Suddenly DC is awash with celebrity chefs. The weekend of the 4th Thomas Keller dined at Restaurant Eve. Top Cheftestants Stephanie, Atononia and Lisa walked the red carpet at Spike’s Good Stuff party (the former two were spotted dining at Central that night, for those keeping track). The latest bold name to grace our fair streets? Mr. Nasty Bits himself, Anthony Bourdain. Maybe he’s in town to personally thank Endless Simmer for the E-ward shout out?
According to DCist and Apples and Bananas, Bourdain was spotted cruising the Penn Quarter Farmers Market with local heavy Jose Andres, No Reservations crew in tow. The pair spent some time talking to vendors and then slipped out of the heat into Cafe Atlantico. Maybe one of Katsuya Fukushima’s famous Minibar cotton candy foie gras is in his future?
If you watch No Reservations, you know Bourdain is especially prone to covering the split personalities of his destinations. He’ll usually kick off with visits to some trendy, high-end establishments (ahem, see above) then veer into everyman joints… taquerias in LA… noodle shops in Singapore. All reports indicate a similar agenda for the Beltway episode. So where should you stake your claim if you want a little Bourdain facetime? We hazarded a few guesses:
Ben’s Chili Bowl: The granddaddy of the “down with the real folks” tour in DC. Much like Jumbo Slice, I’ve only consumed Ben’s after a night of boozing. Still 50 years of booming business means they’re doing something right. We recommend the half-smoke.
Jimmy T’s: A hole-in-the-wall breakfast diner tucked away on Capitol Hill. this is where DC staffers can pop in for a no-frills breakfast with old school prices.
[Insert Bland, Preppy Georgetown Restaurant]: J. Paul’s, Clydes, The Daily Grill… take your pick. This restaurant segment will not appear in the everyman segment of the episode. For guaranteed on camera time, pop that collar.
Old Ebbitt Grill: A DC staple (although the crowd is equally at home in the above category). Maybe he’ll grab some oysters with a foodie politician?
Hole-in-the-wall South American joint: I suspect Bourdain will give a shout out to DC’s immigrant population from South and Central America. The locale of choice may specialize in pupusas or empanadas. It will be small. It will be family owned. It will not be locally famous. Since the filming schedule probably includes some ring-kissing over at the Travel Channel, the restaurant in question may likely be in the Maryland suburbs near their Chevy Chase HQ.
Hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian joint: See above, rinse and repeat.
Inn at Little Washington: Hey, we’d go there too if a fancy cable network was picking up the check.
Horace & Dickie’s: Classic fish sandwiches in an historic-cum-gentrifying neighborhood. Roll tape. (Bourdain: If you are reading this, please be sure to buy your crew a round over at Granville Moore’s, okay?)
Ray’s Hell Burgers: If nothing else, Bourdain really goes crazy for simple, unpretentious dishes in simple, unpretentious places. (I have never seen anyone get so excited for organ meat. Seriously.) The combination of pared-down ambiance and high quality beef at Hell Burgers would be right up his alley. I would also pay top dollar to see these two chefs try to out smack talk each other but, sadly, I’m sure they’d just be BFF instead.
It’s worth remembering Bourdain is also a best-selling author so a visit to Politics & Prose or Busboys and Poets may also be in the cards (the latter has the distinct advantage of proximity to Ben’s Chili Bowl). As far as hotel, I would put money on Bourdain shacking up the Mayflower, scene of Eliot Spitzer’s undoing.
Have you spotted him? Let us know if these guesses were on track!