Sowing the seeds of garden-fresh deli fare, Nature's Table Cafe has sprouted 75 locations in 10 states since its founding in 1977. Health-conscious menus bloom with vegetarian and gluten-free dishes alongside classic sandwiches filled with roast beef and grilled chicken breast. Cheesy paninis melt under the heat and meaningful glances emanating from a hot press, while more modest wraps conceal Mexican-, Mediterranean-, American-, and Thai-style fillings. Suffused with the essence of jasmine, rice bowls offer bellies a refreshing salad alternative, though Nature's Table Cafe's salad selection draws in loyal taste buds with fresh veggies and surprising combinations of grilled chicken, fruit, and chèvre cheese. Catering services unfailingly fill bellies at office parties, family get-togethers, and black-tie duck soirees.:
A product of longtime best friends and entrepreneurs Lonnie Moore and Mike Malin, whose The Dolce Group has launched successful eateries across the globe, Ketchup reinterprets childhood favorites in a sleek, contemporary atmosphere. Diners saunter through a space alive with a red, white, and black color scheme, relaxing in curvy, red banquettes or futuristic-looking chairs designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The tabletops and slatted room dividers boast comic-book-style pop art, ready to transfer onto any on hand Silly Putty, and the walls talk with whimsical portraits of ketchup and mustard bottles holding hands and Heinz bottles fading into clouds of pointillism.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chefs spin memories of Shake ’n Bake and macaroni washed down with Kool-Aid, creating gourmet masterpieces. Lobster finds its way into mac ‘n’ cheese, and hot dogs benefit from Kobe beef—both in the dog itself and in the chili on top. And there are plenty of options when it comes time for french fry dipping. Ketchup flavors such as root beer, ranch, and chipotle pay homage to the restaurant’s moniker, livening up Angus burgers topped with market-fresh heirloom tomatoes and Irish cheddar cheese. Moore and Malin's jazzed-up comfort food has even caught on at a sister location in Saudi Arabia, and the duo is opening another site in Istanbul, Turkey.
To say Capital Teas’ founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle’s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather’s tea. Manelle’s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store’s tasting stations to explain each flavor’s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples—which are brewed fresh daily—while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.
At Genghis Grill, cooks stir-fry more than 70 fresh ingredients to make healthy, flavorful bowls loaded with proteins and vegetables. Diners can mix and match ingredients to create customized feasts, or choose signature dishes such as the Thai Chicken bowl with chicken, veggies, and udon noodles in red curry peanut sauce. Nutrition-focused heart-healthy bowls, developed with the help of a dietitian, feature flavor combinations such as Sichuan-style bamboo beef or ginger-citrus shrimp.
The Grille at Morrison House sets tongues atwitter with a menu, helmed by Chef Dennis Marron, of modern American cuisine boasting a French influence. Sample the gastronomic goods with the chef's tasting menu, featuring five courses running the gamut from starter to dessert and prepped with local ingredients. Appetizing openers are yellowfin tuna sashimi with pickled red onion and seaweed salad, or soup, available in fennel-bisque, baby-carrot-puree, and fingerling-potato-cream variations. Next up is the choice of foie gras torchon or braised pork cheeks—both scrumptious segues into the third course. While a shrimp cocktail is offered as tray tres, diners may wish to opt for The Grille's signature dish, the progression of scallops. The Poseidon-preferred plates of mouthwatering mollusks begin with a diver scallops crudo —the Italian version of sushi—before delving into a cold smoked scallop and a seared day-boat sea scallop, and then ending with a coquilles St. Jacques. A lamb loin and a pork loin are the carnivore-friendly options for the fourth course, with a cheese plate or a dessert rounding out the tasting menu.
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.