Holy Burritos

For the grand re-opening of Bethesda’s California Tortilla on Tuesday, October 9, you may have heard that the restaurant was giving away free burritos and a soda (see my blog, Oct. 2). Given the humongous line, you may have been one of the many who cashed in on the deal yourself.

So just how many burritos did California Tortilla give away? Co-owner Pam Felix puts the total at almost 2,000.

“It was crazy—in a great way,” Felix said. The chain apparently always dispenses free burritos when it opens new restaurants, but even though this was a re-opening, “it was by far the busiest free burrito day we’ve ever had,” she said.

So how much did the massive treat set back California Tortilla? “It cost us in the thousands, so we’ll be really happy when people start giving us money,” joked Felix.

Co-owner Perry Smith leaves Matchbox

Perry Smith, one of the four original owners of Matchbox Vintage Pizza Bistro, has been bought out by his partners and has left the company to pursue other ventures.

Matchbox Food Group owns four pizza restaurants (including one in Rockville), with two in the works—plus the Capitol Hill eateries DC-3 and Ted’s Bulletin.

Smith, who lives in Chevy Chase, said the buy-out was “entirely amicable” and that he found it “hard to explain” why he initiated the split. “We’ve been in this a long time,” he said, noting that it was more than 10 years ago that the foursome got started on their first pizza restaurant. “I have other ideas, I have a list of things,” he said, adding that he’s formed a holding company (called Joe’s Turn LLC) that will be doing research and development for potential new projects.

In the meantime, now that’s a free agent, he said he’s been spending a lot of gratifying time coaching his son’s baseball team.

Hot Dog! Whatta Deal!

This isn’t a freebie (see burritos, above), but Bethesda’s Bold Bite is offering students a great lunch deal. (Given the proximity, it’ll primarily benefit kids on open-campus break from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.) For $5, students get two hot dogs, a small order of fries and a soda. That’s weekdays, from 11 a.m. to noon, at 4910-B Fairmont Avenue.

And for adults, co-owner Alonso Roche has started baking homemade focaccia, which comes alongside the upscale hot dog shop’s salads. Roche changes it up everyday; I had the version with garlic, basil, parmesan, fresh tomatoes and a dash of Spanish paprika. Muy bueno.  

Bangkok One closed; Rock Bottom undergoing renovation

If you attended the Taste of Bethesda, you may have noticed that one restaurant on the list of tent assignments was a no-show: Bangkok One, on 4928 Cordell Ave., which recently went out of business.

Meanwhile, a couple of blocks away at 7900 Norfolk Avenue, Rock Bottom Brewery is getting a facelift, which includes new restrooms, a new TV and sound system, new flooring and carpeting, refinished table tops, spiffed-up booths and more. The restaurant will remain open during the 30-day renovation (the work is being done in the wee hours of the night), and Rock Bottom is planning a grand re-opening sometime at the beginning of November.

James Beard Foundation fundraiser at Jaleo Bethesda

“I Love to Eat,” is something lots of us say everyday, and now the catchphrase is the title of a one-man biographical play on the life of James Beard that’s playing at Bethesda’s Round House Theatre. The show debuts October 17 and continues through November 4.

In tandem with the play, James Beard award-winning chef Jose Andres and the James Beard Foundation are hosting a fundraising dinner to support the foundation’s scholarship program, which helps aspiring culinary professionals.  

Tickets, which cost $225, include a 3 p.m. matinee of the show on Sunday, October 28, followed by a reception and dinner at Bethesda’s Jaleo. Dinner can also be purchased without theater tickets for $170.

For tickets to the show and dinner, call the Round House Theatre box office at 240-644-1100, weekdays from noon to 5 p.m. For dinner only, call Jaleo Bethesda at 301-913-0003 or email. For more information, click here.