America Eats Tavern — José Andrés’ ode to his adopted homeland’s culinary roots — may be on a hiatus till it reopens to Georgetown later this year, but there are still several restaurants channeling the food and drink of our country’s early days. From open hearths to extensive Madeira collections and pizzas inspired by the 13 original colonies, here’s where you can treat your taste buds to a healthy dose of patriotism.
This cozy Blagden Alley lair featuring an attention-grabbing wood-burning hearth opened to great fanfare about a year and a half ago. And while chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s mid-Atlantic cooking style doesn’t take a direct route from Colonial American cooking, he definitely builds upon it with such locally sourced dishes as quail with grits and roasted tomatoes, oysters from Virginia and bloody butcher cornbread named for its red-tinted heirloom corn. The restaurant is also named for Langhorne’s family, which saw Dabneys living in Virginia for generations.
Is George Washington the new Thomas Jefferson? Perhaps so, considering the new spotlight cast upon Washington’s farming experiments, plus his mill and distillery, all of which formed the foundation for this newest installment from the Founding Farmers restaurant group. Turn up to try the breakfast, lunch or dinner that admittedly takes liberties with the idea of what Washington would eat (such as kung pao chicken inspired by …. Chinatown?), or to sample the offerings of Founding Spirits made in the onsite distillery.
You might as well embrace the whole Colonial thing when your restaurant square-footage totals 1,776 — and that’s exactly what this sibling of Lincoln and Teddy & The Bully Bar has done. There are 13 pizzas on the menu, one for every early American colony and each priced at $17.76. The Pennsylvania pie, named for Benjamin Franklin, naturally, is topped with rosemary-scented pears, goat cheese, wilted escarole and red wine gastrique, while the Massachusetts pizza, called the John Adams, features clams, chili flakes, olive oil and Parmesan, and can be ordered red or white. A second location is scheduled to open near the ballpark later this year.
This Michelin-starred gem inside The Jefferson hotel serves Thomas Jefferson-inspired dishes in a lavish dining room that looks like someone should be playing a harpsichord in the corner. While sitting in one of the private nooks or near the fireplace feasting on world-class cuisine “inspired by the harvest from ... kitchen gardens at Monticello,” don’t sleep on the restaurant’s extensive Madeira collection (an extremely important beverage in Colonial America), including a rare bottle from 1720.
Located farther afield in Loudoun County, this modern take on a Virginia tavern opened in the Lansdowne Resort and Spa opened last fall in Leesburg. (And no, that’s not a typo — Coton & Rye was named for a farm operated by Thomas Ludwell Lee, who purchased the land in 1796 and dubbed it after the family’s ancestral home in England.) You’ll find Brunswick stew — a Virginia staple — and a signature turkey pot pie made with Virginia wine on the menu.