Bryan and I spent last week exploring D.C. We’ve got a lot going on right now with me moving across the country, us packing up his things so that way we can move to Rhode Island for his law school. On top of that we’ve got about a million other things going on that have been wearing us down a bit. We thought a little break might do us so good before we move this weekend and he starts school in two weeks. This was probably our last opportunity to do something like this for at least a year – if not more.
We tried to see as much as we could in our four and a half days there and we think we did a pretty darn good job. We went to the Capital Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, George Washington Masonic Memorial, WWII Memorial, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, White House, Scottish Rite Temple, and as many Smithsonian Museums as we possibly could. I even got to see Julia Child’s kitchen (you should all go!). One day was all museums because it was just so dang hot outside we couldn’t stand it any longer. I think when we left last Friday it was well into the 100’s. Not my ideal thing especially since I came from 60 degree weather only a week before. Put the heat aside, we had an awesome time. I think if we do a trip like that again, it would happen in the fall!!
We were fortunate enough to get an amazing hotel room with a kitchen in it outside of the city and only a mile from the metro stop. We cooked a few meals at the hotel just to save money and to have the ease of knowing there wouldn’t be any cross contamination issues. However for lunch and a few dinners we ate out and found some great places and some that we had been to already and really enjoy like Chipolte (everything but the flour tortillas are gluten-free) and Five Guys Burgers (where everything but the buns are gluten-free).
I of course was determined to find a cupcake place in DC that had some gluten-free options…sadly I only found one place in all of my searching. I emailed a few places but they either didn’t get back to me, had nothing on their website or responded and said “sorry, we don’t offer specialty cupcakes”. I wish that I could have found at least one more place to try, because sadly the one I found was a bit of a let down. Please read below.
Hello Cupcake! is just a block or so away from the Dupont Circle Metro Stop, which is very convenient and we found it with no problems. Cute little place but I feel like I have seen it before…many of the cupcake places around now are starting to look the same with the pink and white chandeliers, either having a pink/brown/white or light blue/brown/white combination. I hope the next one I find is a bit more different.
We went inside, looked at the display of yummy looking cupcakes and realized that sadly there was only one gluten-free option, which just so happened to be the same and only option for vegans. My only choice was a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. It sounded light and fluffy and delicious so I ordered my cupcake to eat there, paid my three dollars and was handed my cupcake on a paper doily. I found that a bit odd…no plate?? I brought it to the table, grabbed a knife to cut it in half so I could see how fluffy it really was. When I cut it, fell over on to the table and I lost half of the frosting-extremely messy. The cupcake was moist but not as fluffy as I was expecting, with a good lemon flavor. The frosting was way to much…too much lemon, too sweet and too much frosting in general. The frosting over powered the cupcake completely. I could see this cupcake being served as a cake for a baby shower with a frosting that was a bit less sweet and a little less lemon.
Needless to say it wasn’t a great visit. I think if they were to offer at least two gluten-free options and serve their cupcakes on plates instead of paper doilies it would have been a better review. I had really high hopes for Hello Cupcake! and I am sad to say I was very let down. I think I talked about it on and off for about two days with Bryan. Poor guy puts up with so much with me and my cupcakes.
On this trip I made sure to bring my Triumph Dining Book and there were quite a few great sounding places, but we wanted to try to save some money so we looked at the options that served lunch and dinner instead of just dinner and had either one to two $’s instead of three $’s. I found this one place called Austin Grill a tex-mex place not far from the Gallery PI-Chinatown Metro stop. Let’s just say, we liked this place so much…we went back the next day for lunch again! They offer a complete gluten-free menu that you can find on their website.
Both days we had fantastic servers, Juan Carols and Erich B. Very knowledgeable about the menus, gluten-free options and even double checked with the chef about onions being in certain things for Bryan. The service was quick even during the busy lunch hour. When you are seated they bring over a large basket of warm corn chips with just the right about of salt along with the best salsa I have ever had!! (no lie, its amazing!)
The first day we went I ordered the Tacos al Carbon – this is probably some of the best steak tacos I have ever had. Extremely flavorful, moist, juicy and tender. There are two tacos served with white rice, black beans and sour cream on the side with a little bit of shredded lettuce. I couldn’t even finish my plate. On the second day I decided to try some different tacos (even though I didn’t want to, the steak ones were that good). I ordered the Grilled Chicken Tacos and they were just as tasty. Nice and moist chicken with great flavor again, served with rice and beans. The serving sizes are a very decent/generous size for $10.00 and their sweet tea was the perfect sweetness. We couldn’t get enough of the tea. Bryan loved his gluten-containing items as well! It was really great to see such a large gluten-free menu. I am craving those tacos al carbon and salsa!
With a very friendly staff, great portions, amazing flavors, the best salsa, reasonable prices, I would say this place is a must go if there is one around you! It’s fantastic! Next time we are in DC we’ll be heading there for sure. Thanks again to Juan Carlos and a very big thank you to Erich B!