Eating D.C.: Dining Dispatches from the Capital

Categories: On the Road

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
I brought Jester King's original Black Metal to the White House. Texas represent! (Side note: Security was surprisingly okay with this. "Don't worry," the young screener told me. "The x-ray machine won't hurt your beer.")
As of this writing, I am still comfortably ensconced in the Hotel Palomar in our nation's capital. There is a Negroni at my side, compliments of the hotel, which was waiting for me in the room after I returned from walking off a Shake Shack burger at lunch. That's service.

Both the Shake Shack and the hotel are located in the vibrant Dupont Circle part of town, where everyone walks and rides bikes despite the heat and frequents food carts on the street and eats at adorable restaurants in cozy brownstone basements. It's an area which I quickly fell in love with before learning via Craigslist that it costs roughly $3,000 a month for a 400-square-foot studio. And then I remembered one of the many reasons Houston isn't so bad after all.

I'm here for the annual Association of Food Journalists conference, three short days which have been as exciting as the food in D.C. itself. I've taken a tour of the not-yet-opened FOOD (yes, all caps) exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and viewed Julia Child's kitchen with all the wonder of a small child -- and felt like one, too, peering over her extra-tall counters.

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Julia Child's preserved-in-amber kitchen is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. It will be the centerpiece of the FOOD: Transforming the American Table exhibit when it opens on November 20.
I've listened to Barry Estabrook talk about the years of investigative journalism that went into the writing of Tomatoland, the book which unveiled the disgusting slave trade that goes into the production of your winter tomatoes in Florida. I've had punch and oysters with Nadia Arumugam from Forbes and Slate, whose British-accented advice on food history writing and consumer reporting I let wash over me while I learned all about the trouble with expiration dates and the growing wheat problem in Japan.

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White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford and pastry chef Bill Yosses.
I've toured the White House gardens with executive chef Cristeta Comerford and pastry chef Bill Yosses, who let us eat lemon verbena and tomatoes off the vine. I went to a ritzy State Department soiree where the brand-new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership was launched in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation and saw first-hand just how important food is to the current White House administration.

I laughed along with my other food writers while Ann Hodgman led a panel on humor's place in food. I listened enraptured as Robert Sietsema and Tom Sietsema -- fifth cousins who are the food critics for the Village Voice and the Washington Post, respectively -- explained how they both accidentally fell into food writing. And I found out that other food critics often feel as insane and frazzled as I do, perhaps the most welcome lesson of all this week.

Equally importantly, I ate. A lot.

Location Info


1302 Nance St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

9400 Richmond, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Burger Guys - CLOSED

12225 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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In the headline, it should be "Capitol" with an o.


Totally agree with Pizzeria Paradiso - great pizza, great beer list. Never made it to Church Key, but wanted to. I preferred the burgers and shakes at Good Stuff Eatery, but your choice is not bad. I very much miss Ned's for Ethiopian food. Place was inconsistent, but usually great when it was open. Good article!


You're a lucky woman!  Livin' the dream!  I second Craigley on Old Ebbitt and would raise him a bowl of navy bean soup served in the Capitol basement, for the last 100+ years, just to say you did.  BTW, the Pacific NW has had trouble with red tide this summer also.  And who did Amanda's hair??  :)


Jealous -- every bit of that trip sounds like something I would have considered heaven!

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