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LivingSocial Launches "Restaurants Plus", Offers Cashback to Diners

7 Dec

Rachel and I have used LivingSocial countless times, especially when it comes to restaurants, but now they have introduced a new feature entitled Restaurants Plus.

Restaurants Plus

Restaurants Plus gives diners the opportunity to earn cashback from over 140 participating restaurants in the Washington metropolitan area just by paying with their enrolled credit or debit card. There’s no voucher or pre-purchase required, making the transaction utterly seamless.

Let’s say you’re in the mood for pizza and want to earn cash back on your purchase. Simply use LivingSocial’s map tool, filter pizza locations, and viola! Now you’ve found 21 participating pizza joints that are offering 10%, 20%, or even 30% cashback when you pay with your registered card. There are some great restaurants already participating, such as Toro Toro, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Baby Wale, and Fat Pete’s Barbecue, just to name a few.

Diners simply register their credit or debit card with LivingSocial and then use said card to pay for meals at participating restaurants.

So head out and grab some sushi and sake at Kaz or order the faux ribeye at Baby Wale and get cash back from your meal this evening. Just be sure to register your card first!

[This blog post was sponsored by LivingSocial]

City Burger Unveils New Expanded Menu

31 Jul

Rachel and I have been to City Burger several times and have really enjoyed Chef Michael Harr’s burgers since opening back in May. The executive chef at nearby Food Wine and Co, Harr has now expanded his menu including a revamped version of their veggie burger as well as a variety of hot dogs and hand-spun shakes featuring house-made custard.


The new version of the veggie burger (the previous incarnation was basically a fried cheese patty), cleverly dubbed the Herban Garden, is a blend of fried quinoa and black bean, and topped with lettuce, pickled red onion, and herby mayo. The result is a crunchy, satisfying alternative to its beefy counterpart. It’s comparable to the famous veggie burger at Woodmont Grill, just half the price. We both particularly enjoyed the pickled onions since it was not only a unique topping but really complemented the crispy veggie patty.


And while turkey burgers aren’t certainly exciting on paper when beef reigns supreme, Harr’s version delivers. The Suburban features a seasoned turkey patty topped with a slice of Swiss, roasted peppers, alfalfa, avocado, lettuce, and herby mayo. For a white meat alternative, it’s one of the better turkey burgers we have come across. Oh, and it pairs up nicely with a side of fried green beans, which are sprinkled with Parmesan and sesame seeds. Of course you can’t go wrong with their crispy sea salt fries, but it’s nice to see a greener alternative.


One of the most intriguing additions was the Brooklyn Deli burger. A succulent beef patty is topped with Swiss cheese, crispy pastrami, coleslaw, and deli mustard. It’s like pastrami on rye after taking my first bite. The ingredients work effortlessly well together, especially the pastrami and bright yellow mustard. And while it’s a little on the greasier side (I mean it’s fried pastrami after all), it’s a nice take on burger meets delicatessen.


And then there’s the hand-spun shakes. Prepared with rich, thick custard made in-house, City Burger has not one but six different specialty shakes (in addition to the traditional vanilla, chocolate, and black & white preparations). Rachel tried the City Slicker, which was made with vanilla custard, Nutella, banana, chocolate sauce, and salted caramel. It was just as delicious as it sounded and was quite refreshing for a summer treat.

I opted for the D.C. Grasshopper – chocolate custard, mint Oreo cookie, and mint chocolate. The mixture was heavenly, so much so that a spoon is recommended as you’re going to run out of oxygen using a straw given how deliciously thick the custard is.

City Burger is a great addition to Bethesda, and as you can tell, isn’t just another burger joint.

City Burger on Urbanspoon

Pizza in Washington Premieres Tonight on WETA

7 May

Be sure to tune in to WETA at 8pm tonight for a wonderful half-hour program on Washington’s ever-growing pizza scene.  This program covers an array of pizzerias, old and new, in Maryland, Virginia, and the District.

Marco Pizza

From Neapolitan to deep-dish Chicago to New Haven style, Pizza in Washington talks to the owners and chefs of some noteworthy establishments such as Pizzeria Orso, Matchbox, Menomale, and the original Ledo Restaurant, just to name a few.

