If you’ve been in D.C. for more than a minute, you’ve likely already tried some of our most beloved and iconic comfort foods like pho, chicken and waffles and a big ol’ half smoke smothered in chili. But where can you find the city’s newest offerings in the way of a culinary hug? Here are 10 starchy, creamy and dreamy dishes to order when you’ve had a bad day at work, are missing your mama or finally dumped that no-good girlfriend or boyfriend:
Berner Rösti at Stable
Considering all the time spent on the slopes each winter, it’s no wonder that the Swiss know a thing or two about comfort food. At this new Atlas District spot, order this dish of the Swiss answer to hash browns topped with bacon, onion, Gruyere and a fried egg, available on both the dinner and brunch menus.
Risotto fries at Proof
Move over, French fries. Chef Austin Fausett at Proof has made an even more decadent baton of golden, brown and delicious in the form of risotto fries smattered with bone marrow hollandaise, parmesan shavings, chives and truffle oil. It's available at brunch, and if you’re really drowning your sorrows, also order the bacon-cinnamon sticky buns.
Cardamom chocolate chip cookies at Shouk
Vegan isn’t a word normally associated with comfort foods, but the shoe certainly fits in this case. These are every bit as ooey-gooey as you want your chocolate-chip cookies to be, with the added bonus of the warming flavor of cardamom thrown in for a refreshing upgrade to this grade-school favorite.
The Cali Double from CaliBurger
This new spot near Union Market not only serves a burger that tastes remarkably like a grown-up version of a Big Mac, but they only offer it via delivery or pick-up. Either way, you’ll never again have to get out of your pajamas to get your burger fix. The double-fried fries don’t hold up all that well when delivered, but the Cali fries topped with melted cheese, grilled onion and their “signature sauce” are still pretty satisfying.
Champagne-poached oysters at Honeysuckle
Chef Hamilton Johnson’s downtown dining room serves up Southern dishes with a Nordic twist — but this dish eats 100% Southern. Think of it as a black-tie oyster stew, with oysters poached in champagne and further gilded with bacon, potato confit and leeks. It’s all garnished with smoked roe and chicken cracklin’s — you know, to keep it humble.
Sweetbread bolognese at Blue Duck Tavern
Pasta is always comforting, but sometimes it’s nice to shake up the routine a little. When that desire hits, try chef Brad Deboy’s take on spaghetti with meat sauce — in this case, cavatelli pasta with sweetbreads bathed in a rich bolognese, all brightened with horseradish and a celery root mousse. Welcome to your new pasta craving.
Mascaporeos at Alta Strada
Ted’s Bulletin no longer has a corner on the market of nostalgia desserts. These Italian-inspired DIY whoopie pies are pretty much the perfect cure for any blues. Take a chocolate disk, spread vanilla-scented mascarpone-whipped cream mixture on the flat side, top with another chocolate disk, then gently smoosh. Voilà! Pure comfort.
Spicy miso ramen at Bantam King
If you think about it, this is basically Japanese chicken noodle soup — only so much better. Chef Katsuya Fukushima imports custom-made noodles from Japan for his murky and rich paitan broth also studded with shredded chicken, dandelion greens, white onion, corn, naruto, chili threads and nori. While you’re there, you might as well order a fried chicken platter for a comfort-food overdose.
Sweet potato rolls at The Dabney
Chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s Blagden Alley smash hit generally has some sort of appetizer-size sandwich on the starter menu, and we loved a recent version that featured super-soft sweet potato rolls filled with fried catfish, tartar sauce and greens. They come two per order and go down very easy while sitting at the cozy bar sipping a cocktail and gazing at the firelit hearth.
Mac and cheese at The Smith
Have you ever just wanted a straightforward, well-made skillet of ultra-cheesy macaroni and cheese? The New York import in Penn Quarter has got you covered on that front. This is the mac and cheese your mom might have made — if she were Julia Child. The blend of cheddar, fontina, gruyere and parmigiano reggiano cheeses produce really satisfying stretchy strings with each bite, and the creaminess is off the charts.