If fries, latkes, mashed potatoes, and tater tots formed a band, tots would be the Freddie Mercury. They’re the best iteration of spuds out there. That’s why we created a six-stop tot trot. Don’t worry, it’s downhill, and limited to two miles. In other words, this is the best way to trick your Fitbit into thinking you had a banner day of good health.
Your 6-Stop DC Tater Tot Trot
Old Bay tater tots
Bourbon (address and info)
Rule number one of living near Maryland: Old Bay makes anything better -- from crabs, to beer, to break-ups. Try the spice on tots at Bourbon ($5); they’ll awaken the palate for the next five stops. The generous pile is meal-worthy on its own, but consider pairing the humungous "side" with crab cake sliders, also with Old Bay. Just remember, you have a lot of work ahead.
The Blaguard (address and info)
Hasta luego, flimsy tortilla chips & strips -- tots are the "it" carb for nachos these days. "Totchos" are growing in popularity our region. You can also find them at Tonic at Quigley’s, Thomas Foolery, and Spacebar, among others. Back to The Blaguard, where three flavors are on offer: Buffalo blue cheese, bacon cheddar, and salsa queso. The snack ($6) found under "House Favorites" requires so many napkins that it makes tree-huggers quiver.
Sweet potato tater tots
Stetsons (address and info)
Every member of the staff at Stetsons has an opinion on what kind of sauce to pair with the bite-size sweet potato tater tots ($5.95). Hot sauce says the general manager! Guacamole says a bartender! Okay okay, the guacamole idea came from a half-baked vegetarian patron, and god bless that individual. The inside of these bad boys are nice and chunky, reminding you that yes, a vegetable was involved in the making of this fried treat that tastes like funnel cake. Mmmmm, Vitamin A.
ChurchKey (address and info)
How would you like to be the guy that hand-punches tots on tots on tots every morning? ChurchKey, the bastion of good bar food, goes through 120lbs of Idaho potatoes a day, just so you can have something to pair with craft beer. These tots ($6) take the award for most audible crunch, and the inside is the perfect blend of smooth and coarse.
Artichoke & spinach tater tots
Lincoln (address and info)
If there was a time to call your friend that overuses the hashtag #foodie to join you for tots, this is the stop. That’s because Lincoln’s tots ($8), made with artichoke and spinach, are dressed up even further with savory lemon curd, Parmesan cheese, and roasted olive aioli. The tots, which are more like a hush puppy hybrid, change seasonally and are only $5 at happy hour.
Melt Shop (address and info)
If this bowl of love reminds you a little of Rochester’s famous Garbage Plate or something from the Grease Trucks near Rutgers University, you’re on the right track. Melt Shop’s tots come smothered in cheese sauce, melt sauce (we’ll get back to this), chopped Applewood-smoked bacon, sliced jalapeños, and parsley Parmesan shake. The double trouble sauces are what gets your arteries pulsing, especially because "melt sauce" is a thick custard of mayonnaise, chipotle, pickles, and seasoning. There couldn’t be a better tot order to end on.
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Adams Morgan: booze, booze everywhere, and not a drop to drink (...at least not without making a "that's sort of gross" face afterwards). Unless of course you drift into Bourbon, whose fresh cocktails are all ponderously named after Anchorman, but stay classy nonetheless. This dimly lit, multi-level space has a patio and serves up bar eats like house-made fried pickle chips, bourbon baked beans and buffalo chicken nuggets.
Recognized by locals as the best neighborhood bar in DC, The Blanguard makes regulars and new patrons feel right at home with over 20 beers on tap, eight televisions, and of course, the friendly neighborhood vibe.
Downstairs: regular bar. Upstairs: small bar and game center w/ HD projector, pool table, Pacman, Golden Tee, jukebox, darts, and foosball. At the all-day happy hour on Sundays, game your face off while pounding $4 Bud Lights and then come back on Tuesday night for their weekly pub quiz. If it sounds like it rules, it's because it kinda does.
Birch & Barley is the restaurant located below infamous beer bar ChurchKey in Logan Circle. It serves a simple and elegant menu of seasonal American food, but its claim to fame is the 500-plus beer list that rivals anything in the area (except of course, its upstairs sibling). The upscale restaurant serves a multi-course tasting menu with an optional beer pairing, but you can also order à la carte. Brunch rocks too, especially the freshly-fried donut holes.
Lincoln reps the former head-of-state not only in name, but in taste as well, spotlighting some of his favorite eats, which apparently included oysters and gingerbread. Lincoln's small plate menu focuses on contemporary American cuisine sourced locally from farmers and fishermen in the region. Nothing says 'merica like infused bourbons and a full list of moonshines approved by honest Abe.