So sit back, grab a slice, and watch as WETA takes you around some of the area’s best pizzerias.

Pizza in Washington airs tonight on WETA at 8pm. Future showings as well as a channel guide can be found here.

Exploring Innovation with Jose Andres

17 Feb

We were fortunate to attend the Washington Post Live event that was part of the GE American Competitiveness:  What Works summit at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium earlier this week. For the luncheon keynote, Mary Jordan of the Washington Post moderated a discussion between local celebrity chef Jose Andres and Tom Sietsema, the Post’s infamous food critic. Disguised with a toupee and sunglasses, we’re sure Andres was a little uncomfortable sitting inches from the man who can easily make or break a restaurant in D.C.

Chef Jose Andres

We won’t go into too much detail about the event since you can read more about it here and here, but we’ll say that Jose Andres is definitely a captivating and engaging speaker. He truly has some inspiring ideas and cares about his adopted home of D.C., the obesity epidemic, food truck regulations, and of course, his beloved Spain.

Chef Jose Andres

Here are some highlights:

  • The session opened with a video of someone caramelizing olive oil, something that has never been done before, in addition to a “Garden on a Plate”, aka the prettiest salad anyone has ever seen.  He then explained that it was an homage to Dale Chihuli.
  • Jose knew he wanted to be a chef since he was 15 years old.
  • Talking about tapas, Jose explained that the concept took time for Washingtonians to get used to because you have to think differently.
  • For those still wary of tapas and the idea of sharing, he suggests the rule of 15 inches.  If you want to enjoy tapas the Spanish way, put the plate in the middle of the table. If you don’t, move the plate 15 inches in, and put it in front of you. This was the difference between success and failure for the restaurant.
  • Andres confirmed that his new food truck, Pepe, will be opening next week.
  • Some would say he should be against food trucks since it takes away from his restaurants; he wants to embrace the new trend and feels it drives innovation and creates jobs. But, cities need to come up with the right legislation for food trucks to not alienate or discourage them from opening.
  • When Jaleo first opened downtown 20 years ago, his first guest was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It will be closing for a few weeks soon to allow for renovations and a refresh of the oldest ThinkFoodGroup restaurant.
  • The idea behind America Eats Tavern:  Every restaurant needs a story. He wanted to open the pop-up restaurant as a way to give back to America and to show America’s real culinary history.
  • Some may criticize Andres that, because he has so many restaurants, there is no way he can possibly spend time in all of them and therefore the quality goes down. He said it’s not like the CEO of GM is overseeing every car, but he understands with food it is more personal. However, he claimed he has people working for him now that are more talented than him, so it is a win/win.
  • For the last 2-3 years, members of his team have been teaching at Harvard’s School of Physics, showing the science of physics through food. They have had over 1,000 applicants to the class so far.
  • He has many ideas on ways to fight obesity by showing the importance of food.  Innovation over the last 60 years has made us used to mainly processed food.
  • We need to bring more grains, fruit and vegetables, less quantity but higher quality of meat to all families.  Rural America should be empowered to bring more natural, less processed food to the table of America.
  • When asked what was the coolest thing done he has done with potatoes, he replied he turned them into air, but people didn’t get it.
  • At ThinkFoodGroup they are working towards understanding food as an artistic expression. For example, one of the newer creations that will be on the menu at the revamped Minibar will be a potato chip you don’t eat, but listen to.
  • Obviously, you don’t want to feed America with the sound of chips, but they can be a course on a menu as a way to think differently.
  • At Jaleo in Las Vegas, they were selling their coquettes in designer Spanish sneakers. Eventually they had to stop because of health-code violations, but the concept of serving the dish in a glass sneaker will be brought to D.C. when Jaleo reopens downtown.
  • As Andres explained, serving food on a flat table with white plates is boring. He wants to make sure the culinary experience is enjoyable.
  • As a member of the board, Andres thinks DC Central Kitchen is the most innovative organization, and that it is amazing to see that through feeding people, there is the power to innovate.
  • If Jose Andres was not a chef, he would be an idea man. His newest idea is a way to boost the economy and awareness of Spain. He envisions opening a school to train Americans in Spanish cooking as a 13-weeks program, and then have them travel to Spain. From there, they can open their own Spanish restaurant, or at use Spanish products in their cooking. In his mind, a simple idea can create thousands of jobs.

