Young and Hungry

D.C. Dish Hall of Fame Leaderboard: Same As It Ever Was


The D.C. Dish Hall of Fame leaderboard remains virtually unchanged after a week of voting, save for the flip-flop of the ninth and tenth place dishes. After a strong surge last week, Horace & Dickie's  fried whiting moves up a notch into ninth place.

But I have to say, I think the list is still missing some great dishes. Plates like Frank Ruta's roast chicken and Michel Richard's lobster burger are nowhere to be seen, meaning they will not, at present, be part of the inaugural class of the D.C. Dish Hall of Fame. A shame that would be, to paraphase a certain elderly sage.

A comment we received this morning, I think, sums up the feelings of a number of voters, who seem to view this contest as an exercise in classism, not a genuine search for D.C.'s finest plates:

like most things in DC, the options show extreme class stratification. I'd love to know the percentage of DC residents who've enjoyed the CityZen Parker House Rolls or Komi's spit roasted goat.

I understand that more people can afford to eat at Ben's Chili Bowl over CityZen. But I don't think you should hold that against a great side like Eric Ziebold's Parker House rolls. It deserves a place among the city's best as much as the chili half-smoke. Well, almost as much.

So, c'mon, let's try to put our prole resentments aside and vote for the best, regardless of price.  You can vote here.

The leaderboard:

  1. Half-smoke with chili at Ben's Chili Bowl, 298 votes
  2. Hamburger at Five Guys, 142
  3. Peruvian chicken at El Pollo Rico, 115
  4. Falafel at Amsterdam Falafelshop, 107
  5. Margherita pizza at 2Amys, 100
  6. Burger from Ray's Hell Burger, 89
  7. Salty oat cookie at Teaism, 85
  8. Palak chaat at Rasika, 80
  9. Fried whiting at Horace & Dickie's, 76
  10. Pho at Pho 75, 75

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Mony

    If you wanted a true hall of fame you would need it to be selected by restaurant critics rather than the general public (people who read this blog, but still people). I've only been to Komi once and didn't have the goat, and never been to CityZen, and I suspect a large percentage of readers haven't been to the higher end of places enough times to put certain items up there.
    On the other hand, I've actually eaten all ten of the items currently on the list.

  • Mike on H Street

    I'm with Mony. You may not be seeing a backlash or an anti-snob vote, but rather a vote based on the items that people have actually eaten.

    I've had all but twelve of the thirty nominees, and I've lived in DC for more than a decade. I'm going to guess that puts me ahead of a lot of people who are reading and voting. And although I've heard rave reviews for Frank Ruta's roast chicken, I'm not going to vote on it without having tried it myself.

    Whether you intended it this way or not, you're getting a Hall of Fame that represents the most widely enjoyed - and not necessarily the most impressive - dishes in the city. Both types of lists have value, but opening up the vote to the general public instead of chefs or other industry professionals pretty much guarantees you'll end up with the former instead of the latter.

  • B

    I think there's some confusion about the definition. If we're talking best dish, Eric Ziebold can do even better than the Parker House rolls (although they ARE pretty damn good). If we're talking signature dish, I think it has to be at least somewhat accessible. As much as I love CityZen I've eaten there all of twice. Not necessarily Ben's 1/2 smoke accessible, but somewhere in the vast gray area between Ben's and Cityzen or Komi.

    This poll would be redundant in Philly or Baltimore. You'd get near universal agreement on the dish, and the only debate would involve who does it best.

  • Tim Carman


    I tried to address that confusion with this item, which I realize not everyone has read:

    Mike and Mony, you're right about the public vs. chefs/critics voting, and I've know this could happen all along. I will likely include a chefs/critics voting before the whole project wraps in Dec.

    Thanks for the good feedback.


  • Wrong

    Tim -- your methodology is as flawed as your reasoning that you don't think that price should be held against Ziebold's rolls.

    What you apparently fail to understand, is that many people who are voting in your poll have probably never eaten at CityZen or Komi, but they have eaten at places like Ben's. I don't think their voting is meant as an objection to the price of either the rolls or the goat, i think it is a function of people not voting for what they've never had.

    As an example, I frequent many high end (and quite a few low end) restaurants in the city -- and I've never had either the rolls or the goat. I'd be happy to vote for Palena's chicken, or Matchbox's sliders, or Ben's chili-cheese fries (I am not a fan of the half-smoke, sorry), but I won't vote for something I've never had.

  • Tim Carman

    Wrong, I understand that point. I've made it myself, right here, if you'd care to investigate further before laying the hammer down:

    The point is this: I have received too many comments suggesting that the contest shouldn't include so many high-end dishes.It's classism, they insist. People can't afford these dishes, they tell me. But do they investigate those dishes? There is a reason that the voting period is so long: So people can go try the dishes, if they want and can afford to.

    Some of these so-called elitist dishes are not that expensive. Palena's chicken is $15. The chicken croqueta at Jaleo is only $6.50. The crispy Ipswich clams at Kinkead's are $17. People who care about food in D.C. could sample these dishes without breaking the bank.

    Granted, most people won't go to Komi or CityZen just for this contest. I get that. But I'm asking for some tolerance here. There are plenty of affordable dishes up for consideration. The higher-end restaurants deserve their chance, regardless if they don't stand a chance against the more populist restaurants.

    To say that high-end dishes should be put in the contest, because a lot of people can't afford them, is a sort of reverse discrimination.

  • Pingback: D.C. Dish Hall of Fame Leaderboard: High-End Dining Lurks in the Background - Young & Hungry - Washington City Paper