Government Shutdown Restaurant Specials

Happy New Year 2019!   This year has already started with a challenge.  The United States Government is shutdown. More than 800,000 government employees will have to live without a paycheck until the government shutdown ends.


A lot of Washington, D.C. area restaurants have done their part to help furloughed federal employees with the costs of daily living.  I have compiled a list of restaurants who are offering meal specials during the shutdown.  These specials require government ID.

Free Food

Let’s start with Chef José Andrés, who vowed to feed government employees until they get paid again.  Check out the details here as explained in this Food & Wine Article. Think Food Group, which includes Oyamel, Zaytinya, America Eats Tavern, China Chilcano, Beefsteak, Jaleo will offer free sandwiches for federal employees and their families from 2:00pm – 5:00pm at all Washington, D.C. restaurants.

Here are more free food offers.

  1. &Pizza  – Multiple locations offer FREE PIZZA for federal employees from 6:00pm – 8:00pm for the duration of the shutdown.
  2. District Doughnuts – Free coffee with every purchase.
  3. Baked by Yael – Free coffee, cake pops, and bakery classes.  Zoo workers get complimentary bagels and bites.
  4. Carmine’s – Free meatball sliders from 2:00pm – 4:00pm for government employees.
  5. Charlie Palmer Steakhouse – Free Chicken Sandwich with government ID.
  6. Olivia Macaron – Free cup of coffee with any purchase with government ID.
  7. Ri Ra Irish Pub – Free Shepherd’s pie during lunch or dinner during shutdown.
  8. Taco Bamba (Chinatown location) – Free traditional Taco during the shutdown.
  9. The Alex at the Graham Hotel – Free glass of Prosecco with any purchase during evenings and during weekend brunch.
  10. Gregory’s Coffee – Free coffee.

Meal Discounts

  1. The Carolina Kitchen – $8.99 shutdown carry-out specials on Monday through Friday from 5:00pm – 8:00pm for Rotisserie Chicken, Fried Whiting, Baked Fish, 2-piece Fried Chicken.  All of these meals come with 2 sides. Caesar Salad is also $8.99.
  2. Catch 22 – 15% off for government employees.
  3. City Winery – $1 glasses of City Winery wine on tap.  Must show government ID.
  4. BBQ Bus – 20% off entire menu for Federal Employees.
  5. Carmine’s – “Hard Times” Cocktail for $6, plus Happy Hour menu all day at the bar for the duration of the shutdown.
  6. Charlie Palmer Steakhouse – Blue Point Toasted Lager with fries for $12 during lunch at the bar, for the duration of the shutdown.
  7. DC Reynolds – $6 sandwich and non-alcoholic drink from 11:00am – 2:00pm Monday through Friday.
  8. Haagen Daz (Georgetown location) – 20% off purchase with Government ID
  9. Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown location) – Get 2 appetizers and any 12-inch pizza for $30 with government ID or business card
  10. Pennsylvania 6 – Extended Happy Hour from 3:00pm – 9:00pm during shutdown
  11. Ristorante Piccolo – 20% off bill during the shutdown
  12. Leon – 50% off until the shutdown ends.
  13. The Big Stick – 18% off all food and $4 draft, house wine, and rail drinks from open – 7:00pm.
  14. Gordon Biersch (Navy Yard location) – 20% off final bill for the duration of the shutdown.
  15. Nando’s Peri-Peri (Navy Yard location) – 20% off food (excluding alcohol) through the duration of the shutdown.
  16. Rasa – 25% off and all-day Happy Hour through the duration of the shutdown.
  17. Due South – Happy Hour pricing begins at 2:00pm
  18. District Winery – Half price tastings at the Tasting Bar & Half price bottles at the Bar in Restaurant Ana, weekdays only.
  19. Willie’s – All day Happy Hour for federal employees.
  20. Tara Thai – 10% off any order.
  21. Punch Bowl Arlington – 25% off on all food, beverages, and games.
  22. Mad Fox Brewing Company – 20% off food.

Please comment here or on my instagram page Bacon & Bellini on Instagram if you were able to benefit from any of these deals.  If you know of additional restaurants not listed here, please notify me, and I will add them.

Stay strong, be encouraged, and enjoy all of life’s bites.


Holiday Burgers?

