-10pm
Tues-Sun 11 am-11 pm

Dress Code: Casual
Reservations: Not Accepted

Qdoba Mexican Grill

In case you've never heard of it, Qdoba is a Chipotle style, fast casual restaurant. One recently moved in by my office in Largo, I have eaten there a few times for lunch.  (In case you are wondering where Largo is, it is in the middle of nowhere in PG County where south of where RT 50 intersects with the Beltway.) In some respects, I am impressed, and in others, eating there just makes me crave Chipotle.

First, let me talk about the positives. They have more variety than Chipotle. On top of burritos, Qdoba has quesadillas, soups, and salads. I ordered a Chicken Taco Salad today for lunch and I was pretty impressed. On the salad, they put a black bean corn salsa and a spicy ranch dressing. Add the extra hot salsa, and you have yourself a fantastic salad.

I have not ordered it yet, but the Grilled Vegetable Burrito sounds very appetizing. Unlike Chipotle's boring Vegitarian Burrito, this one has zucchini, scallions, eggplant and sweet red peppers. If I were a vegetarian, I would prefer Qdoba over Chipotle. However, I'm not a rabbit.

Now for the negatives. First of all, Qdoba's burritos are not nearly as flavorful as Chipotle's. The meats and rice are not seasoned well and the salsas are not as spicy (of course for some, that might be a positive). The "Extra Hot" salsa is about as hot as Chipotle's medium salsa. Also, the Guacamole is especially bland. If you order a burrito at Qdoba, expect a blander, but possibly more complex, version of what you will get at Chipotle.

Sushi Sushi

I just want to say right off, that my wife and I are not expert sushi eaters. We generally stick to tuna, salmon, and rolls. So given that, this review might not mean much to you...

Sushi Sushi recently opened a second location at the intersection of Wisconson and Macomb in NW. It moved in the vacant location where the Flat Top Grill used to be. As it's name sounds, it's a no nonsense sushi restaurant. They don't mess around with other Asian cuisines like Spices does.

The first thing we noticed was that the service is friendly and prompt. They have plenty of people there to serve you. I counted three different people that came by our table tonight. The miso soup was not your average miso. I found it was much better than that of other Asian restaurants. The soybeans are as good as any we've had at other Asian restaurants. Granted, it is hard to mess up soybeans.

The rolls were the highlight for us (big surprise). So far we have tried the spicy crunch tuna roll, spicy crunchy california roll, etc, etc. Tonight we tried the Sunny Delight roll. It was basically a california roll wrapped in Salmon with sweet and spicy sauce. Honestly, I would have never tried this unless Amy had ordered it, but it was excellent. Sushi Sushi also has temaki rolls which are cone shaped rolls that come in single servings. Both Amy and I found these a bit difficult to eat (Yes, I know, we are ignorant hicks). The sashimi was fresher than we have received at other sushi restaurants.

Overall we are very happy with our dining experiences at Sushi Sushi and we plan to continue to go back there. They are a reliable (so far) place that is close to us. If you live more than 20 minutes away, I would not go making a special trip. There are probably other sushi restaurants that are closer to you and are just as good.

Our average bill has been under $50 which is pretty reasonable when you consider we usually order drinks and appetizers.