Updated: Nov. 3, 2016 at 12:34 a.m.
HalfSmoke, located at 651 Florida Ave. NW, was recently opened with the goal of bringing District residents a new way to eat sausage for lunch and dinner, not just breakfast.
HalfSmoke’s menu is filled with choices, so many that I had trouble deciding what to order. HalfSmoke is a fast-casual eatery, set up like Chipotle, with lots of ways for customers to enjoy sausage. To start, customers have to pick the base: bun, bowl, salads or flatbread, each for $10. Then, they have a choice of pork, chicken, beef or veggie sausages.
I decided on a half-smoke – a half-pork, half-beef sausage native to D.C. – tucked inside a warm, toasted bun, but ordering got trickier after that. The toppings, which are all at no extra charge, range from mozzarella and rosemary aioli to mustard slaw and diced onions. After much deliberation, I ordered my sausage sandwich smothered in beer cheese and topped with scallions.
HalfSmoke offers a variety of side dishes to accompany the sausage, including sweet potato tater tots ($4), street corn ($4) and roasted brussel sprouts ($5). I eventually decided on mac-n-cheese bites ($5) because they seemed like the perfect twist on a classic comfort food.
I watched while everything was made right in front of my eyes and then paid. There’s no waiting around for a waiter at HalfSmoke.
When I walked into the seating area, I felt as if I had entered the coolest after-school hangout spot – the eatery is filled with comfortable couches, board games of all kinds, a large foosball table and televisions. They even have a photo booth set up in the back so diner can snap pictures with whoever they are dining with.
The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows, which allowed a refreshing amount of sunlight to stream in and gave the restaurant a homey, relaxed feel.
Once I sat down at a corner table, I was finally able to taste my food. The sausage offered the perfect mixture of spicy and smoky flavors, and its bun was warm and fluffy. I was also satisfied with my choice of toppings: The beer cheese had the perfect tangy flavor without being overly cheesy, and the scallions added a tasty crunch with a subtle onion flavor.
And the mac-n-cheese bites were a delightful addition: They were perfectly crispy on the outside and gooey with a hint of spice on the inside.
HalfSmoke also offers a decadent dessert menu with funnel cakes with a variety of toppings and milkshakes of all kinds. But unfortunately, my meal was too filling to partake in any dessert, even though I was tempted.
The place was fairly full for a Saturday at 3 p.m. with a mix of college students, older couples and families alike.
HalfSmoke may be a bit of a trek – it’s by the Shaw Metro stop on the Green and Yellow lines – but it’s the perfect place for college students to hang out in a homey environment and enjoy a flavorful, affordable meal.