The Year 2020 in Food

Six lingering questions we're left with after the year that ravaged D.C. restaurants

The year that devastated the hospitality industry is coming to an end, but 2020 will have lasting effects. Many restaurants and bars will never reopen, with fond memories and scorched livelihoods left behind. Now-empty storefronts will soon be ready for the next generation of restaurant operators. What adjustments will these brave new souls make based […]

D.C. Restaurant Workers Fear Manning Those Instagramable Igloos

“A handful of us gave our concerns to the owner, but they prioritized their business over their employees.”

Jesty G., a server and bartender with 10 years of experience, was let go from a Northern Virginia restaurant last week that has “winter globes” where visitors can sit. He says his former employer never asked how servers felt about entering the globes to serve customers. “We were left with no choice,” he says. “A […]

Cold Cuts: Restaurants Prioritize Takeout Despite Winterizing Outdoor Areas

"All I have to do is get my crew through this without anyone getting infected and I’ve won the game.”

When Sandra Basanti answers the phone, she sits in the dark, decade-old dining room of Pie Shop on H Street NE, peering at a picture of Bob Marley on the wall. Her business is part restaurant and part performance venue—she misses the music most of all. “My entire life, my therapy, my escape, and community […]

Ride-Or-Die Diners Want to Ensure Their Favorite Restaurants Survive

Regular customers are opening their wallets or aiding their favorite D.C. haunts in other ways.

A third of Maxwell Park’s 20 most loyal customers have skipped town since the COVID-19 pandemic hit D.C. “They’ll write an email or come in for a last glass of wine or buy a gift card and then tell us the news,” says Brent Kroll, a partner and sommelier at the wine bar with locations […]

At Uighur Restaurants in the D.C. Region, Pulling Noodles Serves a Purpose

Restaurateurs cook traditional dishes while raising awareness about the atrocities happening in their homeland.

The regional origins of the food at Kiroran are hard to place at first. Heavily spiced lamb and tomato-based sauces make you think Turkey, but the spring onions, peppers, and other aromatic vegetables smell more East Asian. Puff pastry throws you off even more. The long laghman noodles are more of a tell. These hand-pulled […]

Four Strategies That Just Might Help Restaurants Make It Through Winter

After six months of reinvention, some pivots are proving more successful than others in D.C.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exercise in throwing ideas against the walls of empty dining rooms and seeing what sticks. Restaurant owners morphed into makeshift grocers when supermarket shelves were sparsely stocked, figured out how to deliver margaritas by the quart, and cheekily seated stuffed animals at tables left vacant to comply with capacity […]

Immigrants Try to Make Ends Meet by Selling Pupusas to Neighbors and Friends

The undocumented workers who used to staff D.C. restaurants are scrambling to support their families.

Alberto calls softly to his mom and puts down the bags in his hands when he hears a knock at the door of their Takoma Park apartment. He can guess who it is. He’s on his way to drop off two orders in Shaw, but he’ll take care of these regular customers first. Every Sunday, […]

D.C. Hospitality Industry Professionals Cope With Losing Loved Ones to COVID-19

“No one should work to live. I feel like we all do that too much.”

At least 770,000 people around the world have lost their lives to COVID-19. Losing a loved one to the disease has been particularly difficult for local hospitality professionals who have already seen the pandemic decimate their industry. Whether they’re ensuring tables are 6 feet apart or reminding patrons to put on their masks, every move […]

On the Line: How Four Restaurants and Bars Are Faring Five Months Into the Pandemic

"With every scenario, something is going to suck, but you have to decide what sucks the least."

The Independent Restaurant Coalition hired actor Morgan Freeman to narrate a haunting call for help released earlier this month. “The COVID-19 crisis threatens to permanently close 85 percent of independent restaurants,” Freeman says in the ad that urges Congress to pass legislation including $120 billion in aid specifically for the hospitality industry.  When Mayor Muriel […]

These Are the Neighborhood Bars and Restaurants We’ve Relied on During the Pandemic

Where to get Caribbean seafood, Peruvian chicken, Ethiopian breakfast, and boneless Buffalo wings

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world was our oyster. It was possible to move from place to place and cross oceans to soak in the sights, smells, and sounds of other cultures. But stopping the spread of the virus necessitates shrinking our circle. During the past five months, we’ve stayed closer to home and […]


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