Every season, new hires and interns flood my office; when midday rolls around, they wander around like newborn ducklings without a mother, marveling at the plethora of lunch options with their mouths agape and eyes wide open. I worry about them, as they are in constant danger of being run over by a well-dressed lawyer double-fisting an iPhone and a blackberry and swinging a Chop’t salad around like a machete.
Now, nobody asked me for my opinion of the lunch scene in and around Farragut North. But never fear: I always come through. Here is Josh’s Complete Farragut North Lunch Guide. Use the map below, click to go to the full map, or look at the tables below for full reviews. Clicking on the circles reveals the restaurant review.
The rating system is done on three metrics: qualitative assessment, price, and level of fullness. Tier One candidates are delicious, well-priced, and give you a ton of food. Tier Two candidates are good but not great, overpriced but not egregiously so, and give you a good amount of food. Tier Three candidates are mediocre, overpriced, and sometimes leave you wanting more food. Tier Four restaurants are not good.
It is also important to note that Farragut Square, like other downtown corporate office neighborhoods in DC, faces a metastasizing blight: second-order food-gentrification, in which a variety of delicious and more “authentic” lunch restaurants that rich yuppies enjoy are being pushed out by chains of more expensive lunch restaurants that busier, less-interesting rich yuppies like. Sandwich chains are like an invasive plant species, eating up everything until all that’s left are overpriced sandwiches and it’s too late to turn back.
Comments and questions welcome. Responses not guaranteed. Thanks to Alex Holt for inspiring the map and adding reviews.
|Greek Deli||Not Too Overpriced||Stuffed to the Gills||The sound of Kostas plopping spoonfuls of artichoke special onto your plate is literally the sound of an Angel getting its wings, flying too close to the sun, and then falling back to earth into a tub of Avgolemono. Plus, you’re his friend. Kostas has so many friends. I’m jealous.|
|The Well-Dressed Burrito||Not Too Overpriced||Stuffed to the Gills||DC has the worst Mexican food of any city I’ve ever been to. The burritos at Well Dressed are not very good, but everything else is outstanding. It’s the most food-per-dollar you can get anywhere. Go on Wednesdays and Fridays for the Empanadas. Don’t get the burritos. Go any day for the special salads or the chicken and cheese enchiladas. Still don’t get the burritos. Did I mention not to get the burritos?|
|Suki Asia||Not Too Overpriced||Full||Nobody ever goes to Suki Asia with me, and frankly it’s very depressing. But the food is good. The Tofu-Don special with Miso Soup is one of my go-to lunches (it was better before they raised the price, but oh well) and the Udon is the best I’ve had around these parts. I like watching the sushi guy make sushi; I’ve never seen him smile. Frankly, it’s also depressing. My only complaint about Suki Asia is that the door opens the wrong way and makes entering and exiting awkward.|
|House of Kabob||Not Too Overpriced||Stuffed to the Gills||Having to use a tray reminds me of high school, but in a good way. The buffet spread at House of Kabob is impressive, with staples like tandoori chicken (good), chickpeas and beans (good), and saag potato (passable). The samosas are excellent, but the weird fried orange things that come in the same tray are highly underwhelming. I think that “House of Kabob” is an overstatement. If anything, it’s much more of a studio apartment of Kabob.|
|Szechuan Pavilion||Overpriced (but it’s fancier)||Full||Szechuan Pavilion has good Chinese food. That in and of itself is impressive in DC. This is more of a fancy place than other lunch spots, as it has white tablecloths (any form of tablecloth is usually too fancy for me). A good place to go to have a sit down meal, but it is always crowded. This is good for their business but immensely frustrating for me.|
|Chop’t / Sweetgreen||Overpriced||Full||The only difference between Chop’t and Sweetgreen is how much they slice your lettuce. And the light fixtures. They are both overpriced, but it makes you feel healthy afterward! It’s like a gym membership, but cheaper, not as effective, and smells more like vinaigrette. My coworker disagrees, saying, “You look like a bougie bitch if you go to Sweetgreen.” Noted.|
|Jettie’s||Overpriced||Satisfied||I’m a sandwich snob, and I think the sandwiches at Jettie’s are pretty good. People who enjoy hanging out with their families really like the Nobadeer, otherwise known as “Thanksgiving Between Bread.” But the sandwiches are bordering on the really-overpriced territory, so I feel bad about myself if I go. In that sense, it’s like most things in life.|
|Sala Thai||Overpriced||Full||Thai food in general seems to be expensive. I blame the lemongrass. I’ve only had one bad thing at Sala, and you can get a three dish combo plate for lunch. If you’re indecisive, you should go here…or somewhere else.|
|DC Po’Boy Shop||Overpriced||Satisfied||I had a good rendezvous with their shrimp etouffee, and the guys there are nice. The Po’Boys at Eastern Market are much better, however. If I didn’t know about those, I would think more highly of this place. Knowledge is power.|
