By Amanda Grace Johnson - 04/24/08 06:28 PM EDT
Watching your weight may be rewarding when the goal is exercising self-discipline, feeling good and staying in shape — but a touch of occasional guiltless gorging has rewards of its own.
Many diets say to indulge one day a week instead of cheating throughout. Keeping that theory in mind, a day’s worth of dining with artery-clogging aspirations can be done without draining your bank account.
What follows are some of Washington’s best high-calorie hotspots.
Jimmy T’s, nestled quietly at the corner of 5th and East Capitol streets SE, is the perfect morning-after spot following a night where too many drinks were had and too much money was spent. This quaint diner, one of Capitol Hill’s best-kept secrets, serves breakfast all day in various less-than-$5 combinations of pancakes, waffles, French toast, bacon, sausage, eggs and scrapple (a breakfast meat made from certain pig parts — which ones are still a mystery).
Its lunch offerings also excel; the hamburger melt on Texas toast is seasoned and cooked to perfection, hot and gooey American cheese oozing over the sides of a thick patty. Seating is limited, but don’t be discouraged if there’s a small line — the bang for your buck is worth the wait.
Once the breakfast dust settles, head downtown for a quick lunch. Tucked away at the end of a dimly lit hallway in the Davis Building at 1629 K St. NW, Ferdinand’s snack bar plays host to some of the Golden Triangle’s hungriest power players. The steak and cheese sandwich comes heaping with a generous portion of beef piled high on a soft, flaky sub with a tangy medley of ketchup, mustard and hot peppers. The bulgogi sub perfectly quenches a craving for something different with traditional midday meat and bread.
On Thursdays, $5.25 gets you four large chicken wings on a king-sized bed of old-fashioned crinkle-cut fries. The wings, though perhaps not falling-off-the-bone tender, are meaty, crunchy and just a bit spicy — adding a splash of hot sauce really ups the ante. And though the fries may be nothing to write home about, there certainly are a lot of them. With Southern-style sides to pick from — collard greens, green beans and baked macaroni and cheese — this little-known greasy spoon carries just enough choices.
You’re bound to be a bit thirsty after spending the better part of the day downing such high-sodium grub. As a member of Barracks Row’s bar scene, The Ugly Mug is no secret to Hill staffers, although it’s probably better-known for its 24 draft beers than for its cooking. The Mug may not bring anything new to the bar-food table, but what it does bring goes beyond the call of boozing.
The fried fare stands out. The Mug’s menu boasts tricky-to-find Southern-comfort classics like country-fried steak, carne asada and jalapeños stuffed with cheddar cheese. The buffalo chicken tenders are moist, and the quality of the meat high, dusted with a pleasant portion of breading and tossed in a sauce that’s spicy, but not enough to slow down the splurge session. Yuengling-battered fish filets emerge steaming and nearly fall apart at the touch of a fork.
The variety of cheeses topping the pizzas include bleu and smoked gouda in addition to the standard mozzarella and provolone. Whatever you choose, it’s guaranteed to come piping hot and bubbling across a crust that’s not thin, but still crispier than average, and with a sauce that teeters successfully between saccharine and savory. The sausage-and-onion style is particularly satisfying, with hearty Italian sausage and mild white onions pulling melty mozzarella in strings from the pie to your mouth.
Sliders are touted as the “item that put the Mug on the map,” and it’s no surprise — the petite burgers arrive tucked between slightly sweet brioche buns, glazed with just the right amount of butter and garnished with crispy onion straws that raise the bar with their unique texture. Wednesday nights, dubbed “Rock ‘n’ Roll Wednesdays,” are “six for six,” meaning patrons can purchase six sliders for $6 and a bucket of six 12-ounce Rolling Rocks for $6, perfect for the end of a rough workday.
When the day is over and your stomach is sufficiently overstuffed, it’s time to attempt to get back on track — one day of gluttony shouldn’t be enough to ruin your diet. Whether you’re recovering from a long night or just getting one started, the city has plenty of choices to keep you fat and happy.