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How to Eat Your Way Through D.C. Like Obama: A Guide to His Favorite Restaurants in the City
Follow in the footsteps of our first foodie president around the capital city.
Yes, we can use the strategically delicious restaurant-hopping habits of Barack Obama to sample some of the best eats Washington, D.C. has to offer—to presidents and commoners alike. While he was busy running the nation, the 44th prez was food-forward enough to take some well-thought-out field trips, date nights, and family outings to do some highly official taste-testing. To eat as Obama eats, your taste buds would be oh-so lucky. Just don’t expect your reservations to happen quite as magically.
1. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana
Even the former leader of the free world loves Taco Tuesday. Barack and Michelle have hit up Oyamel for many a celebration—from birthdays to Memorial Day to (maybe) foreign policy wins. The eatery is helmed by mega-chef José Andrés, who knows his way around modern Mexican cuisine and presidential politics alike.
2. BLT Steak
A good steak tastes even more delectable when eaten in good company—particularly when said company is Oscar-winning. A repeat visitor to power-player steakhouse BLT Steak, the ex-prez last elbowed up to the table there with Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman. Whether there were any "Shaw-Pork-Shank Redemption" puns made is still classified, sadly.
3. Taylor Gourmet
He may have been Commander-in-Chief of the world's most formidable army, but deep down Obama is really just a guy who appreciates a quality sandwich (presidents—they're just like us). So it's no surprise that he regularly popped up at different locations of Taylor Gourmet, which builds Philly-style sandwiches for the hungry D.C. masses. Even a government shutdown didn't stop Barry and his faithful sidekick Joe from getting their hoagie on.
The First Couple that tasting-menus together stays together. At least that was probably 44's thinking when he took his then-First Lady to Minibarfor a Valentine's Day date night. The avant-garde joint that offers up a rather pricey 20-course tasting menudoes a mere 24 seatings a night—but odds are that Obama didn't have to try his luck with OpenTable.
5. Good Stuff Eatery
Obviously, the Obama gang is widely known for their love of healthy eating and garden-happy lifestyle. But a high-stress gig can make anyone crave a gigantic, juicy burger occasionally, and the former Oval Office-dweller is no exception—which is why Top Chefcompetitor Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery is one of his go-tos. The menu even boasts a Prez Obama Burger (with bacon, onion marmalade, Roquefort cheese, and horseradish mayo) as a meaty welcome mat.
6. Rose’s Luxury
Air Force One: nice perk. Cutting the line at Rose’s Luxury: priceless. President Obama had his birthday celebration at the restaurant whose Southern-comfort-food-with-international-flair cuisine earned it the title of Best New Restaurant in 2014 from Bon Appetit. And that line is no joke…
7. Blue Duck Tavern
The Obamas fêted their wedding anniversary at the Blue Duck Tavern, a contemporary American eatery tucked inside D.C.’s Park Hyatt hotel. Word on the culinary street is that they sampled the crab cakes (clearly not even the world’s most powerful power couple can resist the siren song of crab’s greatest calling) and seafood pasta from the menu crafted around locally-sourced ingredients.
8. Ray’s Hell Burger
Okay, it was a simpler (and let’s just say, less complicated) time when the president of the United States took the president of Russia out to grab a couple burgers in Arlington at Ray’s Hell Burger in 2010. And clearly Ray’s is the perfect place to talk global politics over some medium-well patties, since Obama also dined in with Joe Biden for another working lunch—waiting in line and paying cash just like anyone else on their hour-long grub break.
9. Restaurant Nora
It’s not exactly shocking that the Obamas would return repeatedly to Restaurant Nora, which has the bona fides of being the country’s first certified organic restaurant. Celebrating Michelle’s birthday (and later Valerie Jarrett’s, queen of the Obama inner circle), the former White House residents clearly approve heartily of the chef’s takes on farm-to-table dishes like Amish duck breast and lobster-saffron risotto at the longtime D.C. institution.