Rise & Shine Cafe

Rise & Shine Cafe
7995 Solomons Island Road
Owings, MD  20736

Rise and Shine Cafe is a cute little cafe that is located in the Reid Building plaza.  They offer wonderful homecooked meals, such as breakfast options (breakfast sandwiches, omelets, etc.), lunch options (sandwiches, wraps, soups, etc.), dinner options (entrees such as BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Tilapia, Bourbon Rib-Eye Steak, etc.), desserts, and drinks (soda, milk, and teas).

The hubs and I stopped by to have lunch, and we tried the following: ‘Slap Ya Mama’ Fries (french fries topped with a generous amount of shredded melted cheese, bacon bits, and your choice of ranch and/or sour cream; with the ranch sauce, it was yummy; while this app was filling, it wasn’t overly greasy!); Homemade Cream Chip Beef over Toast, served with Homefries (the hubs was a total fan and thought this was one of the best chipped beef dishes he’s had! This had a great creamy taste, filled with a generous amount of chipped beef; the slices of toast were a great complement; I was such a fan of the homefries, as they were sliced thinly, crispy, seasoned wonderfully, and had some great sauteed onions mixed in!); a Classic Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Sandwich (you can choose for the crabcake to be broiled, fried, or blackened; we opted it to be fried; the crabcake was tasty and seasoned well, with pretty much no filler; this came with a side of yummy and creamy rémoulade sauce that had a nice zippy tang to it, and a generous amount of fries); Southern Maryland Fried Chicken (4 pieces that included a thigh, a breast, a wing, and a drumstick, this had a seasoned batter and was moist; we both thought it was okay; the entree also came with a choice of 2 sides – we chose mashed potatoes and gravy (this came out super super hot, and I loved this – creamy and delicious!) and macaroni and cheese (the hubs was a fan); and, a Backyard Burger (topped with slices of ham, bacon, leaf lettuce, tomatoes, onion rings, and chipotle mayo – the patty was handformed and delicious; while this burger was generous in the toppings and its size, I think a regular bacon cheeseburger would have been just fine for me!; this also came with a side of fries).

I also tried their homebrewed sweet tea that had a nice sweetness to it.  We were a little sad that the desserts had run out, but that just gives us an excuse to return again, very soon!

This lovely establishment is run by Ms. Dianett and Ms. Danielle – both were so so so super sweet and welcoming and checked up on us to make sure that everything was great.

This is definitely a hidden gem in the Owings area, and I highly recommend in making the trek to get yourself filled with a lovingly-prepared, satisfying, and comfort fare.  I can’t wait to return to try out their meatloaf, their Bourbon Rib-Eye Steak, and their desserts!

+homecooked breakfast/lunch/dinner
+homefries
+jumbo lump crab cake
+rémoulade sauce
+mashed potatoes and gravy
+handformed patties for burgers
+ranch sauce
+ask for Ms Danielle and Ms Dianett
+parking available in lot

Nubohemia

Nubohemia
42 West Biddle Street
Baltimore, MD  21201
919.408.7723

I SO SO SO WISH that Nubohemia was located closer to home!  This cute awesome local coffee shop is all about being connected to the community – they love supporting local artists and musicians, while serving up some great hot and cold beverages and pastries.

The hubs and I came in here after having a meal, and we both fell in love with the place!  I had one of their Salted Caramel fraps (not too overly sweet, right amount of crushed ice, and pretty tasty), and the hubs had a mug of hot lemon & ginger tea (very soothing!).

Mr. Brandon, one of the main baristas, welcomed us warmly, was super friendly, and was really super cool!

The cafe itself has a small number of tables and chairs, but it’s a perfect kind of quiet and an intimate place to do some work, study, read, relax, and/or enjoy a drink and a pastry.

I loved the music that was playing and enjoyed checking out the artwork on the wall (which are also available for purchase).

Everything was clean, organized, and cozy – I’d love to come back to check out their in-store events as well as to try out more of their beverages.

I highly recommend this little gem – you won’t regret it!

+great local cafe!
+hosts in-store events
+ask for Mr. Brandon
+limited metered street parking

Martin’s Soul Food & BBQ

Martin’s Soul Food & BBQ
3063 Marshall Hall Road
Bryans Road, MD  20616
301.375.7247

Martin’s Soul Food and BBQ is located in the Safeway plaza off of Bryans Road.  They’ve only been opened for a few months and offer a variety of soul food and BBQ options (pork and beef rings, brisket, pulled pork, wings, subs, burgers, etc.).

