City Food Guide: Washington, DC
July 20, 2012 10:59 am ET
From the dawn of our nation, gourmands and foodies have been settling in Washington, DC for a true melting pot of flavor. From the ethnic foods of Southeast Asia that have settled down by the foot of the Capital Building, to the spices and flavor of Western Africa in the hipster chic H Street Corridor Washington is slowly stealing New York’s culinary crown.
In this second installment of our City Guides, GM Northeast will help you tame the beast within your belly with a look at DC’s best eats. Just like how DC ran the complete gambit of clothing styles from over the top couture to hipster fashions galore, they also have a diverse spectrum of foods. Here’s an inside look at three food types that will help you master the district.
American- It’s not the land of barbeque or brisket that makes DC so spectacular; it’s their truly innovative chefs who are putting a modern flare on classic fare that make it such a hit! From burgers to beer DC offers a refined taste on all American classics. Want a cheeseburger that will envelop your taste buds? Enter Spike Mendelsohn. Top Chef Season 4 bad boy has laid major roots in DC with his burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery. With a cornucopia of various burgers including the Obama burger, featuring apple wood smoked bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and a delicious horseradish mayo, Chef Spike has taken Capitol Hill by storm. Make sure not to miss out on their plethora of sauces and exotic mayos in pump machines before you leave.
Do you swear by breakfast and lunch? Then make sure to stop by Ted’s Bulletin for a classic feel of Americana. Award winning owners of Matchbox, a gourmet pizza parlor, have another hit on their hands with this “tip of the hat” to the 1920’s! From adult milkshakes including the grasshopper, to a whimsical breakfast menu that includes homemade pop tarts, this menu has fans coming back time and time again. If it’s your first visit try make sure to order a sloppy joe!
Asian- If DC has its degree in American food, it mastered in Asian delicacy. With a diverse culture from all over Southeast Asia, DC has built a reputation for delivering authentic flavors with a modern twist. Do you crave the excitement for the new and exciting? Kushi will literally revolutionize the way you think of an Asian restaurant. Located in the heart of Vernon Square in DC, Kushi offers an evolving menu of monumental proportions. You have the ability to choose from their coal grill, their wood grill, or their sushi bar for a taste that is both authentic and rich. Make sure to order the salt encrusted fish of the day that’s cooked over their wood fire, the incredible flavor offers both salty and umami for those with a developed pallet.
Are you looking to be enveloped by the authentic culture of Japan? Makoto Restaurant is as close as you can get without being in Japan; the lack of windows and traditionally dressed staff transport you to 1800 Japan. Tucked away in a small neighborhood in Washington, Makoto is DC’s premiere sushi restaurant and best kept secret. The dark unlit Iron Gate hides a small dining room for no more than 20. They may have a traditional menu of sashimi and nagiri but they execute it flawlessly. Make sure not to let your excitement get the best of you, take your shoes of in the initial cloak room or they will ask you to leave.
African- By far the best food to eat while you’re in Washington, DC is Ethiopian food, and for that you’ll need to venture down either U or H streets. First, let’s discuss Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant . Located in an exciting part of town, U Street, Dukem offers modern flavors without sacrificing on any of the traditional tastes. The menu, while confusing, doesn’t have one bad choice. If it’s your first time simply pick out a dish with a protein you like, and enjoy an eccentric meal where silverware is a social faux pas. Make sure to remember that the term “spicy” is a matter of opinion, and that even though you may be able to tough out Chipotle “spicy,” Ethiopian “spicy” is a whole different beast.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed Ethiopian atmosphere, and are willing to travel into DC’s inner belly, then make the trip to Ethiopic Restaurant. A more refined restaurant, Ethiopic focuses on providing quality ingredients that won’t hinder the flavor. A must for any carnivore is their Awaze Tibs, cubes prime beef sautéed in berbere sauce, onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Be warned; behind the succulent and rich flavor of the prime beef lies an incredible heat that is sure to sneak up on you. Make sure to try one of their West African beers they have imported to enhance your meal.
Have more food suggestions? Add them in our comments.
Featured photo by Nick Nguyen.