At first glance, Keagan's Irish Pub and Finn McCool's don't seem so different. Both are thoroughly Irish establishments, serving traditional dishes of shepherd's pie, bangers 'n' mash, and fish ’n’ chips in dining rooms adorned with dark woods and stonework accents. Both also feature regular karaoke nights and live-music acts that regale patrons with songs so catchy they're under investigation by the CDC. But Finn McCool's stands out from its sister restaurant in one important aspect—its seafood bar, replete with broiled oysters and clams, steamed shrimp and snow crab, and sautéed mussels that arrive to tables solo or in hefty combination platters.
With over 200 national and international locations, Great Steak dishes out traditional cheesesteaks, chicken phillies, hamburgers, and grilled sandwiches. Soft rolls arrive piled with grilled steak, onions, cheese, and veggies, and chicken variations host ingredients such as buffalo or teriyaki sauces. Other sandwiches hold corned beef or pastrami alongside cheese fries, baked potatoes loaded with toppings, and salads.
Pollard's Chicken & Catering’s boasts that they have the best chicken in town, and in their case, it’s actually true. Many locations garnered gold-medal status in the Best of Hampton Roads 2012 poll, orchestrated by the Virginian-Pilot’s online affiliate HamptonRoads.com. Beyond morsels fresh from the fryer, the eatery’s titular dish comes in many other forms, from buffalo wings and kid-friendly tenders to barbecue pulled chicken sandwiches. An array of other meat adds diversity to the dine-in menu, including barbecue pork ribs and tender crab cakes.
Pollard's Chicken & Catering also lives up to the other half its name, with various outposts also taking top honors for catering in the HamptonRoads.com poll. Clients can piece together their own spreads by ordering bulk fried chicken and à la carte hors d’oeuvres, or choose one of nine party buffets, which, like a well-packed piñata, include meat and vegetables for 25 or more people.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Ethiopian dining is a communal affair, involving a group of kin or friends ripping, scooping, and savoring the spicy sharable portions eaten directly off of fingertips. Guests line their hands with torn-off portions of spongy injera, Ethiopia's signature sourdough flatbread, then hand deliver the tingling zing of Ethiopian berbere or fresh sprigs of rosemary that adorn a choice of traditional meats. The ethnic cuisine easily accommodates vegetarians, with plates packing spiced red lentils, yellow split peas with garlic, and cabbage in a mild sauce. Exotic music fills the dining room during lunch and dinner hours, with regular entertainment ensuring guests are loosened up for trips to the full bar or limbo competitions under a neighbor's table.
Prasit "Ken" Khachenrum's culinary journey spans more than 11,000 miles. In his native Thailand, the young chef began mastering the dishes of his home soil at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bangkok. Later, after landing a position with Commodore Cruise Lines, the globetrotting Khachenrum continued plying his skills while sailing beneath the Caribbean sun. Upon deciding to settle in Washington, DC, Chef Ken worked through the city's restaurant scene on his way to becoming sushi chef at Yosaku Japanese Restaurant, opening his first restaurant in Yorktown in 2002, and finally, opening Thaijindesu. Thaijindesu—translated from the Japanese word "romanji," meaning "Thai people"—invites guests into an elegant spiral of Thai and Japanese flavors. Chef Ken places bowls of steaming noodles and curries beside fresh rolls of sushi, uniting regional nuances on a single menu rather than uniting two menus with Velcro.