The hubs and I came here for lunch, and we tried the following: Beef Brisket (this wasn’t too fatty and it was super tender and moist – the taste was pretty delicious, and the hubs was a total fan!), Pulled Pork (with a little kick, this was meaty and it didn’t have any of the strong ‘pork’ odor – I loved finding the little end crispies and it was great with the side of spicy BBQ sauce), Porkchop (you can choose between smothered or fried – we opted for the fried version – this was just okay, as it was smaller than the typical deep-fried porkchops we are used to; it also wasn’t too flavorful), Wings (simple, fried wings that was great with the Texas Pete hot sauce), Ribs (there are pork or beef versions available – we opted for the pork; these were super juicy, had a lovely crisp exterior, and it was meaty and not too much fat; great with the spicy BBQ sauce), mac and cheese (the macaroni was fully-cooked and the cheese sauce was creamy; there was a bit of black pepper to give it a slight kick), sweet corn (the hubs liked this, as he is a huge fan of sweet corn), potato salad (this was just okay, as it was more tangy than creamy), collard greens (simple; I just wished there was a little bit of meat in there and a bit more seasoning), a Half Smoke (perfectly-halved and -smoked, this was pretty delicious!  You can add toppings, but I chose only the grilled onions; yum!), and a cup of Banana Pudding (housemade, this had a generous amount of banana slices within).

Staff were super friendly and attentive, and there were a handful of tables to sit and dine.

Just make sure you re-check and re-confirm your orders, as if the manager is not on-site, you are unable to get price adjustments/refunds.

I’d love to come back and try out their subs and burgers, but I’ll definitely be back for the ‘Q!  Check this cute local place out!

+pork ribs!
+pulled pork!
+beef brisket!
+Half Smoke with grilled onions!
+mac and cheese!
+spicy BBQ sauce!
+banana pudding
+friendly staff!
+located in the Safeway plaza
+plenty of parking in the shared plaza lot

Bulldog Bistro

Bulldog Bistro
9255 Center Street
Manassas, VA  20110
571.292.1920

Bulldog Bistro is a family-friendly, neighborhood restaurant that is family-owned and -operated. They’ve been around since last November, and their menu has both British comfort foods as well as a good selection for anyone with a discerning taste (Colonial Chicken, Pan Seared Wild Salmon, Buttys, Shepherd’s Pie, Steak & Guinness Pie, Blackened Chicken pasta, burgers, wraps, soups, quesadillas, and salads).

The hubs and I stopped by, hoping to pick up some shepherd’s pies, but we were disappointed that on Sundays, only a brunch buffet is served. But, to not waste a trip and to really make use of our stomach space, we decided to give the buffet a try!

The spread offered a nice variety!  Breakfast potatoes, mini chocolate chip pancakes, pork & beans, sausage links, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, mini scones, quesadillas, red beans and rice, jerk chicken, blueberry muffins, and a vanilla/chocolate pudding – all were super delicious!

The breakfast potatoes were savory, seasoned perfectly, and had a nice crisp on its exterior; the mini chocolate chip pancakes had good batter and was slightly thicker (which I actually loved); the cut-up sausage links were super delicious and quite addicting; the sausage gravy was thick, hearty, and had great flavor; the quesadillas were tasty, and no need for sour cream or hot sauce!; the jerk chicken had great flavor, and the meat was moist and juicy.

I had a nice conversation with Mary Kate, who shared that everything is cooked and prepared by her father, some of the specialties that they offer, and the updates being shared on their social media.

All the staff members (who are siblings) are all super sweet, super friendly, and super welcoming; I’d love to talk with the owner on the next visit!  I can’t wait to come back and try out their Shepherd’s Pie, the Buttys, as well as the rest of their menu.  Be sure to check this cute place out – the locals are so lucky!

+closed Mondays & Tuesdays
+Sunday AYCE brunch buffet (no regular menu offered)
+British comfort foods offered
+all cooked and prepared by the owner!
+super friendly and welcoming staff
+parking available in lot

Joanne’s Grill

Joanne’s Grill
6 East Preston Street
Baltimore, MD  21202
410.752.5793

Joanne’s Grill is a small casual fast-food grill place that serves both American and Korean eats.  Items such as cold/hot subs, breakfast platters/sandwiches, club sandwiches, bulgogi platters, and cold/hot beverages are available.

