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.
A palate-friendly palace in gold and green, Heritage India is the latest outpost of owner Sanjeev Tuli?s globe-spanning career in the hospitality business. Past ornate artwork and an elegant dining room, head chef Dawa Tamang draws on the culinary styles of his birthplace. The influence shows in menus of flavorful fusion cuisine, including calamari saut?ed with curry leaves and coconut milk; hyderabadi murgh haleem, a dish of chicken, barley, lentils, and spices; and golgappas, a popular street food made of puffed wheat, potato, and chickpeas.
Key Ingredients on the Menu
At Ristorante i Ricchi, owner Christianne Ricchi re-creates the traditional Tuscan flavors of her family's trattoria in Cercina, Italy, where she honed her cooking craft more than 20 years ago. The resulting menu of handmade pastas, prime aged beef, and grilled seafood and fowl garnered the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano?a certificate of culinary authenticity?from Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
In keeping with Christianne's Tuscan roots, the rustic decor at Ristorante i Ricci evokes the ambiance of a country villa. Terra-cotta tiled floors share warm hues with murals depicting garlands of greenery and trompe l'oeil architectural details. In the open kitchen, chefs sear meats with embers from the same oak-fueled flames that warm the dining room from the finished side of the wood-burning hearth. In the front room, floor-to-ceiling windows filter natural light through lush potted plants, giving the dining area a garden-like feel and?along with the complimentary valet parking for dinner guests?contributing to the relaxing atmosphere of a visit.
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In lieu of buns, Duffy's Irish Restaurant & Pub's Monster Burger earns its name by piling bacon, grilled onions, and a half-pound burger between two grilled cheese sandwiches. The Washington Post profiled the beastly eat and its “calories-be-damned goodness” in its This Thing You Should Try series. Those with tamer appetites assemble less daunting burgers with a beef or homemade black bean patty served on a white or whole grain Kaiser roll. Along with burgers, Duffy's culinary team crafts casual dishes such as mushrooms fried in peanut oil, vegan pasta tossed with homemade tomato sauce, and seven wing varieties voted the city's best in 2012 by readers of Washington City Paper.
Along with the menu of daily grub, Duffy's staff supplies discounted drinks and quesadillas at weekday happy hours and hosts brain-teasing pub trivia challenges every Wednesday night. 12 flat-screen TVs throughout the bar stay tuned to the latest Florida Gators and Green Bay Packers games, a more thrilling alternative to watching looped footage of an actual gator attacking a defenseless cheese wheel. In addition to front of the house entertainment, Duffy's accommodates private soirees with a back room equipped with more flat-screens, skeeball, darts, and an internet jukebox.
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.
After strolling past clusters of Chinese eateries and shops, it might be a bit surprising to find an authentic Thai restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. The aroma wafting out of Kanlaya Thai Cuisine’s kitchen is unmistakably one of Thai cooking—a tangy mixture of basil, chili, black bean spice, and kaffir lime leaves. The fragrance only grows stronger and more enticing upon entering the bright, clean dining room and taking a seat at one of the glossy wood tabletops. Attentive servers bustle across the hardwood floors of the elegant space, taking orders, making suggestions, and noting diners’ spice preferences. Bartenders dart about behind a tiny corner bar, doling out imported beers and garnishing fruity cocktails with umbrellas and fresh fruit.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chefs are hard at work, folding natural ingredients into a sweeping array of aromatic traditional dishes. Using time-honored Thai cooking techniques, the chefs whip up fiery coconut curries, tangy fried rice, and noodle dishes with meat, seafood, and tofu. To craft their specialty pottery shrimp—a favorite of food critic Robert Shoffner of the Washingtonian—the chefs simmer shrimp, cellophane noodles, napa cabbage, and mushrooms in exotic spices. The chefs take great care in the presentation of their dishes, decorating meats with swirls of carrot flowers, serving rice in bowls made of pineapple halves, and dishing pad thai noodles onto plates made of Renaissance oil paintings.