Tag Archives: ACC’s DC

ACC’s DC: The Salt Line

The Salt Line – 79 Potomac Avenue SE

Hands down this is my new favorite place to go in DC.  It checks every single one of my boxes – on the water, check; nautical theme, check; great cocktails, check; friendly and relaxed service, check; delicious food, check; primo dog watching, check!  Since this place opened I have tried to make myself a regular – you can go even on the hottest days as I swear the breeze at their outdoor bar is like no other.  So here is the scoop – it is a seafood restaurant/outdoor bar right at the foot of Nats park (you can see it peaking out behind the bar).


When they first opened they didn’t have a website (!!!!) one of my biggest pet peeves but now it’s up so you can check out their menu.  Admittedly it’s a small menu but they do it right with New England style dishes and fresh seafood.  When you get there you can order oysters from cute little order cards on the table (with personalized pencils in replica oyster cans – this place thinks of everything).


I love that they give you the size and salinity level of each oyster – I enjoyed the Moonstone and Nauti Pilgrim.  Also fun are their oyster shooters that include thoughtful toppings that match the liquor you shoot them with.  I have not tried their $90 seafood tower but man it looks impressive!


Their lobster roll is everything this Boston girl dreams of (probably because the owner is from MA) with a griddled split top roll, lightly dressed lobster and incredible fries.  If you aren’t into seafood there are several good options like a 1/2 chicken and a burger.  The day time menu is smaller with more creative entrees on the dinner menu like rockfish with ramps.


This is also a great place to stop just for a drink (make sure to check the Nationals schedule as it can get crowded before and after games).  They have several cocktails on tap, like a twist on a Cape Codder, and they have Del’s Frozen Shandys, the perfect anecdote to summer in DC.


Lots of great New England and local beers on tap including my favorite local, RAR from Cambridge, MD.  All of the bartenders and servers just seem happy to be there and are helpful without being pushy.  The inside as just as great as the outside, though I will wait until the outside closes to actually sit there!

A comfortable bar and a good amount of tables means that this can be a year round day at the beach – they even had their own wall paper made for the bathrooms!  From the adorable details to the care they take with their menus, it’s no wonder Salt Line is already getting to be a popular spot.  And I mean really, food and drink aside, the dog stalking is on point – look at this little guy!


ACC’s DC: ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar

ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar – 300 Florida Avenue NW

The ANXO Cidery & Pintxos Bar has been a long time coming.  For any of you who follow food news in DC, this place has been talked about for ages, and then it took me ages to get over there and check it out.  So glad that I did.  This first in the District cidery actually makes their own cider from apples collected all over the city!  They are still working on a much bigger production facility (stay tuned) but have already started making some delicious collaborations with other local cider makers that are featured on their menu.  Cider is a big deal in the Basque region of Spain and the menu here, both beverage and food, reflect those sensibilities.


First lets start with the liquid.  You are at a cidery so order a cider!  The terrific bartenders and servers are cider nerds and will walk you through the menu and point you in the right direction.  Hands down the favorite among my friends was the Snowdrift Red, a rose cider.  They also carry several varieties from my favorite cidery in Richmond (featured in this post), Blue Bee.


They do flights of ciders so you can try your hand at several and see what style you like.  I decided to go with the Gaztanaga from Spain which is a traditional Basque style cider.  It was great but honestly a little stressful!  It comes in a 12 ounce bottle that you are meant to pour from a height so that the cider is aerated.  However, you are also only supposed to pour as much as you are going to drink immediately, basically one gulp, because the flavor profile changes once its sat for a while.  I took one for the team and let it sit a while just to test it out, maybe my cider palette isn’t sophisticated enough – tasted ok to me – though it wasn’t as good as just poured.  Anyway it was fun to try but drinking shouldn’t require this much work!  Watch me try to not get cider everywhere while I pour some.

ANXO also has a nice selection of Spanish wines, a good craft beer selection and a full bar with cocktails.  Next time I go I definitely want to try some of their vermouth.  The bar downstairs is really beautiful – apologies I didn’t take that many pictures because I didn’t want to be that girl but it really is a very instagramable space.  I loved the black and white concrete tile on the wall, the fun chalkboard menus and platters of food perched atop large graphic tins.


