Many of our listeners come to Washington DC to visit, now that President Obama is in office. I decided to list my favorite spots – some fine dining, some eat and run – and my favorite items on the menu. Washington’s full of great restaurants, but here are some you should definitely check out. Who knows, you may even run into me while there! The first four are in my neighborhood and within a stone’s throw of our studio.
Enjoy! – Bill
327 – 7th. St., S.E. Metro: Eastern Market. 202/544-1244. Best French restaurant in town, and moderately-priced. Lunch or dinner. Soup and salad makes great lunch for me. My dinner favorite is the hanger steak. If I’m eating healthy, I’ll have the tuna. Also one of the few restaurants I know to serve calf’s liver – and it’s delicious.
2. Market Lunch
In historic Eastern Market between 7th. & 8th. St., S.E. Metro: Eastern Market. Top of escalator, turn left. Absolutely best fast kitchen in town. Great neighborhood hangout. Breakfast and lunch only. Eat one of their breakfast sandwiches – the “brick” – and you won’t eat again till evening. For lunch, their fried oyster sandwich is to die for. So’s the crab cake sandwich. Tell Tommy I sent you.
3. Banana Café
500 – 8th. St., S.E. Metro: Eastern Market. 202/543-5906. Hungry for Mexican or Cuban food? This is the place. I recommend their ceviche, or shrimp in garlic sauce (Gambas al Ajillo), to start. For Mexican, I usually order the enchiladas or fajitas. Best Cuban dish on menu: Carnitas Cubanas, pork roasted with Sevilla oranges, served with yucca.
4. Belga Café
514 – 8th. St., S.E. Metro: Eastern Market. 202/544-0100. Great, lively spot. Belgian cuisine, and huge selection of Belgian beers. Very creative, full menu. House specialty: mussels, which I can’t resist. They come with a cone of french fries, to be dipped in mayonnaise!
1201 F St., NW. Metro: Metro Center. 202/347-2277. The classiest, best, and perhaps most expensive seafood restaurant in town. But worth it. For lunch, I’m a sucker for the fish tacos. For dinner, oysters on the half shell and any fresh catch of the day.
6. The Palm
1225 19th. St., NW. Metro: Dupont Circle, south exit. 202/293-9091. My favorite hangout. The place to see and be seen in D.C. I go there so often my caricature is on the wall. You might also run into James Carville, Paul Begala, or Tucker Carlson. Great steak house. I love New York strip. For lunch, my choice is crab cakes. Also try their lobster bisque. I dare you to finish one of their desserts. Tell Tommy I sent you.
7. Five Guys
Many locations in Washington, including the National Press Building and Chinatown. Absolutely the best burger in town. I always get the LITTLE bacon-cheeseburger, accompanied by their fabulous French fries.
8. Café Milano
3251 Prospect St., N.W. Georgetown. 202/333-6183. No Metro access. The ultimate “in” restaurant of D.C. Fun, lively atmosphere. Most likely spot to find government or media personalities. But still serves great food. I don’t go there often enough to have any favorites on menu, but everything’s good.
9. Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. N.W. Metro: U Street. Classic D.C. greasy spoon. U St. and 14th. St. are two most up-and-coming, or coming-back, neighborhoods of D.C. Ben’s is a historic D.C. eatery. No pretensions. It is what it’s name says: good eats, smothered in chili. I always go for the chili half-smoke and French Fries. Barack Obama made this his first stop in Washington!
10. Blue Duck Tavern
24 M Street N.W. Washington, DC 20037 202/419-6755. One of Washington’s very best restaurants, where Barack and Michele Obama enjoyed their first date night as President and First Lady. Features all organic, locally-grown, and very creative menu. Outstanding food and service. A little pricey, but well worth it.
11. Aqua al 2
212 7th. St., S.E. – The newest Italian restaurant, the best, and already very popular. Can be hard to get into. Make a reservation. Pasta is great. For four or more, try the Tuscan steak special. Best steak I’ve ever had. I always have the Burata special for appetizer. Eating here, you are within a block of the BP Show studio and the Press family home!
12. Hank’s Oyster Bar
If you love oysters, this is the place. Two locations: Dupont Circle, 1624 Q. St., NW; and Capitol Hill, 633 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. (Eastern Market Metro). Can’t go wrong. Full bar, great wine list. Oyster Po Boy is great, so is fried oyster platter. Great selection of oysters on half-shell. P.S. If you’re near Union Station, you could also try Johnny’s On the Half Shell at 400 N. Capitol St., S.E.
13. District Commons
On campus of George Washington University, across street from hospital, on Washington Circle at 2200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. (Foggy Bottom Metro). Already one of D.C.’s most popular restaurants. Their corned-beef hash with eggs is best brunch item. For lunch or dinner, I usually go for their shrimp ‘n’ grits. Great location and people-watching.
Other watering holes include: Buck’s, Bombay Club, Bistro Bis, and the Food Court at Union Station.