A decade ago while working at an internship at a business newspaper in downtown Detroit, I would sometimes combine my regular weekly research outings at U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with a quick lunchtime trip through the Greektown Casino to play the slots. It was a fun, money-sucking diversion from the depressing, dream-shattering digging I had to do through Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 filings.
As I learn from my colleague Dave McKenna, I can now combine lunch and gambling here in D.C. Café International on Woodley Park’s Connecticut Avenue strip, caters to the zoo tourist and hotel convention crowd, and also those who would like to bet on horses—as long as they’re not real horses. (McKenna’s Cheap Seats column this week details how a century-old federal law prevents anyone in the District of Columbia from betting on live horses. Fake horses, however, are cool.)
I checked the place out for lunch this afternoon. The menu isn’t all that adventurous—expect your standard sandwich selections like roast beef and egg salad—but I did spy a more unusual item: a bulgogi rice wrap. I decided to try it.
It wasn’t all that bad, I must say. Think cheesesteak, just with slightly spicier meat. (I wish there was more of that wonderful bulgogi flavor.) The package was finished off with onions and a melted white cheese, pressed like a panini in thinner wrap form. It could have been better, but the flavor package was decent enough. But I probably wouldn’t rush back to get another, unless of course I were addicted to the fake horse races on the television screens at the café.
[O]wner Jason Wee says he’s getting “$200 to $300” in bets per day since his recent rollout. He’s happy to offer wagering alongside his normal menu of pastries and caffeinated drinks.
“I think that the lottery, especially in this economy, gives people hope,” says Wee, who admits he’s never been a racing fan. “For $1, this lets them dream.”
Yes, we can all dream.
Photo illustration by Brooke Hatfield