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Transforming D.C. Into a Culinary Capital

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It's "Change Season" in D.C. -- a peculiar phenomenon that recurs on a regular four-year schedule. Funny thing is, all those politicos calling for "change" in the culture of Washington haven't a clue how much the nation's capital is already changing.

Meaningful change has already come to Washington.

For one thing, we eat differently, and better. No slap at the Monocle -- for decades the place to eat on the Hill (literally), but today we don't only have change. We have choice.

Just ten years ago, buildings were designed so residents wouldn't have to look down on the 14th street corridor. Now, it's the hottest restaurant district in the city and young professionals are clamoring to move there. New culinary playgrounds -- like the H Street corridor -- continue to blossom even in the areas once decimated by the riots of '68.

D.C. is undergoing a transformation. Some call it a renaissance. The flow of people towards the suburbs has reversed course. The transient city par excellence is putting down roots. No longer do foreign hirelings reckon D.C. as a four-year hardship posting. We've become the place where young people flock to start their lives. And with them comes a whole new cast of creative thinkers, movers and doers -- many of whom discover a natural affinity with the wide world of gastronomy.

Bold new restaurant concepts supplant stodgy steak houses. Foragers graze the streets of Mt. Pleasant. And culinary entrepreneurs bring dynamism to the market with novel concepts that broaden the scope of ambition. This change exemplifies the new Washington. Problem is, this change is in no way all-encompassing.

To honor the history and tradition of this city, we need to ensure that progress of the dining scene extends to everyone who calls the District home. People across the city are working on food access with great urgency. D.C. Central Kitchen is stocking corner stores with fresh produce as part of their recently launched Healthy Corners Program. Less known chefs like Teddy Folkman are working tirelessly at after school cooking programs to empower young students through food. And Bread for the City is growing food on its roof to line its pantry shelves. This change is just as important as the opening of a new three-star restaurant as we work to become a great twenty-first century food city.

The District is quickly becoming a culinary capital. The characters who are driving this movement -- pushing food forward in a town once known for only rum buns, Old Bay and half-smokes -- are part of a broader narrative of renewal that few outside "this town" rarely hear.

So while the rest of the nation fixates on their quadrennial obsession with bringing change to Washington, those who actually call this city home know that change has arrived. Change that improves people's lives, creates new jobs, and tastes good too.