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(Sticky Fingers) Looking For A Bite? Here Are The Best Snacks In And Around D.C.

Friday, April 22, 2016

DCist by Rachel Kurzuis

It was John Lennon who once said, "Life is what happens when you're busy snacking." No? Okay, fine, he never said that. But the sentiment still holds, because what if existence isn't the meals you consume but instead the noshes you take in between? And you're in luck, because D.C. has some delicious bites for you to enjoy. We've got you covered whether you're interested in sweet or savory, solid or liquid, on-the-go or more sedentary.—Rachel Kurzius

SNACKLINS: The idea of "vegan pork rinds" is disconcerting and barely computes. Add on top of that they're proudly gluten-free and my pork-loving brain had a meltdown when I first saw them around the city. The carnivorous devil on my shoulder hates everything about their neo-hippie facade, but the rest of me can't get enough of the Old Bay flavored Snacklins. The crunch on these cruelty-free cracklings are on point with the best of the fried snacks family. They're light and airy, yet somehow indulgent. Popping a few in your mouth gets some welcomed greasy fingers to show you've done some serious snacking, but you don't feel like you need to run an extra mile afterwards. The darker flavors of the Old Bay assist in the hoax of telling your mouth that you're eating something wicked and swine-filled, but the feeling of contentment, rather than shame, is really what shines for this abomination of a classic.—John Fleury

You can buy Snacklins at these locations.

CAKELOVE IN A JAR: Once upon a time, in an era before the cupcakery was even a thing, there was a place on U Street where you could get an excellent slice of cake, or even, yes, a cupcake. They extolled the virtues of full fat, and it was glorious. But Love Cafe fell prey to rising rents, leaving only its sister bakery, CakeLove, across the street. But with that closing at the end of 2015, your only recourse in D.C. for one of Warren Brown's confections is CakeLove In A Jar. I'd be lying if I told you it was just as good as the real thing, but still ... it's cake, icing and all, in parfait form. Pop one out for a guaranteed sugar rush.—Rachel Sadon

You can buy CakeLove In A Jar at these locations.

PICKLES & DILLY BEANS AT NUMBER 1 SONS: You’re likely to find Number 1 Sons when you visit a local farmers market, and you can sample their kimchi, kraut, and pickles before you buy. They’ve got six types of traditional cucumber pickles and even more pickled specialty items. My favorite pickled veggies for snacking are their dilly beans. It seems like a weird idea (“Hey! Hand me some of those tangy green beans!”), but they’re so addictive that I can rarely resist buying a big batch. It’s an added bonus that I don’t have to feel guilty when gobbling, because they’re vegetables!—Lynne Venart

Number 1 Sons is located in Union Market at 1309 5th Street NE, and at farmers markets and food stores.

ROUTE 11 CHIPS: A couple years ago, my boyfriend and I got hooked on Route 11’s sweet potato chips. He loved them so much that I found the factory in Mount Jackson, Va. and ordered him a case of 12 five oz bags for his birthday—a present that outshone even the Macbook Air that I also gifted him that year. After eating so many sweet potato chips that they officially make me nauseous (in a good way?), I’m trying my hand at barbecue. And so far, they’re oh so good. Other flavors include Dill Pickle, Sour Cream N Chive, Chesapeake Crab, Mama Zuma's Revenge, which the company describes as “a fiery blend of a habanero mash and our classic barbeque,” and more. Route 11 does an impeccable job of packing flavor, whether sweet or salty, and preparing the perfectly-sized snacks with the right amount of crunch. They’re also noble for sourcing ingredients like high-quality sunflower oil and all-natural, unrefined salt. One day, I’ll take the trip 2-hour trip from D.C. to the retail store where the company lets people see most of its chip-making process in person. But fortunately, they’re also available at most grocery stores and markets in the District.—Christina Sturdivant

You can buy Route 11 Chips at these locations.

JULIA'S EMPANADAS: Filling, delicious, inexpensive, and open very late—in short, everything required for an excellent snack. Other empanada places have come and gone, but they haven't been able to hold a candle to Julia's. With Chilean and Jamaican styles, salteñas, chorizo, spinach, turkey, and a rotating vegetarian option—all of which are $4.37—you'd be sorely mistaken to dismiss this little carry-out that could. Tack on a sweet empanada and a soda to make a meal for the practically unheard of $6.97.—Rachel Sadon

Julia's Empanadas is located in Adams Morgan (2452 18th St. NW), Dupont Circle (1221 Connecticut Ave. NW), and Brightwood (6235 Georgia Ave. NW).

