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Andrés. Photograph by Pablo de Loy.

A petition on Change.org asks ThinkFoodGroup President José Andrés to "reconsider" his plan to open a restaurant in the luxury hotel Donald Trump is building in the Old Post Office.

The petition says Andrés should balk because of Trump's recent remarks about Mexican immigrants. Trump, a developer who is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said last month that Mexicans are "bringing drugs" in to the US and claimed "they’re rapists."

Univision, Macy's, and NBC have since cut ties with Trump. Andrés is a native of Spain whose company owns more than a half-dozen restaurants in the Washington area, including the Mexican restaurant Oyamel.

"We are proud to have José Andrés in Washington, D.C., which is why we hope he decides that Donald Trump is not someone he should do business with," the petition reads.

WAMU's Armando Trull reported Thursday that Lisa Navarrete of the Latino organization National Council of La Raza said Trump's statements are "diametrically opposed to what José Andrés believes and more importantly what José Andrés represents — an immigrant who came to this country and been enormously successful and is making contributions everyday, charitable, to our cuisine, to our culture."

Andrés replied to Trull's story on Twitter:

Posted at 03:11 PM/ET, 07/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Tasty options around Georgetown, the Mall, National Cathedral, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Find the best spots to eat and drink around the fireworks.

While the July 4th fireworks are Saturday’s main event, you’ll want to eat and drink well before the 9:15 show. Any popular watch spot will be crowded—particularly heavily touristed areas. Here are a few ideas for tasty stops in several of the most popular destinations, including tips for avoiding the crush. For a list of brunches, barbecues, and organized events, check out our July 4th Dining and Drinking Guide.

The Georgetown Waterfront/Key Bridge

Combine a popular tourist neighborhood with July 4th fireworks and you guarantee one thing: crowds. Unless you have particularly sharp elbows—or snagged a reservation at Fiola Mare—we wouldn’t fight for table on the waterfront or main M Street drag.

  • Grab a delicious Maine lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster, just off M Street, and plan on picnicking. The shop also has a few seats, plus wine and beer.

  • Start at Bayou on Pennsylvania Avenue—slightly off the beaten path towards Foggy Bottom, but still easily walkable from G’Town—for tasty fried green tomatoes, po’ boys, and Abita beers.

  • Rise above the fray by starting in upper Georgetown/Book Hill. We like the cozy Bistro Lepic for French fare and wine.

  • Take refuge in one of the neighborhood’s swanky hotel bars, like Degrees in the Ritz-Carlton or the Capella’s Rye Bar. A cocktail will cost you, but you may find room to breathe.

The famous Central burger. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The National Mall

The National Park Service always advises bringing food and water (alcohol is a no-no), and you’ll need it once you’ve found a prime watch spot. Otherwise fill up on food and drinks in neighborhoods close to the Mall like Foggy Bottom on the Lincoln Memorial side, or Penn Quarter and Capitol Hill on the opposite end.

  • Order a pre-packed picnic from restaurants catering to fireworks-goers, like fried chicken buckets from Penn Commons or barbecue delivery to the Mall itself from Hill Country.

  • Drop into Chef Geoff’s Downtown. It’s a one-stop Metro ride to the Mall, and a something-for-everyone kind of place that’s family (and wallet) friendly.

  • For something fancier and foodie-er, try Central Michel Richard. Dishes like the lobster burger and fried chicken are Washington classics, and there’s a bar if tables are booked.

  • Head to the Mitsitam Cafe located inside the Museum of the American Indian for an early meal (open until 5). The fare takes cafeteria-style dining to a new level—granted, at a higher price—with cedar-planked salmon, enchiladas mole, and alcoholic beverages.

The National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Spectators can catch the fireworks from the Cathedral’s lawn and parking lot. The crowd gears more local than others downtown, but the restaurant/bar options are fewer—prepare to fight neighbors for tables.

