Zola Wine & Kitchen, the wine shop and cooking school, which is located behind the original Zola restaurant and adjacent to the Spy Museum, has recently started doing lunch. It offers a $12 dollar lunch deal, prepared by its own chief, which includes your choice of salad or soup and a hot or cold sandwich or entree. You can also order a la carte.
Lunch is served up between 11:30am - 2:30pm , and the open kitchen is a flurry of activity with between 3 -5 cooks bustling around. I've now been twice; and although the food on my latest visit could have used a tad more seasoning and spice, this is a creative and unique weekday lunch option if you are in the Gallery Place area.
The vibe is great; the staff acts genuinely happy to see you--a rarity at many DC lunch spots. The shared seating is relatively plentiful for the area. And above all else the food options are varied, showcase fresh ingredients, and are prepared to order (with the exception of the special of the day).
On first trip, I started with the mixed green salad. This half plate sized portion arrived tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette with seasonable greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers,and radishes. For my main course, I opted for the house-cured salami and sharp provolone sandwich--salty cured meats were offset by the crunch of the seeded semolina baguette. A fellow diner ended up ordering it herself after seeing this beautiful sandwich.
On the latest trip, I had an indulgent cream of broccoli soup, and the daily special: shrimp tacos with red cabbage and avocado. The tacos needed some spice; maybe a salsa. While the shrimp were the perfect consistency and the guacamole was tasty, the tortilla was somewhat bland and there was nothing to bring the flavors together.
Some friends have had luck with the quiche and the grilled cheese, but suggest staying away from the mini burgers.
Zola Kitchen also offers a handful of dessert options, including a red velvet whoopie pie for $2.50. This is on my short list for next time.
All and all this is a great bet for lunch. On rainy days, there is virtually no line; on all other days, get there right at 11:30 or after 1:30 to avoid a wait.