Get a jump start at La Mano Coffee Bar
“This is an independently owned joint, it feels like I’m in The Village in New York, and I think the coffee is stupendously good,” Mike tells us. Indeed, the coffee at this third waver slays it because the beans hail from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis. Mike, who admits he has snobbishly sworn off drip coffee, orders a double espresso and a spinach & feta hand pie he hits with Sriracha. La Mano isn’t a sprawl out with your laptop-type place, but co-owner Javier Rivas (pictured) has made it a place you want to take respite with cool re-purposed materials and local art.
Partake of pizza at Roscoe’s
Mike’s lunch or easy date night pick is Roscoe’s Neapolitan Pizzeria. “They do really good wood-fired pizza with a great beer list,” Mike says. “And you know what they say, pizza is like sex, there is no bad pizza.” He would know (about the pizza part for certain). As he gears up to open All Purpose, Mike has his hands deep in dough on the daily recipe testing, plus he’s hitting pizza-blessed cities up the East Coast for inspiration. If you visit Roscoe’s, you want the “Antica” with tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, local organic sausage, pepperoni, Italian ham, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
After pizza, hit Dolci Gelati
Around the corner from Roscoe’s is Dolci Gelati. It’s heaven on earth for frozen treats, namely all-natural gelato from a man named Gianluigi Dellaccio (so clearly you can trust his zabayon, tiramisu, or bacio flavored gelato). But Mike gravitates back in time. “I’m mint chocolate chip all the way,” he says. “I’m a sucker for that bright green. It reminds me of being a kid.”
Do a chicken dance at Sardi’s
If you want to see Mike dance when he’s not at a wedding or in the club, follow his lead to Sardi’s Pollo a la Brasa. His shoulders start popping the second he walks through the door and into the aroma of Peruvian chicken. “In the restaurant industry, everybody has a chicken spot,” he explains. But none are likely as evangelical as Mike who is grateful Takoma Park meets up with Langley Park -- an area home to a Latino population. “Ashley and I ate Sardi’s twice a week for three months when we moved here, that’s when we discovered it, and now I’m a PATRON,” he says. “You can walk out of there with a whole chicken and three sides for $25, which for Ash and me, that’s basically lunch and dinner.” Sardi’s was the main attraction at his birthday party this year.
Beer yourself at 3 Stars
Mike grabs growlers down the road at 3 Stars Brewing Company across the border in Takoma (we know it’s confusing, just crank that GPS). “I love Dave and Mike, they’re good people, and they make delicious fucking beer,” Mike says. “The Pink Peppercorn saison is my go to right now.” The Belgian-style farmhouse ale is spicy and refreshing with coriander and the right amount of bitterness. Now is the best time to visit 3 Stars because they just unveiled an “urban farmhouse.” The shingled and chandeliered 100-person tasting room turned out stunningly. There are 10 taps that dispense everything from pints to flights (thank you new law!).
For a late-night fix, call Republic
Republic is the anchor eatery in Takoma Park, and they do so many things right. Best of all is late night grub and live music. That’s where you’ll find Mike. “My late night order is beer and oysters -- they have a nice local beer list but I always drink DC Brau.” If cocktails are more your thing, the list is STACKED with everything from classics to cocktail lab originals. Also available late night? Fried pickles, smoked pork empanadas, BBQ fries, and duck confit Cubanos.
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Laura Hayes is a DC-based food, drink & travel writer who also contributes to Washington City Paper, Food Network, Arlington Magazine, and others. She’s red sauce all the way at Sardi’s. Follow her on Twitter: @BTMenu.