  • The little restaurant row on nearby Macomb Street includes great options like 2 Amys (Neapolitan pizza), La Piquette (cozy French), and Cactus Cantina (cheesy Mexican). Be warned these eateries are crowded on an average weekend, so there’s no telling what a July 4th Saturday will look like.

  • For a quick-grab option, Jetties sandwich shop on Macomb Street is a great option for a picnic to bring over to the Cathedral. Grab a Thanksgiving-style Nobadeer sandwich and cheers America, and don’t forget a cupcake for dessert from sister bakeshop Something Sweet.

  • Start in Glover Park, where you’ll find a number of decent restaurants. Try a wood-fired pizza and house-made limoncello at Arcuri, and Breadsoda for beers and games like shuffleboard and darts.
Try culinary fireworks before the real show with spicy Laotian fare at Thip Khao.


Cardozo High School and Meridian Hill Park

1200 Clifton St., NW; 2500 16th St., NW

This is one of the richest areas for dining and drinking options before and after the fireworks—U Street, 14th Street, and Columbia Heights are all in close proximity.

  • For a quick-grab option, go for tacos. Tacos El Chilango whips up simple, tasty Mexican tacos, guacamole, and cervezas. A small back patio is the place to be if the weather is nice. Pica Taco is another option for no-frills tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.

  • Start further away from the crowded areas at Thip Khao (about a 20 minute walk and eight minute cab from Cardozo). The mouth-searing Laotian fare creates fireworks before the real show starts.

  • For something closer, check out the G sandwich/Kapnos duo. The latter has a fairly large bar area if all the tables are taken, while the adjoining shop packs sandwich picnic boxes until 5, and serves a la carte Italian after.

McKinley Technology High School

151 T St., NE

The vantage point from McKinley in DC’s Eckington neighborhood is as good as Cardozo, minus the raucous U Street crowds after—though you’e not far, so joining the revelry is an option. Nearby Bloomingdale and Shaw also offer good options for eating and drinking.

  • Short on time? Drop into DCity Smokehouse for some of the city’s best barbecue. Pulled pork or brisket sandwiches make for tasty takeout, or you can grab a stool in the shop.

  • The Pub & the People just a block away offers tasty gastropub fare and a casual-hip vibe.

  • Check out Bloomingdale’s concentrated restaurant/bar area about a 10 minute walk away, with the Red Hen (destination-worthy Italian), Boundary Stone (neighborhood gastropub), El Camino (low-key Mexican), and more.

Posted at 10:13 AM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Don't even think of making them any other way. By Todd Kliman
Photograph via Shutterstock.

Earlier this week, with July 4 looming and my thoughts turning to the grill, I decided to reach out to my friend the Burger Guru for tips.

The Burger Guru is brash. He’s a handful. “I guarantee you that everything you think you know about burgers,” he told me, “is wrong.”

Teach me, I said, and opened myself up to receive his years of accumulated patty wisdom.

The Burger Guru has cooked at burger competitions around the country, including at the World Burger Championship in Las Vegas. He has made and eaten a lot of burgers, but also, and more important, he has spent considerable time studying the science of burgers.

What followed was a long conversation about protein fibers and acids, about creating moisture and retaining it, about surface air and air pockets. It might have been boring, but the Burger Guru didn’t get to be the Burger Guru by putting people to sleep. He made it interesting.

Indeed, it was this knowledge, he seemed to suggest, that separated him from many of his less studious colleagues, and helped him to understand how (without resorting to tricks like folding foie gras into the mix or indulging in easy add-ons like bacon) to build a better burger.

A burger so rich, so tender, and so juicy that, even when cooked medium or medium-well, it was memorably wonderful.

The friends I invited over that night begged me to make it for them again.

Not to worry, I said. From here on out I won’t even consider doing it any other way.

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Posted at 10:07 AM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today's food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Angie Hilsman

Happy Thursday, food truck followers! Start the holiday weekend off right at Franklin Square, where you'll find Cajunators with crispy soft shell crabs.

