Life on the Line: D.C. Cooks Confront COVID-19 Risks, Lack of Job Security

“Cooking has become one of the most lethal occupations in the last year alone. We don’t have the luxury of being able to stay home.”

In his 27-year cooking career, Antonio Burrell has worked everywhere fromretirement homes and fast-food chains to D.C. restaurants like Bistro Bis, Masa 14, Republic Cantina, and The Occidental. He’s a restless soul who frequently changes jobs and has held every position from dishwasher to line cook to executive chef. “I’ve never wanted to do anything […]

Why Are So Many D.C. Chefs Riffing on Fast Food Classics Right Now?

Would you like nostalgia with that?

Ask any chef for their earliest fast food memory and prepare to smile. Chef Jon Taub reminisces about trips to Roy Rogers with his dad when he was growing up in Philadelphia. “You know the Fixin’s Bar?” the chef and co-owner of Bub & Pop’s asks. “You got your burger and then you could put […]

Take-Home For The Holidays

D.C. restaurants sold out of the sumptuous feasts they offered for takeout over the holidays, proving you can box up hospitality.

Cassia Denton and Devin Maier found themselves home for the holidays. They heeded repeated warnings that traveling and mingling with older relatives is too dangerous because of COVID-19. “We have always spent Christmas in Hawaii with Devin’s dad,” Denton says. “He always makes a big meal there. We were not expecting to be here instead.” […]

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, […]

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