America has a new No.1 food city... fancy a taste in 2017?
Something’s cooking in DC, says Pól Ó Conghaile.
Think of America’s great food cities, and New York, Chicago and LA spring to mind. Heck, maybe even Charleston or Las Vegas. But Washington DC?
Absolutely. This winter, the Zagat guide named the US capital as it’s No.1 food city, citing a string of new restaurant openings — including Bad Saint, The Shaw Bijou and RPM Italian by US reality TV stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic — among the reasons it topped the poll.
“Most longtime residents would agree that DC was stuck in a dining rut for decades,” Zagat raved. “It’s almost as if someone has hit the fast-forward button.”
Last October, DC became only the fourth US city to get its own edition of the Michelin Guide. Stars were dished out to 12 restaurants, with 19 more awarded bib gourmands for “exceptional food at moderate prices”.
Minibar, Pineapple & Pearls and The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia got two stars, joining just 20 other US restaurants with the accolade.
But it’s not just the fancy stuff. President Obama is famously a fan of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street North West (try the iconic Chili Half-smokes — hot-dogs slathered in thick chilli sauce with fries), and foodie website Eater (dc.eater.com) has a mouthwatering list of 50 iconic foods to devour in the city, including Nepolitan pizza at 2 Amys and crème brûlée doughnuts at Astro. Yum.
Fancy a taste?
Washington.org has a lip-smacking list of food tours, and Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) and United (united.com) fly direct from Dublin. 2017, anyone?
D.C.'s Hottest Ticket
DC’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (nmaahc.si.edu; free) opened in September, but it’s already the hottest ticket in town.
Going to press, timed passes were booked out until April of 2017 (book in advance, or arrive early for one of a limited number of same-day passes issued from 9.15am only).
Food is integral here, too. The museum’s Sweet Home Café showcases the food traditions of African American people, with dishes ranging from pan-fried Louisiana catfish po’boys to ‘Smoking Hot’ Caribbean-style Pepper Pot.
Most Irish visits to Washington DC don’t go beyond the city limits, but there are oodles of reasons to rent a car and explore Maryland (above) and Virginia.
Did you know Virginia is home to over 260 wineries and an oyster trail (virginiaoystertrail.com) or that it is the official birthplace of country music, thanks to the 1927 Bristol Sessions?
In Maryland, a new state park honouring abolitionist Harriet Tubman is set to open this spring. Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit both, with natural displays rivalling New England’s. See capitalregion.com for more.