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May 5, 2009 11:30 AM

Obama as Restaurant Compass?

Now five months into the new administration, there's been a fair amount of coverage of the Obama's ventures out to local restaurants. As the first family checks off more of the local spots, I'm wondering what the rest of us might learn from this.

Just today, saw on the news that Obama and Biden went over to Ray's Hellburger in Arlington for lunch. Great choice in my view. Probably the area's best burger in the "non gourmet" category (lots of strings on that debate I know). Other video/news bits have reported on them going to Art & Soul, Ben's Chili Bowl and Obelisk (or Equinox...can't recall which). IMHO, this is great stuff. Great obviously for the local food scene but also to highlight some of the better spots at different pricing levels. Of course, the flip side of the coin is that they'll go to a lesser known place and ruin it for those who were already "in the know."

What do others think about this? Are there other places they've gone that I've neglected to mention? Would others agree their choices seem to pretty well align with chowhound faves? And, is it a good or bad thing when the President is on the 6:00 news at a local restaurant?

Link below to the Hellburger story writeup:

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  1. Mr. and Mrs. Obama ate at Citronelle recently that was on Washintonian. I think you mean Equinox, that was one of their first meals after entering the White House.

    I think Ray's Hellburger was a good choice, with a burger that big Joe Bidden couldn't tell people to stay indoors and isolated from swine flu. Although I think if you can get Foie Gras on it then it's a gourmet burger.

    1. I think it's pretty cool, but I told my fiance (living overseas) and he googled it and found a TON of stories, so he thought it was a bit absurd. But I think it's great he's supporting local businesses and just generally getting out and about. And it's definitely a great choice, hands down, the best burger I've ever had. Although, sadly, it'll probably be awhile before I have it again, as the lines were already out the door.

      All I know is, I made my reservations at Ray's the Steaks (for fiance's Welcome Home dinner next week) asap after reading about this.

      1. I am actually quite interested in which "ethnic restaurant" he will chose to dine in the area...

        2 Replies
        1. re: foreverfoodie79

          Missed the Citronelle news. Polarizing place I think. To many, DC's best. To many others, overpriced and underwhelming. So be it--again, separate strings on that. mjhals: how did you book a table at Ray's the Steaks? Thought they didn't do reservations. Someone needs to compile a first-year summary of the restaurants they hit.

          1. re: nwdchound

            They didn't take reservations when they were in the old locale. Now they do, which is so much better! The number's on the thread about Ray's the Steaks Opening (on page 2 of this board), I'd post it here but...don't really want the google searches to match up too well!

        2. Out of curiosity, do they shut these places down when he goes out? Or is his Secret Service detail just all over the place?

          3 Replies
          1. re: reiflame

            I don't know about Obama, but with the Clintons they just have a lot of secret service around, because we saw them a couple times when we were at Central when it was relatively new and trendy.

            1. re: ktmoomau

              One of the news reports indicated that yellow traffic control tape was wrapped around the parking lot. I'm not sure what that means exactly and it did seem like there were regular people inside around them with the SS. Maybe someone can comment who was there?

              1. re: nwdchound

                Before a recent visit, I had speculated that if you sit next to the President, they take away your knife and he has to cut your meat for you...
                I think the focus on good food, and the garden at the White House, etc, are all great - CIC, indeed.

          2. Ben's Chili Bowl has gotten a lot of business after the visit. In December, you could waltz in their during the day, grab a halfsmoke and be gone in 20 minutes. Now, they have lines when they shouldn't.

            Good thing Ray's is set up to serve a bunch of people very quickly...oh wait...

            If this Administration keeps going to "cheap eats" places, i'll be forced to spend real money.