9 Secret Menu Items in DC Revealed

By Rina Rapuano  |  July 21, 2014

Did you know that restaurants often reserve special menu items for insiders, friends and regulars? We've rounded up several off-menu secret items that range from hangover cures to ultra luxe delights. Here's how to impress your friends the next time you find yourself at one of these DC spots: 

  • Bar Pilar: The Moby Dick

    Chef Jesse Miller’s bar-only extreme dining extravaganza consists of an eight-oz. burger sandwiched between two personal pizzas. We suspect that the very recent enactment of the marijuana decriminalization act will help make this an instant stoner classic. (If it isn't already.)
    Difficulty to Obtain: Hard. The pizzas are offered every night, but there are only 10 pans, and those 10 pizzas go fast. Get there early or the Moby Dick may swim just beyond your reach.
    Price: $15

    1833 14th St. NW; 202-265-1751

  • Bidwell: BBQ Pork Rib Plate

    These off-menu BBQ pork spareribs are cooked to order and come with potato salad and pickles that hail from the restaurant's rooftop garden.
    Difficulty to Obtain: Medium. It's only available after noon on weekends from Memorial Day weekend through the end of summer. 
    Price: $15

    Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE; 202-547-0172

  • Carmine’s: The Tugboat

    Sure, you could opt for the Titanic, a gigundo banana split intended to serve eight-10. But perhaps after stuffing yourself on ridiculously large portions of pasta, you'd prefer to go for the relatively modest, off-menu Tugboat — a chocolate torta topped with two scoops of vanilla and one scoop of chocolate as well as bananas, fudge and whipped cream.
    Difficulty to Obtain: Easy. It's available daily for lunch and dinner if you know to ask for it.
    Price: $15.50

    425 Seventh St. NW; 202-737-7770

  • Cesco OsteriaTagliolini al Limone

    This plate of fresh, housemade pasta tossed in a lemon-cream sauce has been available at Cesco for 10 years (along with an off-menu salt-crusted branzino), but only for those in the know.
    Difficulty to Obtain: Easy. It's available daily. 
    Price: $15

    7401 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-8333

  • Good Stuff Eatery: Nic's Mess

    Nic was apparently a friend of chef-owner Spike Mendelsohn's who worked at Good Stuff when it opened, and his "mess" was apparently a hangover cure. This is a plate of hand-cut fries topped with a guilty-pleasure combo of chili, cheddar, sour cream and scallions. We'd like to meet this Nic. 
    Difficulty to Obtain: Easy. Just ask for it when you order. 
    Price: $6.89

    Multiple locations

  • Marcel's: Foie Gras Waffles

    Since foie gras is often paired with sweeter sauces and tart fruits, it's not terribly surprising that someone made it into a dessert (although it would work equally well as an appetizer). The dish, a Belgian-beer waffle topped with seared foie, seasonal fruits and a Sauternes reduction, can be ordered by any customer in the know. 
    Difficulty to Obtain: Easy — although the hit on your wallet may hurt a bit.
    Price: $36; or a $16 up-charge when added to a tasting menu

    2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-296-1166

  • Nage Bistro: Luther Burger

    We're not sure if this was directly inspired by the fried chicken-donut sandwich called The Luther at GBD in Dupont Circle, but we're pretty sure there's room in this town for two crazy-delicious donut sandwiches. This one is a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched with a housemade glazed donut. 
    Difficulty to Obtain: Hard. It's offered only during Saturday and Sunday brunch till it sells out — and you have to whisper when you ask for it. 
    Price: $18

    1600 Rhode Island Ave. NW; 202-448-8005

  • PassionFish: Chinese Lobster

    If you love the signature smoked Chinese lobster at sister restaurant DC Coast Downtown, you can order it ahead of time at this suburban seafood spot. This dish is served with stir-fry vegetables and fried spinach. 
    Difficulty to Obtain: Hard. You have to remember to call and give them a heads-up a couple of days in advance. 
    Price: Market price

    11960 Democracy Dr., Reston, VA; 703-230-3474

  • Ted's Bulletin: Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich

    How do you make a housemade pop-tart even better? You make it into an ice cream sandwich, of course. Plus, it's customizable — the person ordering gets to choose the flavor of the pop-tart as well as the flavor of ice cream that goes in between.
    Difficulty to Obtain: Easy. (Perhaps too easy!) It's available any time after the diner-style restaurant opens at 7 AM.
    Price: $6.99

    Multiple locations