The hubs and I came here for a quick dinner before attending an event in the area, and I’m so glad that we did!  We tried: the Bulgogi Platter (this came with a side of white rice and a cup of kimchi; the bulgogi itself was just way too sweet for my taste; while cooked perfectly, I was just not a fan of how overly sweet it was; the rice was also a bit too mushy and overcooked, but I did enjoy the generous cup of perfectly-fermented kimchi!); a Bibimbop (this came with little bits of bulgogi and a generous mix of Korean vegetables – the chojang sauce was okay and not too spicy; the hubs actually thought both items were decent); an order of pan-fried Mandoo (not housemade, but these are smaller in size and pan-fried really well; the side of a soy sauce mixture was just way too sweet, so regular soy sauce or just eating on its own is advised); and, a Kimchi Quesadilla (this was SO BOMB!  The thin tortilla was crispy and ‘fried’ perfectly; in between nestled just copious amounts of sauteed kimchi with the perfect crisp on its edges (the kimchi was perfectly well-fermented, which made this dish even more awesome!); the cheese was not overwhelming, but it was a great ratio to the kimchi; the quesadilla is definitely on the spicier end, but this was just super delicious!!!  Definitely the best kimchi quesadilla I’ve had!).

The place is known for their Bulgogi Sub, but I’ve never been a fan of this concoction, and knowing how overly sweet the meat is, I’m glad I didn’t order it.

The owners are super friendly, super welcoming, and oh-so-cute!

There are some counter seating available, but most locals seem to take their orders to-go.

I’d love to come back and try out their other menu items, such as the wings and the hot subs.  Their storefront was also featured in House of Cards (Season 4), so I thought that was pretty cool!

+KIMCHI QUESADILLA
+Korean and American eats offered
+super friendly owners
+some counter seating available
+featured on House of Cards (Season 4)
+limited metered street parking

Mama Achma Bakery

Mama Achma Bakery
8667 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA  20110
703.507.1633

Mama Achma Bakery is a little Georgian bakery nestled in Manassas.  All the fruit cakes, muffins, cookies, pies, pastries, and breads are handmade and housemade, right on the premise, using old-world and family recipes.  They even do catering and birthday/holiday/any special occasion customized cakes.

The hubs and I stopped by, and I was super excited in checking this place out, as I just had a good feeling about this place!  Ms. Catherine, who owns this bakery with her husband, shared us the items that they had and we just had to get literally one of each!

We tried a Mama’s almond cookie (made with almond flour, this was the perfect amount of sweetness and pretty tasty; the hubs was a total fan!); and purchased: a slice of an apple pie (topped with cinnamon and almonds); a fresh cheese boat (filled with cheese and boiled eggs; the bread was nice and doughy, and filled with cheese and chunks of boiled egg); 2 kinds of achmas (a seven-layered dough with cheese and butter, and a beef version made with pulled beef, sour cream, and spices – I really enjoyed the latter); a Sweet Snail (filled with raisins and walnuts); an edible ‘apple’ rose tart (really pretty!); a ‘Sail’ (filled with chocolate and egg cream); and, a mushroom turnover (that kind of looks like an empanada, these were filled with some sauteed, finely-diced mushrooms; any mushroom lover would enjoy this!).

Since everything is made with love and with all natural ingredients, one does not need to worry about preservatives or artificial flavors – you can really taste how fresh each item is!

To re-heat, it is recommended to use your toaster oven, rather than your oven.  I cannot wait to go back and try out their khachapuri and a raspberry basket, as these items also sound pretty amazing!  Check this little gem out!

+authentic Georgian bakery
+ask for Ms. Catherine
+everything is made on the premise!
+pastries, breads, cookies, and cakes galore
+catering available

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HighGrain Bread Co

HighGrain Bread Co
10695 Sudley Manor Drive
Manassas, VA  20109
703.361.1400
highgrainbreadcompany.com

HighGrain Bread Co. (the sign on their store and their labels all states ‘HighGrain,’ but their website and social media has a space between the ‘High’ and the ‘Grain’…) is a bakery located in Manassas.  This place makes all the bread and the pastries on the premise and offers breakfast items (breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos), hot/cold sandwiches, salads, soups, cookies, tea loaves, walnut brownies, gooey bars, cinnamon rolls, biscotti, scones, as well as a variety of breads (multigrain, olive parmesan, kale & feta, date nut, stollen, rye, pumpernickel, raisin pecan, brioche, Irish soda bread, etc.).  They even have freshly-baked dog biscuits! Make sure you check out their schedule, as it features certain specialty items on certain days!

The hubs and I stopped by, and I tried their Grilled Cheese – you can actually choose the loaf you want, so I opted for the Jalapeno Cheese – the grilled cheese was made up of cheddar cheese, American cheese, ham, and chipotle mayo; perfectly panini-pressed, this grilled cheese came out with a nice crisp exterior with an cheesy/gooey filling – it was delicious!  Next time, I have to make sure to add some mango chutney (has a slight upcharge)!