It’s the Holiday Season.  To foodies like me, it’s the time of year, when everyone is a foodie.  Food is at the forefront of all holiday celebrations. Over the 2018 holiday season, I have enjoyed all of the usual holiday classics including Fried turkey, smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, green beans, lasagna, seafood pasta, yellow rice, and more.   Let’s include the yummy desserts, the chocolate cake, lemon pound cake, sweet potato pie, cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas dinner, they was another dish on my mind this holiday season…….HAMBURGERS.  In between the 2 days of cooking in preparation for Christmas, my sisters, cousins, and I were on the search for the perfect hamburger.  We tried a few hamburger places in between Christmas shopping and cooking.

When I returned home, I still had a taste for a good juicy burger.  Where will I go, I thought to myself?  Well, none of the burger places I visited around Christmas were in my city.  I went on a Target run, and on my way home from Target, I saw a restaurant sign and my eyes lit up.  BGR The Burger Joint.  I had never eaten at BGR. But this is as good a time as any I thought, so I went in.  I ordered what I normally order at burger places, the bacon cheeseburger with BBQ sauce.  At BGR, this is the Western BBQ burger, a burger with bbq sauce, cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, and crips onion rings.  I ordered my pattie medium well. Now, this was a GOOD burger. I asked for the crisp onion rings on the side.  I’m glad I did.  It was difficult enough to get one bite of the whole burger without the onion rings.   Side note: the onion rings are really big wide onion rings.


My burger was so tasty.  The beef tastes fresh. The ingredients are high quality.  The cheese was melted perfectly. The lettuce looked like the lettuce looks on a commercial.  It was curly, and crisp. I had fresh tomatoes that covered the entire burger. I was so satisfied.  The grill master’s name is Evan. After I finished my burger, I told him that it was great. It really was.  This burger made my day. It turned my frown into a smile. I look forward to returning for another burger. If you are looking for a great hamburger and see a BGR sign, be sure to stop.  You will be satisfied too!

Wait, I was so focused on the hamburger, I forgot to mention the milkshake.  The seasonal milkshake of the day is the Egg Nog Shake. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I like Egg Nog.  I usually have my egg nog with rum and brandy included. Although it was alcohol free, this milkshake was delicious.  It tasted just like egg nog. The shake is thick and requires a big straw. So go, enjoy the burger and finish it off with a milkshake.  Happy Holidays!


Yelp Review of the Day

It has happened again.  My review has been selected as “Yelp Review of the Day” today.  Review of the day (ROTD) is selected based on the number of useful, funny, and cool votes a review receives by Yelp users.   It is not often that a review wins “Review of the Day.”  Some Yelpers never win.  Check out my review!  Today is an exciting day!


To read my full review and to see my review on the front page of YELP, visit Yelp Review of the Day


He Fed an Island, and Inspired a Nation

Just four days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico to volunteer in the Hurricane Relief efforts.  He volunteered by cooking meals for the survivors.  What began as a small project developed into a 12 kitchen network where Chef Andrés fed 150,000 people a day for a total of 4 million meals.

I had the privilege of attending the book discussion and book signing for Chef Andrés’ book, We Fed an Island.  The event was held at Busboys and Poets 450 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.  It was wonderful.  I sat on the front row in what I believe is the best seat in the house.  Check out my pictures of Chef Andrés book discussion with led by Busboys and Poets owner, Andy Shallal.

Despite being a world renowned Chef who owns multiple restaurants, Chef Andrés had the time, desire, and heart to be of service to the community.

Chef Andrés is very humble.  When asked how he sees himself, he simply said, “I’m a cook.”   While in Puerto Rico, there was little to no access to resources, yet, Chef Andrés made it happen.   He said that a cook does not need a lot of resources.  The Earth itself is a resource for a cook.

Also during the discussion, Chef Andrés told stories of his childhood and his first experiences in the kitchen.  He discussed family life, and the life of a restauranteur.   He is heavily aware of current events and utilizes his skills as a chef to make a difference wherever he can.

The book signing was included with a ticket for the event.  Busboys and Poets was a wonderful location.  The restaurant was very organized.  Buy the book, be inspired.  Find an island to feed. Just be great.


Pictured: Keiristin just before the book discussion & book signing

Recently, for his humanitarian efforts, Chef José Andrés was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  Well deserved.

Follow baconandbellini on instagram to watch footage from this event.


Kitchen Cray

Let me tell you about my first visit to Kitchen Cray.

I believe the Lobster Mac was carved out of pure butter.  It is rich…and buttery… and creamy… and cheesy…and just good!  It is perfectly seasoned. Each bite is so delicious. Once I started eating, it was difficult to find a place to stop.  Each forkful was better than the forkful before it.