The second floor has another bar and dining tables but I think the best spot is their great front patio – try and sit out there before it gets too cold.  Patrick and I went with our friends Jon and Kitty who are adventurous eaters so we basically tried one of everything.  The menu changes regularly and is split up between the pintxos menu, which are one or two bite dishes, with a larger more tapas style menu, that has dishes to share.  One of our favorite dishes of the night was the roasted quail – perfectly cooked and nice and garlicky.


Roasted Quail

The cider poached octopus was also incredible.  I was sad to share this because the saffron mashed potatoes are totally addictive.


Cider Poached Pulpo

If there are croquetas on the pinxos menu – order them all!  We got chicken and ham ones, they come 3 to an order, and are hot, salty and AMAZING.  A really great snack to pair with the ciders.  Also don’t sleep on the cauliflower stuffed piquillo pepper – even our two meat loving men raved about this veggie dish.


Croquetas, Cauliflower Stuffed Piquillo and others

ANXO is a really fun place to drink and snack – don’t go for a true dinner as the small plates and then very small pinxos means a lot of little bites of things that never really feels like a meal.  I am really eager to try some of the new menu items.  Also I feel like I just scratched the surface of my cider education!  Head over with a bunch of friends, explore the cider list and snack on croquetas – Florida Avenue never felt so close to Spain!

ACC’s DC – Which DC Brewery is Right for You?

It’s a rough life when you have to “drag” your friends and husband along as you work your way through brewery after brewery, in the name of blog research.  I do it all for you people.  Seriously, this was a really fun post to put together and thanks to my loved ones for drinking a lot of local beer with me.  I kept putting off posting this because every time I was ready to, another media outlet issued another DC brewery round up.  However, I realized that just general info about a brewery isn’t all that helpful.  Most of them are in remote areas and also very crowded so knowing what to expect before you go can really make or break an experience.  So I thought about what I would want to know – obviously location but also what food is there, what beers should I drink and what kind of atmosphere does the brewery offer.  I didn’t hit all of the breweries in the District or the surrounding areas but hopefully this will give you a good start when you think about spending a weekend afternoon testing out beer.  Oh and don’t worry – research has already begun on distilleries!

3 Stars Brewing Co. – 6400 Chillum Place NW


Best for:  Really getting a sense of the DC brewing scene in a bar like setting.  Recently 3 Stars built this awesome tasting room/barn thing in the middle of their brewery for tastings which is really nice (especially in the summer when the AC is on full blast in the tasting room).  These folks are serious about their beer and there are usually beers on draft here you can’t find anywhere else.  There is even a homebrew shop attached the to brewery so you can get inspired and go home and make your own beer.


Food Sitch:  They have food trucks outside on Saturdays and you can bring in your own food – a pretty comfortable place to eat if you wanted to bring a spread.

Favorite Beer:  Lets go Peppercorn Saison!  This beer is delicious and also really easy to find outside the brewery (Costco even sells it in large format bottles).  However, make sure to try one of their barrel aged beers or the ones with fresh ingredients like citrus peel when you are there, you aren’t likely to find it at your local bar.

Tours:  Free tours are held on Saturday @ 2:00 and 3:00pm.  They are first come first serve.


ACC’s Takeaway:  This brewery requires a serious Uber commitment unless you happen to live near Fort Totten, but its worth it.  The new tasting room is pretty spacious and there are also picnic tables and corn hole out in the rest of the brewery space so enough elbow room for everyone.  They are making some of the best beers in DC and are committed to showing you a good time.  And since you made it all the way out there head on over to my next stop…

Hellbender Brewing Company – 5788 2nd Street NE


Best for:  A quick visit following your trip to 3 Stars or if you are rolling with a large group.  There are large circular tables where people can congregate and it’s not as busy as most breweries.

Food Sitch:  There wasn’t a food truck posted when we visited but if you follow them on Twitter or Facebook they announce when one will be there.  They have Route 11 Chips for sale and I have to say, the crab chips are the perfect pairing to a lot of their beers.

Favorite Beer:  North X Northeast Coffee Stout – this is very coffee forward so I could probably only do one but it’s well balanced and I like that it’s brewed with Compass Coffee, a local DC roaster.

Tours:  Free tours are held on Saturday @ 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 and 5pm.  They are first come first serve.

ACC’s Takeaway:  This place is pretty under the radar – actually it’s pretty hard to find and is no frills but that is what makes it fun.  Not sure I would head all the way out there just to visit but given its proximity to 3 Stars (we walked and it took 5 minutes) it’s worth stopping by.


