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5 Bites of Washington, D.C.

5 Bites of Washington, D.C.

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In recent years, Washington, D.C.'s restaurant scene has steadily increased its number of up-and-coming dining options. From quaint cafés to rooftop bars to food trucks, D.C. is now a bustling hub of charming and colorful eateries that offer endless helpings of great food and drink.

Just in time for election season, The Daily Meal has rounded up a list of five great places to grab a bite while exploring the city's historic streets. Whether you find yourself lost in Little Ethiopia, stomping up the steps of Capitol Hill, or touring the vibrant sidewalks of U Street, D.C's neighborhoods offer distinct dining options to satisfy all palates and cravings.

Breakfast: If you're looking for a morning pick me up, Peregrine is an ideal spot to grab a coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, mocha, or your preference of microbrews. The café is conveniently located along a side stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue (yes, the same street at The White House), and thus is a great starting point for a day of sight-seeing. Typical (but delicious) coffee shop pastries like croissants and muffins are also available to round out your morning meal.

Lunch: Southern comfort food die-hards rejoice at the Texas-style barbecue dished out at Hill Country. Grab a meal ticket and order up a cafeteria-style feast of tangy cucumber salad, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, ribs, and, of course, their signature brisket, which is slathered in a barbecue sauce made of vinegar, ketchup, and peach preserves. Desserts include a banana pudding and a jaw-dropping 1-pound serving of red velvet cake. Hill Country also hosts vibrant happy hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 p.m. until close, where diners and party-goers can head downstairs to the live music stage to gulp down a round of drinks and enjoy the tunes of great, foot-stomping bands.

Drinks: Jaleo, the Spanish restaurant of José Andrés, is the perfect spot to grab a couple of cocktails along with plates of scrumptious tapas. The restaurant has a colorful, eclectic interior, which includes foosball tables, and the bar at Jaleo has iPad menus where guests not only select their choices but can read about the originating region and production of their drink. The gin and tonics are the signature drink, along with a collection of concoctions that infuse ingredients like coriander blossom, grapefruit, white pepper, and tarragon.

Dinner: If Indian food is what you crave, spice up your dinner plans by making a reservation at Rasika West End. The atmosphere is upscale but youthful and the food is indisputably memorable. Try the restaurant's signature palak chaat to start, crispy spinach leaves that are blanched and coated with chickpea flour, tamarind, and yogurt. The tamarind black cod and Malai fish curry are certain to win over the hearts of seafood lovers, while the gulab jamun dessert is delightful.

Midnight Snack: Ben's Chili Bowl is a culinary and historic landmark in Washington and should grace the itineraries of all D.C. visitors. This U Street neighborhood joint, which famously kept its doors open during the civil rights movement, is dear to the hearts of locals as well as luminaries like actor Bill Cosby and President Obama, and was a regular hangout for the late civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., the late jazz musician Miles Davis, and the late jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. Ben's Chili Bowl is open until 2 a.m. during the week and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, giving hungry late-night diners the chance to chow down on the signature chili hot dogs, half smokes, salmon cakes, and scrapple until the wee hours of the morning.

Clare Sheehan is Junior Writer at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @clare_sheehan

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Instant Pot Crab Dip

For today’s recipe I used both crab and Old Bay Seasoning to create an amazing cheesy crab dip. This dip tastes great with sliced baguette, crackers, celery or chips. It makes a lot so if you’re hosting a party it’s perfect. If not, you can halve the recipe or even freeze the leftovers.

I warmed the dip in the Instant Pot using the pot in pot method. I used my 7 inch by 3 inch Fat Daddios pan* for the dip and it worked perfectly. You can also make this in your crockpot (I prefer a 3 quart crockpot for this recipe) with great results!

What is lump crab?

Lump crab meat is composed of smaller or broken pieces of jumbo lump, along with other smaller pieces of body meat. It’s white and has a delicate flavor. Lump crab meat guarantees those big, tasty bites of crab. If possible stay away from the canned crab meat. Or if you do use canned crab meat use the refrigerated canned stuff found by the fresh fish. The best choice is to look for the fresh crab meat sold in a 1 pound plastic tub from the seafood counter.

What is Old Bay Seasoning?

Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that originated in Baltimore, Maryland. The seasoning mix includes celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika. It tastes great on seafood! You can find Old Bay Seasoning next to the other spices at your grocery store. You can also make your own Old Bay Seasoning at home.

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D.C. Statehood: What the Constitution Says

A rally near the U.S. Capitol in March urged statehood for Washington, D.C.

Jo Craven McGinty

The prospect of turning Washington, D.C., into the 51st state has opponents on the offensive.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the D.C. statehood bill known as H.R. 51 in April along party lines, with Democratic proponents saying the city’s residents deserve full self-rule and representation in Congress. The Senate, control of which is split 50-50 between the parties, hasn’t voted on its companion bill, S. 51.

Objections to the measure range from claims the District of Columbia is too small for statehood to charges that adding two U.S. senators in an area that traditionally votes for Democrats represents a partisan power grab to observations that the seat of federal government is located outside state boundaries for a reason—to protect it from interference.

