Image: Dora Maar (c. 1935).
Welcome to our weekly roundup of activity on our site and other dining news from D.C. and further afield. We added a couple spots to our dining guide. We take a look at the inflation debate and close with a heartwarming story about a legendary cookbook author, so read to the end!!!
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
La Tejana – This Mt. Pleasant spot for Texas-style breakfast tacos was an immediate hit.
Art and Soul – Chef Danny Chavez is doing some great work under the radar here. A good choice not far from the Capitol or Mall.
Birch & Barley – The fine dining option with the same beer list as Churchkey upstairs finally reopened, as NRG brings its places back at its own pace.
D.C. Dining News
The Wharf: Eat DC pointed out that Phase Two “opened” but without most of the restaurants. But even when the food options open there is something vaguely unsatisfying about what is coming. This British writer, seems to have put his finger on one aspect: “This is different from chainification – these places are all ‘independent’, after all – but rather represents a tendency to safeness, to cookie-cutterism, to a bland urbanism currently being foisted on cities by landowners and developers.”
Class Business: “Ten years and three ramen shops later (Haikan, Bantam King, Hatoba), the Daikaya team has served a whopping one million bowls. To celebrate, they’re hosting an online sweepstakes competition where a lucky winner—chosen at random—will win round-trip tickets for two to Sapporo, Japan.”
We’ll Just Leave This Headline Here: “Jasper’s restaurant in Largo remained open with dead body inside restroom.”
Lo/No: Booze Free in DC has created a list of restaurants in the District that have at least one zero proof/non-alcoholic option.
Define Underrated? Vogue pitches “underrated” wine regions, though they are more underrated for travel than wine.
Hold My Beer: Meanwhile, Dave McIntyre reports Wine Enthusiast will no longer review wines from regions that are not already well known. For the United States that means only California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and Virginia remain. It is not difficult to believe that Virginia barely made the cut. States that have started to establish themselves like Maryland, Texas, Michigan and North Carolina will have one less platform to gain traction. Whole countries, including some major producers, are also being dropped: Bulgaria, Croatia, China, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Vogue actually put Switzerland on its list, meaning a fashion magazine now has a more comprehensive take on the wine world than one of the industry’s flagship publications.
Wine Culture: We missed this last weekend in the Times, “He grew up resenting the scenic winelands near Cape Town, watching his mother toil in the vineyards so that white people could sip their merlots and chardonnays in luxurious cellars. Yet here was Paul Siguqa on a recent Saturday, swirling a chenin blanc in the airy tasting room he now owned.”
The Emerging Economy: Inflation continues to be the overriding topic. One of the fascinating things to watch over the last few months is the debate between Jason Furman and Paul Krugman, who both sit ideologically in roughly the same spot on the political spectrum, but have very different views about inflation. Krugman has been a skeptic, but come around to the idea that the Fed needed to intervene. Furman has been an inflation hawk, arguing that the Fed should have moved sooner and that the problem is more grave than Krugman even now concedes. This week new numbers came out, and neither budged from their current positions – Furman remains worried and believes strong Fed measures are necessary; Krugman continues to worry the Fed is overshooting the mark and will needlessly put the economy into recession. But, perhaps optimistically, they both found signs that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If we understand it correctly, it comes down to core inflation (which removes volatile sectors, food and energy, to get a reliable indicator of the direction of prices). Two of the factors that drove inflation earlier in the year, profit-taking (which is easier to think of as price-gouging) by the oil industry to jack up prices starting in the spring and supply chain woes have worked their way through the system (though OPEC is making one last grab). The sector where inflation took hold and remains stuck is housing. The glimmer of hope is that the housing sector is also now showing a coming off the peak. For the restaurant industry, it means the two factors that directly hit it the most are fading. But if the Fed does send the country into a deeper than necessary recession, then they will have to wrestle with that too, right as they were catching their breath and getting some reprieve on the jobs front.
Related, ProPublica has a story that indicates that the housing market may in fact not be responding to natural market forces, but, like the oil industry, artificially rigged higher rent prices due to data processing that allowed landlords to engage in price-fixing. If that is the case, then three of the factors that are driving our current inflationary economy are artificial. Perhaps instead of everyone boning up on the Great Depression, we need to go back to the Robber Baron era. If only there was a legal tool that could be directed at them like a Sherman tank firing away, something that would go after these restraints of trade or commerce among the several states, or with foreign nations that are artificially inflating prices and robbing average Americans of wealth.
Speaking of antitrust, Kroger is buying Albertson’s. Both have multiple chains of grocery stores in their portfolios, for D.C. it is Harris Teeter’s parent buying Safeway’s parent. The Axios take is credulously panglossian. The two companies are the second and fourth largest grocers in the United States. First and second are big box stores Walmart and Costco.
Bad Omen: Alaska canceled snow crab season, because the crabs went away and no one knows why. Meanwhile, Florida’s orange crop took a massive hit because of Hurricane Ian. There are several factors why the agricultural sector and the environmental movement diverged, but there are recent factors that could push convergence.
Future Forage: Last week we flagged that Puerto Rico is leaning into mushrooms for its food economy. This week, we find former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer is turning to mushrooms in a quest to live forever. (Sub Rqd).
The Union of Squires and Wenches of Long Suffering: Medieval Times employees formed a union at the New Jersey location. Medieval Times corporate responded by claiming that their name, Medieval Times Performers United, was trademark infringement. A second location in California is seeking union recognition.
Performance not Performative: “Martin’s order seems a step too far for me and most people of average appetite. Like the Coco Chanel saying, if he’d taken one item off — or perhaps two or three — I could see it as being (slightly more) reasonable. Then my editor came up with the brilliant idea that I should eat Martin’s [Taco Bell] order for lunch. (Lucky me …)”
The Big Aristotle: Shaquille O’Neal recently sold his Auntie Anne’s Pretzels franchises. He owned 17 pretzel franchises. It’s not been confirmed if he sold them all.
Bidden Fruit: The Post writes about the rise of community gardens where eating from the tree is not forbidden: “It’s one of a growing number of places across the globe known as edible cities. In the United States, there are public lands from Seattle to North Carolina where people are welcome to pick and take from fruiting trees and bushes.”
Best Reincarnation Choice: So your saying I can eat all the fresh fish I want, get really fat, sleep for three months straight, and still be at the top of the food chain?
Keeper of the Flame: We close out with this touching story about Victor Hazan’s work to complete the record of Marcella Hazan’s contributions. “At 94, his vision impaired, he writes far less than before, but his tributes have illuminated another truth: As long as Victor remains, the Marcella the world knew is not entirely gone.”
Thanks for reading. You probably picked up on this, but in case you didn’t know our site’s primary purpose is to be a dining guide for Washington, D.C. We have 300+ recommended restaurants. You can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc. – though things are in flux and we may miss something, so check before you go!) in either LIST or MAP format. So if you are gonna be in town, check us out.
Stay warm, be kind, tip big.