Top 5

Church! The Best Places To Watch Football

At approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, Casey Brockman will walk to the line. The Murray State quarterback will look across the field to find Louisville’s stud linebacker Dexter Heyman, hoping to God the Cardinals’ won’t blitz on first. The 6’2’’ junior will lean over center Brock Rydeck, ignore the jeers of the Cardinals’ crowd, and demand the ball.

In all likelihood, it will be a bad day for Casey, Brock and the Murray State Racers, but an excellent day for the rest of us. Because on that day, when Rydeck snaps that ball and Heyman drives Brockman into the field of Cardinal’s Stadium, football will once again be with us (this NFL preseason crap doesn't count).

It’s been said that this game of grace and violence is our national religion. If that’s the case, then the sports bar is our house of worship. Being a fan of far-away teams (South Florida, Buccaneers), it took me a while to find a few decent bars and restaurants in the D.C. area to watch football. The region may be inundated with sports bars, but few offer the trifecta of great beer, good food and the promise of your team on the screen (unless you’re a Skins fan, in which case any Chili’s will do).

Well, friends, I’m here to help. Below are my top five bars and restaurants in the DMV to watch the faux-pros on Saturday and Pro Bowlers on Sunday. 

1. The Black Squirrel: The Black Squirrel has three floors, 49 taps and 11 TVs (and if you call ahead, the third floor can be your private sports bar). Owner Amy Bowman keeps this Best Beer Bar stocked with a top tier line-up of craft beers, while the talented Gene Sohn runs the kitchen (order the burger). Is it a coincidence that on game days all the TVs are tuned in? Nope, The Black Squirrel was co-founded by former sports columnist Tom Knott. (Disclosure: I’m friends with Amy and Tom. Still, The Black Squirrel is a great place to watch football.) 

2. Iron Horse Taproom: If the Iron Horse Taproom opened at noon on weekends it would be the best place in D.C. to watch football. The multi-level bar is big, filled with TVs, has a great selection of craft beers, and features the best menu in town -- by not featuring a menu at all. The Penn Quarter tavern (pictured above) doesn’t have a kitchen, so it allows patrons to bring in food or have it delivered. Want to dig into some Texas barbecue while watching the Lone Star Showdown? No problemo. Grab a pound of brisket from Hill Country or better yet, a burrito from Capital Q and head to the Iron Horse. How about some lamb vindaloo while you watch the John Beck/Rex Grossman quarterback controversy unfold this season? Mehak is just down the street. Just make sure your game doesn’t start before 5 p.m. If it does, you’ll need to head elsewhere. 

3. Frisco Tap House: What’s more American than football? Excess. The Frisco Tap House has 50 taps, a beer engine, a table where you can pour your own draft beer, an extensive bottle and can list, great burritos and eight giant flat screen TVs (with more coming this fall). Sure, the Columbia, Md., bar is a hike if you live in Logan Circle. But if you live in Maryland, you have one hell of a place to watch football.

4. Capitol Lounge: This is where it started for me. When I moved from Tampa to D.C. in the late 90s, Cap Lounge was the only place in town I could reliably catch Bucs games. It helped that one of the bartenders was a Bucs fan and wanted to watch the games, too. The Capitol Hill bar continues to be a great spot to catch a game, with a mess of TVs tucked and hung throughout the two-floor restaurant, and a stellar selection of craft beers on draft and in bottles and cans.  

41380020 5. Rustico: These days, it’s tough to write a story about beer without mentioning ChurchKey and its downstairs sister, Birch & Barley. But before there was CKBB there was Rustico, owner Michael Babin’s first crack at a craft beer establishment. While ChurchKey is unabashedly a beer bar, a fine one at that, Babin makes sure his two Rustico restaurants remain casual neighborhood spots, which makes them ideal for watching the game. Greg Engert oversaw the beer program at the original Rustico in Alexandria before heading over to ChurchKey, and continues to curate the draft and bottle lists for his original restaurant and the newer Ballston location. Although neither will be mistaken for a sports bar, the Rusticos have just enough TVs to catch most of the marquee games. And if the beer list and full menu aren’t enough to attract you, they’re offering beer specials as well. Beginning September 10, both Rustico locations will offer $3.50 cans of craft beer, including G’Knight, Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub and Ten Fidy (they clearly have a thing for Oskar Blues’ beers), and $2.50 cans of college beer (because you or your buddy don’t know better) during games. 