As far as the Constitution is concerned, any area can become a state as long as two conditions are met: Congress must approve the request, and if the new state will be carved from one that already exists, that state must give its consent.

“That’s happened a lot,” said Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who is an expert in constitutional law. “Vermont was part of New York. Maine was part of Massachusetts. Kentucky was part of Virginia.”

Community Reviews

"The apes have always governed us, and our complaints are simply monkey chatter."

The local library had a fistful of Gore Vidal&aposs to pick from, but I had already decided I was going to pick up this novel for several reasons. First, it is the first novel in the Narratives of Empire series. Second, it was published in 1967. The year of my birth. It is interesting for me to see what was published, and what was on the minds of the people the year I was born. Third, I own a signed first edition th

"The apes have always governed us, and our complaints are simply monkey chatter."

The local library had a fistful of Gore Vidal's to pick from, but I had already decided I was going to pick up this novel for several reasons. First, it is the first novel in the Narratives of Empire series. Second, it was published in 1967. The year of my birth. It is interesting for me to see what was published, and what was on the minds of the people the year I was born. Third, I own a signed first edition that I really didn't want to haul around with me. Any inadvertent scuffing that the spine split library copy I borrowed received in my hands would not be noticeable.

Gore Vidal was 42 in 1967, so he is spotting me 42 years, and given his seemingly firm grasp on life I can only hope that I can manage to outlive the silver tongued devil.

Above is Gore Vidal in 1967.

From what I've heard about this book I knew it was going to be the least historical based of the series and also one of the weaker books in the series. With Vidal's connection to politics I believe it was really just a vehicle for him to put together some of his observations of politicians and their satellite community of supporters and enemies. If he skewered a few of his own enemies in the process all the better. The novel begins in the final years of FDR and ends under Eisenhower. During that span we see the power of the old guard politicians being pushed aside by the "in a hurry" war generation. Corruption has always been a part of politics, but during this generational switch the rules change. "Now of course hardly anyone even pretended to worry about right and wrong. Today's man knew no motive but interest, acknowledged no criterion but success, worshiped no god but ambition."

I was out to lunch with a retired politician the other day. He still makes the trek to Topeka to petition those in power for pet projects or to help out some of his friends. He bemoaned the changing times and how irritating he found these young politicians. I had to bite my tongue, nod my head, and make sympathetic noises at the appropriate times, but I wanted to say have you read Washington, D.C.. He would have found that Senator James Burden Day from the 1950s had the same complaints as he does in 2012.

The book confirmed for me that things never really change. Every new group of politicians may start out with the best intentions, but eventually succumb to the power and influence of Washington. The parties, the rampant infidelity, the greed, the deals, and the constant jockeying for position. A reader might experience whiplash with the Mach 1 velocity of some of the changing alliances. The family, friends, and associates of the politicians are as swept up in the unseemliness of Washington power politics as much, if not more, than the politician they are associated with.

This is a cynical book relieve only by a smattering of Vidal wit and moments of sparkling dialogue the book would have benefited from higher dosages of both wit and sparkle. Political junkies will like this book. For the rest of the reader nation out there I would suggest starting with Julian, Lincoln, or Burr.

One last quote that really sums up the theme of the whole book.

"'There is no virtue in any of us, Senator. We are savages and don't say it was better when he was alive.' Peter struck the painted face of Jefferson. 'He lied and cheated and wrote lovely prose and collected recipes and wanted to lord it over this foolish land and did and died and that was the end of him. And don't say that it matters what opinion the future holds of you, for the human race will stop one day, not a moment too soon, and then it will not have mattered one single damn who was an ape and who was a monkey in this filthy cage.'" . more

24 dishes that shaped how D.C. eats

A sk anyone today about Washington’s food scene, and they’ll probably describe a landscape filled with bowls of ramen, Georgian flatbreads and cool restaurants with lines out the door. Such newfound obsessions reflect economic boom times in formerly boarded-up neighborhoods and exploding diversity across the region.

How did we get here? The meals we’ve listed below, suggested by historians, food writers and chefs, were essential to the city’s food evolution — more than 100 years of dishes from within the District’s borders. They epitomized the dining aesthetic, shattered its segregated restaurant scene or defied the notion that Washington was ever “a culinary backwater.” (For that 1981 descriptor, thank the New York Times. It’s somewhat better than “swamp.”)

Better to think of Washington as a city that moves — and eats — to the beat of its own drum. Here, in chronological order, are the 24 dishes that shaped how we eat in D.C.

Oysters at Harvey’s Oyster House

Chesapeake Bay oysters were once everyone’s food. In the 19th century, workers and soldiers consumed shucked-to-order oysters at popular “raw bars,” and small taverns sold fried oysters to families. A new trend of palatial seafood restaurants arose by the 1850s, but none was more famous than Harvey’s Oyster House, an iron-fronted building at Pennsylvania Avenue and 11th Street NW where Abraham Lincoln’s penchant for the signature “steamed oysters” sparked a craze for the dish. Oystermania hit its peak in the mid-1880s, when between 14 million and 20 million bushels were pulled from the Chesapeake Bay. But overharvesting and environmental issues caused stocks to crash decades later. It wasn’t until recent years that local producers, such as Rappahannock Oyster Co., revived Washington’s roots as an oyster town. Now, instead of imports from Canada or the Pacific Northwest, local bivalves fill the raw bars at Hank’s Oyster Bar and the Salt Line, bringing new life to a legacy that reached its height more than a century ago at Harvey’s.

