New York Beats D.C. With a Fat Stick

  but it tastes so good

SkinThe New York Times did some superb journalism and wrote yet another article about how D.C. is all growed up! What did they focus on this time? That gay people live in D.C.? That a group of 20-somethings effectively run the government from their condos in Logan Circle? That white people live where black people once did? Not this time. This time their excellent reporting led them to the conclusion that D.C. is a city of fat slobs.

Junk food, according to the Times, is “A Source of Comfort on Capitol Hill.” In Real America, junk food is a source of diabetes or cancer or rising health care costs. But the Times gets that when fatty food enters a city like D.C., it’s no longer bad for you. When a hot dog comes from a “high end junk food purveyor,” or bacon comes on a doughnut, or food comes on a small plate or a lobster is slathered in Best Foods mayo and served on white roll, it’s just brunch. It’s just dinner. It’s just food from a truck. It’s not like our junk food comes from McDonald’s or something.

Very little that occurs inside the Beltway is a genuine allegory for national passions, but the proliferation of food that is affordable, nostalgic and deeply accessible may be about as close as it gets.

Did the New York Times just compare D.C. to Real America? America’s national passions are war, beer, baseball, and EATING FOOD LOW IN NUTRITIONAL CONTENT because it is affordable and easily accessible. Perhaps this is the kumbaya moment we’ve all been waiting for?

The new places around the Capitol also represent, if not an emergent dining scene, at least a steadily improving one in a city long derided for substandard eating.

Thanks? Let’s see, back in 2009 and again earlier this year, the New York Times congratulated D.C. for its great southern food restaurants, speakeasies, and wine bars. We now even have our very own Epcot-like recreation of Brooklyn right on H street. WHY DO YOU STILL NOT LOVE US, NEW YORK? And why, when we are trying to be just like you, do you call us fat? Thanks to you, half the Hill staffers spent last night perfecting their gag reflex.

“It’s true that D.C. is now a city you have to be in,” said Jimmy Haber, managing partner of BLT Restaurant Group, which operates 20 restaurants in a dozen cities. “You’ve heard that government is not getting any smaller, and big government certainly helps business.”

All hail big government! Deep fried all-beef hot dogs stuffed with bacon, and grilled cheese sandwiches are all just some librul ploy to keep the government as big as possible. Now we’re going to be forced to eat steak, and hang out at Smith Point. Pretty soon the entire city is going to be on Lipitor.

A major contributor to the spread of Everyman Eating is the steady rise of Capitol Hill as a residential neighborhood, with several chefs moving into the area. When they open restaurants, what they want, it seems, is not a crack at a Michelin star, but rather midlevel places where they could get food from their childhood, and attract residents who craved the same.

Haha, here’s the best part of their D.C.-is-full-of-fat-slobs article: Obama’s name isn’t mentioned at all. The Times has become so disillusioned with Old Hopey that they no longer want to attribute The Next Best Thing in D.C. to him, even though he used to be their source of all things good in D.C. (and on earth.)

At least it’s good to know that the New York Times is capable of writing a profile of D.C. that doesn’t focus on Logan Circle and U Street.

If this Tour de gourmet junk food makes you want a salad, we recommend Sweetgreen, Founding Farmers, Maoz, Java Green, Mixt Greens, and Vapiano. [NYT]

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About the author

Arielle Fleisher is the Wonkabout. She roams D.C. seeking tasty foods, cheap drinks, whole-pig BBQs, think tank events, street fairs and other local horrors.

View all articles by Arielle Fleisher

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41 comments

  1. SorosBot

    "WHY DO YOU STILL NOT LOVE US, NEW YORK?"

    Because you're not New York; if there's a city on Earth a New Yorker doesn't look down on, it's because they haven't heard of it.

    1. Rarian Rakista

      They pretty much fetishize PDX where I live, we get press for our food carts but we aren't fat around here, so I guess DC folk should learn to bike and walk everywhere like us beer-swilling bastards on the west coast.

  2. Terry

    "WHY DO YOU STILL NOT LOVE US, NEW YORK? "

    They're just jealous. If you peel back the NYC (Manhattan, really) food snobbery against DC, their final line to which they always retreat is that you can't find a good restaurant or bagel shop open at 4am in DC. NYC, you have us there. At 4am, most of us are sleeping (outside of shift workers) as we have jobs we care about and think are reasonably important.

    1. walterhwhite

      I'm from Boston, but your diss of NYC will not stand. If DC closed down, nobody would notice. If NYC closed down, the country would come to a crashing halt.

      1. Terry

        Not true at all. Despite what you want to think, you all out in the provinces are sucking pretty hard on the Federal teat.

