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Fast food that’s just plain un-American
In Georgetown, pricey bistros are a dime a dozen, but there are few opportunities for a college student looking for a quick bite that’s both economical and delicious. For the adventurous eater on a budget looking for something other than Chipotle and Five Guys, here are a few recommendations.
While this Georgetown eatery is best known for its crepes, the rest of its menu should not be overlooked. Snap offers a variety of Indian, Japanese and British fare—everything from takoyaki (Japanese octopus dumplings) to makki paneer (Indian corn and cheese cakes). Skip the typical fish and chips (the halibut oozes oil) in favor of the okonomiyaki, which surpasses anything else on the menu. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pan-fried batter cake made a number of different ways—the name literally translates to “cook what you like, the way you like.” Snap’s version ($8) comes with squid, octopus or bacon mixed into the cabbage-infused batter, topped with bonito flakes and Japanese mayonnaise. Don’t scoff at the unusual ingredients: the squid is a tender surprise of flavor, and the yellow Japanese mayonnaise is less fattening and sweeter than regular mayonnaise, adding balance to a salty dish. The flavors on the heaping plate mix together perfectly, without being overpowering; however, more cabbage in the batter would give the okonomiyaki a more satisfying crunch.
Snap is located at 1062 Thomas Jefferson St NW.
You’ve probably passed by this small Iranian restaurant before, gazed at the name, contemplated Herman Melville’s culinary inclinations, and moved on. But inside, juicy cuts of beef, chicken and lamb are skewered, seasoned with grated onion and house herbs and grilled until succulent. The kabobs are served skewer-less with roasted tomato and cilantro. You can order Joojeh (Boneless Chicken), Barreh (Lamb Loin), Kubideh (Beef Tenderloin) or Chenjeh (Ground Sirloin Beef) Kabobs (all between $6-$9), which come with either pita bread or rice. The rice platter is the better deal because while the bread platter only comes with one piece of Moby Dick’s fresh pita, the rice platter comes with a full plate of house seasoned rice and half a piece of pita for $1.60 more. Each table has a container of a mysterious red powder that adds a tinge of spice to the rice, but hold off on the spices for the perfectly seasoned meat. The Kubideh tastes like traditional steak meat cut into bite sized deliciousness, while the sweeter and softer Chenjeh is definitely an acquired taste. Don’t expect to sit and enjoy your kabobs, though. Moby Dick’s has a steady flow of customers and few places to sit, which makes it ideal for take out.
Moby Dick House of Kabob is located at 1070 31st NW. For carry out orders call 202-333-4400.
On the Fly: Diego
On the Fly is a new local business dedicated to reinventing street food in an environmentally-friendly way. They vend from lime green SmartKarts, a vehicle that looks like the love child of a food trailer and a SmartCar. The company plans to have a fleet of 18 trucks in the District by the end of this year, each offering a different type of cuisine. “Diego” is the name of the truck a block from Chinatown with a Latin theme, offering pork carnitas, chicken estofado, vegetarian tacos, Julia’s Empanadas and various snacks and drinks. To accomplish what On the Fly calls “eco-vending,” they don’t use wasteful materials, and provide tacos in a recycled cardboard box instead of Styrofoam. The pork carnitas taco had too much onion and not enough salsa, creating an acidic aftertaste that didn’t help the tough shreds of pork and stale mini-tortilla. But the chicken estofado was a revelation. The chicken breast meat is seasoned with four varieties of roasted Mexican chili peppers, apples, cinnamon and thyme, creating a spicy sweet phenomenon enhanced by crunchy slices of raw carrot and chipotle chili aioli. This is a chipotle sauce like you’ve never tasted before—as tangy and sweet as it is spicy, leaving you licking your lips for more. One taco is $2, making the meal cheap enough to take the Metro ride over, or the perfect stop after a basketball game at the Verizon Center. Although the tacos are small, they make up for it in flavor.
Diego is located at 8th and H St NW near gallery place and is open M-F 11-3.