Senate Bean Soup at the Senate dining room

Washington has never been easily defined by a singular cuisine. But for decades, until the half-smoke came along and toppled it, it did have a renowned dish among locals: Senate Bean Soup, the go-to lunch for generations of politicos on Capitol Hill. In 1907, the Rules Committee had the dish added permanently to the Senate’s menu, where over decades, it became so well-known that a popular restaurateur sold it canned. A brothy, simple Scandinavian stew with ham hocks, onion and navy beans, Senate Bean was everything everyone said about the city’s food, in one bland bowl. It wasn’t really from here (it was most likely brought to the Senate by a homesick Minnesota senator, Knute Nelson). And could any dish better embody what the Christian Science Monitor would call — in 2001, no less — the “limited range of D.C. food”? Ugh. Luckily, its reign over Washington waned as we developed a taste for more flavorful stuff, but you can still order the soup in at least one place: the Senate.

A bowl of soup at Thompson’s Restaurant

Mary Church Terrell didn’t choose to dine at Thompson’s Restaurant, at 14th Street and New York Avenue, because she was hungry. She and three companions went to the cafeteria-style eatery to strike a blow against segregation. So, on Feb. 28, 1950, the 86-year-old Terrell — a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — picked up a bowl of soup from the counter. (No records exist about what kind of soup it was.) When a supervisor informed them they couldn’t dine because of their race, the group filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, arguing that the anti-segregation laws passed in the 1870s in the District had never been repealed. In 1953 — years before bus boycotts and lunch-counter sit-ins swept through the South — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the laws were still in effect. “EAT ANYWHERE” was the headline in the Washington Afro American newspaper. (People did — and black-owned restaurants actually suffered as a result.) The next day, Terrell and friends returned to Thompson’s, where they were courteously greeted by a manager. Once again, she ordered the soup.

Matzoh ball soup at Duke Zeibert’s

There was a time in Washington when “power lunch” meant a three-martini meeting of minds at Duke Zeibert’s, the city’s swingingest power restaurant. Its tables were packed with the likes of J. Edgar Hoover, Vince Lombardi, Jack Kent Cooke, Larry King and President Bill Clinton, thanks to the joie de vivre carefully cultivated by proprietor David “Duke” Zeibert. The food? It’s now remembered as unremarkable and not delicious and also beside the point: Since Duke Zeibert’s arrival in 1950, patrons have come to accept power dining as a chance to mingle with boldface sorts of people rather than eat star-worthy food. Lucky for diners, Duke Zeibert’s had one specialty, a chicken consomme with matzoh balls, that was one of Washington’s most beloved dishes, not to mention the stuff of lore: When Duke and a former employee named Mel Krupin battled with competing restaurants, their feud became known as the city’s Matzoh Ball War. It was Duke’s that prevailed. He stayed open till 1994 Krupin shuttered his place in the late 1980s.

Prime rib at Blackie’s House of Beef

For decades, critics have made fun of Washington’s expense-account steakhouses — a stereotype that’s rooted in truth. Politicians have long had their favorite clubby hangouts, including Wormley’s Hotel near the White House — a black-owned steakhouse where politicians negotiated an end to the disputed election of 1876 — and the grill room at the Occidental Hotel, which, in 1912, didn’t allow women because the owner planned to cater to “officialdom.” The steakhouse became an ostentatious outlet for the powerful to display their wealth, reaching its apogee with the opening of Blackie’s House of Beef in 1953. The restaurant’s unofficial motto was “You eat beef or you don’t eat nothing” and had a reputation for its well-connected regulars: Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was known to greet guests at the host stand in the 1960s, while powerful Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) held court in a dimly lit dining room in the 1980s. Although Blackie’s closed in 2005, the wheeling and dealing (and the city’s steakhouse reputation) continues at such meaty establishments as the Palm and Charlie Palmer Steak.

Mighty Mo at Hot Shoppes

Long before the Big Mac became the king of fast-food burgers, teenagers in Washington were heading to Hot Shoppes drive-ins to sip orange sherbet shakes and chow down on the Mighty Mo, a towering “colossus of beef” created in 1955 with two patties, a three-part seeded bun, lettuce, cheese, pickles and a popular sauce. Sound familiar? Some say the famous McDonald’s burger was inspired by the D.C. original. “It was a fabulous sandwich,” said Richard Marriott, 79, whose father launched Hot Shoppes in 1927. “The secret was the special Mighty Mo sauce.” He should know: Marriott spent his summers working in the kitchens at Hot Shoppes and said he made 200 to 300 per night. The burger’s draw was so great that radio station WMAL even offered the “Mighty Mo Show,” a “music for teens” program that played requests made at restaurants. The last Hot Shoppes closed in 1999, but the sandwich lives on at the Anthem, the nostalgia-heavy restaurant inside the Marriott Marquis hotel downtown. And, in its own way, at McDonald’s.