The Lobster is seasoned and fried with a light crisp.  The sweetness of the lobster adds contrast to the macaroni and cheese.   The dish is very filling. When I ordered, I imagined that the lobster tail would be the only lobster, but I was pleasantly surprised to find lobster throughout the macaroni and cheese.  I would most definitely order the Lobster Mac again.


If you have starved yourself all day, waiting to eat the Lobster Mac, you will feel it.  I felt the first few bites moved through my body. I could feel the energy from the yummy ingredients.  I would caution you. If you must eat healthy, or eat a special diet, then only have a few bites of this dish.   Although, it is super tasty, I would recommend also ordering biscuits or french toast to accompany it. You will need something sweet to cut the savory richness of this dish.

While waiting for my food, I saw other dishes being served.  Everything looks appetizing at Kitchen Cray. The Chicken and French Toast is wildly popular.  At least 50% of diners ordered Chicken and French Toast. I look forward to my next visit. I want to taste everything on the menu.


I visited Kitchen Cray because I heard so many great things about it.  I decided that DMV Black Restaurant Week was a great time to dine at Kitchen Cray.  Kitchen Cray is located in an office plaza in Lanham.  Although it is not in a shopping area, it was packed. I waited 1.5 hours for brunch on Saturday.  There was a DJ playing upbeat R&B music. The restaurant was bustling even at 3:00pm.  Go for brunch.  Go for lunch.  Now, on Fridays, go for dinner.  Eat and enjoy!

Bacon & Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween

B&B Halloween

Bacon & Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween

Ghosts, Goblins, Ghouls, and Great Gatsby inspired Gowns were all in the building at our first Halloween dinner party.   This year’s theme was “Bacon and Bellini Presents: A Hollywood Halloween”.  Guests were asked to dress as their favorite movie character or favorite movie star.   In attendance was a real life Bond girl, who knew 007 James Bond! There was also a Beyonce look alike in Formation, plus characters from Dreamgirls and Miss Congeniality.  One of the guys brought the movie Stomp the Yard to life.   Of course, the Wicked Witch of the West traveled all the way from OZ to make an appearance.  Gold gowns as seen in Harlem Nights flowed across the floor.   Plus, a certain Prince announced that he was Coming to America.  As for me, I dressed as my favorite superhero, Storm from Xmen.

I greeted my guests with signature Hollywood Halloween punch, made with Bacardi Dark Rum, Cranberry Juice, Orange Juice, and a few other secret ingredients.   Sangria was also available as an additional drink option.

For dinner, we dined on a variety of Italian dishes including Lasagna, Chicken Marsala, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Caesar Salad, House Salad with Italian dressing, fresh baked bread.   There were a multitude of desserts, including, my world famous homemade Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate frosting, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, and a pumpkin yellow cake with buttercream frosting.

Twix and Kit kat Halloween candy was in all directions all around the room.   Take a look at this sneak peak this fabulously frightening dinner party.

National Chocolate Day

Throughout the year, we celebrate many holidays, however, this holiday is one of the best.   October 28th is National Chocolate Day!  Chocolate is wonderful.  Chocolate is one of my best and closest friends.  Sweet, creamy, rich, fulfilling, and always puts a smile on my face.  Chocolate. Is. Everything.

Take a look at some of the Chocolate treats I am enjoying today, on National Chocolate Day.

Gourmet Chocolate

Gourmet Chocolates from SPAGnVOLA, a real chocolate factory!

Chocolate Wine

There is something for the wine connoisseur. Have you tasted Chocolate Wine??  It’s good!

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

I love to bake.  I made my favorite Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate frosting.  mmm mmm mmm

What is your favorite chocolate treat?


Happy Birthday Keiristin!

Happy Birthday Queen Keiristin!

September 28th is a holiday in the Bacon & Bellini world, because it is our Founder’s Birthday.  We picked some of the coolest locations in the Baltimore and DMV area to celebrate.

Here’s a glimpse of Keiristin’s birthday from her perspective.

First stop – Lunch at Gertrude’s
Gertrude’s is located in the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art.  Lunch on the patio was perfect.  A scenic view of the fountain and scultures was a wonderful backdrop to a scrumptous meal.

I had Gertie’s Crab Cake.  For those unfamiliar with the area, Baltimore has the best crabcakes in the nation.  Gertie’s is known for their Broiled “all-lump” Baltimore-style cake, served with basil-caper tartar sauce.  I also had bread, homemade fries, and fresh fruit. Simply. Delicious.   I understand why Baltimore’s crab cakes are so popular.