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Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Tom Ibach talks about the changes he's seen in Rehoboth. By Emma Foehringer Merchant
Photograph by Kimberly Tucker.

The beach resorts have evolved right along with Washington—upscaling, expanding, retooling. We asked Tom Ibach, a third-generation owner of the seemingly eternal Dolle's taffy shop in Rehoboth, about the changes he's seen on the boardwalk.

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Posted at 09:16 AM/ET, 07/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Heading to the Delaware shore? Here's where to find our favorite hoagies, oysters, and more. By Ann Limpert, Todd Kliman
The expertly fried shrimp at Salt Air Kitchen. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

1) A(muse.)

44 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7107

Hari Cameron's restaurant would be a star on the scene in DC. Scouring his surroundings for high-quality fish and produce, the chef turns out formally daring plates that, paradoxically, seduce with their simplicity and directness. Two recent creations hit the highest notes: a dish of grilled asparagus with mustard seeds and a luscious preparation of sweetbreads that gestured in the direction of Buffalo wings.

2) Casapulla’s South

19331 Lighthouse Plaza Blvd., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7827

This always swarmed sub shop understands the tenets of hoagie construction—that the sandwich has to be generously portioned, properly dressed, and given just the right amount of oil, vinegar, and oregano. The Italian cold cut is fantastic, but it’s a measure of how good the place is that the tuna fish is almost as satisfying.

3) Henlopen City Oyster House

50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-260-9193

What Hank’s Oyster Bar is to DC, Henlopen City is to Rehoboth—a convivial nightly party. The menu is small and focused, which is to its credit: Don’t come if you’re not in a mood for fish or shellfish, or lots of fry. Beyond the eight to ten varieties of oysters, most of them from the East Coast, there’s a good, authentic oyster chowder and a rewarding seafood po’ boy.

4) Papa Grande’s

210 Second St., Rehoboth Beach; 302-212-2409

The best thing about this Mexican newbie? It doesn’t try too hard. The guac isn’t gussied up, the Mexican street snacks refrain from pretentious spins on traditional dishes (the cobs of corn rolled in mayo and dusted with cheese and chili powder and the sparkling seafood cocktail are straight-ahead and authentic), and the rice and beans are prepared with care.

5) Salt Air Kitchen

50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-3744

This cheery favorite's menu, an approachable mix of snacky Mid-Atlantic fare, is great for grazing. We go for the crab deviled eggs topped with slivers of jalapeño, freshly fried chips served with a Mason jar of creamy bacon-and-onion dip, and a wooden platter spilling with beautifully fried shrimp, house-made cocktail sauce, and cornbread.

Posted at 03:50 PM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hot pot tables, roving soup carts, and family-style dishes to come. By Anna Spiegel
The Source will close for renovations--and a new menu. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Source by Wolfgang Puck, a top player in Washington’s fine dining scene since 2007, will close temporarily for a fresh look and new menu on Monday, August 3rd.

As of now the restaurant is divided into two levels: a first-floor izakaya, and second-floor dining room that offers pricey a la carte items and an optional tasting menu. The revamp will bring a wok station and new focus to the sidewalk-level space, which will serve riffs on Chinese classics. The more formal section of the restaurant above will offer a hot pot tasting menu from chef Scott Drewno, where guests will cook a progression of dishes themselves in broths like spicy Sichuan peppercorn. A portion of the new menu will also focus on shareable large-format dishes, such as the kitchen's signature Chinese lacquered duckling served two-ways. Twists on classic soups will be ladled table-side from a cart.

Los Angeles-based designer Waldo Fernandez is behind the new design in both the lounge and dining room. Stay tuned for more details closer to the date.

Posted at 01:49 PM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This new Washington meat market takes price-jacking to an egregious level. By Todd Kliman
The newly opened Claudia's Steakhouse pours $125 martinis, and jacks prices on generic wines. Photograph via Claudia's.

