Sample our favorite authentic and original tastes of the D.C. area
The D.C. Area is home to numerous staple cuisine cultures with unique tastes of their own. Here are SCO's top five favorites. Disclaimer: we know that restaurants may not serve completely authentic food for cuisines, but we love them anyway.
Abundant with olive oil, fresh fish, yogurt and piquant produce, Greek cuisine can be both richly indulgent and refreshingly simple. Mezze, or a collective of small dishes, is a popular and entertaining way to try bits of various foods. Olive and feta cheese salads and dolmas (grape leaves wrapped around a rice stuffing) are tart and tangy, while Mousakka casseroles are buttery and comforting.
The Big Greek Cafe is an ideal spot for varied Greek items at a reasonable price. Traditional starters such as the trio-dip sampler let you sample a wide range of tastes while platters such as the Soulvaki offer more filling comforts.
With the storied rise of Chipotle and other fast food restaurants such as Qdoba, Mexican food is now part of the mainstream American culture. However, the heart of Mexican taste in D.C. deals with so much more than the burrito. Root vegetables such as the yuca offer earthy textures, while lime juice-doused ceviche offers the freshest taste of the sea. Comforting guacamole, queso fresco and crema offer satisfying dressings to that perfect plate of rice, beans and fixings. Mexican cuisine is a mastery of sauces as well, from pico de gallo to smoking habanero sauces.
El Azucar is a wonderful establishment in Silver Spring that offers Mexican cookery with fine pan-latin dishes. Try the Parilla Combinations, to get the ideal balance of sauces, sides and smoking-grilled meats.
So much more than fried pad thai noodles, Thai cuisine is strongly flavored and complex, offering intricate preparations and tastes to introduce to the palate. Thai chefs pride themselves in paying attention to texture, color and varied flavor in every dish. Noodles, pork with rice and different steamed buns offer chinese tastes while Indian influence is visible in the massaman curries and mild yellow curries. Nam Prhik or chili condiments offer a kick to every entree. Northern Thailand emphasizes strong seed-spices such as cinnamon and cumin for meat stir-fries while Southern Thailand offers tropical rice-paddy herb salads, intensely peanut sauces, sour savories with fish and vegetables. One can best sample this rainbow of assortment at Kao Thai Restaurant in Silver Spring. This restaurant offers noodles, creamy curries, light rolls, aromatic meat and herb salads, and sweet and sour soups at family size portions. Furthermore, vegetarians will have no problem here, as tofu dishes are available.2. Italian
The favorite comfort food of the US, Italian has been a constant in American cuisine since the early 1900's. The dishes are classic and universal; pasta, lasagna, pizza, antipasto. With bold sauces and succulent meat, it is no wonder this cuisine brought by immigrants is endeared today. Whether swayed by pasta bolognese or the classic margherita pizza it is no surprise it made our top four. Although a bit pricey, but well-worth the wallet, Filomena Ristorante is a masterpiece of the homely Italian with a authentically refined touch. With a past-maker rolling fresh gnocchi dumplings at the front door, you know that you have entered a place that is devoted to the finest Italian. The Agnotolli alla Panna is a popular creamy ravioli dish that one must try as well as the Antipasto Misto, a mixed antipasti plate with an assortment of fine Italian bites.
If you're clueless about where to dine for Indian in D.C., just head to where the Indians go. Good Indian cuisine is about variety from different regions. Southern specialties such as tamarind rice or medu vada (fried lentil puffs) offer the balance between tangy and crunchy, while Northern specialties such as achari paneer (spiced cheese) or chicken pakora offer spicy and well-bodied comfort treats. Whatever your preference, every region has something to offer. The best way to experience this variety is at Minerva's, a boastful buffet of authentic Indian dishes from all over the subcontinent. The lunch buffet is by far the most popular. This establishment makes one of the best Butter Chickens in the D.C. area and hosts a variety of surprises such as pickles and condiments to diners who haven't been exposed to the entirety of the Indian palate. Furthermore, endless bread varieties (including the butter naan) and soup of the day are available.
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