Borderstan welcomes new contributor From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com
9:30 Club and DC Central Kitchen teamed up recently to host another successful Soundbites DC. Under the groovy guise of a sixties tie-dye, outdoor music festival, DC music lovers and foodies reveled in tastings from the city’s best restaurants. I had the good fortune to be one of them. Tents lined V Street NW outside the 9:30 Club with vendors hawking tasting plates ranging from Shake Shack’s Oatmeal Pie frozen custard, to Indique’s chicken tikka masala, to Pepe the Food Truck’s Spanish ham and cheese. And with all food donated by the local restaurants themselves, ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen.
With my hand finally stamped and my mouth hanging open, I realized fairly quickly after cleareing the gates that I couldn’t simply eat my way from station to station; a Mac Rib slider from Sixth Engine, shrimp polenta from Policy, and a focaccia sandwich from Cork later, my strategy had to change. The sheer volume of samplings gathered in one place imposed a degree of selectivity. My passion for food and appetite to give each dish a chance drove me to literally overstuff myself. Even so, it was physically impossible to taste every single dish. Within the first 45 minutes, I was packed to the gills.
Nevertheless, I managed to sample a few of the dishes I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself for missing. One highlight included the ceviche from Pearl Dive Oyster Palace that otherwise would have required a two-hour wait on a Saturday night. A salty, crunchy tortilla chip was the vehicle for a tender and acidic octopus topped with red onion and cilantro. Mandu represented both East Asian flavors and upper Dupont’s 18th Street with a spicy kimchi and pork taco.
Herbivores, however, flocked to the Mediterranean dish at Room 11, offering one of the few vegetarian dishes at the event, tahini dressing and cayenne complimented the smoky, garlic roasted cauliflower well. Meat eaters rejoiced over the range of sliders offered, but unfortunately those with more classic interpretations often went overlooked in favor of the more exotic renditions. Harry’s Smokehouse provided a favorite, and practically a whole meal–the tasting plates (let alone my stomach) could hardly fit the juicy barbecued pulled pork slider, collard greens and cornbread.
Soundbites DC was the perfect marriage of philanthropy, music, and food, entirely designed and targeted for the active Washingtonian and highly representative of some of Borderstan’s very best. I keep my own bucket list of restaurants I have been meaning to visit, and this event allowed me to cross many of them off (and in quite the cost effective way). Knowing that the proceeds of ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen made the $40 deal even more delicious.
So what’s your strategy? How do you survive the enormity of DC’s food festivals? Let me know and I’ll try it out at DC’s next food event!
Borderstan readers, I want you to know that this review is completely biased. I love Taylor Gourmet sandwiches so much so that I spent my anniversary at their new restaurant, enjoying orange Pellagrino with my significant other. That being said, here are a bunch of reasons why the sandwiches at Taylor Gourmet are worth the $7.10 for the 6-inch or $9.50 for the 12-inch.
The new Taylor Gourmet opened on 14th street on Tuesday and if there was a seeming lack of line, it wasn’t for a lacking of buzz. Owners Casey Patten and David Mazza opened their fourth store of gourmet hoagies just in time to greet customers coming in from the blustery cold with a hot marinara sauce. The hoagies, named after streets in Philadelphia, are homage to their Pennsylvania roots and work to fill a deep-seated desire in the two best friends for a quality sandwich.
What’s a hoagie, you ask? It’s a sub! Wikipedia: “The sandwich originated in several different Italian American communities in the Northeastern United States from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries.”
“We spent a couple of years trying to find something that filled that void. We invested in some property on H Street and… I said, we’re going to build a hoagie shop,” said Patten.
The hoagies are the star here, but you can also get a solid salad and sides, like risotto balls or fried ravioli. Patten’s favorite cold hoagie is the 9th Street Italian — salami, capicola, prosciutto and provolone — but he also recommends the Pattison Avenue (roasted pork and provolone), particularly for the salted broccoli rabe.
Their vegetarian sandwiches are a welcome step away from the typical grilled vegetables seen at many places. My perennial favorite is the Christian Street — goat cheese, arugula, roasted peppers and beefy strips of portabella. Tip: Pay the extra $2.40 for the 12-inch hoagie, keep half and you’ve got lunch the next day!
Taylor Gourmet is meant to be a neighborhood establishment–a place for people to congregate, to meet for lunch or dinner. “It’s a phenomenal neighborhood,” said Patten, a former Borderstan resident, “14th Street has a lot of energy.”
The interior of the new restaurant exudes the kind of enthusiasm Patten describes. With a light installation made of drywall buckets and reclaimed wood throughout the dining area, the restaurant is well situated among the eclectic and original stores along 14th Street.
“I’m a fan of contemporary furnishings — what we’ve done at all the stores is to make it contemporary, with rustic elements. Reclaimed wood, raw steel, a hundred dry wall buckets. It’s comfortable, we want to make people feel at home to a degree,” says Patten.
Patten is pretty complimentary of his new neighbors too — asked about his favorite places in Borderstan he admitted to spending “one too many late nights at Black Jack,” and regularly enjoys Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Estadio and Mandu. And outside Borderstan? “My go to place, if I have time, is Pasta Mia (in Adams Morgan). It feels like my mom or my grandma’s cooking to me. Good simple, American-Italian food, there is something very comforting about it.”
Get your fix of Taylor Gourmet. If you’re like me, you’ll know the names of the staff making your sandwich soon enough.
Taylor Gourmet: The Details
- Where Am I Going?1908 14th Street NW, below District Yoga
- When Am I Going? Sunday to Wednesday 11 am to 10 pm; Thursday, 11 am to 2:30 am; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 3:30 am.
- Delivery? Yes, but delivery lines are still being drawn. $2 surcharge and $18 minimum.
- Paycheck Pain? $7.10 for a 6-inch hoagie, $9.50 for a 12-inch hoagie.
- Say What? A good beat going over the speakers, but my guess is that once people find out about this place, much louder.
- What You’ll Be Eating: Philly-style hoagies with fresh ingredients.
First and foremost: Spend time outside this weekend! If possible, take the day off on Friday to enjoy the delightful spring-like weather that we have in store. With a high of 70 degrees, I know that I’ll be making a beeline for an outdoor happy hour spot right after work. My favorite outdoor happy hour in the neighborhood? We’ll save a full roundup for when it’s actually spring, but Mandu’s front patio and Local 16’s rooftop make my late-winter cut.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, Thursday night calls for grabbing someone special (perhaps you botched Valentine’s Day? This is your opportunity to redeem yourself) and heading over to the Corcoran Gallery for their Thursday Date Night promo, which runs every Thursday throughout the month of February. You’ll be able to snag two-for-one admission (it’s usually $10 per person) and you can also check out the “Champagne & Kisses” special available at the Corcoran Café, which includes two glasses of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries or a cheese and fruit plate ($15).