open-table-sold-outIf you’re a foodie making your way to Washington for President-Elect Obama’s inauguration next week, you’ve probably already seen plenty of suggestions on the best of the best restaurants here in DC – Komi, CityZen, Citronelle, Minibar.

Rather than wasting your time with gushing descriptions of places that have been completely booked for a month or more, we’re here to help you seek out a few foodie experiences that are representative of Washington’s dining scene.  While you’re here, check out:

  • Ethiopian cuisine – The Washington area is home to more than 200,000 Ethiopians, giving us the largest Ethiopian population in the United States.  And Ethiopian cuisine, with its injera bread and complex spices, is an experience not to be missed by true foodies.  For an authentic taste of Ethiopia, check out one of the numerous restaurants clustered along 9th and U Streets, NW.  Popular choices include Dukem, Madjet and Zed’s, but we can personally vouch for the great flavors at Etete.  Their kitfo – a spicy minced beef dish served raw, medium, or well done – is a great introduction to the heat of most Ethiopian cuisine, and it is complemented nicely by tej, a traditional Ethiopian honey wine.  Most of the Ethiopian places in Washington will accept reservations, but you should also be able to score a table if you walk in.

1942 9th Street, NW
(202) 232-7600
Etete on Urbanspoon

  • Local, sustainable, organic, farm-t0-table – Is anyone surprised that food and politics mix here in the nation’s capital?  One of the biggest trends on the DC dining scene lately has been a push for more ethical dining options.  At places like Restaurant Nora, which has been serving primarily organic cuisine for more than a decade, this is hardly news.  But for many other restaurants the move to sustainable seafood, locally (and humanely) raised meats and in-season vegetables is a revelation that local foodies have been quick to embrace.  Pass on the Chilean sea bass and seek out a sustainable alternative at restaurants from Dino to Hook.  For a taste of the farm-t0-table scene, check out newcomer Founding Farmers – a restaurant whose commitment to sustainability carries through to its efforts to earn LEED Gold Standard certification.  For the inauguration, their ‘bar chefs’ will be mixing up a number of signature cocktails – including an Obama Sangaree made with Courvoisier Exclusif, Dry Sack sherry, Cointreau Noir, fresh squeezed lemon and orange juices and simple syrup.  Even better – visit the vendors in the East Hall and on the farmers’ line at Eastern Market this weekend and cap off your experience with blueberry pancakes or a crabcake sandwich at the famous Market Lunch.  The crowded space is a favorite among regulars that is not to be missed.

Market Lunch
East Hall at Eastern Market
225 7th Street, SE
(202) 547-8444 
Market Lunch on Urbanspoon

More recommendations for authentic DC foodie experiences after the jump. (more…)

As more and more of us embrace the locavore movement and seek to support restaurants who wear their local colors on their sleeves, the North Dakota Farmers Union (the folks who brought us Agraria) and Executive Chef Graham Duncan are going a step beyond.  Sure, they’re focused on bringing in the best locally-sourced ingredients…but they’re also quick to point out their LEED gold certification, an impressive Green credential currently unmatched in DC.  

<<EDIT: Founding Farmers “has been designed to meet USGBC LEED Gold design criteria /standards, but final commissioning and certification has not yet occurred.”  Thanks for the clarification, Jennifer!>>

Founding Farmers, which will open to the public for dinner tomorrow, promises “true food and drink” to customers in the form of seasonal fresh produce, sustainable seafood (sourced from Philadelphia-based purveyor Samuels & Sons), and cocktails prepared from house-made mixers and ingredients by a team of “bar-chefs.”  They are the first DC restaurant LEED-certified by the US Green Building Council and named as a Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association

We had the opportunity to catch a sneak peek at the fruits of the Farmers’ labors last night in their final night of soft service.  Though the restaurant does not officially open until tomorrow, they have been running several nights of mock service to help work out some of the remaining kinks so they can start out firing on all cylinders.  First impressions and some more photos after the jump.