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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
4.5
6.0
$25
Sandwiches, Baked goods, Sweet drinks
Café

Hours
Mon–Fri 7:00am–8:00pm
Sat–Sun 10:00am–7:00pm

Features Delivery, outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx

www.camillescafe.com

Downtown
1420 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 737-9727

Penn Quarter
650 F St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 639-9727
Camille’s Sidewalk Café
Fast-food goes nouvelle-Californian—we recommend that you stick to the smoothies

Camille’s fits in well in the middle of workaday Washington: it’s healthy, quick, and an unabashed child of the chain-restaurant world. Although the classic ornaments of a massive chain still dominate Camille’s Verizon Center shop (the menu is standardized across locations, the napkins and cups are branded with the Camille’s logo, and requests for ingredient substitutions are met with hesitation), the menu and atmosphere cling to the delusion that Camille’s is above all that.

But it’s not. Camille’s was started as a small café in the plains states, has since expanded to 35 U.S. states, and is eyeing various locations in Latin America. The food is American chic, with a few Wolfgang-Puck-and-progeny touches such as flatbread pizza and panini. All of the ingredients are fresh, and the pairings between meats, vegetables, and cheeses are made with an eye on current fads. The “Bangkok Thai” wrap, for example, is stuffed with an only slightly unpredictable mix of chicken, provolone (?!), water chestnuts, spouts, carrots, and crunchy bits of noodle. It’s a disappointingly flat attempt at Asian fusion.

But the panini are Camille’s most disappointing option. The sandwiches are generally pre-made (so you can’t ask for extra tomatoes, or for the mayonnaise to be held), and toasted when you place your order. The habanero turkey is overstuffed (which is a nice, filling touch, even if it deviates from the European-style panini) with middling meat; and cheese, which emerges in a drippy, orange ooze, is only one or two notches up from pre-sliced American. Camille’s also aims to improve upon its fast-food roots by offering a handful of dry tricolor corn chips and a pot of (very ordinary) homemade salsa in lieu of fries or chips.

Camille’s smoothies, on the other hand, are fresh and delicious. The drinks are gently sweetened with honey rather than syrup or ice cream. The banana-berry flavor, especially, is well-proportioned and refreshing, making it a better choice than what can be found at strictly-smoothie franchises. But for sandwiches, why not go somewhere local? The bread will be better, the cheese less industrial, and the corporate logos less overbearing.

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