“Somebody Feed Phil” Features 12 DC Restaurants

The enthusiastic Netflix food star thinks the District is "shedding its steak and potatoes reputation."

Somebody Feed Phil. Phil Rosenthal in episode 705 of Somebody Feed Phil. Credit: Courtesy of Netflix / © 2024 Netflix, Inc.

If Anthony Bourdain was the sarcastic, rough-around-the-edges cool kid of the food travel series, Phil Rosenthal is his gleeful, Dad-joke-dispensing brother. This year, Rosenthal became one of the few TV foodie personalities to devote a full episode to DC, visiting the District on the just-released seventh season of his Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil.

Rosenthal took viewers from U Street to Georgetown to H Street, trying some of the city’s best-loved institutions and a few newer arrivals. He was awestruck by pastries and wood-fired shawarma from Yellow, met Virginia Ali during a de rigueur visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl, talked to chef Kwame Onwuachi at Anju, and learned some American Sign Language at the deaf-owned Mozzeria near Gallaudet University.

“Historically DC hasn’t really been known as a foodie destination, but that’s all changed in recent years,” Rosenthal says in his distinctive Queens accent during the episode’s narration. “I’m telling you, it’s shedding its steak and potatoes reputation with an explosion of new cuisines.”

As he does on most episodes of Somebody Feed Phil, Rosenthal admits to knowing little about the city he’s visiting, and doesn’t spend much time talking about its history or distinct culture. The show relies on his gregariousness and the fun unscripted moments it creates, and on the knowledge of longtime local food critics and chefs who serve as his guides. 

“He’s very interested in the visceral experience of food and the human experience,” says Nevin Martell, a DC food writer who escorted Rosenthal around Georgetown for the episode. “That was his approach. He has a childlike wonder, and I mean that in the best possible way.”

After Yellow, Martell took an enthused Rosenthal to Stachowski’s Market, a hidden neighborhood gem with overstuffed pastrami sandwiches that impressed the New York native. Then they visited Baked & Wired, which many locals prefer to the more famous Georgetown Cupcake. 

While in the nation’s capital, Rosenthal does try to weave in some national politics. At Rasika, he lunches on crispy baby spinach and Peruvian purple potato dosas with CNN’s Jake Tapper and Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of the Atlantic, asking them open-ended questions about the state of America and what they love about DC. “This is a company town,” Tapper says. “We’re here because we kind of have to be.”

Later, Rosenthal brings a Republican (congressman Brian Fitzpatrick) and a Democrat (transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg) together for fried chicken and smoked bison short ribs at Maketto, chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Cambodian fusion eatery and market on H Street. 

Danny Lee, Kwame Onwuachi, and Angel Barreto appeared with Phil Rosenthal on the DC episode of Somebody Feed Phil. Photograph courtesy of Netflix.

DC’s standout Asian restaurants got plenty of attention. At Thip Khao, Rosenthal digs into chef Seng Luangrath’s fermented snacks and kua mee noodles, and he takes Jameson-kimchi brine shots at Anju with owners Danny Lee and Angel Barreto and their friend chef Kwame Onwuachi, ahead of the James Beard winner’s return to the DC restaurant scene this year. 

Rosenthal also snacks on baked goods from Bread Furst and grabs takeout from Call Your Mother, and makes the pilgrimage to Ben’s with his own son Ben. 

With a dozen restaurants represented in a 49-minute episode, Rosenthal was able to cover a lot of ground.

“You’ll never get everywhere, but I was really happy with the places we got to go,” Martell says, adding: “If a viewer who had never eaten in our city did a dining tour based on the show, they’d be in for a real treat and walk away with a strong starting understanding of why DC is one of the top food cities in America.”

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor