Food & Drink

A Taste of 10 Cities in DC... for When You're Homesick

Published On 05/26/2015 Published On 05/26/2015
Laura Hayes/Thrillist

There are few things in life that are both legal and awesome. A taste of home is one of them. Fortunately, the DC area has a few gems that feed the need of recent transplants to teleport back to wherever by way of a few really tasty bites. Here are 10 that get it right. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Philly cheesesteak

Bub & Pop’s (address and info)
Dupont Circle
The only thing un-Philadelphian about the family behind Bub & Pop’s is their warmth. You’ll leave asking for adoption papers instead of the attitude readjustment Pat’s and Geno’s employees require. Chef Jonathan Taub’s cheesesteak gives Eagles fans something to smile about with tender rib eye, just-right onions, and Lyon Bakery loaves that do a fine impression of Amoroso's rolls. Underneath it all is a scary-good spread. "It’s mayo, ketchup, and pickles -- that’s how we do it back home, I just mixed them all together," Jonathan says. Tack on a Yuengling and a wuterice -- they sell those too. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

San Diego fish tacos

Fish Taco (address and info)
Cabin John, MD
Close your eyes when you bite into these fish tacos and you’ll be brought back to better times when rush hour was at 3pm, four-person bikes were a thing, and a shell of a North Face was considered a "winter jacket." Chef Eddie Moran’s ability to drop perfect-ten tacos every time is no coincidence. He has his Mexican heritage and SoCal upbringing to thank, and so do San Diegans stuck in DC. The restaurant’s namesake dish comes with local fried fish, slaw that isn’t slimy, and Eddie’s signature sauce -- a mayo mixture boosted by charred corn and guajillo chiles. They’re good enough to get Philip Rivers’ mouth to curl into an actual grin. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Cincinnati chili

Hard Times Cafe (address and info)
Multiple locations
Fond memories of that 3-Way you had at Skyline? Yeah, we thought so. First explain to your friend who doesn’t hail from Queen City that a 3-Way, 4-Way, or 5-Way is nothing sexual, and then bring him with you to Hard Times to stick a spoon into a cinnamon-spiked, sweet meat pile that conjures up memories of watching the Reds with dad. Get it in a boring bowl or atop spaghetti for FTW. The DC region is blanketed with 16 locations to get your chili mac fix -- including inside Nationals Park and the Verizon Center. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Kansas City burnt ends

Fat Pete’s Barbecue (address and info)
Cleveland Park
Pit masters in other parts of the country have the audacity to discard the best part of brisket, but Kansas City knows better. One only has to look to Wagyu beef or otoro to know the fattiest cuts of meat are to be savored. Royals fans can get their burnt ends fix at Fat Pete’s Barbecue, where they get the fat-to-charred-bark content just right, thanks to four extra hours in the smoker. We can’t promise they’ll always be available, so call first. We also can’t promise that they’ll play Tech N9ne.

Wiseguy NY Pizza

New York pizza

Wiseguy NY Pizza (address and info)
Chinatown
Wiseguy NY Pizza may have a 202 area code instead of a 212, but they nail New York-style pizza. You can fold it, walk with it, and hail a cab with it -- all while avoiding eye contact. Owner Tony Erol says the key to authenticity is being stubborn. "You can’t change with the trends," he says. That’s why you won’t find promises of a 90-second pie on a conveyor belt. Instead, his 20-inchers bake in an actual brick oven. New Yorkers who now call DC home (grudgingly, we know) should appreciate that the shop is open until 5am on Fridays and Saturdays because of that whole city-that-never-sleeps mantra. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

New England clam chowder

Red Hook Lobster Pound DC (address and info)
Multiple locations
You have to hit a food truck to get wicked-good New England clam chowder in these parts. Enter Red Hook Lobster Pound, whose team goes to great lengths for authenticity. They bring the base of the soup in from Portland, Maine and only use the best ingredients. Obviously, each creamy bowl comes with Westminster Oyster Crackers. If you’re following the Vince Wilfork diet, get a "Chowdah Meal," which comes with a full lobstah roll, chowdah, oyster crackers, and a drink for $22. Find the truck here -- it’s much easier than using a GPS in Boston. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Detroit Coney

Ivy and Coney (address and info)
Shaw
When Detroit’s own Jack White sang, "And the feeling coming from my bones says find a home," he was talking about snagging a stool at Ivy and Coney. We swear. The Lafayette-style coney dog is THAT legit with its thin chili sauce, diced raw onions, and mustard. Try the $4 snack alongside Vernors, aka "Michigan Pop," or something a little stronger like Stroh’s. Windy city transplants will also feel at home thanks to Chicago-style dogs and Jeppson’s Malort

Passion Food Hospitality

New Orleans po-boy

Acadiana (address and info)
Mt. Vernon Sq
Acadiana’s "Peacemaker" po-boy stands out because the Louisiana restaurant recognizes the importance of good bread. That’s why they bring it in from Leidenheimer in New Orleans. Inside the crusty French roll, N0LA natives will find juicy fried oysters dressed with all the fixings (kind of like these). Take your sando out to the restaurant’s patio to soak in DC humidity that’s a Big Easy summer in disguise. Before opening Acadiana, Chef/Owner Jeff Tunks ate his way around New Orleans and the Bayou doing research, including a stop at oyster authority Casamento’s. 