Atlas Brew Works – 2052 West Virginia Ave NE Suite 102

Best for:  Growler fills or gettin sloppy.  Lots of day drinkers here playing cornhole and getting pretty smashed.  If you are looking for a party scene this is it.

Food Sitch:  There is usually a food truck out front – when we were there it was pretty awful pizza one but they rotate.  You can also bring in food from the outside but this is not a ‘have a nice picnic while sipping a beer’ kind of place.  Stash some chips in your bag if you really think you are going to need a snack.

Favorite Beer:  Hands down the Rowdy, a hop forward rye ale.  I almost always order this when I see it on a menu and it makes for a great growler fill.


Tours:  Free tours are held on Saturday @2:00, 4:00 and 6:00pm.  They are first come first serve.

ACC’s Takeaway:  Honestly I did not like my experience at Atlas.  I had been drinking their beers for a while but they took the whole industrial scene a bit too far.  I can drink beer among kegs standing on a cement floor with the best of them but this place was just plain dirty and with a gross smell that even hops couldn’t cover up.  They have recently opened a new tasting room where you can order a drink, do a tasting or have a growler filled which I think will really improve the experience here.  Problem being that this place was SLAMMED when it didn’t have the nice tap room so I suspect that place will be at capacity pretty much all the time.

Right Proper Brewing Company – 920 Girard Street NE (brew pub @ 624 T Street NW)


Best for:  Beer nerds that want to be close to the action.  Right Proper has a proper bar with the tanks in full view – you cannot get much fresher than that!  These guys are not afraid of trying some wacky combos with silly names, so its good for small groups (around 4 people) to spend some time comparing all the different beers on tap.

Food Sitch:  The time we visited there was a Southern food truck parked right out front.  The nice thing is at the brewing facility in NE you can also bring in outside food and several people had picnic baskets with them (some pretty impressive spreads actually).  We opted to hit up Menomale, an awesome pizza place around the corner from Right Proper, first and then go have beers.  If you wanted to combine the two, order a pizza to go and bring it over.  The brewpub in NW has a full menu with lots of good bar food options (and suggested beer pairings) as well as a pretty solid cheese list.


Favorite Beers:  The brewing facility has 12 taps going at once and when we were there our favorites was White Bicycles, a witbier, and the Haxan, a robust porter.  Pretty much at the opposite ends of the spectrum taste wise but that gives you a sense about how eclectic their selection is.  I also liked the Lubitsch, a smoked beer, but my fellow tasters all hated it!

Tours:  Free tours are on Saturdays and Sundays @ 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00pm (only in the brewing facility).  They are first come, first serve.


ACC’s Takeaway:  I had already been to the brew pub several times before the production facility opened up.  It really does all come down to personal taste but at a place like Right Proper really behooves you to do a flight so you end up tasting beers outside of your comfort zone.  You never know what you might like.

DC Brau – 3178-B Bladensburg Road NE

Best for:  Weeknight pit stops or gathering with a small group.  The tasting room at DC Brau is pretty small but like most breweries you can spill into any open space in the warehouse.  Lots of folks use this place like their own personal fresh beer store, stopping in for growler fills on the way home from work, and I may just become one of those people…

Food Sitch:  One or two food trucks are always outside.  Special bonus – Harper Macaw, DC’s own chocolate factory is night next to DC Brau so you could load up on chocolate before drinking.

Favorite Beers:  On the Wings of Armageddon is my current favorite but be careful.  That 9.2% ABV will sneak up on you!

Tours:  Free tours are held on Saturday @ 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00pm.  They are first come first serve and very popular.

ACC’s Takeaway:  DC Brau is great – one of the first breweries in DC that has been around long enough to lose some of their growing pains but also still true to DC and the beer lovers that live here.  In appreciation they often so specials for people who live in NE DC (woot woot) and Friday is half priced pint nights.  A special place that would be great to take people for their first DC brewery experience.