Chili half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl

Whether you poll a transplant or a native about the District’s signature dish, there’s a good chance you’ll get the same answer: the half-smoke. The pork-and-beef sausage, invented by D.C. meatpackers Briggs and Co., was wildly popular in the 1950s and continues to be sold by street-corner vendors and at such casual places as Arlington’s Weenie Beenie and Silver Spring’s Woodside Deli. But it’s most identified with a U Street icon: Ben’s, opened by Trinidadian immigrant Ben Ali and his wife, Virginia, in 1958, has become a cultural and culinary landmark belonging to the District — not only political Washington — welcoming presidents, mayors, TV hosts and generations of customers. A survivor of the 1968 riots, the 1980s Metro construction and the corridor’s rapid gentrification, Ben’s and its half-smokes serve as the rare thing we can all agree on, uniting folks of all backgrounds to wait in line and groove to soul music together. Because the food itself has failed to impress critics, it’s that melting pot that’s the real draw — and the reason to extol its influence.


Mumbo sauce at Wings N’ Things

The origin of the District’s favorite condiment is shrouded in mystery, but its recipe is not: Mumbo sauce is usually a blend of barbecue, ketchup and sweet-and-sour sauces with varying levels of heat. Some old-timers say it originated at Wings N’ Things near 14th and U streets NW in the ’60s — civil rights leader Walter E. Fauntroy claims that was a favorite destination of Martin Luther King Jr.’s — although a company in Chicago has been selling it since the 1950s. As the capital has gentrified in recent years, the sauce, a staple at Chinese restaurants and carryouts catering to African American customers for generations, has become a cultural touchstone. Today’s upscale restaurants looking to add authentic D.C. flavor, including the Hamilton and Bluejacket brewery, offer their own versions, and you can even buy a bottled “mambo sauce” at Whole Foods. But the best way to enjoy it is still at an old-school carryout, poured liberally onto just-fried chicken wings.

Sweet potato pie at the Southern Dining Room

By the late 1960s, soul food had become one of the nation’s most intriguing cuisines, its popularity bolstered by “a rise of appreciation for African American culture” and by the black pride movement, said John DeFerrari, the author of “Historic Restaurants of Washington D.C.” In the District, smothered fried chicken and mac and cheese had to be followed with sweet potato pie, and in 1968, the place to have it was the Southern Dining Room, a cafeteria helmed by Alabama-born chef Hettie Gross. Although she had competitors — including the Florida Avenue Grill — it was Gross who was dubbed the city’s “Soul Food Queen,” thanks to a pie that was little more than fresh sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, eggs, lemon extract and a ton of butter. After decades of feeding Howard University students, artists and activists, the Dining Room closed in the 1980s. But even today, soul food still can be found in the District, and so can the dessert: Henry’s Soul Cafe on U Street slings its own pie made from fresh sweet potatoes — just as it did in ’68.

Eggs Benedict at Billy Martin’s Tavern

Brunch has been an ingrained Washington tradition since long before the arrival of bottomless mimosas. The New York Telegraph took note of the growing popularity of the word “brunch” in 1906, and soon, the weekend meal infiltrated swanky D.C. hotels, bars and restaurant terraces overlooking the Potomac. By 1968, it had become so much a part of the city’s culture that The Washington Post reported that a common cry up and down Wisconsin Avenue on Sundays was “How d’ya like your eggs?” There was no place where the eggs Benedict were more legendary than at Georgetown’s Billy Martin’s Tavern, where the eggs, atop Smithfield ham and draped in hollandaise, were said to have been the favorite dish of future president John F. Kennedy. Today, Washington is the capital of drag brunches, brunch festivals and brunch as a day-long, debaucherous affair — but eggs Benedict remains Sunday’s hangover cure of choice.

Pupusas at Carlos Gardel

It’s tough to imagine a time when pupusas weren’t on the menu of every Latin American restaurant in the city. The delicious, molten-cheese-stuffed Salvadoran masa cake, after all, is one of Washington’s iconic eats — a dish we serve up better than almost anywhere else in the country, mostly because the District is home to the highest concentration of Salvadoran immigrants in the nation. But in the late 1970s, the Salvadoran population was just beginning to flood into the city as civil war brewed abroad, and there was only one place you could order a pupusa: Carlos Gardel, a lively carryout (billed as Argentine!) in Adams Morgan. The snack was so novel that it didn’t take long to catch on. By 1982, the city was in the throes of a pupusa craze. The mania eventually settled down (Carlos Gardel is now an AT&T store), but pupusas stuffed with loroco (a popular Salvadoran green) pork, beans and cheese and even squash can still be found.

Brioche with anchovy butter at Jean-Louis

The bread and butter wasn’t the best dish at the late Jean-Louis Palladin’s restaurant in the Watergate Hotel, not by a long shot. In the more than 15 years that the 48-seat Jean-Louis was Washington’s most admired dining room, the brioche was simply the constant at every meal, the crack of the starter pistol for whatever lobster soup, or tender lamb with peaches, or pigeon, or Belon oyster that the chef sent racing out after it. (The mostly price-fixed menu transformed constantly.) The French-born Palladin, who opened Jean-Louis in 1979 after becoming the youngest chef to be awarded two Michelin stars, unabashedly embraced ingredients he found up and down America’s coasts, and he shunned the frozen, canned and imported foods his predecessors used. He introduced diners — from the city and then from around the world — to the notion of well-sourced ingredients championed Maine lobster and created a one-man market for scallops dredged by deep-sea divers helped cement nouvelle cuisine as the food trend of the ’80s and influenced scores of chefs who would continue to transform American dining. There’s even a bread in town that still bears Palladin’s name — although it’s sourdough, not brioche. You can find it at Bread Furst, but, well, you’ll have to conjure your own anchovy butter.

