Tag Archives: wine

Appreciating Argentinian Cuisine in Rockville

We’ve got a lot of great Mexican and Salvadoran restaurants in DC, but not nearly as many South American hotspots.  Before you go pointing me to Fogo de Chao, let me specify—I mean non-chain, family-owned, feel-like-you’re-actually-in-Buenos-Aires type places.  (And I will say we are home to some great Peruvian restaurants).

El Patio

Nevertheless, I was excited to discover El Patio, a great Argentinian restaurant, café, and small market in Rockville.  Unassumingly located in a strip mall, El Patio serves up a wide variety of the country’s finest foods, like traditional barbeque (parrillada), carne salteada, and milanesas (friend or breaded meats).  The café in the back is the perfect place to snack on empandas, Spanish tortillas, and other baked goods.  And don’t forget a glass of malbec!

food

El Patio also hosts a small market featuring foods and wines from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay. Looking for yerba mate, alfajores, or chimcurri sauce?  This is your spot.  You can even buy a guampa and bombilla for drinking the mate (the gourd and straw, for those not in the know).

mate

One of the best things about visiting El Patio is observing and interacting with its local South American crowd.  On the Sunday afternoon when I visited, my group was one of the very few speaking English rather than Spanish.  This is what I like so much about Rockville, Centreville, Annandale, and other suburbs teeming with ethnic restaurants:  not only is the food great, but because they are located in cultural neighborhood centers, you really do feel like you’ve taken a step into a different city, even if just for a short time.

restaurant

To visit:  5240 Randolph Rd Rockville Maryland, Loehmanns Plaza Shopping Center‎, (301) 231-9225.  M-Th 9am-9pm, F-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 9am-8pm.  About a mile walk from the White Flint metro stop on the red line.

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Bayou Bakery and the Delights of Casual Cajun

There are a handful of joints in our city that pay homage to the Big Easy, from the stalwart Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe to the thrifty Louisiana Kitchen to the upscale Acadiana downtown.  But a newcomer to the hallowed Cajun scene, Bayou Bakery, offers a slightly different spin:  your low-key, friendly neighborhood coffee and pastry shop.

Bayou Bakery is steps away from the Courthouse metro, and serves up quite the brawny chicory coffee and downright heavenly beignets.  But don’t for a moment think it’s fit just for lazy Sunday morning.  The menu presents a diversity of soups, sandwiches, and larger plates featuring perennial Cajun favorites like gumbo, pimiento cheese, and andouille sausages.  There are also a few delightful imaginings, such as porKorn (caramel popcorn with bacon) and jars of spiced pecans.  Make sure to add the “deviled eggs with a kick” to your order—you won’t regret it!  Along with a few wines, the only beer available, of course, is Abita (not a bad thing).

Perhaps demonstrating the owner’s rather giddy love for New Orleans, along with every order you receive a laminated card featuring a parish.  So when your sandwich is ready, over the microphone you’ll hear “St. Helena, your food is ready,” or “Acadia, please come to the front.”  Also of note for die-hards are the whole King Cakes available for $35 in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras.

The décor is spiffy and meant to showcase the quirks of New Orleans.  The nook in the back, separate from the dining area, is filled with couches and used books.  And an alligator head draped with beads, old-timey cookware, and antique-looking wooden shutters on the windows of the brand new building illustrate that although this place may be located in the heart of Courthouse, it’s not going to let any charm go unnoticed.

Bayou Bakery has only been open since November, but is beginning to be discovered.  So, take the opportunity sooner rather than later to discover the delights of this little Cajun coffee hot spot.

To visit:  1515 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington VA.  703-243-2410.  Monday-Friday 7am- 9pm, Saturday 8am- 9pm, Sunday 8am- 4pm.  Very close to the Courthouse Metro, or lots of local Arlington buses.

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