What Chris Pitt knows about the food and culture of Washington, DC’s neighbourhoods is nothing short of amazing. Chris is Director of Outreach and Development of Food Tour Corporation, and they run DC Metro Food Tours. These are free food tours of Washington, DC (they work for tips). I took his tour that ran in the Capital Hill neighbourhood and it was fabulous! Highly recommend it when you’re in Washington. Here are some highlights.
First we start off with a bit of must-know trivia about Washington, DC and I’m glad we did. Washington is an incredibly easy city to get around, like someone actually designed the perfect city with people in mind! The city is a simple grid with numbered streets running vertically and letters of the alphabet running horizontally. Diagonally are streets named after the states. To make sure all the streets have names, the city is divided into four quadrants (NW, NE, SW, + SR) with Capital Hill being the axis point. This means the same address exists in each of the four quadrants, so the quadrant suffix is really important. For example, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW is the address for the White House, but 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NE is the address for McDonald’s!
You really need to know which quadrant you’re in! What happens when they run out of letters of the alphabet? Well, this is really interesting too. They name streets with one syllable, like Brad. Then further out, they name streets with two syllables, like Adam. Further out are the three syllable names like Broderick. So when someone gives you their address, you know how far away from the downtown core they live, by syllables! It’s brilliant!
Chris tells stories of the Capital Hill neighbourhood complete with bits of juicy scandal. In between restaurants we walk the neighbourhood and he talks of houses, people Stendra Online and history. In between, we eat. We walk past the army barracks and the band is practicing outside – fantastic!
In between the captivating stories, we eat. Here is the run down of restaurants.
Zest is an American Bistro and our first stop. We sit down to a dish of Seared Duck Breast with Edamame Cous Cous and Cherry Compote. It’s cherry blossom season and cherry dishes appear on restaurant menus all over the city.
We walk by Ted’s Bulletin, a small eaterie and bakery where the front window is a display kitchen where they make their iconic pop-tarts! The first time we walk by, they are rolling out the pop-tart dough. The second time we walk by, they have spread out some kind of red fruit filling and the third time we walk by, they have spread out the chocolate filling and are starting to fold them over for the oven. They are tempting, but we are already eating so much!
Las Placitas is our second stop. This Salvadoran restaurant puts out platters of delicious ethnic dishes and we feast. To wash it down they serve up Cherry Margaritas in celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s all fantastic fare.
Another walk through a different part of the neighbourhood and we finish off at Lavagna Ristorante, an Italian farm to table eaterie. Here we’re served up a fantastic dish of pesto rigatoni with in-house made fennel sausages. They finish us off with a dessert of Mascarpone Cream and Sweet Washington Cherries.
People who take this tour are foodies who want to experience something deliciously new. We all commune around the same table, break bread, make new friends and learn interesting facts that make us richer. It’s a great experience and one to do again and again.