ACC’s DC – The Red Hen

The Red Hen – 1822 First Street NW

With the DC restaurant scene getting better, and bigger, by the day it can be hard to keep up with all the new hot spots to try.  Especially if you are like me, and live and die by reservations.  Most new places don’t take them at all, and if they do they are impossible to come by unless you want to eat dinner at 10pm.  Since it opened its doors in 2013, I have heard nothing but good things about The Red Hen.  Food critics, friends and fellow bloggers all raved about this restaurant to a person.  While the Red Hen does take reservations. it only does so for a small amount of tables, preferring to leave tables available to walk ins.  Which is great for a neighborhood restaurant to do…just not when it isn’t in your neighborhood!  Finally the other day Patrick and I decided to head over to Bloomingdale and see if we could get in.  On a Friday night.  When we were starving.  Usually this ends up in a hangry fight, tears and Chinese delivery at home but the restaurant gods were shining on us that night and they were able to seat us right away (we got there around 6:30pm).


They have a pretty large bar to wait at, or sit and eat at if you don’t get lucky.  By the time we left, the place was totally packed with a line of people waiting outside so if you can stand eating at early bird special hours it’s worth it.  Even if you are not hungry, I would recommend stopping by the bar and checking out their very cool selection.  Mostly local beers and a heavy on Italian wine menu, as well as craft cocktails means there is something for everyone. I had to order a Negroni, as it’s my favorite Italian cocktail, and their version did not disappoint.  I will say the prices on the bottle list I felt were a little high for the price of the food but we were still able to find something reasonable to go with dinner.  One thing The Red Hen is known for is their list of orange wines – if you have never tried one this is the place to do it.  If you like the flavor of red wine and the body of white wine, orange wine is for you.


The menu has a “Small Things” category as well as an “Appetizers” list that has more substantial plates.  We started with the Whipped Ricotta Crostini with Balsamic Brown Butter & Truffle Honey as our “small thing.”  YUM.  The Red Hen has managed to perfect a tecnique that has always mistyfied me.  How do Italians make grilled bread slathered with cheese stay so crispy?  In Venice, the little Ciccetti bars would have crostini lined up on the counter and they would sit there for hours yet when you take a bite the bread has maintained its integrity.  Perfect to pair with a bubbly glass of prosecco.


As an appetizer we went with the Fried Cauliflower ‘Sicilian Style’ with Horseradish Yogurt, Pecorino Romano & Breadcrumbs.  I was thrown by horseradish in the description but they use a very light hand so it doesn’t overwhelm the dish and just adds a nice nose tingling heat to the background of the dish.  This cauliflower is addictive like french fries.


The rest of the menu is devoted to pastas (made in house of course) and entrees.  It’s a small selection but very seasonal.  Luckily we had snacks to tide us over because it took forever to decide what we wanted to order – always a good sign when you want to ask for one of everything!  I had the Casarecce with Asparagus, English Pea Crema, New Potatoes, Lemon, Basil & Pecorino Tartufo, which was like an Italian love letter to spring.  Patrick went for the Grilled Beef Short Rib with Braised Shelling Beans, Peperonata, Feta, Basil, Chimichurri & Balsamico.  They braised the short ribs and then threw them on the grill at the end so they were tender and falling apart but still had a little char on the outside.  Just outstanding.  He was torn between that and their Roasted Half Chicken with Black Truffle Polenta, Smoky Bacon, Scallions & Warm Frisee Salad so I told him to go short rib and I would try and recreate the chicken dish at home.  It was pretty successful and will be Thursday’s post, so stay tuned.


Usually I am too stuffed for dessert but in the name of research we asked for the menu.  Nothing really jumped out at us until our waitress suggested the Maple Custard with Caramelized Hazelnut Crumble.  Not something I would normally pick but she said that whenever she goes to another restaurant she orders dessert to see if there are any out there as good as this one.  SOLD!  It was as good as advertised and I am not even a big hazelnut person.


Bottom line – don’t let its popularity or lack of a reservation put you off on The Red Hen.  With warm service and perfectly executed Italian food, this place is worth the wait.


ACC’s DC – Espita Mezcaleria

Espita Mezcaleria – 1250 9th Street NW

When I first heard that a Oaxacan restaurant that would specialize in mezcal was opening in DC I basically stalked them right until they opened.  Luckily DC has many blogs and food obsessed people like me, that track liquor licences, construction troubles, chef hirings and the like so you can track a new place’s every move.  It took way longer than I would like but Espita is finally here and I am confident, here to stay.  Usually it takes me a while to get to a new restaurant, especially in a neighborhood as hot as Shaw but there was very little waiting on this one, partially because it actually takes reservations, hurrah!!  I was going to post this a couple of weeks ago but I got scooped by Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post, who also agrees you have got to head over there ASAP.


