I often scout for my next culinary adventures, whenever I travel to a new destination. I don’t go for fancy or high end. To me, the true tale of a city lies in the heart and soul of the local neighborhoods and where a chef would hang out after work. I want to know where the food servers hang out after a long day of work. I want to know where the bartenders go in the early morning hours to chill, relax and talk shop with others in the industry. I was lucky enough to find the answers to my questions over a whiskey and a beer.
I started to focus on a couple of places that caught my eye and palate. So, after a while of disappointment and frustration, I stuck to my guns and picked two places for dinner on my trip. The outcome you ask? Well, I was rewarded with a top ten list of great food establishments that I am going to share with you for the next time you’re in Washington, DC.
I was obviously misinformed, or I was just blinded by the mudded waters that go on in Washington D.C. Shame on me for not being more open minded and receptive to what laid ahead for me on my business trip.
I love grabbing an uber and looking forward to my next exchange of, why are an uber driver? And once again, my driver did not disappoint. I was staying in Rockville, which was about 20 miles out and a 50-minute ride to my destinations. I quickly explained that I’m a chef in search of serious eats in DC. Take me to LUCKY BUNS in the Adam Moore district- for my latest adventure.
My nightly trips were always greeted with- why the heck are you going down town for dinner? So, after great conversation and light traffic, I’m dropped off at Lucky Buns restaurant. To be honest, my first impression was a bit off, but I sucked it up and walked in. I was immediately greeted by the staff with open arms. I do what I always do and that’s too head to the bar, grab a corner stool and indulge in a local IPA. The bartender was informative, gracious, and the vibe of the restaurant, resonated history of the Adams Moore neighborhood. I knew I had picked the right place when I overheard two ladies at the end of the bar talking shop- hospitality industry. No disappointment in the menu. I ordered the El Jefe burger and the Hot Tiger chicken sandwich and of course, their homemade chips. Both sandwiches were extraordinary, hot and delicious. Still getting back in a sensible routine after the holidays, I cut my sandwiches in half and shared them with my fellow comrades in arms. To my disbelief, they had never tried the house fair. They already knew that the 3-month-old joint was hot and happening and they too, worked at one of the hottest places on my list- the Chicken and Whiskey- more whiskey to come. We all enjoyed the company, the conversation and the food only seemed to elevate as the time went by.
They soon directed me to take a journey to their spot, which I was going to do, but somehow, I got side tracked, it could have been the IPA’s (that’s why I love uber). I was given directions, obviously, I’m not good with memory retention and especially after a few IPA’s and so, I wondered in the wrong direction. However, being so blessed that I am, I wandered into a local design store. I was fascinated by their numerous awards on the door. I explained my passion for food and the staff at Lucky Buns. The staff of the design store, now redirected me, to supposedly the best whiskey house in DC! Get out of here! I was now given hand written directions, this time (thank god) placed in the correct direction outside their store. I ended up going around the block, which, by coincidence, was exactly right across the street from Lucky buns, where my adventure originally began! I ended up at Jack Rose, where I was told to talk to Kevin the bartender.
Fate fell upon me again and Frank had just gotten off work and was drinking an IPA and their house whiskey, once again, man-I’m blessed. I was greeted again with open arms and two hours later, I’m in awe of the magnitude in which, Frank’s passion for his craft overwhelms me and refuels my tank of, why I love my craft so much. Frank had to head out, but before we parted ways, he gave me his list of the best places where everyone hangs in the industry and where I should go.
All I can say, is that if you look up these top-notch places that I was so desperately trying to find a week ago, you will not be disappointed. Oh, by the way, I checked out Timber Pizza! That’s a whole other blog post- on the awesome side.
Overall, I look in the mirror and I’m blessed to love a craft that is inspiring, passionate and giving. Whenever my passion for the hospitality industry should waiver and I fault it, I always seem to be picked up and reminded, why I chose this profession, some 40 years ago. I’m posting the list: Check them all out, and when you are in Washington – Please go to the Jack Rose and ask for Frank behind the bar and tell him, Chef Andy sent you.
- Bad Saint
- Tail up goat
- Federalist pig
- Timber Pizza
- Pizzaria Paradiso
- Copycat Company