I love DC. The monuments, the sites, the history and the changing of the seasons (which doesn’t happen in Puerto Rico). I also love how DC is such a metropolitan city without being as crazy and overwhelming as New York. However, there is one thing that I don’t I like about DC: The food.
I am a devoted foodie. Growing up Latina made food a huge part of my life. Everything is celebrated around food (and coffee maybe). Also, restaurants back home are diverse in both type of food and price range. You can get a great plate of food for any price and you can satisfy your craving for any kind of food–Latin, Mexican, Indian, American, Greek, etc.—all of them, of course, with a Puerto Rican twist.
After growing up foodie and then traveling all around the world and savoring the most amazing food many countries have to offer, I have a demanding palate. DC just doesn’t fulfill my needs in that sense. Not to say that there are no good restaurants. There are plenty and you can find them by looking for at the $50 plus price range in OpenTable.com. (Although another big turn off is that there are no truly good Latin food restaurants.)
It‘s not my intention to be a ‘hater’, I’m just calling it as I see it. Whenever I go to NY or Miami or even home, I have a dozen recommended restaurants that I want to try and a dozen more that I want to go back to. I look forward to trips and planning brunch, lunch and dinner outings. One time my best friend and I tried six restaurants in two days because that was all the time we had in NYC and we just HAD to do it.
Living in DC, I just don’t crave going back to the restaurants in the area and the few that I do make me break the bank every time I go (see: Oya, The Capital Grille, Teatro Goldoni). That doesn’t mean that all the rest suck, it’s just that I feel that the food is usually pretty bland. The most enjoyable culinary experience I’ve had recently is the Truckeroo— those food trucks sure know how to cook. How can a truck with such limited kitchen space and resources be more enjoyable than a $150 fixed menu in Citronelle?
Now, in DC’s defense, a culture of enjoyable and diverse food is just starting. Over the years, I’ve seen how restaurants have become trendier, and dining experiences have become more sophisticated. I don’t know one person yet who doesn’t like to frequent Chef Jose Andres’ restaurants; Zaitinyas, Oyamel and Jaleo. They are the spot for us young professionals. Why? Because it’s good food at affordable prices, in a fun and sophisticated environment.
With the city’s continued growth and expansion to previously ‘restricted areas’ such as Columbia Heights and The H St. Corridor in the NE, has come a new wave of restaurants and tapas bar that offer more variety. Along with these new developing areas, the culinary community is shifting to a more diverse and trendy one but it still has a long way to go.
I look forward to the time when DC compares to NYC or Miami when it comes to culinary offerings. In the meantime, I guess I should practice my cooking.