There’s no shortage of great spots to get your lunch on in Penn Quarter. But there may only be one where you can have one of DC’s best burgers, fresh poke, and giant, fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies all from the same menu. The Hungry Lobbyist team headed over to new-ish New York transplant, The Smith, for lunch and will be making many happy returns.
The first thing you’ll see on the menu is a section of “snacks”. Order them all. Seriously. Every last one. As long as you’ve got a group of 4 or 5 you’ll have no problem taking them all down. Our first snack that came out was the Hot Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese Fondue. These were fresh, homemade, thick cut potato chips served hot and covered in a bleu cheese fondue with giant bleu cheese crumbles. The fondue was not overwhelming at all. In fact, we had some bleu cheese haters at the table that loved it. And The Smith has solved the biggest problem with nachos or any other chip/sauce dish by layering more fondue and cheese crumbles all the way through to the bottom of the bowl. It was a perfect first impression for what was about to be an amazing meal.
Continuing on our Tour de Snacks, we got the shishito peppers, the crab cake tots, and the tomato rings. Shishito peppers are a classic, and The Smith does them right: sauteed just enough, blistered to perfection, and ample sea salt. The crab cake tots were like mini bite-sized crab cakes with an added crunch on the outside. Lots of crab, almost no filler, and the right amount of tang from the tartar sauce. These things are dangerous. It’s a good thing they only come 6 to an order because we probably could have taken down a whole bucket of these guys. And I’m not sure why I’ve never seen fried green tomato rings before. They’re genius. The green tomatoes hold up in the batter and give you a tart, savory vehicle for the delicious charred almond romesco.
Poke is all the rage now, and The Smith is a strong contender for the best in town. It’s got heat from the serrano peppers, sour from the mango, and some serious umami flavor from the yuzu and other secret sauce they toss it in.
Do you ever long for that cheese cap and ensuing stringy, oozy, melty cheese pull of French Onion soup but wish there were a different soup underneath? Long no more: The Smith has you covered with their roasted tomato soup. It’s the perfect, fresh tomato soup with what seem to be mini grilled cheese croutons inside, topped with a round of cheddar cheese that is perfectly melted and caramelized to give you the ever-Boomerangable cheese pull.
Speaking of cheese pulls…The Smith also does the Lord’s work with their Mac + Cheese. It’s traditional macaroni noodles with a secret blend of many, many cheeses, served piping hot in a cast iron skillet with that crispy, melty cheese crust on top.
On to our main courses…the seasonal baby rigatoni dish came highly recommended and did not disappoint. If you’ve never had almond pesto, you need to get yourself over to The Smith ASAP.
The spicy fried chicken sandwich had some excellent flavor combinations: the lemon tartar with the kale and green apples worked perfectly with the spicy, but not too spicy, fried chicken. The Smith didn’t just slather some hot sauce on their chicken; they fry the spice right into the batter.
When we said “one of DC’s best burgers” earlier, we meant it. It’s also maybe the best bang for your buck on the menu. We’re not entirely sure what 50/50 sauce is, but we want to put it on everything. And the fries should not be overlooked. The perfect size, perfect crisp, right amount of salt. We could go for buckets of these guys too.
Sometime’s a lady’s gotta eat a steak for lunch, right? Luckily The Smith has you covered there too. Their NY Strip is one of five steak offerings on the lunch menu, and the green peppercorn sauce is one of three sauce pairings.
We could’t get enough of The Smith’s fresh tuna, even after the poke, so we also got the seared tuna salad. If you’re not a lady in need of a steak for lunch, this is a great option. The soba noodles are delicious on their own. The tuna is super fresh and barely seared (or more seared if you ask), and the ginger miso vinaigrette pulls it all together in light, but satisfying fashion.
On to dessert…The Smith’s dessert menu does not disappoint. As soon as we saw s’mores on the menu, we knew we’d be ordering one. Not only is it super cute and photogenic, its downright delicious and will transport you to a campfire somewhere.
The Smith’s take on strawberry shortcake is different, with a sour cream streusel instead of traditional shortcake, and a cracked pepper crumble to add some heat. But it is so, so tasty. The only complaint we’d have is maybe it could use a little more ice cream. But that’s a complaint we have all day about everything else soo….
Last but not least: the Quarter Pounders. This picture doesn’t do them justice. They are cookies as big as your head, and ooey gooey, fresh out of the oven. You get three to a plate so you basically have a whole pound of cookies, which is perfect.
So if you’re in the mood for lunch, dinner, dessert, good cocktails, interesting beers, or anything in between, head over to The Smith and order all the snacks and all the giant cookies.