In 2009, Southern Louisiana native Melissa Crosswhite decided to show the nation's capital what Cajun cuisine is really about. With eight generations of family recipes in her hand, she set up shop in a historical 18th-century home. Soon enough, the mouthwatering aromas of her spicy étouffée, jambalaya, and gumbo filled the house and out onto the street, where it started drawing crowds from Maryland, Washington DC, and West Virginia. Today, diners enjoy meals prepared from those same trusted family recipes, including blackened chicken, alligator, and fried oyster po' boys. All sandwiches are made with New Orleans' famous Leidenheimer bread, spicy chipotle sauce, and the laments of a poor, poor boy. Guests enjoy their meals on a quaint patio or amid the historic home's Mardi Gras masks, crimson walls, and vintage touches. Chef Crosswhite's dessert skills can put a sweet cap on any creole feast with pecan pie and authentic Café Du Monde beignets.
At Burapa Thai's two locations in Arlington and Leesburg, the dishes on the menu tantalize with a fragrant cocktail of spices. The aromas of marinated beef mingle with those of honey, Thai herbs, and garlic, and crispy duck crackles sharply beneath sauce and basil leaves. Waiters pass through the dining room toting plates that highlight seafood and shrimp as well as lard na, a type of wide rice noodle. With steam from curries melding coconut, shrimp, and eggplant, chefs behind Burapa's sushi bar roll up eel and salmon held together by seaweed like Robinson Crusoe’s flat-screen TV. Amid the Arlington location’s booths, abstract tile work, and rich wood paneling, guests admire fresh-cut flowers.
A charcoal clay oven roars to life every morning in Silk’s kitchen in preparation for a day full of roasting meats and vegetables and baking fresh breads including roti and naan. The authentic tandoor prepares a menu rich in traditional flavors derived from spices imported from all over India. A dash of pure saffron, wild black cardamom, and cinnamon enhances platters of long-grain basmati rice, a standard side dish that enhances lamb, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian dishes alike. Waiters shuttle chosen plates out to a regal dining room full of carved, throne-like dining chairs, gilded statues of deities, and napkins fancifully folded into fork-size saris.
From foodies to celebrities to trend watchers, the buzz around Pinkberry has been sweeping the world. Excitement was high from the very beginning, when in 2005 Pinkberry opened its first store in West Hollywood, California. The demand for the swirls of yogurt was so great that Pinkberry was dubbed "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets" by the Los Angeles Times. Undeterred by parking regulations, people were drawn in by their cravings for the yogurt, the abundance of toppings, the bright and energetic store design, and the kind smiles of the staff. With more than 220 locations in 18 countries, Pinkberry is now one of the most-talked-about premium frozen yogurts in the world.
Starting with a base of nonfat, hormone-free milk and nonfat yogurt, Pinkberry's artisans incorporate live, active cultures into the mix to create a healthy, refreshing treat. The original yogurt is always available, but staffers also swirl seasonal flavors throughout the year, such as strawberry, cookies 'n' cream, and cherry. The selection of fresh fruit also rotates with the seasons and is cut daily in each store. Other toppings, such as honey-almond granola, dark-chocolate crisps, swirl pearls, and italian caramel, allow customers to create an inspired flavor combination every visit.
Kraze Burger was founded in 1989, distinguishing itself with its made-from-scratch approach to its burgers. Thirteen years later, visitors still won't find perfectly uniform patties hauled out from freezers, flavorless greens, or fries grown in test tubes. Instead they'll fill their bellies with hand-cut potatoes, made-to-order Angus beef burgers, and salads and sides culled from seasonal, locally sourced produce. Among their wide range of eclectic burgers is the Hawaiian burger, which is topped with a chargrilled pineapple, and their plain-and-simple cheeseburger.