Though TapaBar is less than a month old, Bethesda Magazine thinks the new Spanish tapas addition to the corner of Fairmont and Woodmont avenues already operates and tastes like it's been open much longer.
While locals are already used to the hearty snacks and cold cocktail game at longtime staple Jaleo, TapaBar carves out its own niche, says critic Emily Van Zant. Among the edible highlights: plates of serrano ham and manchego cheese, marinated olives, pickled vegetables, Spanish omelettes and risottos. The grilled asparagus "was a bit on the droopy side" but rounded out with smoked almonds. Good news for veggie lovers: Mushroom croquettes are filling, and the vegetable options on the menu "give diners more bang for their buck."
Get there early to grab a seat at the marble bar for signature sangrias at happy hour, the critic suggests. And have a phone handy, as its Instagram-worthy" decor includes Danish-style seating, a living wall of lush houseplants, and an abundance of natural light that delivers a welcome replacement to its dim predecessor, BlackFinn. In its short existence, the spot is a certified hit:
"This corner spot is a welcome update to the Bethesda happy hour scene and a worthy date night option. No opening month woes are felt, with smooth service, buzzy conversation and few dish disappointments." [BM]
The Washington Post's Tim Carman visits Columbia's new CaliBurger, the unofficial knockoff of California's beloved In-N-Out burger. At first glance, its bright colors and the palm tree logo are strikingly similar and "earn it a demerit for a lack of imagination."
But its copycat qualities pay off on the menu side, as CaliBurger also makes everything cooked to order and lets customers customize burgers starting with ground-beef patties. The regular fries "blow away" those of its West Coast cult counterpart, he notes, but the "Cali-style" option masks their good taste. Where it differs from In-N-Out--by offering selections beyond burgers, fries, and shakes--is where CaliBurger loses: Skip the chipotle barbecue chicken sandwich, grilled cheese, and salads and stick with the burger. [WaPo]
With summer drawing to a close, Arlington Magazine rounds up a list of seven barbecue spots worth visiting. The Monday night happy hour special at Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company is one of the best in town, says Jessica Strelitz: Order a beer at the bar, get a chopped pork sandwich for free, smoked in house over red oak and hickory. And the few seats available at Backyard Barbeque and Catering Company fill up fast when baby back ribs are for sale. Another must with a twist: Simply Fresh, the longtime McLean meatery-turned-Mediterranean café that kept some carnivorous roots. The "uber-moist pulled chicken sandwich, rich with hickory smoke" is best on a pita. [Arlington Magazine]
The Washington Post's Tom Sietsema gives Cleveland Park's Indique a visit to critique the recent refresh by the longtime owners' sons. May's redo meant brighter dining rooms and more murals on the walls and in July, the restaurant launched a weekend brunch service that showcases Indian street food.
Overall, the "next-generation" makeover looks and tastes good: "The owners' sons have infused Indique with fresh energy and made their fathers happy." The "most dramatic eye-opener" is a miniature dosa, Sietsema says. The cone-shaped crepe includes coconut two ways (as a chutney and sambal) and potatoes with curry leaves and mustard seeds. Brunch cocktails like the tamarind margarita are addicting and "as inspired as the cooking." Come back for dinner, which "is also worthy of a toast." The expanded evening menu includes street snacks like fried cauliflower that "pulses with heat from green chilies" to braised pork belly that "reverberates with warm spices." [WaPo]
THE BLOGS: Been There Eaten That enjoys a second visit to Hazel.