To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
BGR The Burger Joint’s burgers start with high-quality ingredients—most importantly, all-natural beef from grain-fed cattle, free to run in the fields and given zero hormones, fillers, or antibiotics. The prime beef is dry-aged, blended, and ground fresh to form patties that are grilled over an open flame, and then placed atop buttery, locally made brioche buns delivered fresh each day. The menu focuses on the Legendary Burger, which includes gourmet toppings such as avocado, applewood bacon, and grilled jalapenos. For nonbeef eaters, the menu's selection of burgers also includes turkey and veggie varieties, as well as The Greek, a seasoned lamb patty topped with tzatziki and feta. Burgers are also available in a lettuce wrap or on a salad in a healthy salad bowl.
Diners can request all of BGR The Burger Joint's freshly made fries—from thick-cut yukon gold potatoes to asparagus fries—be topped with parmesan, rosemary, roasted garlic, or a tiny tiara. The staff hand-spins shakes with Gifford's or Breyers ice cream to create extra-thick treats for finishing off meals, and some shops curate their own selection of bottled vintage sodas and offer beer and wine.
Sooner or later, your girlfriend is going to figure out that all those fancy restaurants are just your bedroom redecorated with a new elaborate disguise each week. Today's Groupon will help you postpone the inevitable by throwing a real fancy restaurant into the mix. For $20, you get $40 worth of casual Italian cuisine and drinks at Kora Restaurant, Bar, and Lounge in Arlington.
One cupcake looks much like another, which is why Red Velvet Cupcakery's pastry chefs pay such careful attention to what makes them different: the ingredients. Even before a Red Velvet customer takes a bite, they'll probably smell the presence of European butter, Valrhona chocolate, Maldon sea salt, local dairy products, French-style buttercream, and accents made from 24K gold leaf.
That difference was tasted by Washington Post Express, which concluded that Red Velvet's devil's-food cupcake "is sinfully satisfying" with its rich buttermilk cake topped with Valrhona bittersweet-chocolate ganache. It likewise hailed the red-velvet Southern Belle's whipped cream-cheese frosting as "simple, elegant, and too scrumptious for words." To ensure fresh cupcakes—and to keep their wastebaskets available for crumpled-up paper during "writer's block" montages—Red Velvet donates each day's remainders to local shelters and nonprofit organizations.
Tracy O’Grady, an acclaimed chef who once ran the kitchen of Kinkead’s Restaurant, teamed up with Kate Jansen, a cofounder of Firehook Bakeries, to craft Willow Restaurant’s modern continental menu. Their dishes draw on traditional culinary techniques from both French and northern Italian cooking blended with high-end American ingredients. Though complex in flavor, all of the entrees—from the braised lamb shank to the roasted wild alaskan halibut to the pepper-crusted seared top sirloin steak—are prepared with straightforward, simple techniques.
Hoping to create a tranquil and relaxing sanctuary from the stressful pace of the country’s capital, the eatery calms its dining room with deep-purple and burgundy accents, rich fabrics, and mahogany woodwork. The space feels like a re-creation of a 1930s jazz lounge, with black-and-white photographs and glistening silver trays. Two semiprivate rooms with seating for up to 10 can be great for private dinners and upscale Go Fish tournaments, and the larger private dining room can be reserved for events with up to 50 guests.
Named after the owners' youngest daughter Layal and an Arabic word meaning "our nights," Layalina Restaurant makes every meal feel like a family dinner. The staff is dedicated to a high level of service that makes every guest feel at home, whether their local regulars or visiting dignitaries such as the crown prince of Bahrain. The decor adds to the inviting experience, with metal chandeliers casting a warm glow and colorful fabrics draped along the ceiling that evoke a tent canopy or hammocks hung playfully out of reach.
The menu showcases family recipes that blend Lebanese and Syrian traditions to create succulent kebabs and vegetarian dishes that earned praise from Gayot. The Washington Post highlighted flavorful appetizers, including the kafta bil jawz, a signature dish that combines lean beef with walnuts, pepper, bulghur, and an enchanting bouquet of herbs. The Post also recognized the hearty entrees, saying that "it would be a shame to miss out on fried lamb shank with creamy orzo."