DC Beer Week's Top Five Events (hint: they all involve beer)

DCBeerWeek Ladies and gentlemen, get your livers ready, DC Beer Week will be kicking off on Aug. 14.

As we reported, this week-long celebration of beer (especially local beer!) will include events at the District's best beer bars. The complete list of events can be found on the DC Beer Week site (in partnership with the folks over at the DC and it's quite a list. To help you pick some of the best events for the week (though all look promising) here are my top five:

1. Founders Beer Dinner with Co-Founder Dave Engbers at Birch & Barley - Monday at 7 pm
Birch & Barley- 1337 14th Street NW,

Founders Brewing Company co-founder Dave Engbers will host a food and beer experience, casting light on his fantastic ales. Beer Director Greg Engert will speak to the pairings of these great brews with a menu crafted by Birch & Barley Executive Chef Kyle Bailey and Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac. This is a 5 course tasting menu that will be paired with 9 different Founders hand-crafted ales. Details of the menu are on the way and will be posted here when available. The dinner will be $75 exclusive of tax and gratuity. Call Birch & Barley for reservations. 202-567-2576. 

2. Casks and firkins: All of them! (multiple events, multiple locations)

There are few things in life better than fresh, cask-conditioned beer. During DC Beer Week, there will be a lot of it. Rather than try and pick one event, I'm recommending all of them. Beginning Monday, Aug. 15, the Pour House will be tapping firkins through Saturday from Rhode Island’s Trinity Brewhouse, as well as great local beers from, Oliver Breweries, Evolution Craft Brewing, Heavy Seas, Old Dominion and Fordham. On Tuesday, ChurchKey will turn over all five of its beer engines to Heavy Seas. Because five cask ales is not enough, a sixth real ale will be served directly from a wood barrel previously used to mature bourbon. I tried a variety of Heavy Seas cask ales a few months ago at the brewery's Beer and Barbecue event. They were some of the best beers I've tasted from the Baltimore brewery. And on Thursday, District ChopHouse will be hosting local brewers and their cask ales. The lineup includes the ChopHouse, Capitol City Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Bethesda, Gordon Biersch DC, DuClaw, Franklin’s, Olivers/Pratt St Ale House and Sweetwater. Tickets are $35 and only 80 will be sold.

3. Rye Beer and Spirits with Jack Rose and 3 Stars Brewing – Tuesday at 6pm
Jack Rose Dining Saloon – 2007 18th Street NW,

Few things go better with beer than whiskey. This event pairs a flight of rye whiskeys hand-picked by the Jack Rose staff with the B.W. Rye ale, a collaboration beer from D.C. brewers 3 Stars Brewing Company and Steve Jones of Baltimore's Oliver Breweries. Meet the brewers and enjoy a guided tasting highlighting flavor profiles and key characteristics of the spicy and flavorful rye grain, which is in so many great beers and whiskeys. The price for this will be around $20-25.

4. Trinity Brewhouse Beer Dinner at Granville Moore’s – Wednesday at 6:30pm
Granville Moore’s – 1238 H Street NE, www.granvillemoore’

Granville Moore's Chef Maria Evans teamed up with Trinity Brewmaster Sean Larkin and Granville Moore's chef and co-owner Teddy Folkman to put together a five-course dinner featuring one of the beers she and Folkman brewed at the Trinity in July. Look for Evans' classic New England dishes, including sepia with milled malt and sorachi hop oil, a whole pig, and a bunch of other surprises, all with a Granville’s twist. Tickets are $70 per person. Reservations and more info at 202-399-2546 or

5. DC Homebrewers Association Homebrew Competition at Red Palace – Saturday at 4pm
The Red Palace – 1212 H Street NE,

Full disclosure: I'm a homebrewer and member of the DC Homebrewers club. I've tried a lot of these guys' and gals' handiwork, and let me tell you, they make good beer. If you don't believe me, come give them a try. The $10 ticket gets you entry into this homebrew competition at the Red Palace. There will be a DJ and the opportunity to taste beers from homebrewers all across the city.