COOKIES AT FINE SWEET SHOPPE: On any given afternoon in Eastern Market you’ll see a line of kids—okay, and adults—clutching dollar bills in their sweaty little hands in front of the bakery case at Fine Sweet Shoppe. Fine has been baking up bread, cakes, cookies, and other treats since 1960. While the case is full of everything from Russian tea cookies dusted in powdered sugar to crusty melt-in-your-mouth palmiers, if there’s one absolute standout cookie it’s the Tollhouse Mini Chocolate Chip, perfectly sized to fool you into thinking that you’re really not being an irresponsible snacker because, hey, they’re tiny. What makes them so special is that they have a texture really close to raw cookie dough, baked just enough to soften the chips, with a pale golden color. They’re only sold by the pound, so a 1/4 pound will set you back a couple of bucks and, yes, it’s enough to share, if you can bear to part with any.—Kristen Hartke

Fine Sweet Shoppe is located at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill, 225 7th Street SE.

GOSHEN JUICE: Goshen Foods doesn’t need a glossy social media presence to sell its juice—its “cocktails,” blended with raw fruits and veggies, speak for themselves. The Union Market artisan has kale, carrot, and beet juices consistently on deck. My personal favorite, the carrot cocktail, has a magically refreshing way of making me forget that I’m consuming something healthy. And from my experience sampling products from numerous juicers across the city, this is no easy feat. On occasion, the shop also sells an iced cold lemonade with complimenting hints of sweetness and spice. Bonus: There’s usually a selection of uber flavorful vegetarian and vegan-friendly lunch items. And I never (ever) leave without grabbing a sweet treat like the vegan pumpkin surprise.—Christina Sturdivant

Goshen is located in Union Market at 1309 5th St NE.

DIY CHEESE PLATTER AT GLEN'S GARDEN MARKET: Wander into the bougie snacking paradise that is Glen's Garden Market, and you'll surely find many of the other offerings on this list. But the one thing that I stock in the work fridge, to snack when I need a serious brain pick-me-up, is Nancy's Hudson Valley Camembert. It's pungent and flavorful in all the best ways, and it spreads "just like buttah," in the inimitable words of Linda Richman. A little goes a long way, if you have that sort of self-control. There are many other worthy cheese choices, but none quite like this soft ripened sensation. To ensure that you're eating foods manufactured in the region, pair it with some of the Chantilly, Va.-based Firehook baked crackers (my favorite is the rosemary sea salt—just enough flavor to make your cheese pop without overwhelming it) and enjoy your self-styled platter.—Rachel Kurzius

Glenn's Garden Market is located at 2001 S St NW and 1924 8th Street NW.

BACON NUTS AT HIGHLINE RXR: I strongly feel that something known as "bacon nuts" doesn't need much in the way of further description. The Highline RxR's signature bar snack is truth in advertising: an assortment of mixed nuts tossed with a generous portion of diced bacon, and served in a big bowl for passing around the table. It makes a satisfying nosh to cushion the beer during the newish Crystal City bar's Monday trivia rounds. Also worth noting is that there's no Bacos here: the bacon pieces are cut on the thicker side and fresh out of the frying pan. A single serving (which easily feeds for several people) is $4.50.—Bridget Dicosmo

Highline RxR is located at 2010 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA.

SWEET AND SALTY COOKIES AT STICKY FINGERS: Vegan baking has come a long way, in no small part because of Sticky Fingers proprietor Doron Petersan. But this salted version of the classic chocolate chip cookie is the pinnacle, if you ask me (obligatory note that there is no way that you'd ever be able to tell it is vegan). The perfect ratio of crunchy-to-soft cookie is topped with the exactly correct amount of flaky sea salt. It has never failed to pull me out of a mid-afternoon slump.—Rachel Sadon

Stick Fingers is located at 1370 Park Rd NW. Compass Coffee (1535 7th St NW and 1921 8th St NW) also stocks their sweet and salty cookies.

CASTELVETRANO OLIVES AT BAR PILAR: Look, some garnishes are meant to be munched, manners be damned. When it comes to the martini, eating the olive may be the one thing standing between you and a trip to the land of hazy memories. But in the case of the Bar Pilar martini, the inclusion of a Castelvetrano olive elevates the drink into its own kind of appetizer, especially if you say the magic words: "Extra olives, please." The Castelvetrano, with its buttery, meaty fruit and pert green exterior, is a pleasure unto itself. When you've got a few skewered like shish kabobs in your drink, you no longer have to debate whether to pop one into your mouth immediately or wait until it's soaked up the hard liquor. Get you a snack that can do both. And if even those options don't sate you, there's always a full menu as back-up.—Rachel Kurzius

Bar Pilar is located at 1833 14th St NW.