Restaurant Easter Eggs: 6 Cool Things to Spot While Dining Around DC

By Rina Rapuano  |  August 11, 2015
Credit: Barbara L. Salisbury

Directors do it. Video game designers do it. Even Siri isn’t safe from them. We’re talking about Easter eggs, the practice of hiding inside jokes and self-referential nods within something (usually technological) before it’s released to the public.

Well, it turns out chefs and restaurateurs do it too. And while their hidden items aren’t as inside baseball as Drew Barrymore’s character in Charlie’s Angels running through the house where she filmed E.T. or as hidden as the Thelma & Louise option in Grand Theft Auto V, it’s just as fun to search for them. Here’s a mini scavenger hunt for those who live for the chase. 

Bar Civita

Chef-owner Liam LaCivita's brother, who runs a well-regarded kitchen called Pomegranate in Richmond, found this circa-15th-century map of Puglia. It hangs on the wall of the quieter room next to the one with the main bar. If you look really, really closely at the map, you’ll spy the former Italian town of LaCivita, from where this food-loving family hails.
2609 24th St. NW; 202-588-1211

Eat the Rich

This painting by the late Dave Brockie of GWAR came to live here back in October 2013, when cocktail ace Derek Brown opened this metal and punk oyster bar in Shaw. It shows Oderus Urungus, Brockie’s alter ego for the performance heavy metal band, and it means even more to Brown since Brockie passed away in early 2014. The painting may be hidden in the back near the bathrooms, but is still very much a tribute to the frontman.
1839 Seventh St. NW; 202-316-9396

Equinox Restaurant

Another sneaky piece of art hanging in a restaurant is an original drawing by Stanley Mouse, the man behind some of the most iconic and groovy ’60s concert poster artwork, including those he drew for the Grateful Dead. Legend has it that Mr. Mouse — accompanied by Wavy Gravy and Mickey Hart six years ago — loved his dinner at Equinox so much that he decided to leave the doodle as a gift.
818 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-331-8118

Restaurant Eve

Take a peek at chef Cathal Armstrong and his crew preparing your dinner, and you might also spot a playful sign hung near the kitchen. Written in French, it says, “Le chef a toujours raison.” In other words, “The chef is always right.” Consider yourself warned — although it probably gets applied more rigorously with kitchen staff than with customers.
110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-706-0450

The Royal

Owner Paul Carlson, who spent some of his formative years living in Colombia, knew he wanted a vintage South American ice crusher for The Royal. When he found the perfect one in Guatemala and priced out how much it would cost to ship here, he realized it would cost less for him to fly down and bring it back himself. So he did. Now it sits behind the bar of this LeDroit Park bar and restaurant, ready to shave ice for cocktails.
501 Florida Ave. NW; 202-332-7777


Chef-owner Michael Schlow’s artist wife, Adrienne, can be credited with much of the colorful, energetic artwork found throughout this 14th Street favorite, and those looking closely will find a few shout-outs to the couple’s daughter, Petra. One is a string of graffiti-esque numbers painted on the wall depicting the 10-year-old’s birthday, and another whimsical wink reads “Petra is a VIP.”
1926 14th St. NW; 202-319-1400