First about the setting – another typical industrial type space with hard surfaces making it tough to hear yourself think but with lovely little Mexican touches to distinguish it from the rest.  Very cool murals on the wall (hello Frida Kahlo on the way to the ladies room) give the vibrant punch you want at a Mexican place and the servers are relaxed and friendly.  We weren’t there more than 15 minutes when someone who had clearly sampled some mezcal dropped a glass on those concrete floors.  Totally nonplussed, the staff cleaned it up quickly and handled it with grace (and remember this is right after they opened.)  Start with a mezcal, even if you think you don’t like it.  Most mezcals people have tried are extremely smoky versions of tequila and that’s it.  Espita wants to educate you about the whole range from smoky to fruity to earthy.


They have flights as well as different sized pours so you can really work your way through the impressive menu.  This is not stuff you just knock back quickly (not when some can run you $20 a shot!) but rather sip and enjoy.  A cute touch is the small pours are in candle holders from a church supply house – you will spot a small cross at the bottom.  All of the servers are really knowledgable so ask for their thoughts if you need a steer.  To go along with the straight mezcal they also have a terrific cocktail selection.  I highly recommend the Mayahuel if you are just getting the hang of things, as it’s the closest to a margarita you are going to find.  Wine and beer round out the list as well as the much beloved Mexican Coke for those of you who don’t drink.


Now that you are refreshed don’t sleep on the chips and salsa.  While some places serve these gratias, at Espita you have to order them.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Each salsa is three dollars a pop and unbelievably flavorful.  They rotate the menu with lots of interesting flavors and are listed on the menu from mild to hot so you know what you are getting in to.  When this place says hot, they mean it, but not in a scorch the inside of your mouth way, in a flavorful and purposeful way.  The chips that accompany the salsa are light as air, hot from the fryer and perfectly salty.


Another good  start your meal are the shishitos peppers (listed as a side but great as an ap).  If you remember from this post, these peppers can be mild or hot so it’s a fun game of Russian roulette.  They also have a nice list of ceviches which will be perfect as the weather gets hotter.  Just don’t fill up too soon before you hit the taco list.


Tacos can be ordered with 2 or 3 included which is nice when you are trying to share with a group.  Pretty much everything on the menu could be shared but I wouldn’t really call it a “small plates” restaurant.  The servers are great about letting you space out your order and not rushing through the meal so I suggest having a flight with your aps and then decide on what’s next.  The taco menu hits all the faves, fish, al pastor, chicken, but they are all done with authentic ingredients like pickled cabbage and knob onions.  There are also some different faces at the party, notably these lamb barbacoa tacos.  The gameness of the lamb is a great match to the smokey chipolte salsa and raw onion.  Just amazing.


Moles take up another whole section of the menu.  Most people who haven’t travelled in Mexico extensively have only ever had chicken mole with a slightly bitter, chocolate based sauce.  Now you will know what you have been missing.  Moles are highly complex and layered sauces that require a lot of love and attention.  Luckily at Espita you can simply order from the 6 or 7 they offer.  Pictured below is the Pipan, the mole sauce is made with pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, and is draped over fall-off-the-bone pork ribs.  Zero resemblance to some of the sad brown dishes I have seen at other Mexican spots.


Espita just announced that they are doing lunch service for those lucky ducks that work near Shaw.  It has been a while since I have eaten at a place and left feeling so inspired.  Thursday I will post my attempt at those delicious lamb tacos and next Tuesday I will do my riff on their habanero salsa/hot sauce.  That way you will be all set for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations.  Or better yet – there are still reservations open, book fast!


ACC’s DC – Chez Billy Sud

Lest you think I never leave my own neighborhood I thought I should do a post on a restaurant not found on Capitol Hill.  It’s a bit of a cheat because I can walk to this place from my office but honestly Chez Billy Sud is so great I would happily leave the comfort of my home and even take a bus to get some of their French magic.  When I first moved to DC, Georgetown was one of the few places you could go out to eat.  However, now it barely registers a blip on foodie radars.  Some really bad, overpriced and staid restaurants are partly to blame.  Also new parts of the city began to develop, most with lower rents and more access to public transit, leaving Georgetown out of the loop.  I still make the trek just to walk the streets and pick out my dream house, and the shopping is still pretty good, but when I got hungry it was time to vamoose.  No more – Chez Billy Sud changed all that and I believe opened the door to more restaurateurs taking a second look at Georgetown.  The original Chez Billy (which sadly I still have not been to) is in Petworth, one of those up and coming, much lower rent spots.  It’s instant success allowed them the freedom to take over the old Cafe la Rouge space (thank god – the last time I had lunch there was plastic in my croque monsieur!!).  They transformed the space into a pistachio colored French dream world with lovely woodwork and gold details.