Grass-fed beef at Restaurant Nora

The fancy restaurant where you went for your anniversary “proudly” lists the suppliers of its pasture-raised meats and local vegetables. So does Chipotle. And for that, you can thank Nora Pouillon, whose eponymous restaurant was the first in America to be certified organic. Beyond describing cuts of beef, the lengthy menu listed the cows as grass-fed. That distinction said everything you needed to know about Pouillon. At a time when many chefs were discovering fresh ingredients, she was setting the standard for the local, organic food movement: The restaurant, which opened in 1979, purchased ingredients from farmers in Virginia and Pennsylvania shunned chemical-laden, red-dyed maraschino cherries and so despised plastic that it refused to accept credit cards for more than a decade. Pouillon’s concerns stretched beyond her Dupont Circle walls: She was one of the founders of the FreshFarm farmers markets, which now number 15 — and sell grass-fed beef.

Injera at Meskerem

Ethio­pian restaurants are common across Washington, but that wasn’t always the case: Following a military coup in their country, Ethiopians began settling in the area in the 1970s, building upon an existing community of diplomats, professionals and Howard University students that would swell into the largest Ethiopian population outside of Africa. In 1985, when Meskerem opened in Adams Morgan’s “Little Ethi­o­pia,” it stood out: The restaurant served as a culinary embassy, as waitstaff in colorful dresses showed curious first-timers, stymied by the absence of silverware, how to rip off hunks of injera flatbread and scoop spicy wats with their hands. “It was a revelation,” said David Chang, the Momofuku restaurateur and Washington-area native who first tried the cuisine in Adams Morgan in the ’80s. “There were no plates! It was spicy. It was so cool. It was like nothing I’d ever had before.” No eatery had the longevity — or influence — of Meskerem and its injera: According to the Ethiopian-restaurant historian Harry Kloman, when Meskerem closed in 2015, it was the oldest Ethiopian restaurant in the United States to have operated at one address.

Fried whiting at Horace & Dickie’s

Frying the flaky, mild whiting fish certainly wasn’t invented at Horace & Dickie’s, a casual, counter-service cafe that opened in 1990. Whiting, more popular in Britain than in Washington, became a specialty at 14th Street’s Black Muslim-run Shabazz Fish House in the 1970s, where fish made an ideal substitute for the pork-heavy soul food dishes popular at the time. At Horace & Dickie’s, the tradition has been preserved to the tune of hundreds of sandwiches a day, all served on white or “brown” bread and stacked with a somewhat obscene number of crispy, cornmeal-crusted fillets. The fact that fried whiting still has devotees, on H Street NE and at carryouts such as Oohh’s and Aahh’s on U Street, is a testament to its staying power, even in a city that has gentrified beyond recognition. While trendier restaurants adopt chicken and waffles and kale, whiting remains the domain of establishments owned and frequented by African Americans — it’s an old D.C. staple amid so much newness.

Le Kit Cat at Citronelle

“Don’t play with your food” is a common admonishment from parents. Thankfully, no one ever seems to have said that to Michel Richard. The late French chef was renowned for having fun in the kitchen, most notably at the venerable, now-closed Citronelle, which opened in Georgetown’s Latham Hotel in 1993, and the more informal Central Michel Richard. His talent and wit shone brightly in his whimsical trompe l’oeil dishes, as clever as they were delicious: turning Israeli couscous and squid ink into “caviar,” or making an “egg” with pureed yellow tomatoes and mozzarella. But Richard’s best-known transformation may have been his take on the humble Kit Kat candy bar, using crushed cornflakes, chocolate mousse, peanut butter and hazelnut sauce to turn a childhood treat into a grown-up delight. Richard influenced a generation of chefs — David Deshaies (Unconventional Diner), Cedric Maupillier (Mintwood Place and Convivial), Austin Fausett (formerly of Proof and Trummer’s on Main) — who worked under him, and keep his sense of exacting playfulness and love of contrasting textures alive.

Gambas al ajillo at Jaleo

To think: There was a time when restaurant critics needed dependent clauses to explain that tapas are “exotic little Spanish appetizers.” Thanks to José Andrés — Washington’s most celebrated restaurateur and humanitarian — diners now know that small plates are meant to be shared. (They also groan silently every time a server reiterates that the plates arrive as they’re ready.) The Spanish-born Andrés, recruited as a 23-year-old by Jaleo’s founders ahead of its 1993 opening, helped popularize tapas across the country, spreading the idea that enjoying a few bites of a variety of dishes was more enjoyable than plowing through three large courses. His early success meant diners were soon snacking on a variety of small plates at his other restaurants in the city, including Zaytinya and Oyamel. But it’s the shrimp cooked in a perfectly balanced garlic sauce at Jaleo — perhaps southern Spain’s quintessential tapas dish, which graces almost every table at the Penn Quarter restaurant — that no longer needs an introduction.

