A Foodie's Guide to D.C.

A Foodie's Guide to D.C.

Celebrity chefs, unique dining experiences, and stylish restaurants are on the menu in D.C., where the dining scene is considered one of the best in the country. State Dinners and power lunches aren’t all you’ll find in the nation's capital. Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or the world’s best chicken and waffles, D.C.’s got it!

 

In D.C., you’ll find everything your foodie heart desires. You can visit the restaurants of world renowned culinary masters like Jose Andres, host of “Made in Spain” and new up and coming chefs like Top Chef finalists who are vying to make their mark in the highly competitive world of gastronomy with creative, and edible, works of art.

 

I wouldn’t call myself a foodie because that would imply I’m some kind of hipster, which simply isn’t true since I don’t wear skinny jeans or use Instagram. I do, however, enjoy good food and today I wanted to share some of my favorite D.C. eats with all of you.

 

A taste of home

 

I’m going to start with favorite restaurant in D.C., also owned by my favorite chef Jose Andres -- Jaleo! Jaleo means revelry or uproar in Spanish. The painting by John Singer Sargent ,“El Jaleo,” served as inspiration for the concept. As some of you know, I am from Barcelona, Spain so my top pick may be a little biased, but the food was so authentic and reminiscent of my grandmother’s cooking that it instantly became my go-to restaurant of choice. Don’t just take my word for it, you can read the rave reviews for yourself.

 

A trend I’ve noticed throughout many D.C. restaurants is the move towards “tapas” style experience where plates are smaller but better enjoyed when shared with good friends and conversation. The food was delicious, the service impeccable, and prepared surprisingly quickly! I visited two of Jose Andres’ restaurants and I have to comment on how efficient their kitchens are. Within only a few minutes of ordering our different tapas they started arriving at our table. I recommend the Flauta de jamón Ibérico Fermín (Flauta bread brushed with tomato and extra virgin olive oil, with cured ham from the famous, black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain) and the Lomo Ibérico de bellota con manzanas (Fresh loin from the legendary, acorn-fed, black-footed Ibérico pigs of Spain served with roasted apples). And it should go without saying, you MUST order the Patatas Bravas! Diced potatoes with a spicy tomato and alioli sauce.

 

Flauta de jamón Ibérico Fermín

 

Lomo Ibérico de bellota con manzanas

 

Grub Med

 

Another restaurant belonging to Jose Andres that I had the luxury of visiting was Zaytinya, where you can indulge in Mediterranean tapas (or Mezze as they are called) inspired by Turkish, Lebanese, and Greek cuisines. Jose Andres never fails to impress and much like Jaleo, it was one of the best D.C. dining experiences by far.

 

Zaytinya

 

It was so good we forgot to take a picture before starting.

 

La Bouffe

 

A great restaurant recommended to me by my internship supervisor is Central Michel Richard which offers some traditional American cuisine with a French flair. Located on Pennsylvania Avenue, it is a more upscale but relaxed dining experience. On a side note, if you are sitting with your back to the bar facing the large window overlooking the street, there is a mirror that runs the length of the room along the top and is angled so you can see the rest of the restaurant including the kitchen! You can watch as the server picks up your plate from the handoff counter and delivers it to your table. I recommend the hanger steak au poivre with onion carbonara. The “onion carbonara” is truly unique.

 

Hanger steak au poivre with onion carbonara.

 

Loup de mer (sea bass) with mushrooms.

 

BRASIU!

 

For all the carnivores out there who own a pair of meat sweats (special sweat pants with hidden pockets throughout used to store meat), Fogo de Chao is a must! Fogo de Chao is a Brazilian churrascaria and steakhouse with different locations throughout the U.S. and Brazil. Once you sit down you are given a card, one side is green and the other side is red. As long as the green side is facing up you’ll have servers coming to your table with different cuts of meat on a skewer and will slice it right on to your plate. Forever. Until you tell them to stop. It’s all you can eat! It’s a worthwhile unique dining experience that is guaranteed to leave you with gout!

 

I still dream about it...

 

Even the salad bar was very good!

 

Wallet friendly foods

 

While the above mentioned restaurants can be a bit pricey, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives in D.C. Food trucks are all the rage and the website Food Truck Fiesta will be your Sherpa through the land of motorized kitchens.

 

This is outside of Metro Center Station

 

Another uniquely D.C. restaurant is called Busboys and Poets, with a large variety of dietary options, all served by a local hipster! All jokes aside, the food was really good and they also have events held in the evenings like musicians and documentary screenings in the back. It’s where all the cool cats hang out. I recommend the Pan-Fried Chicken, herb cornmeal-encrusted chicken breast with a wild mushroom ragout; served with mashed potatoes and spinach.

 

Pan-Fried Chicken

 

Lastly, I’m a fiend for some good Vietnamese Pho and while there aren’t too many Vietnamese restaurants in D.C. proper, the best I’ve had in the city was at Pho 14 in Columbia Heights. Pho is a flavorful Viet soup with rice noodles and diced scallions among other deliciousness. For the uninitiated, I recommend going with the basic beef Pho but you can be as adventurous as you like. The vermicelli bowls with grilled meat is also a favorite of mine; you can’t go wrong with either one, give it a try!

 

I could eat this everyday!

 

Honorable mention goes to Jose Andres’ flagship restaurant, Minibar. This place is out of my range but I’d love to visit one day. It is the very cutting edge in culinary experimentation where food, science, and art converge. It is notoriously difficult to get a reservation with only six seats and two seating areas in the restaurant, six nights a week, but check out this video of a creation by Jose Andres. Simply amazing!

 

There are so many great restaurants in D.C. and these are only a few of the places I had the chance to visit. Your internship will fly by so don’t leave anything you want to do for another day, go out and do it!

 

 

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