Top 5 Restaurants

Wow! I haven't updated my Top 5 in a long time and it's about time I updated this since there are a couple places I haven't been to in a while. Here are my top 5 restaurants for April 2006.

1) Komi - Come on, did you really expect anything else?!
2) Corduroy - Foie gras and whole crispy fried fish, and probably the best steaks in town. Plus their web site is really kick ass.
3) Ray's the Steaks - Excellent fresh steaks and the best crab bisque in DC. Who could ask for more?
4) 2 Amys - This is the best pizza in DC, plain and simple, but the secret is to order off the bar menu once you go every week, twice a week and are bored with the pizza.
5) Circle Bistro - If you're seeing a show at The Kennedy Center, there's no other choice for dinner.

Honorable Mentions:
Dino -  This is slowly becoming my favorite place to eat Italian food in the district. Try the lasagnette or cinghiale. Also the wine, cheese and cured meats can't be beat.

Top 5 Restaurants

Okay. I know I haven't updated my top 5 restaurant list since May, but quite honestly, I haven't felt the need to change it. So here I am, reaffirming my top 5 list. I know it's kind of lame, but these are really the restaurants that I feel are the best in the city when you consider quality of food, service, and value.

1) Komi - Where else in DC can you get meals as adventurous and pleasing as you do at Komi. I really don't think I've ever had a meal at Komi that I was disappointed with. Sebastian, the wine and service director left recently, so hopefully this doesn't affect the overall atmosphere of the restaurant.
2) Corduroy - Two words - Duck Confit. Go there. Try it. NOW.
3) 2 Amys -  Yeah, I don't need to say anything else about 2 Amys.
4) Heritage India - Definitely the best Indian restaurant in the city.
5) Samantha's - If you go to Samantha's, make sure you order off the Salvadoran and Mexican specialties. This isn't the place to get a standard enchilada. While it will be good, this isn't what their specialty is.

If there's a restaurant that I'd want to put on this list if possible, it'd be Circle Bistro. I love the soups and Chef Brendan Cox continues to serve up consistantly perfect food at his restaurant. Maybe someday I'll drop one of the restaurants about off the list and replace it with Circle Bistro, but not today.

Top 5 Restaurants - May

After skipping last month, I thought I would update my top 5 because I've had some really good meals lately that have made me rethink what my favorites are.

1) Komi - I continue to have excellent meals at Komi. Johnny and Sebastian are doing a great job with their place and every trip there for me is an absolute pleasure.
2) Corduroy - What's in a name? Well in Tom Power's case it's simple, fresh, seasonal ingredients that make my mouth water just thinking about them. I've wanted to put Corduroy on my Top 5 list for a while, but until this month, I'd only eaten there once.
3) 2 Amys - Uh yeah. I think you guys all know I love this place.
4) Heritage India - I've been ordering delivery from Heritage so much lately that I just had to put it on my Top 5 list.  There Indian cuisine is tops in the area in my opinion. Despite the sometimes sketchy service, I still love going to both locations.
5) Samantha's - I'm in love with the pupusas (not papusas) at this place, but a lot of places have good pupusas. It's the authentic Mexican and Salvadoran dishes at Samatha's that set it apart from other restaurants.

This month, I'm on a mission to find a good Asian restaurant (other than Indian) to put on next month's Top 5. I've been so disappointed with the Asian cuisine I've eaten lately -- I know it's because I just haven't been going to the right places. If any of you know some good suggestions, let me know PLEASE!!!

Top 5 Restaurants

OK. This month, I am back to having an overall top 5 restaurants because quite honestly, I just don't have 5 great meals to put in a Top 5 Meals post. So here they are, my top 5 favorite restaurants to eat at in Washington, DC.