Food Truckin' in Bethesda

12 Aug

By this point, most people are familiar with the DC Food Truck scene. Names like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Takorean, Fojol Bros., and CapMac bring to mind a great food truck renaissance in DC. What you may not know is that over the last few months, several great food trucks have started up in Montgomery County.

GoFish! Food Truck

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of trying out food from GoFish! and Carmen’s Italian Ice. We have also heard great things about Suburban Bros, Tops American Food Company, and the upcoming Corned Beef King . All of these trucks primarily serve Montgomery County, and I have consistently looked out for them whenever they come to Bethesda. I should also mention that Red Hook Lobster Pound has made several appearances since acquiring their MoCo permit, and when they do roll into town, it becomes the highlight of my day. Can’t beat that lobster roll, but I digress.

GoFish! operates as a food truck during daytime hours while offering home delivery to residents in the DC area, Tuesday through Saturday. The menu includes items such as jumbo lump crab cake sandwiches, colossal crab rolls, crawfish rolls, blackened shrimp Caesar salad/wraps, as well as market items to take home by the pound like crab cake mix and crawfish salad.

Crab Cake

They made their first trip to Bethesda recently so I had to try their crab cake. It was essentially all crabmeat and no filler, huge, and a great deal at $10. I was curious to try the colossal crab roll which consisted of lump crabmeat, scallions, old bay, and mayo, but a co-worker said it didn’t have enough seasoning to it. I’ll definitely check them out again and maybe try something else next time like one of their specials. I’m always a fan of fresh fish and their delivery model seems intriguing as well.

Carmen's Italian Ice

Another new truck to hit the streets of Bethesda is Carmen’s Italian Ice. They have had a stand-alone store, Carmen’s Italian Ice & Café, in Rockville since 2001. In additional to gourmet Italian Ice, they also serve frozen custard and gelato. Carmen’s has carts and food trucks that roam throughout Montgomery County, and the truck can now often been seen in downtown Bethesda.

Brilliantly, they were parked right next to Red Hook and while people were waiting for their lobster rolls, they gave out samples of their Italian Ice. I tried the mango, and it was so refreshing that I knew I had to get more for a post-roll dessert. I decided to try their strawberry-lemon mini ice, which basically tasted like strawberry lemonade. For $1.50, the mini was a perfect size and inexpensive afternoon treat.

Mango Italian Ice

We hope that this is just the start of more trucks in Montgomery County, and we will continue to look out for more trucks to try and write about. Given that I work and live in Bethesda, I’m always looking for new food options to add some variety to our dining routine.

Beer Wine and Co. Opening Soon

9 Aug

Bethesda residents won’t have to wait much longer for Beer Wine & Co. to open its doors. The craft beer and wine store could potentially open as early as this Friday according to one of the partners we talked to yesterday.

Beer Wine & Co.

As we reported back in March, Beer Wine & Co. will be the sister operation of nearby Food Wine & Co. The store plans on selling most of the beer and wine found on Food Wine & Co.’s menu, and then some.

Beer Wine & Co.

Considering that Food Wine & Co. has one of the better beer selections in all of downtown Bethesda, residents won’t have to travel far to find their favorite microbrew.

Beer Wine & Co. also plans to sell sandwiches, meats, and cheeses in addition to their extensive beer and wine selection. The store plans on featuring a variety of American craft beers as well as a vast selection of imports.

Beer Wine & Co.Beer Wine & Co.Beer Wine & Co.

Pending Montgomery County inspection, they are hopeful to open this Friday, but if not, then sometime next week at the very latest.

Beer Wine & Co will be located on 7029 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

Cava Grill Adds Greek Yogurt to its Menu

7 Jul

With little fanfare, it seems that Cava Grill has tweaked their menu a bit, and for the better might I add. Not that we didn’t love it before, but there are some great new additions. For example, you can now top your pita with kalamata olives. Meatballs have also replaced the sirloin as a protein choice.

