Image: Robert Frank, Political Rally, Chicago (1956). From The Americans. Gelatin silver print.
At some point, we resolved to not be a site that just posted pizza, burgers, and noodles as click bait. This week we added two new places to our recommended list with pictures of pizza and burgers…and another picture of pizza for good measure. The power of the herd is strong. The dining news this week is hopeful, tragic, and interesting. So let’s get on with the review of the week on our site and other news.
Updates to Recommended Restaurant List
Emmy Squared – The small chain started in Brooklyn with Detroit-style pizza as its focus. It has two locations in D.C. with more coming. And it is pretty good.
The Commodore – The beloved dive bar shut down in 2019, but it left it in good shape to come back in 2021 in new digs on 17th Street.
Perhaps the biggest news, at least in terms of scale, is the monthly jobs report that came out on Friday. A good chunk of jobs were added, though overall numbers for employment and participation remained stable. The big news was the large uptick in employment in the hospitality industry that appears to overlap with the moment when employers started offering better wages. The government release noted, “employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 343,000, as pandemic-related restrictions continued to ease in some parts of the country. Over half of the job gain was in food services and drinking places (+194,000).” We have been so used to 50 years of declining market power by certain segments that it is almost startling when the story flips. Overall employment in the sector is still down 2.2 million or 12.9% from February 2020.
Completely related, Laura Hayes continues to do reporting on the increased use of service charges in lieu of tipping. In some ways this is the next step from a trend of suggested tips on the check that was happening pre-covid. In a place like D.C., I think it is understood by most that 15-20% is expected, but that is not universal. We are more optimistic than others that this new practice might stick.
Matt Baker, the chef behind Gravitas, is opening another place in the Eaton hotel. He takes over the spot currently held by Tim Ma’s American Son, which will close in a few weeks. The new French-American spot named Michele’s will open this fall. He will also add a Baker’s Daughter day-cafe to the location. Speaking of which, Hamilton Johnson who briefly held down the kitchen at American Son before opening up Glover Park Grill is now at Gravitas.
There was positive news on 14th Street and tragic news. The good news is that Lupo Pizzeria from the team that owns Lupo Verde next door opened to pretty positive buzz.
The Restaurant Manifesto, an account we follow and like, is calling out the return of shallow food journalism. Specifically the elevation of certain kinds of restaurants and focus on certain kinds of chefs as if nothing has happened in the meantime. You probably know what he is referring to, and we are not immune to the trend, but it is important to remember that restaurants were not working that well as a business model before all this.
Speaking of which, Top Chef believed it could get away with crowning a champion six months after he was fired for inappropriate behavior toward a female colleague.
On a lighter note, as they say, Jessica Sidman delves into what is the largest restaurant in Washington for the Washingtonian. Still waiting to hear if the union gets recognized at the publication.
Enjoy the fireworks, be safe and practice your social skills. Lots of restaurants are closed today (don’t think tourism has picked up enough). But looking ahead, if you are thinking of dining out and need suggestions, then – not to blow our own horn – we like to think of this site as the best way to find a place to eat in the District. There are 300+ recommended restaurants that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and current operating status (dine-in and/or take-out, etc.) in either LIST or MAP format.