Thrillist: DC Food Secrets You Totally Want to Know About
“Sure, undercover speakeasies and private supper clubs are supposed to be secretive, but if everyone knows the password and the place has a liquor license, can you really call it a secret? DC, the ultimate city of backchannel deals and off-the-books meetings, can do better than that. Given the city’s long, dramatic history, there have always been some secrets and quirks in the city’s dining scene… and since we’re feeling generous, we’re even willing to disclose a few.
DC’s secret sauce isn’t legally ours
Washington locals will defend ownership of mumbo sauce until our dying breath, but unfortunately, the law isn’t on our side on this one. The red-orange, sweet, spicy, tangy condiment is thought to have originated in DC’s carry-out wing joints, and it quickly spread to Chinese restaurants. Now you drench just about anything with it in the District, and everyone understands.
However, the sauce also has roots in Chicago. A company called Select Brands has been selling mumbo sauce since the 1950s, though their sauce differs slightly from DC’s. In a 2013 legal battle between Select Brands and a DC company called Capital City Mumbo Sauce, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sided with Select Brands and ruled they have the right to keep their trademark. Capital City has since changed the name of their product to Mambo Sauce, and you can still find the glorious, mercurochrome-hued, multi-use condiment all around DC, no matter what you call it.
Being in-the-know means access to foie gras waffles
Starbucks baristas may hate you for ordering off the “secret menu,” but Marcel’s welcomes it. You won’t see it printed anywhere, so you have to specifically ask your server if you want the Belgian beer-battered waffle with La Belle Farm foie gras and seasonal fruits with a Sauternes reduction. “In the early days of Marcel’s, I used to have this made for me in the kitchen when I would come in early to begin prepping before dinner service,” Chef and Owner Robert Wiedmaier says. “Some of our regular guests caught onto this ritual and began requesting it themselves.” The decadent waffle can be yours during dinner service for $36.
Washingtonians steal unusual shit from restaurants
Stealing from restaurants is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, Eater has devoted an entire section of their site to tracking what thieves are currently going after around the country. But in DC, people get a little more creative with what they choose to swipe. This is not (repeat, NOT) a recommended or appreciated practice in the city, but some of the most unusual items that have mysteriously disappeared from DC establishments include risqué bathroom wallpaper, vintage bread-and-butter plates, and handmade sticky rice baskets imported from Laos (they’re the namesake of local Laotian restaurant Thip Khao). We’re not proud.
Chances that you’ll run into Michelle Obama during dinner aren’t half bad
The Obamas are very active in the DC dining scene, and many give the First Family partial credit for the restaurant industry’s remarkable growth over the past few years. The couple has a few go-to spots, but they also make a point of trying restaurants that are new in town. They have dined everywhere from Rose’s Luxury, Restaurant Nora, and Bourbon Steak, to Rasika, Oyamel, and Blue Duck Tavern. The first lady has also visited Chez Billy Sud, Equinox, Masseria, Maketto, Open City, Kapnos, Birch & Barley, Fiola, and Ottoman Taverna. The president, who’s known to love a good burger, has ordered them at Shake Shack, Lincoln, and The Coupe, to name a few.”
Read the rest of the article HERE to uncover more food secrets in the city!
Featured photo courtesy of Kogiya.