Taste of Georgetown: Savory Second

Long before Georgetown was known for its fabulous cupcakes and other sweets, it was known for some fabulous dining and unique culinary experiences. And with a plethora of restaurants lining M Street, Wisconsin Avenue and others at typically sky high prices, it was very pleasant to taste Georgetown's finest savory creations at Taste of Georgetown's discount prices.

Note: We weren't necessarily aiming for only Georgetown's nicest or most talked about restaurants. This is simply a sample based on the seven stands that struck our fancy that afternoon.

Agraria: I was intrigued by Agraria's colorful display, but more so by their offering, a maple and ancho braised piece of pork belly equipped with some Virginia spoon bread on the side. It had a sweet chutney-like sauce with it that seemed to almost be apple-like. The meat was about as tender and bursting with flavor as could be possible and it went beautifully with the sweetness of the sauce. The sheer lush of the plate was mopped up in style with the softness of the spoon bread. Just like a really soft cornbread, it was able to capture the juices of the meat and sweetness of the sauce perfectly within its own nuttiness. This slight indulgence of a dish was a bit difficult to eat on the street with a plastic fork, only heightening the chances that I'll visit Agraria proper though. What was even more difficult was not being able to savor this dish as long as it deserved, as I gobbled it right up.

Neyla: The chic Middle Eastern cuisine of Neyla was translated to the street in a less-than-exhilarating fashion. Chicken shwarma sliders with pickles was the first option, accompanied by the only slightly more unique falafel sandwich with tahini, tomato, mint and onion. Inexplicably, we were both taken in by Neyla's sterling reputation (and my past great experience eating there) and each “tasted” one of Neyla's offerings. The shwarma was a quite tasty version of the shwarma sandwich I've had a hundred times, but “sliderized” (as was very popular at many Taste of Georgetown menus) by being placed inside a small fresh pita round. Inventive! I barely saw the falafel sandwich that Julia procured, because it looked like a mess of lettuce and pita. After she finished, Julia gave it the unremarkable review of “meh.” My thoughts exactly. Read that as her meaning, “why did I use my precious tasting tickets and stomach space on this?” I still think Neyla is a pretty neat restaurant, but I couldn't agree more with that assessment.

Third Edition: We have actually been to Third Edition before, but only for drinks. It is really more of a bar than a restaurant from my experience, but they were still out in full force and offering Buffalo wings with blue cheese. Bingo! An excuse to eat wings in the middle of a Saturday afternoon! Admittedly, their line was short. Well, non-existent to be precise. Maybe people weren't so excited about wings on a hot day. Their ginger and lemongrass chicken tenders and pulled short rib slider with cheese sounded okay, but weren’t crowd-pullers either. Regardless of why they were so lacking in patronization, they served up a massive 5-wing portion with what seemed like half a cup of chunky homemade blue cheese dressing. They were quite tasty, especially with the awesome blue cheese. Certainly not quite like wings I would crave in the middle of dinner at the Ritz, but nice spice with good flavor. And meaty too. I hate anorexic chicken wings. If I'm gonna take the calorie and messy-face dive that is eating wings, I had better get some mileage out of them. So, in all, not spectacular but still very enjoyable for a place with no line.

Old Glory BBQ: Julia wanted to try their fried green tomatoes with Pico de Gallo and spicy mayonnaise, as did I. I wasn't particularly wanting to try the sweet pulled pork slider. However, after a fairly long wait for the tomatoes, they actually gave both on the same plate for a single tasting ticket, so it was a bonus taste! First off, the tomatoes were highly tasty. Not that you get much tomato in a fried green tomato of this heartiness and “friedness” caliber, but the taste was pure soul -- tangy and sweet and spicy and crispy. The Pico was great. It didn't even need anything else on the plate. But there was. The slider. One of seventeen hundred sliders offered at Taste of Slidertown, I mean Georgetown. In this case, the bread was dry and a little too dominant and did nothing to offset the overly sweet “sweetness” in the pulled pork. The coleslaw could have helped on that end a little, but it was just plain bland. The pork was tender and well-cooked, but in all it was mundane pulled pork and awesome tomatoes.

Restaurante Piccolo: This restaurant, dubbed the most romantic in DC, seemed to be another below-average patronized booth. They did make up for it with their truffle-oil-drizzled, porcini-stuffed ravioli in a sage butter sauce though. One of the most exciting and worthwhile vegetarian options of the day, I couldn't help but steal a bite or four of Julia's “find.” The flavors were extra-worldly and we both just wanted to drop everything and order plate upon plate, taste upon taste, but we refrained thinking their would be something at other booths besides sliders. With 12 different sliders around the place, alas, maybe we should have saved a few.

Paolo's: After deciding myself to bypass Paolo's offering of meatball, you guessed it, slider, Julia ordered their pasta dish. I asked, “what's in it?” She said, “eh, nondescript.” I said, “is it good?” She said, “nah, nondescript – let's get cupcakes with our last three coupons!” And at that, as you already know, we concluded our savory culinary adventures on the streets of Georgetown and sharpened up our sweet toothes.

We would definitely return to Taste of Georgetown next time, but as a fair warning to next year's restaurants, not necessarily return to all of the restaurants we sampled.

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