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DC’s Top 15 Unique Eats

Posted August 27, 2012 by Mary Kong-DeVito in Dining Out
Black Jack

Washington is full of culturally diverse eats, and you can’t afford to miss these. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good steak, burger or pizza, but I’ve been preaching for years that DC is full of fun, diverse food and drink. There is bound to be lots of exciting, new things that you haven’t tried before, like stinky tofu, blueberry steak, deep-fried Snickers bars or chicken hearts.

Spreading faster than the bedbug epidemic in New York, DC’s restaurant scene is home to 2,200 restaurants as of 2010, according to Candice Siegel of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

Last year’s 15 Unique Washingtonian Eats list is still relevant and worth a look-see.  How many of the following have you tried?

  1. Nobody wants to admit it, but when you’re drunk at 4 o’clock in the morning, Jumbo Slice tastes like the second coming of Christ. And according to Food Wars judge Lisa Shapiro, Pizza Mart’s got the best. 2445 18th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.234.9700
  2. Put it on your wings, your fries, in your baby’s formula–hell, brush your teeth with it. Mumbo sauce tastes like a sweet, tangy Asian barbecue sauce, and goes with everything, especially chicken. Find this DC-centric condiment at most hole-in-the-wall carryouts.
  3. DC has a healthy food truck culture with over 120 active meals on wheels in the metropolitan area, according to real-time tracker, Food Truck Fiesta. Follow them to find everything from alligator bites to baked ziti.
  4. Black Jack has one of two bocce ball courts in the city, but it’s the only one indoors and under the watchful gaze of a large longhorn named “Bocce Bob.” Oh, the seafood’s rockin’, too. 1612 14th Street NW, Washington DC. 202.986.5225
  5. Toki Underground is one of only a few ramen shops and still the best. The Curry Chicken Hakata (pictured right) seriously kills it, and is a bargain at $10. To combat the long lines, go an hour before you get hungry, or grab a drink on H Street after putting your name on the list. See my previous coverage here. 1234 H Street NE, Washington, DC. 202.388.3086.
  6. ChurchKey has the largest craft beer selection in the city with over 500 bottled beers and a whopping 50 on tap. Order a martini here and risk silent judgement from beer-chugging patrons. 1137 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.567.2576
  7. Sticky Fingers is the best vegan bakery, with baked goods that don’t taste like greasy bricks that if dropped from the top of a building, could kill someone. Look for the gluten-free oatmeal cream pies and grilled soy cheese sammies. 1370 Park Road NW, Washington, DC. 202.299.9700
  8. Real Louisiana cooking is hard to find and Acadiana is still consistently the best. Make sure to get the biscuits with pepper jelly, turtle soup and charbroiled oysters. 901 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC. 202.408.8848
  9. Thunder Burger looks like the set of “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels” and serves exotic (and sometimes controversial) meats like kangaroo, ostrich, and venison. For Shark Week, they’re serving sand shark. See my previous coverage here. 3056 M Street NW, Washington, DC. 202.333.2888
  10. Cause: The Philantropub is really the first of its kind anywhere, a restaurant and bar that donates 100% of its net profits to charity. Just think of all the “generous” donations you’ve been making elsewhere. Look for it when doors open in the fall. 1926 9th Street NW, Washington, DC.
  11. We’re digging the proliferation of Eastern European fare in the city. Bistro Bohem serves Czechoslovakian and Eastern European food, including garlic soup, beef goulash and our favorite, pierogies stuffed with potatoes and cheese. 600 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC. 202.735.5895
  12. Another way to feel good about how you eat, Karma Kitchen is a pop-up restaurant that occurs the last Sunday of each month from noon-3 pm. Pay your vegetarian meal forward in donations of money, gifts or well wishes. See my previous coverage here. White Tiger Restaurant, 301 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC. 202.546.5900
  13. A Bar at the Avenue Suites serves cryo-cocktails, a series of liquid nitrogen-infused cocktails that intensify as they melt from “A Christmas Story” frozen-tongue state. Try the Gong-Li (pictured right) with rum, lime, basil and a fresh, frozen strawberry. 2500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC. 202.333.8060
  14. Love it or hate it, New York Avenue Beach Bar is the only beach within DC limits since the Tidal Basin, and a welcome relief for humans and cats alike. Don’t forget your flip-flops. 645 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC. 202.656.922
  15. And the number one grub unique to DC is…Ethiopian food. Outside of Ethiopia, that is. DC is home to the largest Ethiopian population in the country, which means the stuff we got here? Is damn delicious. You won’t find it in New York, you won’t find it in LA, you won’t find it in Chicago or Miami. We got this one, bitches. Find the best here.

About the Author

Mary Kong-DeVito

Mary grew up in New York where the food-centric city and her family's restaurants were literally her playground. Instead of eating dirt, she ate duck blood and rotten eggs. You never know what you'll find on the sidewalks.Mary is a veteran of the hospitality industry who's worked with numerous celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Patrick Ewing, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe and Jane Krakowski. Her writing has appeared in DC Modern Luxury, Washington Post Express, Eater, Scoutmob, Washington Flyer and Washington City Paper.She eats "normal" stuff too, like cheeseburgers. Kangaroo cheeseburgers.