Fausto Garces gives South American transplants more than one reason to visit his restaurant, Don Churro Café. In addition to authentic dishes from Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Spain that earned Don Churro Cafè recognition as one of the region's Best New Restaurants by Northern Virginia Magazine in 2009, the restaurant entertains sports fans by broadcasting soccer matches from South American nations. Diners gaze at twin plasma televisions or a pull-down projection screen as athletes play the sport known as "fùtbol" in Latin America, and as "dangerous" in antique stores.
The dining room's yellow walls and floors are offset with royal-blue wall sections, matching seat cushions, and a bright painting of Quito––Fausto's mountain-clad Ecuadorian homeland. Illuminated by hanging light fixtures, lime-marinated ceviche and crispy plantains cleanse the palate before entrees rife with grilled pork belly, chorizo, and certified Angus beef arrive. Fresh, marinated fish filets come grilled alongside rice and patacones or buried beneath a creamy signature seafood sauce.
Kumar Iyer has spent years in the hospitality industry, managing restaurants aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and working the floor at local restaurants. He learned how to take care of people during these experiences, but more importantly, he codified what he thought made a great restaurant. When the time was right, he brought all of those ideas to his own culinary venture, Rangoli. From the laying of the bricks to the creation of the menu, Kumar made sure every element matched his lofty expectations.
Today, the Rangoli team serves up an eclectic array of Indian cuisine gathered from all over the continent. They prepare an exhaustive selection of curries, including lamb vindaloo and chicken tikka makhani. They also roast meat in traditional tandoori clay ovens, the blazing-hot vessels known for imparting their searing heat to lamb kebabs, whole chickens, and slightly smaller, more adorable clay ovens.
When the first Eggspectation eatery opened in Montreal in 1993, the concept was simple: upscale brunch with a focus on decadent egg and crepe dishes. The founding concept has been tweaked only slightly since then, with a menu that today includes more than 160 breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Breakfast remains the menu’s biggest draw, with a dozen egg benedicts and savory crepes, 16 omelets and fruity pancakes, plus french toast and waffles. At lunch and dinner, chefs stack plates with fine-dining-style entrees, such as half-pound USDA-choice beef burgers and steak and seafood entrees, such as maple-glazed rib eye or lump crab cakes. Whether at a location in Canada, the US, or India, patrons can slide behind a table amid rustic stone and brick walls flanked by jubilant circus-theme decor, such as colorful murals and paparazzi snapshots of Humpty Dumpty.
Chefs use grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, and steroid-free pulled pork that hail from sustainable sources to craft a bounty of tortilla-wrapped treats that take their names from the likes of Caddyshack, Fletch, and Seinfeld. It's this dual mindset of serious food and irreverent attitude that tinges every one of the eatery's southwestern morsels, from the Art Vandalay burrito to the John Coctostan quesadilla. As the kitchen staff crafts their daily batch of guacamole to join the lineup of six zesty salsas, diners choose from a list of more than 20 ingredients to fill out the entree that will soon be conjured before their eyes. Because dishes are made to order, each finds easy customization for vegetarian, gluten free, and low-calorie diets, and the absence of microwaves, trans-fats, and MSG keep eats wholesome. Meanwhile, a complimentary accompaniment of chips and salsa turns portions into full meals faster than an industry-grade blow-up ray.
Otani Japanese Steak & Seafood falls into a familiar rhythm around mealtimes. Chefs man tabletop hibachi grills and sear platefuls of filet mignon, scallops, or chicken right in front of patrons while entertaining them with witty banter, dexterous displays of culinary skill, and their ability to peel shrimp telepathically. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs avoid open flames entirely as they carefully tuck lobster, spring mix, or wasabi aioli into their signature rolls. The entire staff matches the friendly, energetic service of the chefs, striving to greet every guest by name by their second or even first visit.
Drawing on more than 25 years of deli experience, the family of owners of Epic Market & Grill expertly hand-pick items to fill their menu of sandwiches and burgers. Cooks whip up house-made tzatziki sauce for gyros and make each day’s special from scratch. Take-home domestic brews complement Epic burgers piled with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and fried eggs. In addition, breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare fills the catering menu, which in turn fills office workers and their filing cabinets’ refrigerator drawers.