I posted this article in my About section as an interesting read:
"Getting a good meal in D.C. requires some ruthless economics", Washington Post, May 25, 2012 - A very interesting read on the state of restaurants in Washington DC and while I don't wholly agree with everything in the article, I can relate to it just from my experiences in comparing NYC to DC.
I was going to leave it at that but I kept thinking about what it said about DC and the state of its food because while I don't agree with everything in the article, I think a lot of the points it makes are spot on. Like I've said before, I don't consider myself an expert on food but I've eaten at a lot of places. I started this blog about 5 years ago but never really got into it until recently. I wish I did record some of my previous experiences because I feel like there are a ton of restaurants that helped encourage my love for food that I haven't talked about and hopefully I'll get back to them soon. But, I digress.
Maybe I was spoiled to have lived in NYC so long and I was able to experience the food scene there. I used to keep track of every place I had eaten (minus things like my daily lunch) in NYC on Google Maps. I haven't updated it since 2008 I think but it looks like this:
View Where to Eat in NYC in a larger map
But, my point is that there is such a wealth of restaurants in NYC and it was always really exciting to find that next spot or that little neighborhood hideaway that is doing great cuisine. I consider places like Dell'Anima and Sorella to be like that. I don't find that to be the case in DC. Now, yes, it is unfair to compare NYC to DC but I'm not talking about small degrees of difference here. I think its a pretty wide chasm and it doesn't make sense to me considering how well educated and diverse DC is.
There were a few points in the article and subsequent comments that I thought were poignant. The first was that DC's food scene is largely built upon big, fancy restaurants (I run away from these like the plague) which I think is true since there is such an image-conscious workforce in DC that needs those places to entertain clients. The interesting point about that is that in NYC, those corporate dollars encourage niche and eclectic cuisine while DC's is considerably more conservative which, I think, stunts the growth of really creative and inspiring food.
Second, in the comments, someone wrote that you can't just consider downtown as the DC food scene and you have to consider Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, U Street, etc...I agree with this but I think the point of the article is that those neighborhoods are somewhat considered to be the fringe kind of niche-y part of the DC food scene (though gentrification spreading). I think in NYC, those types of areas are quickly embraced and showcased.
It may be that I haven't been here long enough to really judge or it may be that I just haven't found all the right places. Right now, I only have one restaurant that I'm really dying to go to (Maple Ave) in the DC area and even then that's way out in Vienna, VA. Yes, I haven't been to Graffiato or Rasika or been back to Zaytinya but those are the restaurants I tend to stay away from since they are so famous. It's like saying I want to go to Per Se or Babbo if I was in NYC.
Also, this wasn't a post meant to devalue DC. It's just a topic that's been on my mind for quite some time now since NYC does resonate with me so much but DC is again my home. I think its apparent that I love food and while I'm familiar where to get a good bite in NYC, I'd like to build that same familiarity with DC. If anyone is reading this, please comment. Tell me I'm a whack job elitist and to move back to NYC or tell me where to find the next great bite.