Lunch was topped off with Raspberry Sorbet surrounded by “Happy Birthday” written in Chocolate!

After lunch, I viewed the artwork inside of the Baltimore Museum of Art, including the new exhibit “Tomorrow is Another Day” by Mark Bradford.  Other well-known artist, Amy Sherald (known for her famous portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama) also has exhibits in the museum.
I also looked at a few pieces of Art by Picasso, and I fail to realize why his artwork is still viewed as the best. To me, it is just a painting….nothing remarkable.

Next Stop – Dinner
I had dinner with family and friends at The Smith on U Street in Washington, D.C.   The Smith was bustling with people.  I had the Blue Catfish Schnitzel with blackened spice Risotto, melted leeks, and zucchini. The dish was just OK. It was filling, but I will not order it again.

After dinner, to unwind, we went to Point of View on the rooftop of the W Hotel in Washington, D.C. POV has fabulous views of Washington, D.C. The music was current, the drinks were great, but average $17 each.
Overall, I enjoyed my birthday in both cities. I have a feeling that this new year will be great.


Queen Keiristin on her birthday

Jay-Z’s Made In America Culinary Competition

Jay-Z’s Made in America Culinary Experience


Keiristin, Restaurant Critic at Bacon and Bellini attends Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made In America Culinary Competition.

Jay-Z’s Made in America Culinary Competition was the perfect event for food lovers and food critics.   It was held on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at the Fillmore in Philadelphia and was an event was filled with 60 hopeful Food Trucks from Philadelphia, Maryland, Washington, DC and surrounding states vying for a chance to be one of the premiere food trucks at Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made in America Festival 2018.  To learn more about the festival, visit Made In America

The Competition

Each Food truck had their own booth at the competition.  The Food Truck was tasked with making their signature dish and display.  Tasters and judges went to each station to taste the food.  If we like the food, we would give the food truck a ticket.  We could give as many tickets as we want to our favorite Food Trucks.  The winners were based on a combination of taste tickets and judges feedback.  Only the winning trucks in each category will be allowed to participate in the Made in America Festival on September 1st & 2nd, 2018.

The Categories are Finger Foods, Sandwiches, Latin, Italian, Vegan, Desserts, and Miscellaneous.

The Food

My first taste was from ChiWaffles, a Chicken & Waffles Food truck.  I tasted the Red Velvet Waffle with Chicken and honey ranch dressing.  The waffle was sweet and moist. The chicken was seasoned and served crispy.  I didn’t know what to expect with the honey ranch dressing, but it was the perfect cool creamy accent to the waffle.  The dish was so good, I forgot to add syrup.  It was great just as served.  I really enjoyed ChiWaffles.  If you see this food truck, stop what you are doing and go buy some ChiWaffles.  To learn more about ChiWaffles, visit Chi Waffle

My next taste test was Lil Trent’s Grill, who showcased Philly Cheesesteaks with Cheese Wiz.  The steak was tender and juicy.  The crowd will enjoy these classic cheesesteaks. For more info, visit Lil Trent’s Grill on Facebook.

Since the festival will be held in Philadelphia, this Food Truck should be very busy.  Those attending from other cities will definitely get their cheesesteak fix here.

Not to be outdone, the Food Truck, Grubaholics also offers cheesesteaks.  However, they serve cheesesteaks with a twist.  Grubaholics is the home of the Jerk Chicken Cheesesteak.  They season and marinate their boneless chicken breasts for 24 hours.  The chicken is then grilled and served on a fresh Italian roll with pepper jack cheese and signature jerk sauce.  This jerk cheesesteak was hot!  I had to find water immediately after taking the first bite.  If you order this cheesesteak at a festival, be sure to have both napkins and water.  Visit Grubaholics at

Sum Pig food truck was up next.  Sum Pig served 14 hour hickory smoked grass fed beef brisket topped with their signature tangy BBQ sauce.  The brisket was tender and the sauce was tasty and tangy.  For more info visit Sum Pig

Let me tell you about this next booth.  Gigi & Big R Caribbean American Soul Food has some really good food.  They do not have fancy promotional products, but it does not matter.  Their food speaks for itself.  Their food tastes so authentic, and reminds me of eating dinner at someone’s home.  The meat was the star of the booth, as it was tender, juicy, and full of flavor.  They also served rice and beans and Macaroni and cheese.  The macaroni and cheese was just ok.  I think I got the bottom of the pan.  I imagine a fresh, hot pan of macaroni and cheese would taste a lot better.  For more info call (215)471-0164

I turn the corner and arrive at the Mama’s Meatballs, who served turkey and broccoli meatballs stuffed with Asiago cheese topped with pesto, arugula, parmesan and marinara.   The meatballs were juicy and taste like a full meal all in one.  For more info visit Mama’s Meatballs

Now to my favorite booth FMK, Frankie Mae Kitchen, which is booth #11 and the winning booth.  Their food is delicious! They were by far my favorite booth. I predicted they would win the competition.  Guess what…..they won!

