Marion Barry is Ward 8 councilmember and a former four-term mayor of the District of Columbia.
Favorite Restaurant: “Don’t have one.” Barry then goes on to name dozens of restaurants, past and present, that he has patronized. “Player’s [Lounge, now Georgena’s]—-that’s at the top of that list.” There he favors the fish, collard greens, and candied yams. Also rating mentions: Mama Cole’s, in Ward 8; Maggiano’s; La Tomate; McCormick & Schmick’s; Tony & Joe’s Seafood; the Four Seasons; and Capitol Grille.
Power Lunch Location: “Old Ebbitt Grill….A good trout parmesan. A good corn chowder soup. They’ve got good clam chowder there, too.
Ben’s Chili Bowl Order: “I used to go for the beef half-smoke, but I stopped that a long time ago. I think they have veggie dogs, turkey dogs.”
Guilty Pleasure: Chitlins. “I was in Jamaica, they had these fat pigs in the sewer. I said, Goddamn! Almost never had another chitlin in my life.” About a year later, though, he relented. These days, he indulges about twice a year.
Favored Establishment of Yore: Duke Ziebert’s, at Connecticut and L. “First, I remember Duke, who was a colorful guy. Always got a story to tell. It was a political hangout place, all the Redskins players, too….Duke was done wrong. The Lerners tripled his rent.”
Dietary Advice: “I eat very little beef…Beef is the worst thing for your body. It wreaks havoc on your stomach. It takes three times as much hydrochloric acid to digest it,” says Barry, a chemist by training. “All these people say beef is the best thing since sliced bread. That’s bullshit.” And one other thing: “No liver. I like liver, but it’s a repository of all the waste in the body. I figure that stuff is still in there.”
Today’s Lunch: “Something I didn’t like—-chicken salad on wheat bread.”
Cooking at Home: “At home I eat turkey sausage, grits, and eggs, and I drink two bottles of water.” His specialty, though, is salmon. “The thing for me is do the right seasoning. Occasionally I will use cajun seasoning. Let it marinate overnight—-garlic powder, sometime Worcestershire sauce. There’s other secrets I got I don’t tell nobody….Wrap it in aluminum foil. The juices circulate, keep it moist. Ten or 12 minutes at 350 to 400 degrees…The key is not to overcook it or undercook it, unless you’re eating salmon tartare.”
Tipping Policy: “I tip based on service—-no service, no tip….20 percent for excellent service. It goes downhill after that.” He recalls the last time he ventured to the old Lion d’Or on Connecticut Avenue. “I used to go there all the time. One time I went and the bill musta been a hundred-some dollars, I tipped maybe $5…Two days later, my credit card slip showed up in the Washington Post. I went off!…I went to the owner….I explained that I tip based on service.” The owner, he says, offered to comp him several meals. “I said that, ‘No, I don’t want that. I’m pissed.’ The article in the Post said, ‘Marion Barry: Cheapskate.’…I’m telling you, I’m not ever coming back here again. And I’m going to tell all my people never to come back here again.” Barry pauses. “Four or five months later, he closed. I’m not saying I had anything to do with it, but word gets around.”