Where To Eat in Washington, D.C.
Most New Yorkers find themselves in D.C. from time to time for business reasons, to visit friends, or as patriotic sightseers. I found myself in the nation's capital last week for the first time in a couple of years to receive an award on behalf of Fork in the Road at the Association of Food Journalists. I shouldn't have waited so long to visit.
I hit the ground running on Wednesday and, apart from some convention-related events, never stopped eating till I boarded the Bolt Bus ($13 down, $17 back!) on Saturday afternoon, eating more than a dozen restaurant meals in the process.
I found a new energy to the food scene there and almost didn't have a single bad bite. In fact, Washington, with its eclectic mix of eateries in all price ranges, beats New York in a few categories, though it pains me to admit it.
Washington hasn't always enjoyed a reputation as a great food town. Years ago, I traveled there on behalf of Gourmet to seek out West African restaurants, of which D.C. has a greater range than New York. Even before that, I'd gone to Washington and surrounding areas to eat Vietnamese and Ethiopian food -- the city has always been unsurpassed in these categories on the Eastern seaboard.
But oftentimes, I found the food lackluster there. Adams Morgan, known for its multiplicity of ethnic restaurants, had few really good ones, and the prices were elevated, and while the lettered streets north of the White House had plenty of places aimed at lobbyists, legislators, and visiting business people, most of these -- with the exception of a Jose Andres place or two like Minibar -- were rather unmemorable and more expensive than they should have been. Sadly, other restaurants were branches of places headquartered in other cities. And much of Washington was simply too poor to have many restaurants of any sort. (I've seen the same thing other places: Jackson, Mississippi, for example.)
But this visit, I tweeted requests for recommendations, consulted with friends and colleagues, and assembled a list of places that turned out to be rather amazing. Here are my suggestions for what to eat in D.C. right now.