Food Diary: 1st half of Summer in the East edition

Every summer I visit my family in Virginia/DC/Maryland for a few weeks, and my family is all about the FOOD. This summer I will be spending about 7 weeks in the East, so here’s to hoping I don’t return to Arizona 50lbs rounder!

Below is a compilation of some of my favorite places I’ve dined while I’ve been on the East Coast (some from just this year, and others that I have frequented every summer). I have provided the websites, so feel free to explore the menus more. Rather than giving critical reviews, I explore the qualities that would make me want to return, so that maybe you will be intrigued to try a place if you find yourself in the land of Atlantic seafood and international cuisine.

Dear Food Diary,

Boy, did I have a good meal at…

The Palm

A classic American restaurant. If you’re a vegetarian, this may not be the one for you. Everyone else: Hit up the steaks. They’re quality, simple, and delicious. (Virginia, DC)


  • Start with pumpernickel with butter and radishes (it’s a Sandground thing)
  • Lobster bisque (Grandpa Sandground food wisdom: add cooking sherry to enhance flavor)
  • Burger chopped Steak, onions cooked inside. Horseradish for dipping, and shoestring onions for topping

Mark’s Duck House

I was at this fine Chinese establishment for my Grandfather’s 80th birthday. The service is great, and the food is just as wonderful! (Virginia)


  • Dim sum galore
  • Duck + plum sauce + fresh greens +tortilla= the best


Cantler’s has been a popular place for the Sandground’s to get their fix of Maryland hardshell blue crab for decades. Not only do they taste great, but eating crabs is the most fun you’ll have eating food. (Maryland)


  • A dozen large hard shell crabs (feeds about 4-6). Ask your wait staff how to eat the crab to maximize the amount of meat! (and so you don’t eat the poisonous gizzards)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Clam chowder or crab chowder

Oyamel Cochina Mexicana

The lawyer that is guiding my summer project took me to this semi-upscale Mexican joint on the my first day. Since I live in AZ and I’m used to REAL Mexican, I was skeptical at first. I ended up loving the freshness of the food, and the restaurant was fun and vibrant. (Definitely not your traditional Mexican cuisine, however!) (DC)


  • “Gaspacho” estilo Morelia”: From the historic city of Morelia, a salad of seasonal fruit, jicama root, cucumbers, queso fresco and chile pequin (description from menu)
  • “Pescado Mexicano” Taco: Seared fish with salsa Mexicana and a tangy cilantro pesto


This restaurant is located 2 minutes from one of my office buildings, so it’s one of my go-to lunch places. Asian themed cuisine with an infusion of tranquility (yes, in the food itself). (DC)


  • Ginger limeade (super fresh, loved it!)
  • Vegetable spring rolls


My grandfather’s favorite place for Greek. Plus, they set their cheese on fire. Dinner and a show, anyone? (Virginia)


  • Triad with pita: Greek yogurt, Red pepper, and Eggplant dips
  • Flaming cheese (yep it was on fire! but not while you eat it)
  • Lamb chops (with potatoes and mixed veggies)
  • Watch “Zorba the Dancing Greek” in lieu of dessert


Well, I’m slightly biased about this one, because it happens to be MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT. EVER. American style food from the mind of a French chef, Michel Richard. James Beard Award and winner of other restaurant accolations in the US, this is one you don’t want to skip. (DC)

Recommendations (besides everything):

  • Cheese puffs (gougères). Always order some for the table before the meal!
  • Goat cheese Caesar salad, Gaspacho, Onion soup, Tartars are great too
  • Meatloaf, Lobster Burger, Short Rib, Steaks, just anything!
  • Ice cream sandwich, or shown in the picture, the most beautiful banana split you will ever see
  • If you are a Wino, their list is phenomenal


I go to this coffee shop far too often! French style roasts and pastries, all tasty. (DC)


  • Coffee
  • Pastries
  • You’ll be happy with whatever you order


The recent winner of the RAMMY (Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington) for the best new restaurant of the year. Top notch Italian Cuisine, and thanks to my Uncle Chipp for a power lunch! (DC)


  • The pictured meatballs w/ fried egg
  • The salads are colorful, and almost always include edible flowers
  • Fish dishes (I had the branzino, it was a delicious white, light fish)

All Hail Food in the East,

Food Snob

*Disclaimer: I don’t take credit for any of the food pics or restaurant logos! (except for Central and Fiola, you can tell by the less than professional quality)

Which of my recommendations sound most appealing? Tell me in the comment box!


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