Where to Find Your Hometown Eats Around DC

By Olga Boikess  |  January 21, 2014

Every year, thousands of people from all over the country pack their bags and move to DC. They bring their talents to our robust economy, and their appetites to our dining scene, encountering endless culinary adventures. But what happens when they crave that local specialty they left behind? Happily, chefs and restaurateurs migrate to DC, too - and plenty of them bring their hometown recipes with them. Read on to find some of the best dishes hailing from back home.

  • Arsenal: Scrapple

    They don’t waste stuff in Pennsylvania, where this new Capitol Riverfront American’s executive chef, Kyle Bailey, has his roots. A good example is the region’s breakfast staple, a savory mash-up of innards and cornmeal. Served on weekends as part of a hearty breakfast plate, it’s a thrifty way to use the scraps from the whole animals that Bailey's team butchers for the menu. Trust us - it tastes a lot better than it looks.

    300 Tingey St. SE; 202-524-4862

  • Credit: courtesy Art and Soul

    Art and Soul: Boudin

    In Louisiana’s Cajun country, folks are likely to devour this steamy, savory pork-and-rice sausage leaning against pick-up trucks outside the meat markets and gas stations where it's sold. But that doesn't mean you won't find an authentic version at this sharp Capitol Hill destination - chef Wes Morton hails from Abbeville, so you know his version is the real deal. He makes a wicked duck gumbo, too.

    415 New Jersey Ave. NW; 202-393-7777

  • Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery: Crawfish Étouffée

    While lots of DC-area restaurants dish up N’Awlins-inspired fare, savvy Crescent City expats head to this Clarendon bakery/eatery for muffalettas, Catahoula beer-boiled hot dogs and weekly “chew dat” specials like crawfish étouffée and BBQ shrimp. What's the secret to its Bayou magic? Chef-owner David Guas is a native son.

    1515 North Courthouse Rd., Arlington, VA: 703-243-2410.

  • Daikaya: Loco Moco

    For lunch at his Chinatown Japanese, chef-partner Katsuya Fukushima offers this traditional Hawaiian combo of rice topped with a hamburger, fried egg and tangy sauce. His father’s family comes from Hilo, where the dish originated, and Fukushima gives the burger a bit of a Japanese spin. Homesick Hawaiians can also hit Arsenal at brunch for chef Tiffany Mac Isaac’s version of her home state’s treat.

    705 Sixth St. NW; 202-589-1600.

  • Flight Wine Bar: Boston Baked Dinner

    Bradley Curtis, this new Penn Quarter wine bar’s chef, used to spend his summers in New Hampshire, where he ate this classic meal for supper every Saturday night. His version of the Northeastern specialty includes linguica (smoke-cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika), housemade New England brown bread and Boston baked beans. Sounds like the perfect antidote for a chilly winter night.

    777 Sixth St. NW; 202-864-6445.

  • Credit: Melissa Hom Photography

    Hill Country: Kreuz Market Sausage

    This Lone Star State-themed 'cue haven in the Penn Quarter prides itself on bringing the Texas Hill Country’s low and slow wood-smoked meats and countrified sides to the city. It even imports smoked links from that state’s BBQ mecca, Kreuz Market, where they've been following the same recipe for generations.

    410 Seventh St. NW; 202-556-2050.

  • PassionFish: "Scup" Ceviche

    When Chris Clime, executive chef of this Reston seafood house, lived in Rhode Island as a poor culinary student, he would hit the lobster boats as they came into port at Block Island, hoping to score cheap lobsters. Often he would end up getting "scup" (aka porgy or sea bream) and making it into ceviche. At the restaurant he uses grapefruit, lime juice and garlic for the ceviche, topped off with crispy lily buds.

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

  • Credit: injustifiable on Flickr

    Picante!: Chalupa

    There’s no taco shortage in DC, so why would a homesick Texan head to Chantilly for a fix? Word is the folks from San Antonio who run this spot get it right. In case you aren’t from those parts, a chalupa is a crisp taco filled with lettuce, tomato, refried beans, salsa and cheese (you can add other stuff too), and no, this one won't taste like Taco Bell's.

    14511 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy, Chantilly, VA ; 703- 222-2323.