Playing the Foodie

It’s hard to remember what life was like before “Chowhound”: For those who don’t know, the site’s message boards are organized regionally and consist of foodies tossing recommendations back and forth endlessly. Search them for the name of the relevant restaurant or city or neighborhood and you’re bound to find a good place to visit.

I am not a foodie — I think that goes without saying, since once you have a child you can only be an ex-foodie. But I’m not even an ex-foodie, just someone who tends to appreciate foodie advice. For Suanna and I, this past weekend was an object lesson in power of Chowhound. We had a couple of nights — one in Philly and one in West Chester — where we needed a place to eat and had no clue at all where to start. Both times I hopped online and, after a few minutes of combing the boards, had solid leads on where to go. Absent the power combo of Chowhound & hotel room Internet access, we would have just picked the place down the street that looked all right, or wandered aimlessly around the neighborhood, finally settling on something at random. As it was, we ate very well both nights. Herewith are capsule reviews.

Monk’s Cafe

This pub is in Central City, near Rittenhouse Square. It’s all about Belgian beer. A good number of their many varieties are too pricey for anything but a special occasion, but they brew a killer Flemish sour ale in-house. Suanna had a wonderful drink called the Ephemere which was sort of a cross between a Belgian-style beer and a good hard cider. The food is standard bar fare, gussied up with homemade bread and gourmet cheeses. Mussels are their other big thing, which we didn’t try, but as a result ate far more cheaply than most websites suggest this place is.

Tacqueria Moroleone

I didn’t know this, but the Brandywine Valley is the mushroom capital of the U.S.A. Ergo, there’s a large population of seasonal laborers. Ergo, there’s a disproportionate number of good Mexican restaurants in the area. The one that Chowhound directed us too was Tacqueria Moroleone. There was no address online; we had to ask twice for directions, and found a very unassuming place in a dingy strip mall. Service was lousy, but the food was glorious. I had _molcajete_: basically fajitas, but with the meat and veggies served in a bowl of lava rock, simmering in sauce, instead of fresh off the grill. It was mind-blowing. A quick web search indicates that the word refers to the bowl, not the dish itself, though on the menu it was just ‘molcajete.’ Remember that word. It’s yummy.

Singh Thai

This is not a Chowhound find, but a local grapevine one that I’ve been meaning to mention for a while. It’s a new Thai restaurant in Arlington, right near Court House metro (and consequently walking distance for Suanna and I). If it’s not quite the best Thai food in DC, it is unquestionably the best _value_. It’s dirt cheap, and I just hope they can manage to stay in business while maintaining both their prices and their quality. (They did save some money by composing their menu without consulting anyone fluent in English.) They have solid Panang curry and superb pad thai. Don’t miss their froo-froo drinks, too — they have a long list of ones that come with umbrellas and the like. Great fun. Mango margarita: highly recommended. Mango martini: not so much (should have guessed).