The biggest change would be the recent addition of Greek yogurt to its menu. A few weeks ago they had a free sampling, so I went down to grab some while expecting long lines as per the norm for free food in DC. When I arrived, I was surprised to find no line at all, and was offered yogurt with my choice of toppings. Granted, the promotion ran from 2 to 5 pm (and this was at 4:50), but as soon as I took a bite, I felt like I should go outside and shout to people to take advantage of trying this wonderfully creamy yogurt.

Cava Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has become extremely popular in recent years, not only as a breakfast item but it has also been incorporated in tart frozen yogurts found at places like Pinkberry. The owners of Cava Grill wanted to capitalize on this by offering their own version. Since Cava offers an interactive nutritional guide on their website, you can see that a 5.3 oz serving size will cost you only 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and includes 12 grams of protein. Not bad for breakfast or a quick snack!

Two toppings are included, but you can always add on more. I decided to try mine with strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and honey. The yogurt itself was rich and creamy, but it was also light and didn’t feel too heavy or like sour cream, as some Greek yogurts tend to do.

While the yogurt may not feel as indulgent as a trip to Haagen Daaz, it is definitely a great new option and could be a serious competitor to Sweetgreen’s Sweetflow yogurt as well as the self-serve yogurt machines at Yogiberry. I for one welcome the competition and will add it to the rotation of Bethesda treats!

A New Pizza Haven in Bethesda

27 Apr

Well folks, it looks like Bethesda is about to become a pizza haven. And yes, we literally mean that – Haven Pizzeria Napoletana is scheduled to open late spring at 7137 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda.

Haven Pizzeria Napoletana

Haven Pizzeria is a joint venture between founder and partner, Tiger Mullen, and New Haven-born pizzaiolo Marco Stefanelli, who will also manage the restaurant and has an extensive resume in the pizza and restaurant business.

Haven Construction

Photo courtesy of

The pizzeria will feature New Haven-style pizza, cooked via anthracite coal ovens that give off a distinctive “char” flavor. The dough will be freshly prepared on a daily basis while ingredients such as plum tomatoes (hand-grounded daily) and cheeses will be imported from Italy.

Even the water used to make the dough is filtered in such a way that it “replicates the exact characteristics found in the reservoirs feeding the best pizzerias in the world”, Haven’s website claims.

In addition to pizza, Haven will offer salads, antipasti, and homemade gelato. It looks like Haven will also have a full bar with an extensive wine list to boot. You can even see their construction progress on their Tumblr page. Judging from pictures alone, this place is going to be huge!

Haven Notice

Alcohol License Notice

Considering how much we love Pete’s New Haven pizza, which is a couple of miles down the road, we are very excited for Haven to open.

Between this, Pizzeria da Marco, and Naked Pizza all opening very soon, let’s just say we’re not too upset that we’ll have so many great new pizza venues to choose from!


Haven Pizzeria Napoletana will be located on 7137 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda and is scheduled to open late spring.

Bethesda Row Restaurant Week is Coming Up!

1 Apr

Now that April has finally arrived, perhaps it will mark the end to one of the longest winters we have ever experienced. While the warmer weather will be fun to look forward to, we also can’t forget about Bethesda Row Restaurant Week!

Raku Bethesda

Photo courtesy of

Staring on Monday, April 11 through Sunday, April 17, diners can choose among ten restaurants in the downtown Bethesda corridor. Three-course lunches (yes, three!) will cost $15 while dinners, also three-courses, will be $30.

The following restaurants will be participating:

Our picks? We would recommend Raku, Redwood, Assaggi, and of course, Jaleo.

Beer Wine and Co. Slated to Open in Bethesda

14 Mar

Looks like downtown Bethesda will be welcoming a new beer and wine store in the near future.

Francis Namin, the owner of Food Wine & Co., told us he plans to open the cleverly titled Beer Wine & Co. at the former McCormick Paints store located on 7029 Wisconsin Avenue and is aiming for a May 15 opening.

Namin, whose brother owns nearby Cork 57, said that this store will be bigger than its Bethesda Avenue counterpart, and will feature a larger selection of microbrews.

Considering that Cork 57 is the only place I have found Troegs Nugget Nectar in the Bethesda area, it sounds rather promising.