The term steakhouse used to mean lots of dark wood and green carpet and lighting more suited to a pool hall. Dens for men, basically.

The new Claudia’s Steakhouse is owned by a woman, Claudia Rivas, and presents itself as a kind of upscale hotel lounge, with a vibe more suited to Vegas or Miami than a city where people think it’s sexy to work long hours.

And in the heart of K St., no less, where showing up to work with a blue tie is regarded as a fashion statement.

Which I thought was kind of interesting when I first read about the place. I liked the daring.

When I dropped by recently for dinner, the dining room was nearly empty, which made it easy to take in its garish stylishness, though I had to use my imagination to fill in the cash-flashing trendies who should have been at the tables.

This is an age when restaurants want desperately to be seen as casual and approachable places that you can slip into a couple of times a week and feel at home. And here was Claudia’s, having none of that. There was nothing unassuming or unpretentious about the place. Forget faux-rusticity. Here was splendor. Grandeur. Big statements. It seemed determined to whisk us back to the pre-crash years of the early aughts.

Which was also interesting and daring in its way, though now I began to wonder: Is this brash defiance of culinary and cultural norms? Or blithe delusion?

At this point, I was primed to expect insanely out-of-joint prices and I was not disappointed.

$58 for a 12-ounce filet mignon. $65 for a bone-in ribeye. $98 for a 32-ounce porterhouse.

But fine: it’s a steakhouse, in DC, in the land of lobbyists.

It was the wine prices that caused my face go into free fall.

“What’s wrong?” my tablemate asked.

But my eyes were too fixed on the listing for Mark West Pinot Noir to look up.

You may have had this wine before. It’s an easy-drinking Pinot Noir, the kind of inoffensive red that many casual American restaurants add to their lists at the low end. I’ve seen it for $8 a glass. Claudia’s wants $19 for six ounces.

Columbia Crest Merlot, a wine I’ve had on airplanes, sells for $12 a glass.

At Total Wine & More, the Mark West Pinot Noir is currently selling for $7.97 a bottle. At Claudia’s: $72 a bottle.

St. Michelle Riesling, another cheapie, retails from the winery’s own site for $9 a bottle. You can find it at Total Wine & More for $8.99. Claudia’s: $44

Or how about this one: Simi Cabernet 2012 — a big, simple red, about which you can’t say much more than that it’s big and simple and red? It retails at Total Wine & More for under $17. At Claudia’s, it’s $18 a glass ($58 a bottle).

Mark-ups in the industry are generally two-and-a-half times the cost of retail. It’s one way that restaurants help to make ends meet. Discerning diners often don’t mind paying that extra cost when it’s at a place like Red Hen, where sommelier Sebastian Zutant approaches his job like that of a truffle hound, sussing out unusual or obscure varieties.

But five and even eight times the retail cost?

And for wines you can find at a Giant and Safeway?

Oh, and one final bit of price gouging for you: “The Claudia’s” — a cocktail of Nolet reserve gin, saffron bitters, and dry vermouth — goes for $125. Making it (by far) the most expensive cocktail in DC.

I’m not counting on a long future for Claudia’s, which, I should point out, is doing a nice job with its lineup of Latin small plates.

But if it somehow attracts enough tourists and unsuspecting locals to sustain a following, it will have proved something interesting and, I guess, daring in its way: the more steakhouses change, the more they stay the same.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find today’s food trucks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. By Harrison Smith

Good Wednesday morning, food truck followers! Head out of the office for vindaloo at Chatpat Truck in L'Enfant Plaza, or for lasagna at Basil Thyme at Union Station.

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Posted at 09:41 AM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Chefs prepare ready-made feasts for watching the fireworks, or escaping the crowds. By Nelson Billington
Find the perfect picnic for your July 4th weekend. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Nothing says July 4th weekend like a picnic, not to mention relaxing one where chefs take over the work. A number of Washington restaurants offer baskets and boxes for all your outdoor eating needs, whether you want to feast on the National Mall while watching the fireworks, or plan a meal in your own quieter spot--here are nine of our favorites around DC.