|Cafe Carvy||Not Too Overpriced||Satisfied||Everybody needs a local sandwich/salad/soup joint, and Cafe Carvy does the trick. The shtick is that they carve everything from a full animal, so none of those old deli meats. The soups are not great, but the fact that they give you free pickles is a big plus. My main complaint is that they individually and very comprehensively saran wrap their pickles, delaying the time between deciding to eat the pickle and actually consuming it to near unbearable lengths.|
|Cozy Cafe||Not Too Overpriced||Looking for Snacks||How this place remains in business is a perpetual mystery. There is never anyone in there, yet it has lasted longer than many lunch places in the area. My former colleague swore by the Bulgogi (korean beef) sandwich, and for a while I did ok with the veggie sandwich despite its incredible blandness and lack of freshness. This should probably be ranked lower, but I put it in Tier Two just because of its magical ability to remain profitable.|
|Pi Pizza Truck||Overpriced||Looking for Snacks||Every Tuesday, the Pi truck is at Farragut square. For $12, you get a pizza that would ideally feed 1.3 people, a number that humans don’t come in. So you get one pizza and split it with someone else and then try to eat one of their slices because they are a smaller person than you and you need and want it more than they do.|
|CF Folks||Overpriced||Full||CF Folks is the epitome of an old-school diner: they have a wide variety of choices, the spread varies, and the guy working behind the cash register is disgruntled and short-tempered. The Chicken Korma on Wednesdays is excellent, and that’s mostly what I order there. My main complaint is that the guy behind the cash register really hasn’t been that mean to me at all. What did I do wrong?|
|Malaysia Kopitiam||Overpriced||Full||I’m a sucker for somewhat authentic-looking Asian food, and thus am predisposed to like this place. The soups are very large, filling, and tasty — and they are well-priced. Other stuff is not as well-priced. One time I was sitting in the restaurant by myself reading a book about Israel and this woman came up to me and asked me if I was single because I looked like the kind of guy a friend of hers would like. Thus, it gets a very high review in my book even though I am skeptical that this “friend” of hers exists.|
|G Street Foods||Overpriced/Absurd||Looking for Snacks||They do a lot of things at G Street, and they are all extremely mediocre. G Street is the kind of place you really want to like but just can’t, like that guy in high school who doesn’t have a lot of friends and is friendly but is incredibly grating to actually spend time with. Weirdly enough, that guy in high school also wrote a bunch of vaguely comedic food reviews in his spare time.|
|Nando’s Peri Peri||Overpriced||Satisfied||I like the sauces, but the chicken is not nearly as good as that of any of the Peruvian places around town, and it’s more expensive. Plus, too many people rave about it and that frustrates me.|
|Shake Shack||Overpriced||Looking for Snacks||I almost put this in the higher category because their mushroom burger is really good, but it’s truly overpriced. It’s sort of like In-N-Out, but not nearly as good, and much more expensive, so, not really much like it at all. Plus, too many people rave about it and that frustrates me.|
|Protein Bar||Overpriced/Absurd||Looking for Snacks||Their motto is “We do healthy…healthier,” but it really should be: “We do healthy…more expensively.” I’ve never seen such a small smoothie at such a high price, and I’ve seen my share of smoothies in my life.|
|Taylor Gourmet||Overpriced||Stuffed to the Gills||I was very excited about Taylor moving into the neighborhood, and was disappointed when I actually had it. In its favor, Taylor — unlike the entire state of California — actually puts the right things on its sandwiches (oil, not mayo or mustard). This almost moves Taylor up into Tier Two, but I am still just a bit too underwhelmed. The bread to meat ratio is off, and that is a subject which I feel strongly about.|
|Boloco||Overpriced||Looking for Snacks||I also had high hopes for this new burrito-fusion chain, which takes any ethnicity of food, wraps it in a tortilla, and calls it a burrito. This is fine, but they lack originality: people have been bastardizing Mexican food en masse for years now. What is not fine is that the burritos are half the size of Chipotle equivalents and the exact same price.|
|Rice Bar||Overpriced||Satisfied||Suki Asia is much better. There — I said it.|
|Bub and Pop’s||Absurdly Overpriced/This is Why Markets Don’t Work||Stuffed to the Gills||I will never pay 14 dollars for a sandwich unless it comes with a back massage and free movie tickets. Bub and Pop’s has neither.|
|Energy Kitchen||Overpriced/Absurd||Second Lunch Required||Here’s the fundamental problem with Energy Kitchen: It’s called Energy Kitchen, but the point is that every item on the menu is under 500 calories. Calories are a unit of energy. It should be called “Lack of Energy Kitchen.” Also, it’s not good.|
|Camelot||Unclassifiable||Full||I thought the wait staff was friendly. Perhaps too friendly.|