My girlfriend Stefanie says the original in Petworth is much darker, so I am glad they went light and airy with this space (note to self: next time you are there make sure to get the paint color).  Every detail is attended to right down to the chic striped napkins and the coffered ceiling.  The service here is really gracious and it’s one of the few places in the city where you can actually hear yourself think (and they take reservations).  They also have an incredible patio open in the warmer months and will be opening a wine bar any minute now in the property next door.  I could go on and on about the space but really it’s about the food.  Chez Billy Sud does lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends and it’s all equally fabulous.  The menu changes seasonally (which I so appreciate) but there are some items that seem to be stand bys.  I just love the chicken liver mouse – trust me, just pretend that you have no idea there are livers in there.  They cover it with a wine gelee that adds a lovely sweetness to cut through the rich spread.


Of course they have an incredible cheese board – go ahead and trust your waiter to pick for you as they all have impeccable taste and well, its French cheese so you cannot really go wrong.  Might as well start your meal with a cocktail as well, I am partial to the Frenchman which has apple brandy in it.  Their wine list is also pretty good with a variety of prices and a heavy emphasis on French wines of course.  I have a soft spot for their Moules Marinières, i.e. mussels steamed in wine and garlic.  Paired with their incredible fries it’s the perfect lunch.


You really cannot go wrong with seafood at this place, the trout and salmon are done with a light hand with elegant French touches.  They carry the classic Steak Frites as well as Beef Bourguignon in the colder months.  For vegetarians the Les Semoules are a perfect pick – fluffy semolina dumplings served with tomato sauce and cheese on top they are warm, comforting and satisfying.


There dessert menu is small but has everything you would expect in a French bistro, Crème Brulee and Chocolate Mousse etc.  The ones I have tried are delicious but honestly after eating baskets of bread, delicious Rose and a full meal I usually skip dessert.  I cannot wait for the opening of the wine bar as I know it will be as thoughtfully done as Chez Billy Sud was – it’s time to head back to Georgetown for dinner people, you will not be disappointed.

Chez Billy Sud @ 1039 31st St NW, Washington, D.C.


ACC’s DC – Middleburg

One of the best things about living in DC is getting to visit the many historic cities and towns nearby.  Within an hour you can be in the country, sipping wine at a vineyard, touring a historic home or visiting a Civil War battleground.  I have already shared my favorite Maryland spot, Frederick, but in Virginia it’s gotta be Middleburg.  Established in 1787, it is a straight shot out Route 50 from DC.  Once you arrive you will note a distinct theme – this town is for horse lovers.  Pretty much every shop or bar has a horse or hunting theme and don’t be surprised if you run into someone grabbing their groceries in breeches and a riding helmet.


Jackie Kennedy bought a farm in Middleburg so you know it is the very definition of chic.  The best way to start a trip to Middleburg is a stop at one of the area vineyards.  I am partial to Greenhill Winery and Vineyards but if you must stop somewhere else (or want to hit two!) I also like Chrysalis Vineyards and Boxwood Winery.  After all that wine you will probably need a good lunch before you hit the shops.  The town is small and parking is abundant so just grab a spot when you see it – all of my recommendations are within a 2 or 3 block walk from each other.

The Red Fox Inn & Tavern – 2 East Washington Street


I have been going to The Red Fox Tavern for years and consider it one of the most romantic places in the area to dine.  Housed in a beautiful fieldstone inn built in 1728 you can sit by the fireplace and enjoy hearty, but refined pub fare.  As one would expect they do a great job with southern dishes (yes please to the fried chicken and shrimp and grits) and they have an entire Virginia wine list so you can sample stuff from around the region.  It’s a great place to stay if you want to turn your day trip into a weekend.

