&pizza, web site, 705 H St NW, Washington, DC, 202-558-7569 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp]

I was walking from Union Station to about NY Ave. and 11th, and needed to eat along the way. I passed through Chinatown, but to have taken a meal there seemed to me a bit…complacent. I have Chinese food all the time, and at this time I cannot afford to be too complacent. So I thought: what might serve as a radical shake-up for Tyler Cowen?

West of Chinatown, on H St., I saw a gleaming, fast food pizzeria, namely &pizza. Living in my own strange ethnic bubble, I had never heard of it before. In fact I don’t think I have had fast food pizza since I was a kid. “This will do,” and I thought of the anecdotal value I would reap, albeit at the expense of a good meal. For all my hesitation, the gleaming metal of the interior started to exercise a strange hold over my imagination. I walked out once and then back in again.

I ordered a pizza margherita and water for $10, and to my surprise it was ready in two minutes, in a funny box to fit the oblong shape of the pizza itself. To my bigger surprise, it was really, really good. Betraying its apparent origins, it seemed completely fresh, and twenty years ago it might have ranked as the best pizza pie in all of DC. I thought I would just snack on a piece, but I ended up eating the whole pie. It was just the right size.

Funnier yet, the company is a DC start-up (don’t laugh too hard), yet without seeming to do any lobbying of the federal government.

And here is the real news: More Than 50 Couples Have Already Signed Up To Get Married At &pizza.

The next time I will go to one on purpose.

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


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Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, web site, Eden Center, 6799 Wilson Blvd., #10, Falls Church, VA, 571-405-6947 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Ylp]

When I go to a new hot pot place, I typically feel it’s going to be a bit more of the same. But this one I enjoyed more than expected. It has a broader selection than most hot pot places and the vegetables are clearly above average. The key to eating well here, in my view, is to opt for the spiciest hot pot broth. You see, they don’t have the typical sauces readily available (though you can pay and beg for them). But if you dip your items into the spiciest broth they offer, the spices come through strongly enough and you don’t need an additional dipping sauce. Note that this place gets crowded and a reservation is probably needed. The service is also a bit uneven, though friendly. Overall this is a plus for the area, worth having in the repertoire. It, along with the newish Thai and Korean places in Eden Center, shows the shopping mall has made a big comeback as an outlet for restaurant innovation and not just a large number of Vietnamese places.


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Bindaas, web site, 3309 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 202-244-6550 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp | Gayot]

From the people who brought you Rasika, this place is more casual. If you go with four people for lunch you can order the entire lunch menu and maybe a few doubles. That is what we did. Everything was quite good, though the median dish was not a revelation. They served some cup thingies filled with avocado (Avocado Golgappa), I thought that was by far the best item and we ordered a few more of those. It is one of the best dishes in town. The two kinds of uttapam were stellar. Nothing was bad. So your first visit here, I say diversify. For later visits, specialize in the best dishes. There is more on the dinner menu, by the way. Overall this place is just Indian snacks, no curries, a very good idea says I.


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Kao Sarn Thai

Kao Sarn Thai, web site, 6795 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, VA, #12, inside, in Eden Center, 703-992-7440 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google+ | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

This mom and pop is one of the very best Thai places around. The menu is limited, and they have only about six tables and a fairly small space, but it is cooked to southeast Asian tastes. Ask for it spicy. The Yum Woo Sen bean thread salad and the Kao Soi Curry Noodle Soup are especially good. All in all, a significant addition to the repertoire and a big sign that Eden Center is making a significant comeback.


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San Francisco dining

Mandalay was the best Burmese food I’ve had, probably ever (NB: I’ve never been to Myanmar). Get the noodle dishes and soups, not the meat-based curries. In the Richmond neighborhood.

Angor Borei is very good Cambodian, I enjoyed the pumpkin curry. Then you can walk down Mission and spot dozens of other interesting ethnic places. Along that stretch is Prubechu, the first Guam restaurant I’ve seen (NB: I’ve never been to Guam).

Banana House, Thai food at Kearny and Bush, surprisingly good for such an unfruitful part of town; get the duck salad.

Al’s Place, expensive with one Michelin star, is the best and most original set of vegetables I can recall eating in this country. But when they tell you to eat the salad with your fingers, is that a sign of pretension or lack of pretension? If you have to ask, the answer is pretension. Still, on both the tastiness and originality scale this place ranks highly.

Amawele’s South African Kitchen, serves Durban food more than anything else. Right in the heart of downtown, charming, imperfect, but where else in this country can you get Bunny Chow (NB: not made of bunnies)?

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


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Finnish dining markets in everything

A pop-up in Helsinki, Finland might have just stumbled upon the answer to a question nobody was really asking: How can I order delivery and also go to a restaurant at the same time? Sure, table service restaurants kind of do that already if you look at them from far away — customers enter a restaurant, they order, and food is delivered to their table — but the AmEx-sponsored Take In goes a step further.

