Insatiable: Early Oktoberfest

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We couldn’t swing a trip to Munich this year due to COVID, our shaky finances and other issues. Therefore, we decided to celebrate an early Oktoberfest at Prost, the festive beer garden/restaurant at 919 Fifth St. NW (Mount Vernon Triangle). Oktoberfest, by the way, commemorates the Oct. 12, 1810, wedding of Bavarian Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Sax-Hildeburghausen. In Germany, the two-week blowout usually runs from late September through early October. I once attended this beer-soaked fest many years ago.

Prost (German for “cheers”) opened about two years ago. Husband Peter and I settled at a table inside the colorful dining area, festooned with Bavarian banners, artwork and other Teutonic paraphernalia. The concrete-topped bar added a rustic touch.

As we quaffed Oktoberfest draft beers, we ordered a traditional bratwurst, nestled in a crunchy pretzel bun, slathered with sauerkraut and escorted by spicy mustard. A tasty side of German potato salad was replete with bacon and what tasted like a spritz of vinegar.

Presented on a bed of greens, tomatoes and hardboiled egg quarters, Peter’s chicken schnitzel chopped salad was tossed with blue cheese dressing. The concoction was a lighter take on the usual heavy, breaded cutlet. Other menu options encompassed Prost Benedict (made with sausage and capped with poached eggs), chicken schnitzel with Hollandaise, Prost breakfast burger, German pancakes and a definitely un-German avocado toast. Lunch for two with a small draft beer apiece came to $35. Service was pleasant.

Heading the Prost dinner menu: a deviled eggs appetizer; hefty wurst platters heaped with three kinds of sausage, along with potato salad and kraut; short ribs spaetzli (little dumplings); sauerbraten and veggie spaetzli. Prost is open daily including weekend bottomless brunch and lively happy hours. For more information, visit www.prostdc.com.

Crispy chicken rice, laced with assorted vegetables, is another signature dish at Laos in Town.

From Europe to Asia …

After all that sausage, schnitzel and beer, we were ready for a lighter Asian repast. We hadn’t visited Laos in Town, 250 K St. NE, for quite a while. So, on a sweltering August afternoon, Peter and I drove there. (Another favorite, the fast casual Indian Indigo, is just across the street.) Since it was way too hot to sit outdoors, we perched on a comfy, purple-cushioned corner seat near the entrance. This place is pretty; the sprightly interior is adorned with lanterns, bamboo-lined walls, murals, cookbooks (not for sale, unfortunately) and other artifacts. Asian condiments are offered for sale.

We each ordered a Vientiane (lager) draft Laotian beer. You can also find wine and cocktails with zany monikers like Hummingbird and Fighting Tiger.

We began our lunch with an order of pon pia (vegan spring rolls), followed by khua khao (crispy chicken rice laced with lots of white meat and umpteen kinds of veggies). The dish delivered myriad layers of delicious flavors. I found the crispy rice salad with pork and veggies a tad sour, but apparently that’s a traditional Lao flavor. 

At Laos in Town, vegan spring rolls, accompanied
by a zippy dipping sauce, are a popular appetizer.

Laos cooking is somewhat similar to Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Practically all Southeast Asian chefs use a lot of rice, but Laos adds more curry, as well as spicy sour flavors. Unlike Vietnamese diners, Laotians (and Thais) generally eat with forks instead of chopsticks.

Lunch for two at Laos in Town with a beer apiece came to a reasonable $57.20 before tip. Service was excellent. Laos in Town is open daily for lunch and dinner. For more information, visit www.laosintown.com.

In Shaw, Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar dispenses a casual vibe and lots of crabs similar to these.

Something’s Crabby …

In Shaw, Chesapeake Crab Shack & Bar has opened at 925 U St. NW (Vermont and U Street). The team behind Duke’s Grocery, Shaw’s Gogi Yogi and other culinary endeavors offers a casual vibe with an assortment of shellfish dishes and a lively bar scene. Expect steamed and seasoned Maryland blue crabs, peel-and-eat shrimp and snow crab legs. Among the sides are Old Bay cabbage slaw, crab mac-and-cheese and corn-on-the-cob. All beers are locally brewed. 

Thanks to a large awning equipped with fans and heaters, the “shack” welcomes guests year-round. For hours and more information, visit www.chesapeakewdc.com.

It’s Baack!

Whitlow’s Bar & Grill, which debuted at 11th and E streets NW in 1946, has been reborn again, this time in Shaw. After Whitlow’s departed Washington in 1989, it reappeared in Clarendon (Arlington) six years later. It closed last summer. Now called Whitlow’s DC, the new incarnation is located at 2012 Ninth St. NW, formerly Echo Park. Whitlow’s focuses on beer and other libations, plus pizza from nearby Andy’s. A full menu is in the works. For updates, visit www.whitlows.com.

Nestled in a pretzel bun, bratwurst is slathered with sauerkraut and escorted by spicy mustard and potato salad.

Logan Lowdown

Mi Vida, chef Roberto Santibanez’s “modern Mexican” hotspot at the District Wharf, has unveiled an offspring in Logan Circle. Located at 1901 14th St. NW, the three-story outpost opened last month where Matchbox used to be.

Logan Circle’s Mi Vida dispenses miso-marinated tuna taquitos, agave-marinated chicken skewers, Chilean sea bass with pumpkin seed salsa, skirt steak with mole and crispy shallots.

The stunning 287-seat newcomer underwent a makeover with two illuminated bars, a life-size faux tree dotted with 75 hand-painted Oaxacan flowers, decorative railings and tiles and twinkling lights. Look for a third Mi Vida later this year in Penn Quarter. For more information, visit www.mividamexico.com.

Chips and (Classy) Eggs

Here’s a fun splurge for a special occasion. Destino, the dressy Mexican restaurant at 1280 Fourth St. NE (La Cosecha Latino market in Union Market) is offering appetizer-size chilaquiles draped with paddlefish caviar and smoked trout roe and crowned with a runny egg. The $24 dish is sprinkled with dill. Also emerging from chef Robert Aiken’s eclectic kitchen is guacamole, ceviche, quesadillas, pato (duck breast) and more. Destino is Spanish for “destination” and “destiny.” For hours and more information, visit www.destinodc.com.

Gone

Nearby, we were shocked and saddened to learn that Rappahannock Oyster Bar, 1309 Fifth St. NE (inside Union Market), is departing after a decade in business. We will miss the yummy grilled oysters and seafood chowders but plan to revisit the District Wharf location soon. Co-owner Travis Croxton was among the first Union Market retail tenants when it debuted in 2012. Fortunately, he is shifting his employees to the Wharf location. See you there.