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In today’s Washington Post food section, critic Tom Sietsema gives the new Lincoln restaurant a favorable First Bite review. “You’d never know that the fancy Il Mulino last occupied these quarters. Lincoln, inspired by the 16th U.S. president, is everything its predecessor was not.” I haven’t been to Lincoln yet, but I did have the misfortune of eating at Il Mulino! Anyhow, Lincoln is a pretty exciting addition to the McPherson Square-Thomas Circle area, “a part of town where interesting food is lacking,” Sietsema writes, adding that “Lincoln is liberating.”

For all the talk about Lincoln and dining, we should note that the president’s favorite meal in the District was not served at the White House and it wasn’t served downtown. It was served in, of all places, Tenleytown. That’s if you believe the now-defunct Washington Star, formerly the best newspaper in town.

According to the Jan. 9, 1862, edition, Lincoln traveled to Fort Gaines (located roughly where Ward Circle is today) with first lady Mary Todd Lincoln in what was then known as Tennallytown to have dinner with “the French regiment.” Those soldiers were part of the New York 55th Zouaves, one of 70 volunteer Union regiments that adopted their uniforms from French North African military tradition. The unit was also known for its excellent French cooking! Per the Star, via Judith Beck Helm‘s history book Tenleytown D.C., the president “told the officers afterward that if their men could fight as well as they could cook, the regiment would do very well indeed. They had given him, he added, the best meal he had had in Washington.”

Photo courtesy of the U. S. Library of Congress