Friday, April 5, 2013


We tried to make a return trip to Energy Kitchen to see if we liked it apart from the free preview night, but found that it is closed on the weekends. It is a huge pet peeve of mine when restaurants in Downtown DC are not open on weekends.  I know that the area isn't as bustling as it is during the week, but there are people who live in Downtown that would like lunch options.  That's why I'm glad Boloco (just around the corner from Energy Kitchen) was open on Saturday.

Boloco is a regional chain of "globally inspired burritos."  They have a location in Bethesda and one in Downtown.  We were really impressed with the look and feel of the place.  From the reclaimed materials to the free wifi and plugs at each table, they make an effort to make you want to sit and make yourself comfortable.  They even have chargers you can borrow to juice up your e-devices.

We were also big fans of the DC-inspired art.  You can even buy it on their website.

Another cool feature is the different menus for different categories of customers: regulars, first-timers, kids, and catering.  The first-timers menu explains the concept. First, you pick a size (original, small, mini, or 2x mini bundle) and whether you want a burrito or a bowl.  Then you choose a flavor combo (from buffalo to Bangkok thai). Finally, you choose a protein (from white meat chicken to tofu).  You may also be tempted by their selection of shakes (mmmmmm nutella shake) and smoothies.  Once you've figured it out, you place your order at the register and then they'll call your name when it's ready.  If you've called in or ordered online, they've got an employee wearing a red hat that will help you out and allow you to avoid the line (cool huh?).

I tried a Memphis BBQ-style bowl: a blend of pinto beans, rice, sweet BBQ sauce, and coleslaw topped off grilled steak.  The steak was over-done (no pink at all), but the rest of the bowl was a winner.  I added some hot sauce to balance out the sweetness of the BBQ sauce and it made for a sweet and spicy bowl o' fun.  It's unusual to find BBQ flavors in a burrito bowl, and I dug it.

B tried the teriyaki-style bowl with chicken.  This is much more in line with a typical rice bowl but B was impressed with the bold flavors and healthy dose of veggies.

I'm not sure that Boloco is a go-out-of-your-way-because-it's-amazing place, but it is a very solid lunch choice if you're in Downtown.  Particularly if you're there on a Saturday and everything else is closed!

Second Thoughts from B

While those of us who live downtown might get a little miffed that certain eateries are dark outside of normal business hours, I get it.  The golden triangle is bustling at noon on a Tuesday, but is a ghost town at that time on the weekends.  It is one of those chicken/egg things that I won't attempt to solve here.

Like Energy Kitchen's hours, Boloco's cuisine and business model certainly centers around the working lunch.  It is no surprise that it is designed to be eaten quickly, over a laptop, for multiple days in a row.  The fact that the food had an impressive depth of flavor was a bonus.  That it seemed geared to the health-conscious was a revelation.

Between the very non-American serving sizes, the calorie counts, and the emphasis on fresh and natural ingredients, I can see why Boloco might build a strong following among the desk bound.  I felt like I was paying for quality rather than quantity, which is certainly rare in this type of place.  I loved that you could order online for pickup and choose from a fairly diverse selection, all while leaving the guilt of another fried mystery meat sandwich or over-salted soup at the door.  As someone who is at the mercy of a government cafeteria during his workdays, I have to admit that Boloco made me a bit jealous.
Boloco on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

VC said...

Boloco is across the street from my office and a great lunch spot! I've pretty much tried everything and the only good meat is the white meat chicken. They don't really have any typical burrito-type options (the Classic Mexican is good but bland), but then again I guess Chipotle, Qdoba, Baja Fresh, and Well Dressed are all within a few blocks.
That's why the spicy buffalo or tikka masala are good options!