1) Komi - I've said it before and I'll say it again - Best Restaurant in DC. I'd eat here every night if I could afford it.
2) 2 Amys - It's not just for pie eaters anymore. venture out a bit and order off the bar menu and you won't regret it.
3) Passage To India - Chef Sudhir's recent revamp of his restaurants menu makes Passage to India the top choice for Indian food.
4) Spezie - For the money, I'd say that Spezie your best bet for  Italian in the DC.
5) Samantha's - I'm eating at Samantha's pretty much every weekend now.

Top 5 Meals - December

This month was tough again. Some of the restaurants that I expected to make the list, turned out not to be so great, and others were better than I expected.

1) Komi - As a commenter said -- KOMI ROCKS!! I couldn't have said it any better. Our recent meal there was one of the best we've eaten in a long time.
2) Heritage India (Dupont) - A meal composed entirely of appetizers shouldn't be so good.
3) Ceiba - Ceiba continued so satisfy us this month at Amy's birthday dinner.
4) Tallula - My trip to this promising new restaurant with Jen and Mike was a really fun night.
5) 2 Amys - It's hard for me not to put this place on my top 5 list. Make sure you order the Rabbit or mozzarella from the Bar Menu. Scott, at the bar,  will thank you.

Top 5 Meals - November

This is going to be a tough post to write, because I ate a lot of great meals in November, but it's gotta be done so here goes.

1) 2 Amys - Remember my post about the fried dough?? can't beat that!
2) Samantha's - I had an awesome dish there last Saturday. It was a Cuban-style pork with a bitter-orange and mustard sauce that was out of this world.
3) Spezie - Our return to Spezie with my parents reminded us that we don't get back to Spezie nearly enough. we'll be going back again soon. Hi Enzo!
4) My Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner - Nothing beats my challah stuffing. (OK, the recipe is really my grandmother's. So sue me.)
5) Mandalay - Despite having no liquor license, we still really enjoyed the Burmese cuisine of this bargain Silver Spring eatery.

Top 5 Meals

Ok, I have a new Top 5 for all of you. It's not the same type of Top 5 as before and I'll explain why.

It's nearly impossible for me to cover all the restaurants in the city. I wish I could, but I just don't have the time or the money to do it. I found that the last couple months I wasn't able to go to all of the restaurants I have in my Top 5. Particularly Spezie and Palena, which makes me sad, but I have been busy trying new places like Osteria del Galileo, Samantha's, and Sette Osteria. Of course, I do make it back to my favorites like 2 Amys, Indique, and Heritage India, but that's because they're right around the corner from me. So, since I am unable to verify that the restaurants on my Top 5 are still worthy of that status, I am posting a Top 5 Meals this month. So here they are, the Top 5 Meals of October.

1) Osteria del Galileo
2) 2 Amys
3) Samatha's
4) Olazzo
5) Heritage India

Another side note:
I understand that I'm missing from my Top 5 lists what most people consider to be "the best" restaurants in DC like Citronelle, Galileo (the "real" Galileo), Minibar, etc, but you're guaranteed to drop at least $300 on a meal for two at those places and quite honestly -- that's ridiculous. I eat a meal like that maybe once a year. You'll start seeing reviews of places like that when my traffic quadruples and more people start clicking on my Google ads. :)

Top 5 Pizza Restaurants

I thought I would start a series of my top 5 favorite places to eat in each category. Of course I don't put any place on these Top 5 Lists that I have not eaten at, so if you think you know a place that is better, post a comment.

My Top 5 places to eat pizza:

1) Vace
2) 2 Amys
3) Pizzeria Paradiso
4) Jumbo Slice
5) Cafe Villa

For those of you who are not familiar with the last 2...

There are a bunch of Jumbo Slice places in Adams Morgan. I think the most famous one is the one near Madams Organ. Cafe Villa is a small pizza place out by where I work. They have great NY style pizza, Italian Subs and calzones.