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.
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.
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.
Though the name might insinuate otherwise, The Beer Joint actually specializes in three things: burgers, bourbon, and, yes, beer. They have so many varietals of the latter two, that all the drinks are divided into three profiles. For bourbon, that's traditional, high-wheat, and high-rye; for beer that's blonds, reds, and bolds, all of which are brewed in the pub's onsite brewery. The burgers are equally varied, and not just in the way of toppings. Some, like the All-American, layer tomatoes, onions, and cheese between sesame-seed buns. Others, like an octogenarian who can slam dunk, are bit more unexpected, like meatball-style sliders on toasted bread, or full-size patties bulked up with suet (beef fat) or Japanese beef. And for those who crave something a little different, The Beer Joint also offers up ribs, wings, and beer-battered mozzarella cheese sticks,
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.