With no kitchen, guests at Take In choose from a curated selection of dishes from roughly 20 restaurants via an app called Wolt, the other sponsor of the pop-up. Guests eat their dinner in the Take In dining room. Take In offers bar service, and “hosting service,” helping get orders to the correct table. Guests who just want to drop in for a drink are welcome to do so. While it seems like a concept designed for solo diners, a Wolt spokeperson tells Monocle that the restaurant offers a solution for groups who can’t decide on what they all want to eat. The Take In pop-up started at the beginning of November, and will run through April 2.

Here is the full story, via Steve Rossi.

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


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Luzmary, web site, 7151 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA, 703-533-1105 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google+ | WaPo | TripAdvisor | Ylp]

I would say that Bolivian restaurants in this area are largely converging in terms of quality. When this one first opened it was OK but subpar. Now it’s consistently above average, with one of the best silpanchos around, good peanut soup too. I don’t think it stands above the better competitors, but it is entirely acceptable to have this as your “neighborhood Bolivian restaurant.” The whole sector seems to be evolving toward geographic rather than culinary competition, with improvements along the way.


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My Conversation with Mark Miller

Mark is the most brilliant food mind I have met, here is the opening summary:

Mark Miller is often called the founder of modern southwestern cuisine, but his unique anthropological approach to food has led him to explore cuisines in over 100 countries around the world. He joins Tyler for a conversation on all that he’s learned along the way, including his pick for the most underrated chili pepper, palate coaching, the best food cities in Asia, Mexico, and Europe, the problems with sous-vide, why the Michelin guide is overrated, mezcal versus tequila, the decline of food brands, how to do fast food well, and why the next hipster food trend should be about corn.

Here is the text, audio, and video. Mark is a blizzard of information density, and I don’t know anyone else who has his experience with the food world, most of all with Asia, Mexico, and the American Southwest. (You may recall he was an interlocutor in my dialogue with Fuchsia Dunlop, and so we recorded this session with Mark afterwards.)

I thought the highlight was Mark’s six-minute riff on tasting chiles, it really shows Mark in his glory — this is one of those cases where I definitely recommend the video over the text:

Elsewhere in the conversation, see why he picks Seoul, Tokyo, and Bangkok as the three best world cities for food tours. And:

COWEN: You don’t need brands, right?

MILLER: You don’t need brands anymore. The consumer used to have brands as guide and trust. Today there are other ways of developing that. We’re in consumer level 3. Consumers are defining brands, and how brands get used. I think that the idea of brand is probably?—?you’re an economist?—?dated. [laughs]

There is this:

MILLER: You go to a bus station in Monterrey: you can see a hundred of the best tacos in the world.

The questioner was Megan McArdle. I enjoyed the entire exchange immensely, and hope you do too.

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


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“Why isn’t your way of eating and dining more popular?”

That is a request from an MR reader. Getting past the “because I am weird” answer, I will offer a few observations:

1. I think my view, or broadly speaking some version of it, is in fact pretty popular, though far from dominant.

2. The eating and dining of many people is geared toward socializing and also drinking. So when I write “go where the diners look grim, not smiling and happy,” or “avoid the beautiful women and the riverfront views,” many people don’t listen. They like beautiful women, too much perhaps, and they like being surrounded by smiling others. I have more of a single-minded obsession on the food, at least when I am seeking food. So you can think of my methods as a form of extreme compartmentalization and unbundling of quests.

Of course there may be other methods related to beautiful women, and yes you should hold a diverse portfolio of methods, so think of me as someone who is suspicious of “method-blending,” as instead I prefer an intertemporal substitution of methods for different goals. The time for food is a time for food, not for pursuing some weighted average of goals summed into a mediocre total, “…and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Call it the Ecclesiastes approach. Ultimately this may involve preferring a certain kind of focus over indiscriminate attention-switching.

NB: This hypothesis also may imply that those who are good at intertemporal substitution may miss out on some of life’s integrative experiences, such as riding a bicycle along a bridge with the wind blowing in your hair; “intertemporal substitution” and “integration” may in some ways stand in tension, and perhaps developing a propensity for one limits our ability to engage in the other.

3. My dining methods are in fact wonderful for socializing, but only if you are with either a) the oblivious, b) those who lexically prefer food quality, or c) those who enjoy talking analytically about food. Most of my friends fall into one of these categories, but that is not the case for most people.

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


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Where to eat in Lagos, Nigeria

Much of the food is good but not excellent. For the very best, I recommend two places in particular:

The Yellow Chilli: (TripAdvisor) All the dishes seem to be quite good, but arguably the jollof rice and the seafood okra are standouts. Simply coming here for each meal probably beats doing a lot of search that will fail to find equal quality.

Sappor Cuisine: That’s if you are looking for street food and eating on the run. It’s set in Freedom Park (worth visiting in any case), just get the weird Nigerian dishes you’ve never heard of before, plus some fish. I’ve had four dishes there, and with not the slightest rumble in my stomach, in case you were wondering. You might not think that steamed yam powder can be transcendently good, but it is. At night there are worthwhile concerts in the park, so you can eat from here while you sit and listen. The best suya I had was on the beach.

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


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