The French Hound – 101 South Madison Street


On my last visit I discovered another gem, The French Hound, and I am kicking myself for never having visited before.  Located in another quaint building, The French Hound does terrific French bistro food.  I highly recommend the escargot and the steak frites.

There is also a lovely little bar tucked inside so a good place to grab a drink by the fire before you head home.  I cannot wait until it gets warmer to go back and experience their darling patio area as well.  Now that you are fortified it is time to shop and sip.  There are lots of great clothing and accessory stores in the area as well as art galleries.  Also it probably goes without saying that if you are in the market for a saddle or some horse bit jewelry this is the place.  However, my focus is always food, of course.

Home Farm Store – 1 East Washington Street


I am totally obsessed with this store.  They carry all organic and mostly local ingredients from locally butchered meats to jams and jellies from surrounding farms.  They have a great cheese selection as well as local wines and beers and there is always someone at the ready to help you.  Housed in another incredible historic building they have managed to make it look really fun and modern – I die for those black and white striped walls!


Market Salamander – 200 West Washington Street

Make sure to also head over to this beautiful market, if for no other reason than a coffee pick me up and one of their flakey pastries.  This place was made for putting together a picnic, they have ready-made options and all the fixings for a great basket.  (Sorry it wasn’t open last time I was in town, hence no pictures.  Take my word for it – it’s super cute and worth stopping).

Mount Defiance Cidery & Distillery – 207 West Washington Street


Right across the street from Market Salamander is a new addition to Middleburg – its very own cidery and distillery.  Mt. Defiance makes several types of hard cider as well as rums and brandies.  They have a small tasting room (that you can see gets pretty popular) where you can do single or flight tastings of the different ciders and they do sprits and even cocktail flights in their warehouse.  How adorable is the pressed tin ceiling and antique fan??


Creme de la Creme – 23 East Washington Street

I always make sure to stop at Creme de la Creme, an amazing boutique that carries housewares and linens from France.  They carry some of my favorite brands – Laguilole, which makes my everyday flatware and some incredible cheese knives, Le Cadeaux, amazing melamine plates and serving dishes that look just like French porcelain, and Le Jacquard Francais, a collection of vibrant colorful French linens.  You cannot help but feel inspired in this shop (they are also located in Leesburg and Richmond, VA).

Red Horse Tavern – 118 W Washington Street


This place has the best patio in Middleburg – great for people watching and going over all of your purchases!  The Red Horse Tavern (noticing a theme here??) is the local watering hole and great for a bite to eat if you want to grab a quick burger or club sandwich.  This is where you can really feel the “everyone knows your name” vibe this town has.

Middleburg’s Christmas parade is on my bucket list (so many beagles!!) as are the Middleburg Spring Races.  Honestly this town is sort of seasonless.  My last visit was in February where you can take advantage of the great fireplaces all over town.  In the spring everything is blooming, the summer means sipping VA wine on all the nice patios (and ice cream from Scruffy’s) and fall brings amazing foliage.  Every time I visit Middleburg I fall more and more in love with it and I hope you do too.



ACC’s DC – Greenhill Winery and Vineyards

Three day weekends are a perfect excuse to use one of the days to get out of the city.  One of the things I love best about DC is that within 45 minutes you can easily be in rural Virginia and enjoy some terrific vineyards, apple picking, antique shops and historic towns.  The wine industry has exploded in Virginia over the last decade with varying degrees of success.  We have visited at least 20 of them and some are putting out terrific stuff…others not so much.  However, it’s always fun to get out there and check them out even if the wine isn’t the best.  Recently we tried a new spot, Greenhill Winery.  My friend Celeste turned me onto this place (she runs a fabulous blog herself you should check out Corking Around) and it’s just terrific.  Right outside Middleburg, this vineyard makes all their wine with grapes grown in Virginia (not all of them do).  You can book your tastings online which given how busy some of these places can get is a great service to offer.  We booked an outside tasting and they set us up on their patio.


They also have a great inside tasting room, a large picnic area where you can bring your own food and enjoy a bottle.  For wine club members they also have a large manor house on the property where they do additional events.  We joined the wine club and if you find a vineyard that you really like this can be a good deal.  Greenhill gives you some free tastings and a discount on their wine if you are a member.  Even if you don’t want to make that kind of investment I recommend signing up for emails from some of your favorites as all of these local vineyards do events like jazz festivals, cheese tastings etc.  Many are dog friendly as well (make sure to check ahead of time) and somewhat surprisingly a great place to bring kids.  There is plenty of room to run around and as long as you bring along snacks and non adult grape juice it’s a great family spot.


