"Hi, folks. Feel free to open the jars and smell." That's how owner Keith Campbell-Rosen and his family greet guests as they enter The Spice & Tea Exchange of Georgetown. And with shelves upon shelves of glass-jarred ingredients making up the cooking apothecary's boutique space—which is actually the 17th store in a franchise of more than 25—it's too tempting to not. Each carefully lined jar cradles a batch of loose-leaf teas, seasoning spices, naturally flavored salts and sugars, cooking herbs, and even smoked powders and meat rubs. Most of their goods are organic and fair-trade, and all are harvested from small distributors and farms around the world. Keith and his team are also on hand to create custom blended bags of the spices and teas as well as guide guests through the store's more than 75 signature blends and rubs, which are hand mixed and blessed by being thrown over just about anyone's shoulder. Amid the shop's wooden shelves, barrels, and crates, guests can also find a wide range of cookware and tea accessories that include stainless-steel tea steepers, contemporary salt and pepper grinders, and glass jar racks.
When customers face the daunting decision of what toppings to pile on to their pizzas, Washington Deli Pizza and Catering offers this advice: “Start simple, then branch out.” In its profile for WUSA 9’s “The Best I’ve Ever Ate” series, the eatery suggests sampling its hearty New York–style slices to find a favorite. Chefs make their own dough and sauce daily, crisping crusts with meatball, spinach, feta, and other toppings. Soy-cheese pizzas offer vegans and vegetarians dairy-free options, and slice meals offer fast fare without having to lasso a food truck full of tamales.
Along with pizzas, the deli packs paninis, wraps, and other staples on the sandwich menu with fillings like capicola ham, grilled crab cake, and muenster cheese. For family parties or office lunches on elevator appreciation day, the catering menu lodges cold cuts on party trays or in boxed lunches.
At both of Himalayan Heritage’s locations, chefs pull marinated chicken and lamb from charcoal clay ovens. The tandoori dishes are a staple of Indian cuisine, but Indian is only half the story here. Much of the menu is dedicated to Nepalese food, which, as Tom Sietsema explains in his glowing Washington Post review, is similar, but not the same. For an introduction, he recommends the momo—dumplings made of spiced minced chicken or vegetables that are steamed inside flour dough and served with aachar or chutney sauce.
Diners enjoy their meals at white-linen covered tables in a dining room with bright orange walls and a golden ceiling from which intricate lanterns hang. The space is flush with cultural artwork, including a large thangka painting that acts as a blimp in an emergency if you add enough balloons.
Composed of a market, deli, and restaurant, Cafe Mozart strives to create an epicenter for German culture. "This unassuming small restaurant with a deli in front is the place to go when you want to get all of the German food you crave," says CBS DC, which placed the eatery on its 2012 list of the Best German Food in DC. In addition to three types of schnitzel and Polish–, Hungarian–, and German–style sausages, the menu also features a variety of hearty vegetarian options. The patterned banquettes and tables adorned with crisp linens and crimson napkins belie the reverence for German tradition. On select evenings throughout the week, the eatery hosts live musical performances, including an accordion player who regales audiences with German folk tunes and drinking songs, and a Viennese pianist who plays familiar classical pieces.
From hot dogs in the United States to kebabs in Turkey, street food is celebrated around the world. At G Street Food, they bring it all to you, no passports required. Breakfast and lunch items here are made with seasonal produce and local ingredients whenever possible-but also aim to authentically represent the culinary traditions of the region they're from. That means you can sample real Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Montreal-style bagels, or Japanese curry rice in the same afternoon without booking a plane ticket or sneaking into the United Nations cafeteria. G Street Food's “globally minded menu” caught the attention of The Washington Post in 2012. Its Food and Weekend writers named it one of the Washington area's best weekday breakfasts, thanks to the house-made doughnuts (available plain, chocolate, or sugar-coated) and the long list of omelets. Guests can order them the Russian way, with tomatoes and fresh parsley, or Polish-style, with onions, potato, and zucchini, among many other options. The baristas will also make an Americano or drip coffee for the perfect breakfast pairing, assuming you wouldn't rather have a cup of Earl Grey, green tea, or masala chai.
Panas is short for empanadas but Panas Gourmet Empanadas, the restaurant, is hardly short on stock. Try any of many varieties of this Latin-fusion gourmet goody, featuring homemade dough jam-packed with ingredients like chipotle steak, ham and cheese, shrimp and chicken pesto. Vegetarians have plenty of options, too, like the smoked eggplant empanada or the Popeye, with spinach, onions, raisins and goat cheese, all served in Panas’ small, subterranean eatery just off Dupont Circle. While there’s another location out in Bethesda, folks tend to fill up this location on P Street NW, grabbing a seat in any of the low-slung chairs that fill up this white-washed space. Pick your empanada of choice from the hanging yellow menu board, add a dripping sauce and throw in for the baked plantain chips while you’re at it. Tuesdays and Saturdays even offer live Latin music inside.