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10 Most Overrated Foods in DC

By Rina Rapuano
August 11, 2014

These days, it seems as if food trends fall in and out of favor faster than you can order a kale salad. To have some fun with the perpetual rising and falling of the foodie zeitgeist, we asked our social-media followers which DC dishes they thought were highly overrated — and they responded with vigor. We compiled a list of nine of the dishes and restaurants (and one cocktail) that came up most often. What do you think are the most overrated dishes in DC? Tell us in the comments, whether you love 'em or hate 'em — or just don't get it. 

  • Georgetown Cupcake

    Why It’s an Icon: This cupcake shop's original Georgetown location shot to national stardom when featured for three seasons on the TLC reality show DC Cupcake, which first aired in 2010.

    Why It’s Overrated: Tourists line up out the door and up the street, with wait times topping an hour. For cupcakes. Despite its national popularity, Georgetown Cupcake was the name that came up most often when we asked locals about overrated DC dishes. (Bright side: its popularity means it’s that much easier for us to get cupcakes at Baked & Wired down the street.)

    3301 M St. NW; 202-333-8448

  • Pop-Tarts at Ted’s Bulletin

    Why It’s an Icon: When Ted’s opened its first location on Capitol Hill in 2010, DC fell hard for its old-timey look and its aw-shucks desserts. The Pop-Tart was an instant big deal, because who can resist a fancy version of the childhood favorite covered in festive sprinkles?

    Why It’s Overrated: Like some of our responders, we admit to being underwhelmed with the Pop-Tarts in the past — until we had one fresh out of the oven. Ask them to heat it up and you might understand what the big deal is.

    Multiple locations

  • Photo by: Greg Powers

    The Foieffel at Barmini

    Why It’s an Icon: Because José Andrés. Foie gras. And waffles.

    Why It’s Overrated: This one sparked a Facebook debate, with a hater commenting, “Nothing like liver spluge to ruin a waffle,” and a champion chiming in with, “I love the foieffle at Barmini, so I'm going to have to disagree.” Guess you’ll have to try it for yourself to decide. (For the record, we waffle on the foiffle: we like it but would agree that it’s a bit overrated.)

    855 E St. NW202-393-4451

  • Photo by: Christopher Anderson

    Overpriced Gelato

    Why It’s an Icon: There’s no denying that lovingly crafted gelato made from precious, farm-sourced ingredients tastes delicious.

    Why It’s Overrated: Perhaps it’s the prices at places like  Dolcezza and Pitango that have our commenters saying things like, “I think gelato is overdone and overpriced in DC,” and, “Give me good old-fashioned ice cream anytime.” While we know that premium ingredients come at a premium price, we admit to feeling the occasional sticker shock at our local gelateria. (Yet, somehow we can’t stop ourselves.)

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl

    Why It’s an Icon: Since this family-owned business opened in 1958, it has triumphed over race riots, drug wars and a city that fled to the suburbs. Not to mention the fact that Bill Cosby and Barack Obama have famously eaten there — along with everyone who has ever partied on U Street.

    Why It’s Overrated: Perhaps this is a case of “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Many commenters listed this as the most overrated place in DC, but we think it’s a darn tasty diner experience. Yet it's good to remember that it’s really just that — a diner. If you’re expecting it to be the best thing you’ve ever eaten, you’ll likely be disappointed.

    Multiple locations

  • The Rickey

    Why It’s an Icon: Okay, this isn’t a food — but we couldn’t resist including DC’s official cocktail, a simple blend of gin or bourbon, a squeezed half a lime and soda water. July has even been named Rickey Month in DC.

    Why It’s Overrated: As one commenter said, “There are better ways to use lime, gin and seltzer.” We couldn’t agree more.

  • Virginia Oysters

    Why It’s an Icon: Rappahannock Oyster Co. deserves credit not only for reviving the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry, but also for resuscitating DC’s love affair with the bivalves.

    Why It’s Overrated: “This'll get me in trouble, but…most oysters from Virginia rivers and inlets. (I'll make an exception for the Olde Salts [cultivated by Rappahannock Oyster Co.]; those are great.)” A follow-up commenter says, “”I agree. ...Virginia oysters taste like the poop that comes out of Northern oysters.” While it’s true that an oyster neophyte should probably start with something more delicate than your typical Virginia oyster, we love 'em.

    Rappahannock Oyster Bar1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-544-4702

  • Photo by: Jason Varney

    Le Diplomate

    Why It’s an Icon: This Logan Circle French spot gained instant cult status the minute it opened last year — and its popularity hasn’t waned in the slightest. It’s still one of the hottest tables in town.

    Why It’s Overrated: Something so hyped is bound to spark some backlash. “Le Diplomate, all of it. What's the appeal?” asks one Facebooker. Another lists its steak frites as being overrated. But we have three words for you: foie gras parfait — and like the name says, it’s perfect. And then there’s the bread, the seafood tower, the roast chicken, the trout amandine…

    1601 14th St. NW; 202-332-3333

  • The Lobster Roll at Hank’s Oyster Bar

    Why It’s an Icon: When chef Jamie Leeds opened her first Hank’s in Dupont Circle in 2005, she filled a big hole in the DC dining scene — well-done New England favorites in a casual, comfortable dining room.

    Why It’s Overrated: While we still have a special place in our hearts for Hank’s, the competition has skyrocketed. The space is still inviting and the lobster roll is good, but when we’re just as happy (sometimes happier) with versions from a food truck or a take-out shack, perhaps it’s time to up your game.

    1624 Q St. NW; 202-462-4265

  • Photo by: Thomas Dooley

    Pasta at Pasta Mia

    Why It’s an Icon: Probably because it’s incredibly cheap, and it's tough to stretch a dining dollar in DC.

    Why It’s Overrated: A friend brought this one up in conversation, and we have to agree that this red-checkered-tablecloth favorite in Adams Morgan is overrated. Maybe it’s unfair to take it to task when it’s supposed to close next year, but we can't figure out why there’s still a line around the block for giant plates of oversauced pasta.

    1790 Columbia Rd. NW; 202-328-9114

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Places Mentioned

Hank's Oyster Bar

Seafood • Capitol Hill

Food24 Decor17 Service21 Cost$38
 
 
 
Hank's Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • Dupont Circle

Food24 Decor17 Service21 Cost$38
 
 
 
Pasta Mia

Italian • Adams Morgan

Food26 Decor14 Service16 Cost$27
 
 
 
barmini

Cocktail Bar • Penn Quarter/Chinatown

Atmo.24 Decor24 Service23 CostVE
 
 
 
Le Diplomate

14th Street Corridor

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Ben's Chili Bowl

U Street Corridor

Food22 Decor14 Service19 Cost$14
 
 
 
Hank's Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • Alexandria

Food24 Decor17 Service21 Cost$38
 
 
 
Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Oyster Bar • NoMa

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Ben's Chili Bowl

Hot Dog • Arlington

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Dolcezza Factory

Ice Cream Shop • NoMa

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Dolcezza

Ice Cream Shop • 14th Street Corridor

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Dolcezza Gelato Dupont

Ice Cream Shop • Dupont Circle

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Dolcezza‎

Ice Cream Shop • Georgetown

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Dolcezza Gelato

Cafe • Bethesda

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
 
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