Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Oasis in the Desert

Living along the Northeast Corridor means you are an elitist. Living inside the Beltway makes you an elitist. I live in Washington, DC proper, which means I'm more elitist than just about any other elitist. It also means I'm either a marginally douchey, self-important hipster or a self-important political a**hole, er I mean, policy wonk. The rarest of elitists are both.

Living in Washington, DC requires a healthy disdain for the suburbs. Even though I have young kids and will eventually sell out to live in Bethesdsa, Arlington, or Chevy Chase (ok, not CC - I am a poor elitist). So, I appreciate the irony of relocating to the Crystal City Radisson while renovating the only bathroom in my city rowhouse.

Crystal City is maybe the worst of the suburban landscape. Big, fat Highway 1, named after a leader of the Confederacy, divides what is little more than condominiums, apartments, hotels, and office buildings. Crystal City starts roughly at the Americana Hotel and ends appropriately at a strip mall. The mall includes a Target, Best Buy, Starbucks, IHOP (not iHOP?) and a brewpub called Hops. Wait, a brewpub? Don't worry, it's a chain - a wholly owned subsidiary of Rita Restaurant Corporation. The Crystal City Metro stop in the height of tourist season is a reasonable facsimile for the Gates of Hell. Tourists* stand around in their gaudy t-shirts reminding me that while they are on vacation I'm going to work. Making matters worse is they stand on both sides of the Metro faregates because half don't know where to put the fare cards and the other half are required to block the opposite side as a precaution. Yesterday there was literally a line to get through the faregates - leaving the Metro. If you got into the system chances are the process for getting out is the same. They also stand at the ticket machines (which I freely admit are not particularly user-friendly) trying to determine where they are going, what is the fare, and why is there a rush+. OK, we all ask about the rush+.

Cafe Pizzaiolo in Crystal City, VA
The 500 block of South 23rd Street is the oasis of this desert. There are several nice local establishments along the avenue but I would like to focus on Cafe Pizzaiolo. It's a pizza parlor with gelato and a solid craft beer selection. The Cafe combines locally sourced ingredients with Italian imports to create excellent New York-style pizza. They also offer pasta and pannini but we focused on the pizza. The hummus is made in house and was a big win with the family.Try the chocolate chip gelato for dessert (not desert) and you will not be disappointed.

Nothing against Cafe Pizzaiolo's food but this is a beer blog. The happy hour special was three dollar pints of Yuengling. They offer an array of craft brews and some major labels (Bud, Stella, Corona, etc) as well. Perhaps the best part of this joint is that you can purchase beer to go by the six pack for $11.99. Mix-and-match or six of the same. Needless to say, I had a couple pints of Yuengling and took a six pack to the hotel room.

Here is a quick rundown of what Cafe Pizzaiolo offers:

Magic Hat #9
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA 
Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
New Belgium Fat Tire
Bells Oberon
Bells Two Hearted Ale
Shiner Bock
Star Hill Amber Ale
Founders Red's Rye PA

In summation: the suburbs aren't so terrible after all. Tourists - still awful (just stay to the right).

*Coming from the third poorest city in the country I make it a rule to refrain from harping on tourists. If for no other reason than the the tax revenue they bring to the DMV. Some places would love such trouble. However, every rule requires an exception.

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