Quito, Ecuador bleg

I haven’t been for about twenty-five years, so I very much welcome your recommendations on what to do, see, and eat there. And what should one do with a spare day in Guayaquil?

I thank you all in advance for your extreme wisdom and counsel.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Port Au Prince

Port Au Prince, web site, 7912 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD, 301-565-2006. Closed Fridays, as they are Seventh Day Adventists, slightly unusual hours so check before going. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | Bethesda Magazine | Ylp]

They have fried goat, fried turkey, the Haitian classic black rice with mushrooms (always a must), divine spicy red sauce, and very good plantains. This is the most authentic Haitian place the DC area has had. It is also a fun hang-out with a dynamic Haitian and African-American crowd, nice décor, good homey feel. The key is to apply the spicy red sauce liberally to virtually everything you order – ask for extra. There is really no downside to this place, but I will note it is not mom and pop level cheap. The prices are entirely reasonable for what you get, but entrees run in the low twenties, not the low teens. Just know that before going. I’m a big fan and look forward to repeated visits.


Haiti’s Street Food



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Fahrenheit, web site, 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd., you have to enter on Beverly, McLean, VA, 703-646-8968 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

How come no one reviews this place? The menu is limited, but it is the best Chinese in this entire area right now, fully Sichuan, the chefs are from Chengdu. There is hot pot on the main menu, but mostly you should use the menu on the chalkboard and then another, only in Chinese menu, written out on a small business card, which you need to ask for. The Ants on a Tree is amazing here, probably the best I have had, ever, including in China. The kung pao chicken I also recommend. Everything is excellent. Do note it is usually a pork-heavy menu. This place would stand out even if it were in Flushing, Queens. Not so many seats, so do call ahead for a reservation.


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Mirabelle, web site, 900 16th Street MW, Washington, DC, 202-506-3833 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Zagat | WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Michelin | City Paper | Ylp]


With Charles Philipponnat


Note that the old chefs left and a new regime was installed in mid-2018. However this is still one of DC’s best fancy restaurants. I thought the abalone and tagliatelle courses were both superb, two of the best dishes in town. The duo of lamb was very tasty, the chocolate dessert ordinary but it gave me what I wanted. All for “only” $100. I hear reports that the other courses can be uneven, but of course it is the peaks that matter. You can debate whether this delivers more consumer surplus than the $4 pupusa, but at the very least it is better than most of the other fancy places in town.


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Mayura, web site 1, web site 2, 10406 Venice Blvd, Culver City, Los Angeles, CA, 310-559-9644 [Google | LA Weekly | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

I don’t usually think of LA as a splendid place for Indian food, but in fact it is. The specialty here is Keralan, and that is what you should order. Go to the Keralan section of the menu and get all eight or so dishes there, or fewer if you are alone. The vegetables are superb, the biryani too. I don’t know of any place in North America better for Keralan food. The buffet looked fine, but I doubt if that is your optimal strategy here. Plus it is in a lovely strip mall.


MAYURA SOUTH INDIAN CUISINE, Culver City, CA. by Golfing Country



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The sushi restaurant in the D.C. Trump International Hotel

Sushi Nakazawa, web site, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC, 202-289-3515 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

I offer a mostly sociological review in my latest Bloomberg column. When I went the restaurant was completely empty the entire time. D.C. really doesn’t like Trump, or being affiliated with him. But here is my assessment of the food and restaurant:

And what about the food? It may be the best restaurant in Washington right now — and it was the second-best sushi meal I’ve had in America, behind only Masa, the Michelin three-star temple in Manhattan. Sushi Nakazawa flies in lots of sushi from Hokkaido, a premier source of supply, and the presentation is impeccable.

If I have a complaint, it is about the décor and atmosphere: the tacky carpet, highly visible fire alarm and annoying muzak were all magnified by the absence of human beings in the main dining room. The room is ugly without being informal or relaxing or culturally interesting.

And here is my theory of tax incidence:

How much money did I funnel to the pockets of Trump? I don’t know the details of the restaurant’s contract with the hotel, but unless business picks up, I suspect I was merely limiting its losses. Still, there is a small chance that my single meal — or maybe this column — nudges its operators into extending their lease. Then again, if a sushi restaurant is a worse fit for the hotel than, say, another bar or steakhouse, I could just as easily be helping to keep the hotel’s profits down. I don’t feel I have committed a utilitarian sin.

Be there, or be square!

