A Taste of East London in DC
If you're looking for a casual neighborhood joint with scratch-made food, cold drinks and a cozy atmosphere, you need to go to Duke's Grocery immediately. Duke's is inspired by sleek avant-garde restaurants and greasy hole in the wall spots in East London -- my two favorite things. The chalkboard menu is updated regularly depending on what is seasonally available and fresh, and the ingredients are sourced from local purveyors and centered around sustainability. Seriously, I have died and gone to foodie heaven.
The first thing you'll love about Duke's is that they will not quote you a time for a table. Why, you ask? Because they don't want their guests to feel rushed! I LOVE THIS! Feel free to hang out and nibble on some snacks, while enjoying a few beers without worrying about staff hovering over your table wondering when the table can be flipped. This easy-breezy, casual attitude is so comforting and always has me feeling warm and fuzzy when I walk in.
Peter Piper Picked...
So, what's good? The first thing you should do is inquire about the daily Pickle Jar selections. Anything pickled is a great way to start a meal - it's refreshing, complex and keeps your bartender happy.* I opted for one of my favorite pickled pleasures - giardiniera, a variety of pickled vegetables. I loved how crunchy these garden fresh veggies were, with a floral and vinegary essence that wasn't too acidic. A fun surprise was the addition of pickled lemons, which I squeezed on top to punch up the brightness. Spectacular.
*Salty things make you parched - hence more drinks ;)
Sandwiches are Beautiful
Next up? Salads and sarnies! The watermelon salad with quinoa and goat cheese was a perfect pick for a hot summer evening in the swamp of DC. Tossed in a citrus-chili vinaigrette, the peppery rocket greens and sweet watermelon were a perfect compliment.
The Proper Burger has gained national fame and was totally worth the hype. Disclaimer: Yes I had a bite of everyone's food -- that's how I roll. The thin buttery bun was the "proper" bun-to-burger ratio, acting as a plate to mouth vessel without taking away from the flavor of the double angus beef patties, bacon, melted Gouda and charred red onion. Not to mention the sweet chili sauce that cuts through all of the salt for a lovely balanced bite.
My favorite sandwich of the evening was the München Brothchen (above). The crispy chicken schnitzel is what it's all about - the perfect crunch to the soft torta roll. *drooling* Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Accompanied by emmental (cheese), spicy sauerkraut, garlic/dill pickles, mustard and bacon.... it's the complete package. Gooey, salty, tangy, crispy, sour, soft.... glorious.
And to finish it off, the El Shuco. Roasted pork with avocado, cumin catsup, curtido (a Salvadorian fermented cabbage relish), cilantro mayo and fresh cilantro on a crispy torta roll. Like the best carnitas/pulled pork sandwich you've ever had. Fresh ingredients, made to order on locally sourced bread?? Get out.
I absolutely love my experience at Duke's every time I go, and I encourage you all to get as soon as you can! Stop in for lunch, a great Happy Hour (12pm-7pm) or a nice dinner on the patio. Hope to see you there soon!