When people bring up Washington, D.C., of course politics come first. Now, thanks to powerhouse chefs like José Andrés, the conversation occasionally turns from filibusters to cuisine, Here are my 6 Top Tastes of Washington D.C. Food + Drink from May 5-6, 2013. This is a small cross section of our capitol’s food experiences, but all still worth experiencing.
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Numbered establishments on the map correspond to information below for easy reference. Establishments also appear in alphabetical order instead of in order of preference.
1. 2 Amys: Amy Morgan and Peter Pastan (husband to the second Amy) run this Neapolitan style pizzeria near Washington National Cathedral that’s certified authentic by D.O.C. (Denominazione di Originale Controllata). The interior features a pressed tin ceiling, white tile walls with black accents, and a back bar with high-top copper tables and drop down bulbs. Their white tiled pizza oven feeds on oak. D.O.C. ensures that their dough contains only soft grain flour, fresh yeast, salt and water). Yes, the dictates are intense, but 2 Amys does have some atypical toppings. I’d recommend Margherita Extra ($13.95), which sports Italian plum tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes with bright acidity on a blistered crust with good tang and chew.
2. Birch & Barley: This beer-friendly restaurant near Logan Circle features chef Kyle Bailey’s comfort food, a nationally renowned beer program from Greg Engert, and the more casual Churchkey upstairs. I sat on the sidewalk patio, and since it was Sunday, had the chance to order brunch dishes all day long. Fried chicken & waffles ($15) featured boneless buttermilk brined dark meat dredged in a batter seasoned with fenugreek, black pepper and cayenne, which delivered lingering kick. An airy Belgian waffle with buttered pecans and maple chicken jus provided a great match. Fried chicken and waffles are so popular that Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac opened a fried chicken and waffle shop near Dupont Circle called GBD (Golden Brown Delicious). Jennaway, my knowledgeable server, paired the deluxe plate with a toasty taster of Smuttynose Noonan Black IPA.
3. Churchkey: Birch & Barley shares a beer list and a couple dishes, but Churchkey generally keeps matters more casual. The space features a long bar, mustard colored booths, chandeliers, beaded sconces and views of 14th Street. Brat Burger ($16) combines a beef and pork patty with tangy beer-braised sauerkraut, and Emmenthaler cheese on a soft, yellow bun. The brat comes with crispy skin-on fries, cornichons, ketchup, aioli and whole grain mustard sauces. Jennaway, my server from the night before at Birch & Barley, was behind Churchkey’s bar, and she paired my burger with tasters of two different ales: copper hued Mad Fox Defender, a 5.2% American APA brewed exclusively with Columbus hops; and Coastal Brewing Company Dominion Double D, a golden 10.2% Imperial IPA that belied its hefty ABV though dry-hopping in the cask with 250g of citra hops.