If you’ve read my About Me, you know technically I’m a New Yorker. What you may not know is that in my heart I’m a DMVer. In 2007, I headed south on I95 towards the next chapter of my life at The George Washington University in our nation’s capital. It was an interesting choice for me because I never imagined myself on a city campus but when I visited to check it out, I just fell in love, and the rest is history. Anyhow, I digress.
During my time in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area, I discovered some memorable food venues that I still dream about now that I’m back in New York. I always try to fit them into my trip whenever I go back for a visit. I hope this list helps you on your next road trip or flight out to the Potomac.
One of my all time favorite places in the world to eat is at the Banana Café in Southeast DC off the Eastern Market metro stop. This restaurant is a mix of Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Mexican food and really doesn’t go wrong with any of their items. However, the must have dish to order when you go is the stuffed yucca.
This beautiful fried yucca is stuffed with ground beef and more and sits on top of a bed of a creamy cilantro sauce. Now, for those of you that don’t like cilantro, I understand you might be turned off by this development. I might be Boricua but sometimes I get tired of cilantro and just don’t want to even smell it. Until I get to Banana Café and then I practically lick that plate clean. In fact, that’s the highlight of that dish. Trust me, you won’t regret ordering the stuffed yucca.
Cuba de Ayer
Now we’re going to head into the suburbs of Maryland. I will freely admit that Cuba de Ayer is not a convenient trip even if you have a car. It’s located in Burtonsville, MD and is about a 20 minute drive from Silver Spring, MD. I discovered it once when my parents were helping me move into my first solo apartment and we were in the mood for some Latino Caribbean food. It has become my favorite Cuban restaurant ever since and apparently it’s not just me. They went from being a whole in the wall to a full-fledged restaurant and have even been featured on the Real Housewives of the Potomac (which I didn’t even know was a thing until I saw it on Cuba’s listserv).
Everything about Cuba is divine. The mojitos are off the charts and perfectly made each time, the Moros y Cristianos are bomb, the pernil is mouth-watering, they have their own hot sauce, the maduros are perfectly sweet and juicy, and the tres leches has the exact spongy to moist ratio. On top of that, the service is great and the music is too. It may be out of the way but it is a must-see!
Taj of India
I’ve always been a huge fan of Indian food. I’m just obsessed with the odors, textures, and spices. So, wherever I’m living, I’m always searching for a spot that will blow my taste buds away. Taj of India is a tiny little spot located at the beginning of the Georgetown strip and they are just wonderful. I was obsessed with Taj when I was in college and even had my college graduation dinner here.
I have a specific barometer when deciding how much I love an Indian spot, and Taj hits it spot on. If I can’t get enough of the samosa’s and more specifically the chicken korma, then I know the restaurant knows what it is doing. So, if you’re in DC and you’re having a craving for curry, do yourself a favor and head over to Taj of India in Georgetown. Just mentally prepare yourself for the overwhelming desire to lick your plate clean!
Some of you outside of the DMV area may have come across this gem. For those of you unfamiliar though, Nando’s Peri-Peri is a South African and Portuguese fusion inspired fine, fast food dining chain experience. Nando’s has an assortment of spicy sauce levels that you can add to your food, as well as some tamer sauces for those with shy taste buds. The Portuguese sides pair perfectly with the yummy South African style marinated chicken. Whether you’re in downtown DC or the suburbs of Maryland, you can whet your appetite with this fusion delight.
Edy’s Chicken & Steak Restaurant
The last and probably most frequented restaurant will be Edy’s in Northern Virginia. My Peruvian friend introduced me to this delicious but cheap wonder that serves roasted chicken and fried yucca with this indescribable “white sauce” that goes perfectly with everything. Edy’s has an assortment of options but for the most part you see the regulars partaking in the delicious Peruvian chicken. This meal is simple, yet satisfying.
Well, those are my must-have eats when I visit the DMV. I hope this list has inspired you to visit America’s captial and enjoy the diverse food selection. Let me know what your favorite DC restaurants are in the comments below.