If you want to assemble your own spread, check out Washingtonian’s guide, Where Foodies Shop, for the best markets, cheese purveyors, meats, and more.

Fried chicken picnic boxes from Penn Commons

700 6th St., NW

This Penn Quarter eatery near-ish the National Mall designs boxes with watching fireworks in mind. Orders include buttermilk-fried chicken, potato salad, corn chow-chow, and peach hand-pies.

Details: Stop in any day this week or call ahead to order; feeds two; $17.76

Barbecue delivery boxes from Hill Country

410 Seventh St., NW

Hoping to eat ribs and brisket on the National Mall while watching the fireworks? Arrange a rendezvous with Hill Country’s delivery service at either 10th Street and Constitution Avenue, Northwest, or at the Smithsonian Castle (10th and Jefferson Dr., SW). Call 202-556-2044 to place orders from the menu.

Details: Pre-order by July 3 at 3; prices vary; pickup at designated areas on July 4.

Sandwich basket from G by Mike Isabella

2201 14th St., NW

G creates a picnic basket with their top sandwiches like chicken parm, roasted cauliflower, and lamb gyros. The meal includes a choice of a seasonal sides, non-alcoholic beverage, chips, and Nutella cookies.

Details: Order online 24 hours in advance starting July 1; feeds two ($39) or four ($74); pickup from 11 to 5.

Americano and Italiano picnic baskets from Centrolina

974 Palmer Alley, NW

Chef Amy Brandwein’s new Italian market offers two kinds of picnic baskets: an American one starring fried chicken, and an Italian version with prosciutto sandwiches. Both include side salads, snacks, and either local beer or Prosecco.

Details: Order online by July 1 at 2; feeds two or four; $75 or $150; pickup on July 3 or 4.

Haute dog and burger packs from Red Apron Butcher

Union Market (1309 Fifth St., NE); Penn Quarter (709 D St., NW); Mosaic District (8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax)

Make grilling out in the park easier than cooking at home with these house-made hot dog and 1/3 pound burger packages from chef Nate Anda. Each comes with buns, traditional toppings like lettuce and tomato, and condiments like smoked mayonnaise and pickle relish; additional homemade sides are available in the markets, as well as extra sausages and grill-ready ribs.

Details: Pre-order by calling the shops; packs serve 5; $23 for hot dogs; $28 burgers.

Barbecue baskets from Society Fair

277 S. Washington St. Alexandria, VA

Chef Cathal Armstrong’s market sells barbecue baskets with ready-to-grill brined pork chops, and pre-made potato and succotash salads. There’s plenty more meats, sides, and drinks in the market if you want to add extras.

Details: Order online by Friday; feeds four; $65.

Dessert essentials kit from Rare Sweets

963 Palmer Alley, NW (CityCenterDC)

Pastry chef Meredith Tomason whips up sweets inspired by First Lady favorites. Try Lady Bird Johnson’s favorite lemon bars or Hillary Clinton’s oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, available individually or in a box of four FLOTUS-style desserts.

Details: Available through July 3; prices for individual sweets vary; $65 per box that serves six.

Louisiana-style picnic from Bayou Bakery Capitol Hill

901 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

The team at the newly opened Capitol Hill branch of David Guas’ Louisiana-style bakery/cafe offers picnic boxes with a choice of three sandwiches (pimento cheese, chicken salad, shaved turkey), Zapp’s chips, lemon-cornmeal cookies, and fresh fruit.

Details: Stop in any day this week; feeds one; $15

Fried chicken buckets at Boundary Road

414 H St., NE

This Atlas District restaurant offers 50 fried chicken buckets over the holiday weekend, which include eight pieces and sides (dine-in, or carryout).

Details: Buckets ($40) can be reserved by calling 202-450-3265; available for pickup July 4 between 11:15 am and midnight.

Posted at 07:00 AM/ET, 07/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()