Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

DC v. NY: Food Edition

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When I return to Columbus, Cincinnati, and Athens, Ohio, there are restaurants I’m always excited to revisit. Already, in New York, I’ve developed a few favorite eateries. But were someone to ask me where to eat in DC, I don’t think I’d have anything to tell them. I can think of restaurants that are passably enjoyable—if you were going there for drinks, or happened to be nearby, then eatingin them wouldn’t be unpleasant. There are even a few places I guess I could say I considered “favorites,” though these—Cactus Cantina, Cafe Deluxe, the Argonaut—have more to do with proximity to places I lived then any spectacularity of cuisine.

I’d probably tell you to have brunch at Red Rocks, though that has more to do with the bottomless $9 mimosas than the decent but unextraordinary pizza. Maybe I’d recommend Granville Moore’s, which does have a good beer selection and, I’m told, great mussels, though I’m no mussel connoisseur; the takeout at Simply Ayzen, if you, god forbid, find yourself in Tenley; or the sweet potato fries at Wonderland Ballroom, which I just tried for the first time my 2nd-to-last week in town when some very drunk girls shared their leftovers with me. And Chef Geoff’s and Commonwealth both serve near-perfect arugula salads.

But overall—I have never thought DC’s food has very much to recommend it, and it’s almost always pricey, to boot.

On my first night in Brooklyn last week, my boyfriend, my future roommate and I set off in search of a late-dinner bite within a few blocks of our house-to-be, and stumbled across a newly-opened place on the corner of Graham Avenue and Meeker called Grandma Rose’s. It smelled good, but didn’t sell alcohol, and after moving all day, we were in the mood for a drink. We turned to leave, and the guy behind the counter said, “Hey, I mean, if it’s beer you want, I’ve got a few in the basement of my own; I can get you a beer.” So we stayed. He led us out into a huge back garden area, where we were the only ones there, and brought us corona and bud light in paper pepsi cups from his private basement stash. We ordered $6 sandwiches—eggplant pamesan, meatball, chicken & broccoli rabe—that arrived about half-an-arm’s length in size and were absolutely delicious. The chef—a charming fat, bald man (“That’s the kind of man I want making me a sandwich,” my boyfriend said) who is the owner (and apparently a former Bear Stearns stock broker) sat down and chatted with us about how everything was cooked, and asked if we had any recommendations, and when I told him it was my first night in town, he brought me free gelato. Cheap, delicious, friendly and rule-bending—had I designed it, I could not have schemed a more perfect first-night antithesis to all that is DC food culture.

[Please do not fear: food is one of the few arenas in which I am really not impressed with DC, and in which I am quite impressed with Brooklyn. But I promise I will not turn into one of those horrible people who move to New York and start immediately saying how much better everything is there. Cross my heart.]


Written by Elizabeth

August 6, 2009 at 11:48 am

Posted in City-Dwelling, Culture, Food

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. First, I have a real problem with people who deign to even compare NY and DC- 6 million population v 400,000? Its like comparing DC to some small farm town in Maryland. Of course NY has far more options. Second, I also find it very specious to claim that DC has little food to recommend. I mean, what do you want? Cheap, simple eats- Surfside for tacos, Good Stuff et al for burgers, Chop’t for salads, Zorba’s for Greek, 2 Amy’s, Pete’s Apizza, Comet, etc for pizza, the list goes on. Fine (ish) dining for relatively cheap prices ($10-$20/entree)- The cafe menu at Palena, Central (2008 Beard award for best new restaurant), Cashion’s. Upscale- Komi, Obelisk, Proof, the dining room menu at Palena, and a million others.

    I think my point is two fold: 1. Of course a city 15x the size of DC will have about 15x as many dining options and 2. If you’ve only eaten at the places you mentioned in the post then you’ve missed almost everything wonderful that DC has to offer as a dining destination.


    August 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

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