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


How Jiro Dreams of Sushi’s Apprentice is Making His Mark as a Sushi Chef



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Nashville notes


Interview with Chef Maneet Chauhan ’00 of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, TN


I strongly recommend eating at Husk (get the vegetables plate) and Chauhan Ale and Masala House (the Indian-Mexican fusion version of a chile relleno is one of the best courses I have had all year). Station Inn is good (and comfortable) for bluegrass music, visit Fisk University, Helen’s Hot Chicken serves spicy fried chicken without the tourists or the lines, and the east side of town has some funky shops and boutiques.

Grand Ole Opry is a well-oiled machine, but it makes country music feel old and bankrupt. The famous strip on Broadway, with the noisy bars, music shows, and restaurants, might as well be hell, but it offers the great joy of being able to leave it. The “Gulch” part of town is presented as cool, but it’s really just a few boring shops in a homogenized setting.

Nonetheless I now think of Nashville as one of the most successful cities in the South — remarkably few neighborhoods are run down and dumpy, and the residents seem happy. There is new construction all over, plenty of health care facilities, and Vanderbilt is a quality university.

What might be the most successful southern cities, circa 2018?

— Atlanta

— Richmond

— Nashville

— Bentonville

— the NC Research Triangle deserves mention, even though neither Durham nor Chapel Hill is well-developed enough to make this list (why is that?).

— Maybe the boring Charlotte?

— p.s. Miami is not the south.

What do the success stories have in common? Other than not being Memphis?


THE STATION INN: true life bluegrass


Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Nashville bleg

What to do, where to eat, and is there a decent day trip around? Is there a good church outside town for hearing gospel music on a Sunday morning?

I thank you all in advance for your counsel and wisdom. Nashville is in fact the largest U.S. city I never have visited, but soon this will change.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.

36 Hours in Nashville | The New York Times


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Barra Brava Cevicheria Urbana

Barra Brava Cevicheria Urbana, FB, hidden inside a liquor store in Rockville, surrounded by auto parts stores, 15921 Frederick Rd, Rockville, MD, 301-355-5325, note they often open as early as 10 am (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Ylp]

Before we go any further, please note this is TAKE-OUT ONLY. And there are no benches nearby, so do give some consideration to this problem before visiting. That said, this is some of the best Peruvian food around. It is probably the most authentic, and they have the broadest menu, and excellent ceviche. The meat in the lomo saltado is a little tough, but the fries, sauce, red onions mix is my first choice in this area. The seafood and rice dishes are quite good, too. So I’m going to really like this place, and some of you will too. But they don’t make it easy in every way either.


March to March 9: Supporters Spotlight with La Barra Brava

Barra Brava DC United


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Which ten restaurants would you most want to live next door to?

Seherli Tandir, in Baku, Azerbaijan is now on my list, but let me first explain the criteria. This is not about the best restaurants, it is about the ones that give you the most consumer surplus. For most of the “next door restaurants,” as I shall call them, you want them to be inexpensive, to offer some healthy options, to satisfy some of your cravings, to offer unique dishes, and not to take too long serving you.

It is not a mistake, if you are visiting Baku, to simply have each and every one of your meals at Seherli Tandir — the other restaurants in town are dominated assets.

The menu allows you to order three different types of cherry jam. Get the one in the middle, the sour one (don’t let them tell you that you should not be ordering a jam, and don’t put it on anything, just eat it).

Have I had better yogurts and rices? Order the little dumplings with sumac (gurza), asking for yogurt sauce on the side. The qutabs — thin breads stuffed with either pumpkin or meat — are the surprise knock-outs. The soups, the stews, the dolmeh. Did I mention the pilaf with the chestnuts? The “tandir” bread-baking oven in the middle of the restaurant?

The typical entree costs about $4-6. And the staff is friendly and helpful.

The restaurant is located in the old city, on the “restaurant street,” near four or five other excellent but nonetheless inferior options (when in doubt in those order dishes with pomegranate seeds). Go to the tower, and start walking up to the right, maybe 5-7 minutes. No taxi can take you there, as it is in a pedestrian zone. Simply ask when you get lost, as the restaurant is quite famous. You can’t make a reservation and may need to wait out in the sun, thus another reason why it should be next to my home

In general, Azerbaijani food lies in the space between Persian and Georgian cuisines, a double yum.

Which other restaurants should be in the top ten you want right next to your home? And why aren’t those restaurants simply the best period?

p.s. watermelon jam tastes better than you think.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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