Jumbo slice at Pizza Mart

A quintessential experience for D.C. college students and newcomers: enjoying a few too many drinks in Adams Morgan and waking up next to a grease-streaked cardboard box from Pizza Mart. The jumbo slice, a D.C. invention, refers to 16-inch slices of pizza cut from pies that can stretch to 32 inches. Only in Adams Morgan do you have dueling neon signs proclaiming the home of “Original Jumbo Slice” and “Real Original Jumbo Slice,” but Pizza Mart, which opened in 1997, is credited as the birthplace of the controversial pie. It’s loved by drunken revelers, who marvel at each oily slab’s size. It’s hated by residents, who gripe about the blizzard of napkins and pizza boxes littering the streets. Still, the so-big-you-have-to-fold-them slices have become a Washington tradition, even if it’s one you’d never do sober: A 2004 lab analysis for the Washington City Paper found that Pizza Mart’s jumbo slice packed in 1,117 calories and 47 grams of fat.

The Palena Burger at Palena

These days, top-flight chefs creating extravagant burgers with prime-cut sirloin and haute-cuisine toppings is no big deal. But the Palena Burger was a true masterpiece in its simplicity — and its originality: seven ounces of hand-ground beef “with the occasional trimming of Kobe,” topped with a truffled Italian cheese and garlic mayo on a buttery bun. (The fry plate offered as a side, with a mix of deep-fried Meyer lemons, dauphine potatoes and shoestring fries, was a hit in its own right.) Making it even more special was that the $9 Palena Burger came from former White House chef Frank Ruta, whose “cafe menu,” launched in 2003, offered affordable luxury for a fraction of the cost of the prix-fixe menu at the acclaimed Cleveland Park restaurant. The burger was deliciously ahead of coming trends, including the gourmet burger craze — evident today at Bourbon Steak and Le Diplomate — and celebrated chefs creating more affordable menus for their posh dining rooms.

The Guacamole Greens at Sweetgreen

When three Georgetown University business majors opened the doors to a tiny carryout salad shop just off campus in 2007, it became one of the earliest D.C.-born restaurants to embody the still nascent concept of fast-casual eating. Fast-casual turned out to be one of this era’s biggest dining innovations, and several local restaurants, such as Cava, &pizza and Beefsteak, have followed Sweetgreen in exporting their build-your-own concepts across the country. One of the most popular offerings at Sweetgreen, then and now, was the Guacamole Greens, a riff on guac and chips with mesclun, avocado, chicken and a lime-cilantro dressing. It wasn’t the old, unappetizing iceberg salad it could appeal to even avowed burger lovers — a perfect example of the model that has made Sweetgreen one of the city’s most successful chains, now with more than 80 locations in eight states. Last year, in the Washington region alone, the company sold nearly a half-million orders of the salad.

Chocolate ganache cupcake at Georgetown Cupcake

From almost the moment Georgetown Cupcake opened on M Street in 2008 and began serving the aughts’ great trend food, an unexpected pandemonium sprang up outside the cheery, but very tiny, shop. The buttercream bombs, many of them decorated with a signature fondant daisy, generated lines that could stretch a hundred people long. Off-duty cops were hired to mind the guests. Cars slowed down to gawk. Georgetown’s cupcakes were indeed delicious the moist, bittersweet, chocolate ganache version surpassed all others to win The Washington Post’s competitive “cupcake wars” that year. But when it got its own reality show, “D.C. Cupcakes,” on TLC in 2010, at the height of “Top Chef” and “Ace of Cakes” fever, the business and its sweets seemed to transcend the city and became a draw for tourists. The shop’s even-longer lines annoyed the locals, but they were a win for Washington: They proved that the food scene could be just as much an attraction as its museums.

Butter chicken at Fojol Bros. of Merlindia

The city’s first true food truck, the Fojol Bros. of Merlindia, rolled onto D.C. streets on Inauguration Day in 2009. From the beginning, its employees drew more attention than the actual food: The staff, who were white, dressed in turbans and curly black mustaches while hawking pale-orange butter chicken plopped into clamshell containers. The Fojol Bros. trucks (eventually there were three) had a sea of fans, and the founders proved trailblazers for the food truck community, which exploded from 10 trucks by late 2009 to nearly 150 five years later. (And despite its questionable bona fides, the butter chicken even landed in “Food Trucks,” a book about the burgeoning national mobile-kitchen trend.) In 2012, a controversy erupted when an online petition calling them “a brownface minstrel act” circulated. The founders insisted they were simply a “traveling culinary carnival,” not a representation of any ethnic group, but two years later they pulled their trucks off the road, blaming maintenance costs. The whole period remains a standout in Washington’s history: The Fojol Bros. not only gave the city its first modern food truck, but also its first Internet-fueled controversy over cultural appropriation.

