The DC area is home to a lot of restaurants, and among them are hidden gems that many Washingtonians aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share with us their under-the-radar recommendations for Dining Confidential.
It only makes sense that the chef at one of DC's rare new fine dining establishments would appreciate the luxury of top-rated Inn at Little Washington on his days off, but Elisir's Enzo Fargione also has a taste for cheap eats. Here his shares his love for both Patrick O'Connell's award-winning cooking as well as the pupusas he loves to pick up from Arlington's Pupuseria Dona Azucena.
"For most of us in the restaurant business free time is pure luxury. One the most popular questions I am asked by my customers are 'Do you ever cook at home on your day off?' My answer is always the same 'No thanks.' It's indeed hard to imagine anyone who just ended a 70 hours work week in the kitchen having the itch to get behind the stove at home or any stoves at all, and start cooking again.
My passion for cooking does not end on Sunday; rather it branches out to different directions and aspects of the service industry. I love to unplug and to camp out at home, watching Italian soccer and to spend time with family and people I love, but what I enjoy best is to dine out and treat myself like a regular person, an average customer of any given restaurant.
I have my favorite spots all lined up depending on my given mood: For a very quick and informal dinner, I love Pupuseria Dona Azucena Restaurant on N. Glebe Road in Arlington. There is no way one could mistake the freshness of the handmade assorted pupusas with the usually greasy or tasteless ones on the menu of many other restaurants. Here they’re made to order in front of you and stuffed according to your likes, cooked on a flat top with no grease till the dough rises evenly on both sides cooking to perfection. They're absolutely delicious, fragrant, light (yes you read correctly, light) and incredibly affordable. Try the roasted pork, the black beans, the cheese, the zucchinis or the "revueltas" mixed with a little of each ingredient.
For special occasions I love to take a drive to the Inn at Little Washington to luxury and to be reminded how a restaurant should be performing at its best. My girlfriend and I always opt for the always surprising tasting menu that changes seasonally, a great bottle of wine from their incredible cellar and for a very special occasion an overnight stay in one of their impeccable decorated suites, just like this past weekend when we celebrated our anniversary."
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