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine

Miami Cubano

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine (address and info)
Farragut North
Granted, 19th S NW is not Calle Ocho, but Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine puts out a better Cubano than Jon Favreau’s character in Chef. There’s the original, stuffed with requisite roast pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, mayo, and mustard or there’s one there’s one "with a twist" that invites onions, sweet plantains, and Sophie’s addictive green sauce to the party (pictured). Cool off with a batido in flavors like passion fruit and tamarindo while trying not to audibly cry out for Versailles. 

Laura Hayes/Thrillist

Kentucky Hot Brown

Bourbon (address and info)
Adams Morgan
Louisville folks living locally in DC can get a bona fide Kentucky Hot Brown on the Bourbon brunch menu. The glorified turkey melt that makes you miss home comes with bacon, tomato, and, of course, gravy. The thick bread acts like a sponge soaking up the gravy and any bad feelings you may be experiencing from the previous night’s shenanigans. Speaking of which, pair your KHB with Bourbon’s barrel-aged mint julep.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Bub and Pop's 1815 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)

This charming mom & pop shop in Dupont Circle has a whole host of hearty hoagies at their disposal, like their traditional Italian, roast pork, or our favorite, Pop's Beef Brisket, with apple-horseradish cream, five-year-aged Gouda, and veal jus.

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2. Fish Taco 7945 MacArthur Blvd, Cabin John, MD 20818

Close your eyes when you bite into these fish tacos and you’ll be brought back to better times when rush hour was at 3pm, four-person bikes were a thing, and a shell of a North Face was considered a "winter jacket." Chef Eddie Moran’s ability to drop perfect-ten tacos every time is no coincidence. He has his Mexican heritage and SoCal upbringing to thank, and so do San Diegans stuck in DC. The restaurant’s namesake dish comes with local fried fish, slaw that isn’t slimy, and Eddie’s signature sauce -- a mayo mixture boosted by charred corn and guajillo chiles. They’re good enough to get Philip Rivers’ mouth to curl into an actual grin.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Fat Pete's Barbecue 3407 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008 (Cleveland Park)

Fat Pete's brings 10 types of delicious 'cue to DC (two kinds of pulled pork! Two kinds of ribs!), delivering fantastic wood-smoked flavors by the pound. 16 drafts, small-batch bourbon, and killer sides -- like stuffed hush puppies and mini marshmallow-topped candied yams -- shore up the massive meat menu.

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4. Wiseguy NY Pizza 300 Massachusetts Ave NW , Washington DC, DC 20001 (Chinatown)

New York-style pizza is its own animal, and here in DC, only Wiseguy NY Pizza in the Mount Vernon Triangle manages to replicate it. It imports its Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil from Italy; makes its own marinara sauce from canned tomatoes imported from Italy; and, best of all, uses a specialized filtration process (seriously) to replicate New York water, which serious pizza aficionados consider essential to the New York slice. The tin-cieling'd parlor features plenty of knickknacks like a prominently displayed tommy gun, part of a collection of Big Apple nods including black and white city photos, an old-timey radio, and a 7ft replica of the Statue of Liberty.

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5. Ivy and Coney 1523 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Shaw)

Ivy and Coney is a homey dive bar in Shaw that delivers a relaxed neighborhood vibe, delicious hotdogs, and a menu that includes nothing over $6.

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6. Acadiana 901 New York Ave NW, Washington, 20001

Head to Acadiana for a blast of the bayou. Chef Jeff Tunks not only worked in New Orleans for a number of years, but he also continues to do research. A bowl of Acadiana’s Louisiana seafood gumbo is like gulping the gulf, because it’s loaded with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, crawfish, oysters, redfish, and mahatma long-grain rice. Go for lunch to try six different po’boys, all on bread flown in from Leidenheimer Bakery in New Orleans.

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7. Sophie's Cuban Cuisine 1134 19th St NW, Washington, 20036

19th S NW is not Calle Ocho, but Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine puts out a better Cubano than Jon Favreau’s character in Chef. There’s the original, stuffed with requisite roast pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, mayo, and mustard or there’s one there’s one "with a twist" that invites onions, sweet plantains, and Sophie’s addictive green sauce to the party (pictured). Cool off with a batido in flavors like passion fruit and tamarindo while trying not to audibly cry out for Versailles.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Bourbon 2321 18th St NW , Washington, DC, DC 20009 (Adams Morgan)

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.

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