    2. DeeJayKitteh

      I don't think it's jealousy as much as plain old snobbery. But the fact is, if a big name chef is going to open a high-profile venue, most of the time it'll be in NYC. It's just like Broadway — there are shows other places that are just as good and entertaining, but there's some kind of magical effect of being here.

      1. Terry

        I think you're right about the snobbery versus jealousy.

        I also think the pattern is changing regarding restaurant openings. Cities beyond Manhattan's hallowed shores are landing some pretty neat restaurants by big name chefs.

    3. V572625694

      As Josh F once said, New York is not a city that never sleeps. It's just a city that stays up late and then gets up late the next morning. A lot of people, mostly in New York but also in evil, foreign southern Europe, equate this with sophistication. Others say it's just because the air conditioning doesn't exist or doesn't work, so you have to get out of the house in the evenings.

  3. Mahousu

    "Deeply accessible" food – the Tic Tac that fell down between the couch cushions. Pulled out and dusted off, it makes a quick and easy midday hobo meal.

  4. Mumbletypeg

    Sign of the times: when a local food cart operator noticed that many longtime regular customers from a nearby office, which had relocated to another building 3 blocks away, no longer showed up to eat at the cart as they used to — as soon as the vendor saw one of them, asked: "How come I never see you guys anymore? Is it about my food?" Reply: "Nah— just nobody feels like walking the extra 3 blocks to your cart now."
    I mean sheesh — how do restauranteurs stand with gambling that a residential market will get off their hiny-hinds to make the effort to dine at their establishment, unless they incorporate an Applebee's-style "curbside" takeout option? Is it more symptomatic of uber-lazy slobs in DC, or of mega-busy bees?

  5. Cicada

    Guilty as charged. One of my new favorite restaurants here serves a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo, as well as delicious alcohol-enhanced milkshakes.

    Drool.

    1. Terry

      Grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup is one of my all time favorite lunches. I blame many years of public school for that. Soak the bread crust in the soup…..mmmmmm

      1. jim89048

        A proper grilled cheese sammich is impervious to moisture absorption because grease, ur doin it rong, obvs.

        1. Terry

          You have to soak the crust really well, but it does work. Tomato soup is the gastronomic equivalent of a universal solvent.

  6. walterhwhite

    You’ve heard that government is not getting any smaller, and big government certainly helps business

    Gives a whole new meaning to the term "big government."

  7. Serolf_Divad

    Very little that occurs inside the Beltway is a genuine allegory for national passions

    OK, Ms. Wildman, before I agree or disagree, can you give me an example of something that happens outside of the Beltway that is a "genuine allegory for national passions?" Remember: by your own account, it's gotta be something that doesn't happen inside the Beltway.

    1. SorosBot

      Isn't the Redskins' new stadium actually outside the beltway? Their continual suckiness since the mid 90s and racist name can easily be turned into allegory.

      1. V572625694

        It's inside the Beltway, in a newly-minted town called Raljohn, after dead 'Skins owner Jack "Kent" Cooke's two sons, if you can believe that. The WaPo sucked his dick so much they persuaded the Post Office to do the same thing.

    2. V572625694

      Ms Wildman would probably argue that Broadway musicals are a "genuine allegory for national passions." Like Spiderman, or the 2,751st performance of an Andrew Lloyd Weber weep-a-thon. She probably thinks the fact that rube tourists reliably buy tickets to such schlock means that's what Real America is like.

  8. ttommyunger

    Nobody ever writes about what that stuff is like on the far end of the Alimentary Canal. Senator John McCain, a life-long consumer of DC fare, puts it this way: Some men look at their diaper and see it as half-empty, some men look at their diaper and see it as half-full. I look at my diaper and say: "What the Fuck! Am I sick? My eyes! My eyes!"

  9. bureaucrap

    Frankly, I think Wonkette should be proud. I read that article and immediately thought — nay, presumed — that they had the "inspiration" for this story from Arielle's column a few days ago about the very same restaurants. NYT is clearly looking to Wonkette for its story ideas.

  10. jim89048

    Until the NY Jooz interrupt their annual migration to warmer climes about half way to their destination in Floriduh long enough to open a deli in DC, I suspect the food snobbery will continue unabated.

  11. nicnack74

    All the East coast blows say this Food Addict here. For all the racial profiling of the Brown people, I have yet to find a good Mexican food place. West Coast is the best coast.

  12. CrankyLttlCamperette

    Please note that all these restaurants listed in the NYT piece are withing walking distance of a really good farmer's market for your locally-sourced foodstuffs.

  13. bitchincamaro2

    You want fat? Come to Astoria in Queens. The old-timers are walking slabs of feta and phyllo dough. But tasty!

  14. Digital_Gravy

    Mmmmm'mmm Foooood! Every politician should be mandated to eat (once a day) for their good health, chicken soup, matzo balls and nova locks, as a sign of support for the American citizen. Then New York might just like them!

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