Food

President Biden Dines at Latin-Mediterranean Restaurant Imperfecto

The owner calls the visit "better than a Michelin star."

President Joe Biden walks out of a Imperfecto restaurant in Washington, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden joined family for a multi-course dinner at chic new Latin-Mediterranean restaurant Imperfecto on Friday night.

Co-owner Ezequiel Vázquez-Ger, who also operates modernist pan-Latin Seven Reasons on 14th Street, says someone from the Biden camp made the reservation for around 20 people a month and a half ago, indicating that the President might possibly show up. The morning of the dinner, Vázquez-Ger got to the West End restaurant at 8 AM to prepare, but thought the presidential visit might be off when Secret Service didn’t show up all day. Shortly before 7 PM, however, Biden’s security entourage finally did arrive to sweep the dining room and kitchen.

“They were super nice,” Vázquez-Ger says. “They told me, ‘Sir, if you think we’re bothering or interfering your type of service, let us know.”

Imperfecto opened in the West End in March. Photography by Jennifer Chase.

Biden’s group sat in Imperfecto’s private dining room and ordered a prix-fixe menu that included lamb moussaka “cigars,” burrata, tuna tartare with shishito puree and trout caviar, wild mushroom risotto with scallops, slow-roasted suckling pig, and dry-aged prime tenderloin with onion carbonara.

“I tried not to bother, not to be inside. I told the staff, ‘No photos. Let’s respect their privacy, make them feel we’re not here.’ And I think they really appreciated that,” Vázquez-Ger says.

Right-wing media reports of the excursion focused on Biden not wearing a mask inside the restaurant after speaking in a hoarse voice and coughing during a speech earlier in the day. Vázquez-Ger says that’s not accurate.

“He did wear a mask all night,” the restaurateur says. “The reason he left without is because he was greeting his granddaughter. As soon as he walked out, he realized he left it, so he immediately came back in, put it on, and left. They only took the photo without it.”

DC lifted its indoor mask mandate for restaurants more than a week ago, and Imperfecto no longer requires them of diners. Biden previously received backlash for not wearing a mask while exiting Fiola Mare after a date night with First Lady Jill Biden in October.

Biden has made the rounds to a handful of DC-area restaurants since taking office, including a bagel stop at Call Your Mother in Georgetown, taco takeout from Las Gemelas near Union Market, and brunch with the VP at 14th Street French brasserie Le Diplomate. Vázquez-Ger says he’s already seen a Biden bump. The following night, Saturday, Imperfecto had 90 people on its waiting list and is already packed every day this week.

“It’s super exciting,” Vázquez-Ger says, “All the work we put in every day and then to have the most important person in the country come and enjoy, it’s better than a Michelin star.”

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Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.