I also had a chance to try their Pina Colada tea loaf, and this was super delicious!!!  The loaf was super moist, fluffy, with a pound cake-like texture, filled with some coconut shavings and a lovely ‘pina colada’-esque taste – sort of reminded me of an upside down pineapple cake!

The Banana Tea Loaf was also super moist, delicious, and had a great banana taste, but I actually preferred the PIna Colada version!

The employees were super friendly and helpful, and super sweet, especially Christian!  I can’t wait to go back and try out their other items, such as the savory scones (available on Saturdays), the breakfast burritos (served starting at 7AM), and the cinnamon rolls (Thurs, Fri, and Sat)! What a find in Manassas!

+freshly-baked breads
+Pina Colada Tea Loaf
+grilled cheese (try with the mango chutney!)
+savory scones on Saturdays
+cinanmon rolls on Thurs/Fri/Sat
+breakfast burritos starting at 7AM
+freshly-baked dog biscuits
+ask for Christian
+limited parking in plaza lot

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Rick’s NC BBQ

Rick’s NC BBQ
5482 Southern Maryland Boulevard
Lothian, MD  20711
410.741.0227

Rick’s NC BBQ is owned by Ricardo, but Ms. Chrissy and her son, Michael, runs the place.  This small carry-out place offers BBQ pork ribs, sandwiches (pit beef, chicken salad, chicken breast, rib sandwich, and rib dog), NC pulled pork, fried/baked chicken, chicken strips, wings, shrimp, BBQ meat by the pint, kid options (nuggets), various sides (cole slaw, wedges, beans, corn nuggets, mac n cheese, collard greens, and potato salad), and party tray/catering options.

The hubs and I came here for lunch, and we tried the following:  1/2 Slab of Ribs Platter (this is dry-rubbed, the ribs were pretty okay, but a little too fatty for our liking – we’d probably ask for a leaner cut next time; comes with the NC vinegar sauce as well as the sweet sauce; the platter also comes with your choice of 2 sides (we opted for corn nuggets and collard greens; the corn nuggets were little deep-fried nuggets filled with cheese and sweet corn – more sweet than savory; the collard greens was fantastic with the vinegar sauce, as it gives that nice little Old Bay kick to it – was pretty addicting!); NC Pulled Pork (cooked perfectly, this was super moist and had some nice exterior crispies – great with the sweet sauce, but the hubs preferred the vinegar sauce); a 4 oz Pit Beef Sandwich (I absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED this sandwich!

I’ve tried the pit beef in Baltimore, and I was just not a fan; however, Rick’s version was juicy and flavorful, in thick-cut slices, and the 3 sauces that came with (the chipotle, the creamy horseradish, and the sweet sauce) just pushed this sandwich out to another dimension!!!). The bun that was used (Martin’s Potato Roll, I believe), was soft and fresh, and really held the meat well together.  This was super delicious, that I had to get the bigger version, the ‘7 oz Big Momma Pit Beef Sandwich, with extra sauce, of course!!!

We also tried the Chicken Platter (this was more of like a baked chicken – thin crispy skin, seasoned well, but very simple and not greasy; I just wished there was some type of a better hot sauce than Tabasco!; this also came with a choice of 1 side, so we opted for the mac-n-cheese (I wasn’t a fan of this, as it wasn’t a thick creamy kind that I usually prefer it being).

We added some wedges (a little less crispy, but you can request them to be prepared more crispier), beans (slightly sweeter, I enjoyed the little bits of white onion throughout), and the potato salad (more egg-y and tangy, this was creamy and yummy).

To wash it all down, we had their house-brewed Sweet Tea – this was quite refreshing with the perfect amount of sweetness!

Service was super friendly – Ms. Chrissy and her son, Michael, were sooo incredibly sweet and awesome!

This little gem is worth checking out!  I can’t wait to go back to get more of their Pit Beef sandwiches and try out their fried seafood and wings!

+Pit Beef sandwich with the 3 sauces!!!
+Sweet Tea
+Collared Greens with vinegar sauce
+Potato Salad
+Beans
+Corn Nuggets
+ask for Ms. Chrissy and Michael
+friendly staff!

Rivera’s Restaurant

Rivera’s Restaurant
6552 Backlick Road
Springfield, VA  22150
703.451.5344

Rivera’s Restaurant is a small little Latin restaurant offering appetizers (such as pupusas, yuca fritas, taquitos, ceviches, etc.), soups, tacos, pollo a la brasa, fajitas, fish/chicken/seafood dishes, and daily lunch specials.