We did a full tasting and were impressed by the quality.  Our favorites was their Riesling, nice and dry and citrusy and Ontology made out of Chambourcin grapes which grow really well in the region.  They are open noon to 6 everyday so hop in the car and go have a lovely afternoon.  Some of my other favorites are Chrysalis Vineyards, also in Middleburg, and in Purcelville there is Hillsborough Vineyards and Breaux.  Leave any more recommendations in the comments section.  Happy labor day!


ACC’s DC – Ocopa

Several people have asked that I start reviewing local spots here in DC so I am starting a new feature, ACC’s DC.  In it I will try to steer you all to my favorite places to eat, drink and shop here in the Nation’s capital.  I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of the historic and always bustling H Street NE.  Once the heart of DC’s commercial life, the street and the surrounding neighborhood was devastated by the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  For decades the street struggled to regain its footing but a recent revitalization has really turned the area around.  Scores of new restaurants and bars have opened, some terrific local small businesses have flourished and there will even be a new Whole Foods soon.

Ocopa – 1324 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20001

Honestly its hard to keep up with the scene on H Street which is why it took me almost a year to try Ocopa.  We finally made it there for a birthday lunch and it has become my new favorite spot.  This Peruvian restaurant, tucked into an incredibly small space, is making the most out of what it has.  Small tables are crammed in the front of the restaurant by the garage door wall that can be opened when its nice out and line one wall.  They also have seating at the ceviche bar where we sat to get a front row seat to the creative food they pump out of the insanely small kitchen.  In the back is a small bar with an impressive array of piscos to try.  Cute industrial touches like lights made out of paint cans are mixed with Peruvian art work.  This is not the place where you can come with 6 friends and find a comfortable place to eat – it’s better suited for date night or catching up with a close friend.


If you have never had a pisco sour then this is the place to try one.  They have a whole pisco menu with different brands to try, pisco infusions with different flavors like tart cherry and kiwi, and two pisco cocktail menus.  Most of them come with egg white frothed on top which sounds weird but is delicious.  I started with a Mate, a pisco cocktail with smoked honey and Patrick got a Chief’s that included mezcal in the mix.  Be forewarned, pisco drinks go down smooth especially when it’s in the high 90s!


With the drinks they served cancha, which is this amazing corn snack that tastes like popcorn.  It was also in our Ensalada de Maiz (Corn Salad) along with like 30 other types of corn.  Seriously this salad is like a love letter to corn that included regular yellow corn that had been grilled, the crispy cancha, and these huge corn kernels called choclo all served over a corn and avocado puree.  Tiny pickled red peppers added the perfect vinegary punch and micro greens on top added freshness.


While we snapped down that salad we were able to watch the incredible grill being operated.  This thing is the real deal that is constantly being stoked and tended to by the cooks.  I know it’s the reason why Patrick’s Pollo ala Brasa was so delicious.  The chicken, after being sou vide was then thrown on the grill and then served with aji amarillo sauce, a fried egg and roasted cauliflower.


I had the Seco de Cordero, a braised lamb shoulder, served with carrots roasted right there on the plate with a high blow torch (sorry didn’t catch a pic of that!).  Usually a dish like this might have been too heavy for the July heat but the bright cilantro elements really helped keep it light.


We ended the meal with some amazing french press Peruvian coffee and little cookies they serve with the bill (that’s tucked into the adorable little handmade box).  The service was really attentive and friendly – I know quite a bit about Peruvian food but they are very good about explaining the menu and any unfamiliar ingredients.  I loved how effortlessly they mixed traditional Peruvian flavors and ingredients with innovative new cooking techniques and flavors.  Luckily they now take reservations through Yelp because this tiny place can get packed really quickly.  DC locals definitely get this on your restaurant bucket list!  What spot should I try next?


***Note to dear readers – I am taking a week off from the Menu Calendar feature mostly because I am travelling but also because I want some feedback on if folks are finding it useful, fun, irrelevant whatever.  Send me a message through the site or in the comments here (or call me!) and let me know what you think.  I see this blog as an evolving thing and want to make sure the content is something people find usful and inspirational.  Have a great weekend!***

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