Curry chicken hakata ramen at Toki Underground

When Toki Underground opened in 2011, the city was a ramen wasteland. New York had Momofuku and Los Angeles had Daikokuya, but D.C. noodle fans had to head to the suburbs for a taste of the soup. None of chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s hip and unconventional dishes earned more praise than the curry chicken hakata ramen, a creative mash-up featuring rich curry stock and hearty hunks of fried chicken. Before long, Toki’s inventive bowls were generating huge hype, thanks to tales of Bruner-Yang’s apprenticeship in a Taiwanese ramen bar, and the 30-seat H Street restaurant became one of the first D.C. eateries where 20-somethings were willing to wait to put their name down for a table, then wait a few more hours just to be told it was ready. This became the new normal — it was years before the openings of Bad Saint and Daikaya — and taught D.C. foodies that if they wanted to enjoy a cool spin on the cuisines once found only in the suburbs, it was perfectly reasonable to wait.

Lychee salad at Rose’s Luxury

If there’s a dish that defines Rose’s Luxury, it’s the lychee salad. Has there ever been a more playful tease of textures and bracing flavors, an obsession-worthy combination from no place in particular and of no specific cuisine? With fragrant lychees, country ham, habanero, peanuts, garlic chips, coconut foam and raw shards of red onion, it has been the city’s must-order dish — and one of its most elusive. Rose’s Luxury, which opened in 2013, didn’t take reservations, instead embodying a move away from power and influence in Washington’s restaurant scene. Owner and chef Aaron Silverman was vocal about democracy in dining, and neither senators nor celebrities nor anyone with money to throw at the host could talk their way out of waiting in the lychee-loving line. (Well, Michelle Obama slipped past. Silverman once confessed: “There’s one or two people in this world that might be able to get a reservation, and she’s definitely one of them.”) Now, diners regularly wait at hot restaurants, and they’ve learned that with the wait comes a certain freedom — to dine anywhere tonight.

Crystallized Ginger

Clean and peel young ginger roots. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Cover with cold water and soak for at least 1 hour. Drain. Cover once again with cold water, cooking and boiling for 5 minutes. Repeat the draining, covering with cold water and boiling process 3 to 5 times until fruit is tender and transparent. Make a simple syrup of the sugar and water. Boil ginger pieces in syrup for 5 minutes, being sure that pan does not boil dry. Remove ginger pieces from syrup cool slightly. While still warm, not hot, shake in Container filled with granulated sugar. Separate d pieces on paper towels on a flat surface to dry thoroughly. Store in an air-tight container.

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Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization.

We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy.

José Andrés Cooked A Meal For Washington D.C. Firefighters After They Couldn't Get Food For Their Evening Meal

The news around the COVID-19 outbreak is constantly changing, but information about food safety and how to keep yourself healthy is crucial right now. Here is a comprehensive list on the foods you should be stocking up on during this period of social distancing, as well as information about your local grocery stores&rsquo changing hours, an explanation of &ldquono-contact delivery,&rdquo and a guide on how to help your community and its businesses throughout closures.

Photos of empty grocery store shelves are a common occurrence amid the coronavirus outbreak and members of Washington, D.C.&rsquos Engine 18 and Truck 7 were recently disappointed when they couldn&rsquot find food at the local store for their evening meal. But, thankfully, chef José Andrés came to the rescue, making sure they were well-fed.

The firefighters shared their thanks on Twitter, along with a photo of their first responders. And though it certainly isn't the first time the chef, who founded the non-profit World Central Kitchen, has stepped up to help others in a crisis, it sounds like this isn&rsquot the first time he has stepped in to help them specifically.

&ldquoReturning from a fire, @BarracksRow Engine 18 & Truck 7 found empty supermarket shelves when they shopped for their evening meal. Once again, @chefjoseandres came to their rescue with dinner. Our thanks to his generosity & those of other merchants who are providing us meals,&rdquo they wrote.

They followed up with another important message as well: Don't hoard supplies.

February 20, 2012


, which marks Presidents George Washington’s (February 20) and Abraham Lincoln’s (February 12) birthdays. I find it somewhat ironic that George Washington owned slaves and Abraham Lincoln emancipated them but that’s what makes history interesting.

lawmakers honored the African-American slaves who had sweated in the oppressive summer heat and humidity and shivered in the bone-chilling winter's cold, for twelve hours a day, six to seven days a week, while helping to build the U.S. Capitol – the meeting place for the U.S. Congress and probably the most recognizable symbol of democracy. A Congressional taskforce, which included both Democrats and Republicans, was led by Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia and former civil rights leader, to study the contributions of slaves to the Capitol. Their findings prompted them to erect commemorative plaques inside the Capitol, which read: : "This original exterior wall was constructed between 1793 and 1800 of sandstone quarried by laborers, including enslaved African-Americans who were an important part of the workforce that built the United States Capitol." As they unveiled the plaques, they told onlookers that the plaques help reveal a part of the Capitol's history that had been overlooked by many. The plaques now hang in the Congressional Visitor Center’s largest room, which is called Emancipation Hall, in honor of the slaves' work on the Capitol.

sculptor and ironworker who had been contracted to bronze a plaster copy of the Statue of Freedom – the statue that sits on top of the Capitol Dome.

