Image courtesy Washington City Paper

Philadelphia Cheesesteak.  New York Pizza.  Kansas City Barbecue.

You know you’ve found a city’s signature dish when the conversation changes from “what’s to eat?” to “who does it better?”  Back in July, Tim Carman at the Washington City Paper ruffled some feathers when he suggested that DC lacks a signature dish of its own.  What about the half-smoke, especially the chili half-smoke from Ben’s?

As much as I hate to admit it, he makes a compelling argument.  Thankfully,  Carman wasn’t satisfied with just making that downer of a point.  He has since been engaged in an ongoing conversation with readers, chefs and other writers.  The topic: In the absence of a single signature dish, is there a pantheon of can’t-miss plates that locals and visitors alike should seek out to experience the best of what Washington has to offer?

Carman and his audience found plenty of candidates – more than 100 dishes were suggested.  The concept of a DC Dish Hall of Fame was clearly a popular one, and in late October it was announced that the inaugural class would be decided by popular vote from a list of 30 standout items.

With the vote deadline coming up on Friday, we’re in the home stretch.  Of the 30 dishes on the survey, the top 5 will be named to the Hall of Fame.  Currently, those five would be:

  • Half-smoke with chili at Ben’s Chili Bowl, 399 votes
  • Falafel at Amsterdam Falafelshop, 349
  • Hamburger at Five Guys, 223
  • Peruvian chicken at El Pollo Rico, 161
  • Margherita pizza at 2Amys, 148
  • We reached out to Carman to ask him a few questions about the overall concept and where the Hall of Fame will go from here.  Check it out after the jump. (more…)