By now, you know the signs: the unforeseen and seemingly arbitrary road closures; the excited tweets from food bloggers; the ominous white tent outside a restaurant’s front door. It’s clear: the Obamas are out on the town again.
And more exciting for foodies is that, perhaps more than any other sitting president, our First Couple eschews the power lunches and steakhouses in favor of our fair city’s more imaginative culinary hot spots; I mean the Obamas just took their last donors dinner at Adams-Morgan’s Mintwood Place.
It’s pleasant to imagine our Commander-in-Chief as a food nerd, just as obsessed with the Washingtonian Top 100 as the rest of us… or well, at least that he has someone on his staff report out to him on it.
So what new spots, dishes, and drinks in Borderstan are about to get the Obama bump? Here’s the crib sheet:
The donor dinner: Obelisk. The Obamas have already shown they’re fans of restaurants that combine the intimate date night with world class food (see: Komi). Dupont Circle’s own Obelisk meets many of the same criteria. Warm and charming dining room? Check. Prix fixe menu filled with small tasty delights building into complex and wonderful entrees from a James Beard nominee? Check; Chef Peter Pastan’s dishes are some of the most composed and elegant in the city. Ability to close down the entire restaurant for one large group table? What better than a second floor townhouse walk-up tucked away on P Street?
That one must have dish: The si krong muu at Little Serow. Among all of the superlative plates at Johnny Monis’s it restaurant, the one that the Obamas will close off 17th Street to try will most certainly be the pork ribs marinated in Mekong whiskey and dill. Bright, herb-forward, and with heat for days, this tender meat is the definition of a presidential dish.
The burger craving: Shake Shack, BGR, Black and Orange. For all his foodie-friendly restaurant choices, our President seems to consistently love ordering bacon cheeseburgers. Time to expand his burger palate with three of DC’s premier burger palaces, all located within the Borderstan area. For his likely lunchtime pop-by, our bet is he goes for Rogue State’s Square One (sea salt and black pepper).
Date night: Iron Gate Inn or Cork. If you need a table where you can sequester off space but still retain that romantic candlelit night? How about the back room of Cork, with its dim but friendly vibe and extensive wine list? Or if he’s patient enough, perhaps Barack will wait for the impending revitalization of DC legend Iron Gate Inn? Something tells me Chef Tony Chittum, who’s already served the First Couple at Vermillion, can save his best opening night table for a visit from the White House. Plus both restaurants can provide that tucked-away, private backdrop where the Prez can feel free to serenade Michelle with some Al Green along with great food and wine.
The photo op: Florida Avenue Grill. If BO’s stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl tells us anything, it’s that he appreciates DC’s rich history and local businesses (and knows exactly when to stop by for a well-publicized lunch at a small greasy spoon). Bet on Barack to affirm his DC cred by patronizing a diner with 68 years of serving the Washington community, and some of the best hotcakes on the Eastern seaboard.