I tried their #38, which was the Lomo Saltado de Carne (you can also opt for chicken instead), that came with a side of yummy fluffy rice and beans.  This was an extremely generously-sized plate, with super flavorful sauteed beef strips with red onion slices and sliced tomatoes – this dish was absolutely DELICIOUS!!!  The beef was juicy, and the sauteed onions were just lovely!

You also receive two bottles of green and the aji sauce.  The aji sauce, while more mustard-y, was a perfect pairing for the lomo saltado dish!

We also tried a Pupusa de Queso, a cheese pupusa – this was a bit forgettable, as there wasn’t much cheese within, and the exterior wasn’t as crispy as I usually like it to be.

The hubs and I also tried their horchata, which was had the perfect creaminess, not-too-grainy, with a nice little kick of cinnamon – very refreshing!

One thing I thought was hilarious was that the restaurant had 2 TVs, one playing K-dramas, dubbed in Spanish – it was super entertaining!

Service was super sweet and friendly – Ms. Mirna and Ms. Damaris were both wonderful!  I’ll definitely be back for their lomo saltado as well as to try out their pollo a la brasa!

+#38 Lomo Saltado de Carne
+mustard-y aji sauce!
+Horchata!
+ask for Ms. Mirna and Ms. Damaris
+friendly staff!
+dubbed K-drama (!!!)

The Sushi Bar

The Sushi Bar
2312 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA  22301
571.257.3232
Daily, 5 PM – 12 AM
http://www.sushidelray.com/

WHERE HAVE I BEEN FOR THE PAST 2 YEARS?!  I never knew that The Sushi Bar had been part of the Del Ray neighborhood for a couple of years now.

This small, unassuming sushi restaurant with a small obscure sign, owned by Chef Saran (also known as ‘Chef Peter’, who apparently trained under Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, my most favorite Iron Chef of all time!!!) Kannasute, offers literally one of the best ‘contemporary’/’creative’ omakase that I’ve experienced!!!

The hubs and I came here for a little date night, and calling in advance, found out that the restaurant does not take any reservations – first come, first serve.  When we arrived, we only waited for about a few minutes to sit at the sushi bar in the back.  While waiting, we were served some water as well as the menu to look over.

The hubs and I decided to go with the omakase – and, I’m so glad that we did!!!  We started off with some authentic Japanese Kobe tataki (!!!), with some microgreens and a house sweet sauce – slightly seared, the Kobe was cooked perfectly and subtly tasted grilled; Blue Fin tuna with some duck pate and tobiko; salmon belly nigirizushi with fresh ginger sauce; some bluefin tuna tataki with sesame; toro tataki with some garlic ponzu, carpaccio sauce, spicy sesame oil, and schichimi togarashi; and, a tower of fatty tuna, sea urchin, monkfish pate, tobiko, garlic ponzu, and chili lime sauce.  The uni/sea urchin was literally one of the most freshest, most creamiest, and the most delicious uni I’ve head in ages – it had such a clean and wonderful taste, I was super pleasantly surprised!  The eel?  Perfectly grilled and had the perfect ratio of the sauce.  None of our plates needed a dip in the soy sauce or anything – everything was perfect seasoned, dressed, and drizzled on!

For dessert, we were presented with a black sesame ice cream on a crispy phyllo bird’s nest – super amazing!!!  The crispy phyllo nest had a lovely drizzle of honey, and the black sesame ice cream was not too sweet and a great complement – a wonderful way to finish the meal!

Each plate was beautifully-presented, creative, had great attention to detail, and all the fish was just super fresh and wonderful – you can really taste the quality!

Chef Kannasute and Chef JJ were both super sweet, friendly, and welcoming, and the staff (Kirin, Ashley, and Nathan) were all just super awesome and attentive!!!  The hubs and I were both huge fans and really believe that this is literally the best restaurant in VA!!!

Even better, the omakase also changes, so just let the Chef know and he’ll always provide a different, creative offering the next time!!!

Just note that the sushi bar has only 6 seats, so you may have some wait – however, it’s totally worth it!  I also LOVE the fact that this place is 18+, so no screaming/whining kids (there may be some adults doing these acts, but that’s a whole another story AHAHA).  The restaurant has a deep red decor, is clean, small, and cozy.

Definitely check this gem of a sushi restaurant out – you will NOT be disappointed!!!

+order the omakase!!!
+contemporary and creative = keep that in mind!
+super fresh fish!!!
+black sesame ice cream for dessert!
+ask for Chef Kannasute and Chef JJ
+ask for Kirin, Ashley, and Nathan
+18+ only!
+limited street parking off of Mount Vernon
+located in between Holy Cow and Pork Barrel