With each authentic dish at Piassa Restaurant & Mart, diners receive a balanced helping of Ethiopian tradition and hospitality, which, according to the hosts, is essential to the Ethiopian dining experience. Vibrant booths and beaded curtains enliven the restaurant, along with paintings and photographs depicting Ethiopian culture. The restaurant draws its name from the piassa, an epicenter of cultural and economic activity in Addis Ababa and other major Ethiopian cities. With traditional menu items, a selection of Ethiopian music and apparel, and special events, Piassa Restaurant & Mart dutifully reflects its namesake. Each night until 2 a.m., the staff host a full-service bar complete with Ethiopian wines, traditional drinks such as tej and tella, domestic beer, and espresso that keeps diners energized while they’re chopping down neighborhood mailboxes for firewood.
Shortcake usually comes with strawberries, but at Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop it comes with a double serving of ham. That's because the shop's Shortcake is 1 of 21 signature, specialty, and classic sandwiches made at 50 locations throughout the United States. Other flavorful subs include the Geeter, which boasts a medley of chopped seafood and bacon, as well as the avocado-and-provolone-topped Jacob Bluefinger.
Like the Comet Morehouse and Boney Billy, a version of the Bluefinger is also available on an exclusive menu of certified-gluten-free sandwiches made with specially designed rolls from Udi's. Gluten-free rolls can replace regular rolls on any other sandwich, too, whether it’s purchased individually or in a boxed lunch, which comes with chips, a cookie, and half a giant pickle that, if left whole, wouldn't fit in your car.
Udipi Cafe's traditional Indian ingredients and recipes form the basis of its expansive menu of flavorful vegetarian delights. Serenade taste sensors with appetizers such as a delectable potato-cauliflower duet of aloo gobi ($8.50) or the broad tasting board of the assorted sampler platter ($7.95). Dry and spicy chickpeas swim in a pond of piquant curry sauce in the chana masala curry ($8.50), which pairs pleasantly with a side of paratha bread ($1.95). Indo-Chinese specialties transport diners to the northern climes of the subcontinent with flavor combinations such as vegetable hakka noodles ($7.95), and dinner specials fill traditional platters with offerings such as the royal madras special thali and royal south indian thali ($13.50 each).
Cafe Istanbul's skilled culinary artisans craft a menu of authentic Turkish fare. Dining duos can share a Mediterranean appetizer such as stuffed grape leaves ($4.95) or conquer the sauced eggplant ($5.95). Send taste buds on an exotic excursion sans carry-on luggage with piquant entrees such as skewered chicken adana flavored with red bell peppers ($11.95), or inegol kofte ($10.95), which rolls lamb and rice into robust turkish meatballs . Cafe Istanbul also serves up vegetarian options, such as imam bayildi ($10.50), which stuffs chopped tomatoes, parsley, pine nuts and raisins into an eggplant envelope that ships directly to the mouth at a modest flat rate.
Carpe Diem relaxes diners in a tranquil, stylish lounge, serving upscale, elegant cuisine from Morocco to several Eurasian nations that don't yet exist. Monday through Friday, visitors can delve into tapas, such as lobster crostini, topped with caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach, and a flavor-enhancing vodka butter sauce ($6). Those who like to dress their sandwiches up in a beret will adore the French-originating croque monsieur sandwich, which stimulates the olfactory nerves with its shaved pork loin and melty Gruyere cheese ($9). Wine-imbibers can revel in Carpe Diem's enormous collection of whites and reds, such as Washington Hills' Gewürztraminer ($6.50), while specialty drinkers can experiment with Carpe Diem's Carolina tea ($7), a sweet tea and vodka creation served on the rocks.