14th street, the father’s day edition
There is little doubt that my love of food – cooking, baking, and consuming – can be traced back to my parents. Mom. She’s responsible for the passion for baking, competitive cut-out cookie making, and deeply ingrained knowledge that I must eat my vegetables.
My dad. He’s a home cook too. He’s always game for a challenge in the kitchen or on the grill (there was that time we grilled our Thanksgiving turkey). And though you rarely see him elbow-deep in dough these days, he makes a mean loaf of bread when the inclination moves him.
I would say, however, that I owe my love of restaurants to my father. He’s a traveler, you see. Whether it was trips back and forth from Japan, or months spent in London, or a year camped out in San Francisco, the man has covered some serious global ground. And, taking away the perpetual jet lag and longing for his own bed (and his family, of course!), I think he truly loved it. The adventure, perpetually encountering something new, the possibility of discovery always just around the corner. And what is a visit to a new restaurant other than a mini-adventure, a little trip to a new destination? Whether it is a cuisine you’ve never tried or a part of town you’ve never visited, a meal out can satisfy a touch of your wanderlust. And returning to a favorite spot can be like revisiting a country you last traveled to ages ago, like a taste of Florence in DC.
Whenever my parents come for a visit we do our best to work in a meal at one of our favorite spots. Sometimes it is a grand night out. Other times it is just a hamburger and cool beer at a hometown classic. But wherever the destination, it is always a little journey. A nod to our shared love of food, travel, and adventure.
So, in honor of Father’s Day, here are some of our neighborhood favorites – and spots that are just right for a dad’s night out:
1801 14th Street, NW
Fan of BBQ and beer? Love a cozy spot at a picnic bench? This is the spot for you. It is only open seasonally (closed during the wintery months) and while balmy weather makes the outdoor seats a hot commodity it also dramatically increases the overall number of seats on offer. Inclement weather requires folks to crowd into the somewhat Lilliputian indoor bar but that’s ok. Everyone’s friendly. And if the crowd becomes a bit more than you can handle they offer take out as well. On a lucky day they even have pigs heads up for grabs. Our faves: pulled pork (that’s for you, Dad), bratwurst with kraut, half-sour pickles, and carolina coleslaw.
1320 14th Street, NW
Yes, there is lots of piggy fare. Think pig ramen, crispy pork shank, and crispy pig ears. But there is a fairly robust vegetarian offering as well. In fact, on one visit all of my small plates were entirely meat-free. And they were divine. The menu does justice to the theme but the restaurant itself doesn’t go overboard in honoring its namesake. No kitsch piggy décor here (unless you count the vintage meat and farming flyers and receipts placarding the bathroom walls). Think rustic farm house with just enough polish to make any urban sophisticate feel at home. Suits, jeans, collared shirts, and flip-flops all welcome. Our faves: the little pig, wild boar ragu, cassoulet, and boar spoonbread. If your dad is a cocktail lover don’t let him shy away from the cocktails, like snowball leads the charge or toot & puddle. He’ll be missing out.
(p.s. foodie photographers – as Food Nomad correctly points out, the restaurant is [appropriately] dim during dinner hours so food shots are hard to take. You’ll have to forgive my own poorly light photograph included here.)
1612 14th Street, NW
Don’t worry, 14th Street isn’t just home to meat products. We have our fair share of options for seafood lovers. And if you like a subtle touch of the nautical with your oysters, a stool at the bar at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace might just be your version of heaven. The men in our family, whether related by blood or marriage, have a taste for raw oysters. Us ladies prefer them cooked. Lucky for us all Pearl Dive offers both. You can carry yourself through an entire meal with nothing but delicious seafood dishes. Addie’s mussels, crawfish etouffee, or an oyster po’boy; they all offer up the kind of Sunday afternoon satisfaction that dad is looking for. Our faves: oyster tchoupitoulas, oyster rockefeller, and the shrimp dinner. And don’t forget about the corn bread or Pearl Cup.