D.C. Noshing

I approached our trip to D.C. this past weekend with a new attitude. The new attitude went something like this: “Let’s not obsess about our meals; researching and investigating potential dining destinations. Let’s go with the flow and just have fun.” And for the most part that’s what we did. I even forfeited a reservation at Cafe Atlantico (which, after reading much about it, is difficult to appraise in terms of its D.C. dining status: I know Jose Andreas owns it, I know minibar upstairs is a huge draw, but Tom Sietsema in his D.C. dining guide says the food at Cafe Atlantico is past its prime). Instead we ate tapas on the roof of Talbac, which allowed for a view of the Washington monument and the Capitol. Otherwise, my favorite meal consumed was at Teaism.

All the factors that make for a pleasant dining experience–location, food, atmosphere, service–came together beautifully the morning we went to Teaism (with the possible exception of service since Teaism is basically self-service.) Both Craig and I had cilantro scrambled eggs with tea smoked salmon (both very well made) and we washed it down with the signature Chai Tea. Craig declared, “This is the best Chai Tea I’ve ever had.” Unlike the usual chemical compound served from a box at Starbucks, everything about the Teaism Chai Tea is fresh, bright and pleasantly elusive. “Is that cinnamon?” you might ask yourself. “Star Anise?” Teaism Chai Tea is a beautiful mystery.

Otherwise, I’m embarrassed to say, we ate pretty shamefully on the Mall. But by all accounts that’s what you must do when in such a touristy area. It’s funny how excited people get at the existence of a McDonalds. I heard one group of tourists tell another group of tourists: “There’s a McDonald’s behind the Air & Space museum.” “Oh good!” said the other group, delighted.

Craig, who got hungry after several hours of museum going, had a sudden hankering for a Quarter Pounder. “This is going on my website,” I chastised him. He posed defiantly:


I watched him eat his burger, snacking on a few of his fries, and then I finally caved and asked for a bite. You know what? Snobbery aside, it tasted pretty good. In fact I made the comment (and I may eat crow for this one): “It tastes a little like the Shake Shack burger.” Craig, surprisingly, agreed.

On Sunday morning for brunch, Lauren led us to Busboys and Poets, a really fun, really interesting spot in the slowly-getting-gentrified U Street Corridor. My eggs benedict was quite tasty and I liked browsing the book shop at the end.

And that, my friends, is essentially what we ate in D.C.

21 thoughts on “D.C. Noshing”

  1. There comes a time (perhaps rarely, but still) when “fast food” just seems to hit the spot. Nothing to be ashamed of. :)

  2. Kudos for having the cojones to admit that you ate McDonald’s fare. I gleefully confess that sometimes NOTHING will do for me but something cheesy and gooey from Taco Bell. It hits the spot.

  3. Sorry to hear that you didn’t get your grubs on in DC. As for Cafe Atlantico, it is indeed past its prime and that’s my opinion from almost 2 years ago.

  4. You chose well — Teaism is a great place. McDonald’s food has its place, too. Part of what makes vacations fun.

  5. I used to go to D.C. frequently for work, with a pretty hefty budget for dining. Even with all the options, one place I always ate was East Street Cafe in Union Station. It was cheap, but always consistently delicious.

  6. I wondered if you ate at Teasism when you were in DC. I love that place. I want to go back to DC just to eat there.

  7. Glad to hear you enjoyed D.C.

    By the way- U street is beyond gentrification and has been for a while now.

  8. Adam,

    Not to be picky, but it’s Tabac. And yes, the view from their rooftop is great. Next time you’re down here, go to Gallery Place/Chinatown – lots of great (yet pricy) places have opened up there (Zengo, Zola, and Tosca, to name a few).

  9. For the millionth time, Adam, I’m going to recommend the book Fast Food Nation to you — although at this point it’s become a cliche to mention it.

    One of the things I admire about that book is that he starts it off by saying: no matter what anyone says, for the most part fast food tastes good. By and large burgers taste good; shakes taste good; fries taste good. There’s a reason they taste good — which the book gets into — but I like that his critique of the industry is not based on culinary snobbery but on other matters.

    It’s worth a read. Or you could wait for the weirdly fictionalized Hollywood film version to come out this fall.

  10. haha that’s too funny you put his slumming at McDonald’s on your blog. I’m visitng my friend in DC next month I’ll have to put Teaism on my list of things to do then. thanks for the reccomendations as always.

  11. you missed both “ben’s chili bowl” and “five guys”. look them up next time and you’ll be glad.

  12. five guys is pretty good, but ben’s chili bowl isn’t good at all. the “chili” they serve there is some of the worst i’ve ever had. while ben’s has a definite place in washington’s history books, you would be better off having your picture taken in front of the building and eating elsewhere.

  13. I agree with Katy. There is so much ethically wrong with fast food. I also agee that it is important to read about where our food comes from and how it is produced, and what effect it has on people, places and the environment. Otherwise, I think it a bit hypocritical for anyone to go off about our President and all his failings with his huge job, if a simple thing like understanding the food we eat becomes too much of a burden.

  14. If you ever come back to DC and decide to do Ben’s…stick with a chocolate or strawberry shake only. Unless you want a bit of historical nostalgia with a side of heartburn…then get the chili half smoke. I recommend Pasta Mia in Adams Morgan if you ever venture back here and have the patience to wait 30-45 minutes because there is always a line. Worth the wait though.

  15. Next time in D.C. you must go to Jose Andres’ small plates restaurant, Zatinya. Fresh, hot pita bread and hummus are to die for. The menu is amazing, the restaurant is beautiful and they have a variety of Greek wines by the glass.

  16. Please, next time, when you are in DC, head on over to M Street and Wisconsin Avenue vicinity in Georgetown..this New Yorker who lived there for four years found some really nice, very reasonably priced spots:

    1) Pizza Paradiso-the M Street spot came after the Dupont Circle spot..but just as delicious! This is truly good pizza, Italian-style, and I don’t mean deep-dish, gooey, loaded with cheese, etc.

    2) Bistro Francais, Cafe Madeleine,…great, inexpensive lunches and dinners…soups, croissants, coffee, etc.

    3) The two Vietnamese places on M Street…equally good, inexpensive, and quaint.

    4) The Ethiopian place past the CVS on M Street.

    Many, many places to go without having to head to Ben’s..kudos to the family for keeping that place open during the rough times when the neighborhood was on the way out, but the chili is disgusting, and the “half-smokes” are nothing to rave about. I can’t believe that people still rave about that place. The dirty-water dogs on the Mall in DC, and on any street corner in NY, have more flavor and are cheaper.

  17. old glory bbq is amazing in dc if that is what you want… as a displaced Southerner, I was in heaven. Belga Cafe. The brunch there is amazing- It’s in S.E… I lived on the Hill for a year and my friends and I went every Sunday morning.

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