I think I've mentioned this in other reviews, but I work in Georgetown, so a lot of my food reviews will be restaurants in DC instead of Maryland (where I live). Employees at my workplace get a 45-minute break, so if we haven't brought our lunch, we always frequent places that provide fast (and preferably fresh) food. Because let's face it, who wants to waste 20 minutes of their break standing in a line?
Enter Cafe Tu-o-Tu. You may think it's a quaint little French bistro, but it's actually a tiny eatery run by a Turkish family. The "tu-o-tu" part is a reference to 202, aka DC's area code. I'd like to think of this place as a hidden gem of Georgetown. It's situated right by the Four Seasons hotel, which is a landmark to indicate that you're now entering Georgetown. Its location at the edge of Georgetown means that it's noticed by shoppers and tourists, but it doesn't get insanely busy like La Madeline or Clyde's or Johnny Rocket's.
Cafe Tu-o-Tu sells breakfast items such as sandwiches, bagels, and omelettes, but I am more familiar with their lunch fare, which include salads, sandwiches, wraps, paninis & melts. In the winter, they carry soup--usually lentil, which is fantastically creamy and full of rich-bodied spice. They also have appetizers and a few desserts like brownies, cookies, and baklava. As for drinks, they have soda, juice, and bottled water. Or you can get coffee (Turkish, cappuccino, espresso, machiato, etc), tea, or hot chocolate. Refills for coffee are $0.50.
This place does get busy around lunch hour. The best times seem to be from 1:30-3:30 pm if you don't want to wait in a 3-6 person line. The building is a converted townhouse so there is not much seating. Everything here is bright and clean. Outside, there are about three tables that seat about 3-4 people each, and inside, there are about four tables in the back, which also seat 1-4 people. The building is non-smoking but patrons can smoke outside. I am not sure if there is upstairs seating as I usually get carryout. There is also free wireless.
Now for the food. If you are dining in, you place your order and they give you a number and bring your food out to you, like at La Madeline. If you happen to get there and you are pressed for time, then a salad is the way to go. Food (fillings) here is prepped ahead of time and are displayed in Pyrex dishes and bowls behind a glass container. So with a salad you will be out of there in less than 5 minutes. Salads come in regular or small sizes. I've tried something called the Curry Chicken Salad. At least, I think it was curry chicken. It was insanely mustardy. I've had better luck with the Salad Nicoise, which smelled fragrant and was enjoyable. I would have liked more dressing to go with it, though.
I skip the sandwiches here because I prefer wraps and paninis. They use French baguette for some of their sandwiches. While I love French bread, I usually don't like it as a sandwich bread. The bread used for the paninis is ciabatta, which is my favorite bread for sandwiches. If they are out of ciabatta they'll use French. All sandwiches, wraps, and paninis come with a bag of Lay's potato chips. I mentioned that all the fillings are made ahead of time, but they assemble your sandwich/wrap/panini to order.
The only sandwich I have tried is the Kofte, which I liken to falafel, only it's made with grilled and herbed ground lamb. It's served in a pita with tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo. I do like this one but it's sold out a lot.
My favorite wraps are the Karma (grilled chicken strips, lettuce, avocado, sun dried tomato pesto) and Georgetown Wrap (grilled chicken strips, lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and red pepper spread). The Chicken Hummus Wrap is great as well, and is so much better than Baked & Wired's wrap--not to mention cheaper. All of them are flavorful, filling, and aren't too heavy. They also are prepared well and don't leak out excess sauce or anything like that.
Now if I want something a little more fattening, I get a panini. I've tried the Fusion (grilled chicken, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers with sun dried tomato pesto), Anjelique (grilled chicken, onion, sauteed mushrooms, provolone, mayo with sun dried tomatoes), and Aphrodite (fresh mozzarella, fresh baby spinach, roasted red peppers, mushrooms with red pepper spread). The Anjelique is one that I get the most often because I'm lactose intolerant. All of these are deliciously crispy and they have a proper panini press.
The staff here is friendly. The owners must have a busy social life outside of work because if they're not doing food prep, they are on the phone, always. They usually have three people behind the counter. One takes the orders and the other two do food prep. They accept most major credit cards and there seems to be no minimum. The least I have charged here is a wrap and with tax it comes to over $8. However, with food and drink, expect to pay anywhere from $10-15. They have a tip box at the register but I don't think you are required to tip if you dine in.
Overall, I recommend this place if you are looking for a small place that serves up a good lunch and free wireless. You can easily waste a few hours here with your laptop or with a friend.