Now I will tell you why.  Their menu consists of Chicken Delicioso, described as finger lickin’ Honey-Glazed Grilled CHicken served over a Cilantro Jasmine Rice and Sauteed Vegetable Medley.  The next dish is Shrimp Boat, described as Sweet Cherry Pepper Herb marinated Gulf Shrimp served over Cilantro Jasmine rice, Sauteed vegetable Medley and topped with Pico de Gallo.

The also serve a Slammin Salmon, a 5oz Grilled Atlantic Salmon, lightly dusted with the chef’s spices.

FMK’s food is served hot.  The food is visually stunning.  These are dishes you expect to see at a restaurant, but they pull it off effortlessly in a Food Truck setting.  Be sure to visit their booth.  You will be pleased.  Be sure to check them out online.  They are also available for catering! FMK

The next booth was Epicurean, the Jamaican food prepared by the makers of Epicurean Jerk Sauce.  This sauce can be found at Wholefoods. It is a very tasty, and very spicy. It will add character to your jerk chicken.  For more info visit Epicurean Jerk Sauce


Laughing Crab Catering sells crab cakes that are average at best.  They have lots of filler, and are just okay.

Next, I visited Trips Tasteful booth.  Trip is a wounded veteran who has the heart of a champion.  His BBQ sandwiches are great.


Now to desserts.  Ice Cream anyone?  What about homemade ice cream?  Well, there was ice cream galore!  Check out Bassetts Ice cream, established in 1861.


The best ice cream was from Dre’s.  They even had sweet potato pie flavored ice cream! Find out more about Dre’s at Dre’s Ice Cream


Of course, at the Festival, you will find the best natural popsicles from King of Pops.

The purpose of the culinary competition was to select the food trucks who would be able to participate in the MADE IN AMERICA music festival on September 1st & 2nd, 2018.

Live the festival and Experience the food.   Have a great Labor Day weekend.


Miscellaneous Category

FMK – 1st place winners, Brotherly Grubb, Laughing Crab Catering, The Dump N Roll,  The Cow and the Curd, Epicurean

Finger Foods Category

Chewy’s, The Little Sicilian, Humpty’s Dumplings, Trip’s Tasteful


El Tlaloc, Tica’s Tacos, Mi Pueblito Tacos


Grubaholics, Mama’s Meatballs, ChiWaffles, Sol Kantina, Innovative Catering, Lil Trent’s, GiGi’s & Big R’s Soul Food


Authentik Byrek Food Truck


Paper Mill Spuritto, Skinny Buddha


Bassett’s Ice Cream, Ben & Jerry’s, Dre’s Water Ice & Ice Cream, King of Pop’s, The Snowball Experience, Lil Pop Shop

Check out Bacon And Bellini on Bacon and Bellini Youtube to watch video coverage of the event and to see an exclusive interview with the winners who received the most votes FMK!


Milk and Cheese

I am already a fan of Milk and Honey, and today, I became a fan of Milk and Cheese.  Milk and Cheese is the latest restaurant in the Milk and Honey restaurant empire.  I had lunch with some of my Eat the City Dmv friends.  We had a great time and shared a lot of laughs while eating a hearty lunch.  We were all pleased with our meals.

Milk and Cheese is located in the former Milk and Honey location in Beltsville, is a good restaurant for both quick lunches and extended lunches.  There are a few differences. First, there is no set menu, as the menu changes often.  You must follow their instagram page (milkandcheesedmv) to see the new menu items of the week.  I ordered a Shrimp Po’Boy,  which is a footlong, and only costs $10.99.  The shrimp are large, hot and crunchy.  The bread is fresh, the sauce is on point.

I also ordered the housemade truffle chips, which are $4.99.  These chips are a hit.


I finished my meal with the Cap’n Crunch Milkshake.  It was delish.  I’m convinced it was made with at least a ½ cup of cereal.  This milkshake is thick!

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Milk and Cheese.  I will certainly be back.