, which houses the executive offices of the President and Vice President.

also learned that Architect, James Hoban, owned three slaves who worked as carpenters: Ben, Harry and Daniel. Their 23 days’ worked, in 1795, and money earned by Mr. Hoban, was found in the documents, which Mr. Washington had discovered.

Share All sharing options for: 15 Essential Cookbooks From Famous D.C. Chefs and Recipe Writers

Jose Andres has cookbooks that show off vegetable-centric dishes and tapas Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has led D.C. to impose a moratorium on dining out, and even when the city reopens, plenty of frequent diners will continue to prioritize home cooking. While many restaurants are still open for takeout and delivery, regulars may have to turn to their own kitchens to reproduce flavors from some of their favorite D.C. personalities. Well-known chefs like José Andrés, Patrick O’Connell of the three-Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington, and Cathal Armstrong of Kaliwa and now-closed Restaurant Eve all have cookbooks full of recipes ranging from accessible to highly ambitious. This guide shares their work, alongside tomes unlocking the secrets to Rasika’s famed palak chaat, Edward Lee’s fried chicken and waffles, and more.

Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook

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José Andrés is more than one of D.C.’s most prolific celebrity chefs. He’s also the founder of nonprofit World Central Kitchen, currently providing over 160,000 meals a day (and counting) to communities in need and medical workers. Andrés’s most recent cookbook, Vegetables Unleashed, explores the namesake ingredient by season. Conversational cooking lessons come with riffs about food philosophy and kitchen anecdotes. The chef’s Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America has tips about now-classic recipes that put him on the scene, including his spins on pan con tomate and paella.

Sweet Home Café Cookbook: A Celebration Of African American Cooking

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The acclaimed Sweet Home Café, housed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, immerses visitors in African-American culinary history. Learn to cook recipes like peanut soup, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, smoked pork shoulder, chow chow, banana pudding, and more.

Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington

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The Inn at Little Washington is the only D.C.-area restaurant with three Michelin stars. This is the most recent of chef-owner Patrick O’Connell’s two cookbooks, offering a taste of haute American cuisine for ambitious home cooks. The recipes segue from a risotto with shrimp, oyster mushrooms, and country ham to a warm Granny Smith apple tart.

Rasika: Flavors of India

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This cookbook, from restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and James Beard Award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam, teaches home cooks to make many of the elegant, “Indian with a modern twist” dishes that make Rasika one of the best Indian restaurants in the country. The must-have palak chaat — with fried baby spinach, sweet yogurt tamarind, and date chutney — is in there, as are the chef’s chicken tikka masala, naan, condiments, fried cauliflower, and much more.

Fabio Trabocchi: Cocina of Le Marche

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With the exception of Sfoglina, Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurants (Del Mar, Fiola, Fiola Mare) are known as power-dining destinations full of decadent — and often wallet-busting — Italian fare. Back in 2006, Trabocchi published a cookbook exploring the rustic food from the Italian region he calls home, Le Marche. Not all of the recipes are accessible for home cooks (one calls for sourcing fresh hay for smoked turbot). But the cookbook does take readers on a bit of a trip into northwest Italy.

Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen

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Edward Lee made a big entrance in D.C. when he left Louisville to open Succotash at the National Harbor in 2015, following that with a Penn Quarter outpost two years later. Lee’s classic Southern food integrates influences from his Korean heritage and other Asian flavors. Part cookbook, part memoir, Smoke and Pickles features dishes like adobo fried chicken and waffles, collards and kimchi, and braised bacon rice. Also worth noting: The chef’s nonprofit Lee Initiative is doing generous work right now, providing daily free meals to out-of-work hospitality industry workers.

Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration

Prices taken at time of publishing.

This book from D.C.-area resident, chef, and TV host Carla Hall thoughtfully traces soul food through its African and Caribbean roots. Recipes include Ghanaian peanut beef stew, smothered chicken with coconut, peas and ham, and sweet potato pudding.

Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America’s Favorite Rural Bakery

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Oprah and Obama are fans of Brian Noyes’s rural Virginia bakery. Though Red Truck is temporarily closed, the cookbook lets readers flex their baking skills with recipes that reproduce the bakery’s sweet and savory pies, buttermilk biscuits, casseroles, cakes, and more.

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Restaurant Eve, chef Cathal Armstrong’s celebrated fine dining spot in Old Town, closed in 2018. This cookbook has a few classic recipes from the luxury establishment, along with recipes from the Dublin native’s Mam, Da, and Nana (aww. ). Armstrong covers everything from hearty Irish breakfasts to “President Obama” chicken stew to family celebration meals.

Pati’s Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking

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Born and raised in Mexico, Pati Jinich is now a District-based chef with two cookbooks and a James Beard Award-winning show that airs on PBS and streams on Amazon Prime. In Pati’s Mexican Table and Mexican Today, she offers specialties she learned from her mother and grandmother, along with some creative takes on regional classics.

Cooking with Nora: Seasonal Menus from Restaurant Nora

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Restaurant Nora, billed as the first certified-organic restaurant in the country, stood on a quiet corner in Kalorama for nearly 40 years before it closed in 2017. Many of the restaurant’s beloved (if ambitious) recipes, such as roast leg of lamb and peaches in red wine with mint, live on in Cooking With Nora.