Eater DC’s 10 most popular stories of 2021

The past year in DC food news looked much brighter compared to 2020, largely thanks to a Covid vaccine that helped lift capacity and indoor eating restrictions. Restaurateurs also managed to get expected openings across the finish line this year, and readers were particularly excited to learn about arrivals from a Filipino fast-food giant; a Lebanese exhibit on the quay; a London golf bar debut at the state in Dupont; and even an Indian takeaway stand inside a Vienna, Virginia gas station.

Other headlines that caused many clicks included everything from the sudden passing of a beloved DC chef to an assault at the Nellies Sports Bar to an absurd tutorial on how ex-President Donald Trump prefers his Diet Coke sideboard.

And now, here’s Eater DC’s 10 most clicked news stories this year in descending order:


10. The original chefs from Bad Saint open Fil-Am Fast Food Counter of their Dreams

Pogiboy’s longganisa burgers, sinigang-fried chicken and more from former Bad Saint chefs Tom Cunanan and Paolo Dungca landed in the Blocks DC dining hall to the delight of readers during the deep winter of January.


9. A ‘Real Housewives’ star is released for $ 500 bill at Le Diplomate

All she wanted for Christmas was a seafood tower. When Real Housewives in New York star Luann de Lesseps (aka The Countess) hopped on his check after ordering an ample amount of Gray Goose and snacked on a seafood tower at Le Diplomate, chef Stephen Starrs carefully nominated and Biden-approved French cafe in Logan Circle, the internet could ‘not stop looking. A few days later, she settled her banner with a 22% after inquiries from New York Magazine and called it all “unfortunate misunderstanding.”


8. How DC’s hot new Lebanese restaurant turned a glass cube into an enchanted courtyard

A bright yellow sofa runs around the perimeter of Ilili under light fixtures for birdcages.

Ilili’s dining room is filled with birdcages, textiles and colorful d├ęcor handcrafted by Lebanese artisans.
Rey Lopez / Eater DC

After Covid forced many to spend a lot of time at home looking at the same four walls, it’s no surprise that a restaurant that gives diners a visual feast caught readers’ attention. Inspired by an enchanted garden in Beirut, the Lebanese restaurant brand Ilili transformed a glass room with a large, bubbling limestone fountain that first flowed in Provence, France, in the late 19th century. The bubbling centerpiece is one of the few pieces of the restaurant that was not made in Lebanon. Citrus trees rise out of square, green-painted plant boxes. Suspended birdcages full of steel pigeons with light bulbs for heads hovering overhead. Daisy tiles covering the floor anchor the room with bright pillows of blue and white.


7. Chef Andrew LaPorta, owner of Storied Dupont Seafood Spot Pesce, dies at 48

The city collectively mourned the loss of Andrew LaPorta, owner of Dupont Circles longtime seafood favorite Pesce. LaPorta died of natural causes at the age of 48, and seafood critic Tom Sietsema considered the best in DC turned off the lights permanently.


Philippine fast food giant Jollibee opens its first DC-Area store this week

When the beloved global fast food chain from the Philippines unveiled its first location in the DC area in April, its hyperloyal fanbase naturally freaked out. The Wheaton, Maryland outpost opened with takeaway and delivery to start, with favorites like fried “chickenjoy” with brown sauce, “yumburgers”, sweet cheesy spaghetti filled with hot dogs and ham and peach mango handpies.


The crispy Samosa burrito that comes from a surprising pit stop

A dish of butter chicken

Butter chicken trays come with palak paneer and gulab jamun.
Rey Lopez / Eater DC

Eater unveiled a delicious destination for homemade Punjabi cooking in an unlikely location: tucked away inside an indefinable ExxonMobil gas station in Vienna, Virginia. The little kiosk called Chit Chaat cafe comes from the husband-wife duo Raja and Bindu Puri. Diners can refuel and take boxes of chicken biryani home, collect-yourself pani puri, burritos filled with fried vegetable samosas and butter chicken.


A giant mini golf course with its own dining hall opens in Dupont this summer

Back in March, Eater broke the news of a whimsical attraction destined for Dupont Circle, where guests can pair putt-putt with craft cocktails, pizza and tacos. Swingers, a London brand of mini-golf courses for adults only, shared color-soaked renditions of its first location in the United States in the giant two-story space that once housed large bars Buffalo Billiards and Front Page. The 20,000-square-foot complex debuted in June with a dining hall led by DC-based Knead Hospitality + Design.


3. Former employees at the Trumps DC Hotel served the former president a coke in seven absurd steps

Former employees of the restaurant inside the Trump International Hotel jumped through all sorts of hangers to please right-wing VIPs while the owner of the hotel was in the White House. This included a seven-step service, illustrated guide to serving Trump his beloved Diet Cokes. At the end of the year, Miami-based investment firm CGI Merchant Group signed a contract to take over the hotel’s lease for a reported $ 375 million. It is truly the end of an interesting era on the coveted property where Trump is now removed from the hotel.


2. Protests held in Nellie’s Sports Bar after video shows black woman being dragged down the stairs by security guard

Nellie’s Sports Bar shocked DC this summer when a video surfaced of a security guard dragging a black woman down the stairs in her hair, sparking protests. The DC Attorney General’s Office took over the investigation of the incident and the bar closed voluntarily. A month later, it reopened, issuing a much-delayed apology while the #boykotNellie movement continued, according to Georgetown voice. As a result, Nellie’s endured a seven-day liquor license suspension and a $ 5,000 fine, according to Washington Post.


1. DC will pay $ 13 million to buy out of the city’s most infamous Wendy’s location

Aerial photos of Washington as the White House is open to extend the shutdown deadline

Getty

In February, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a surprise announcement about plans to demolish Wendy’s on New York Avenue NE – also known as the epicenter of a traffic jam with the humorous nickname “Dave Thomas Circle.” To enhance the iconic intersection DC loves to hate, DC will pay the property owner $ 13.1 million and replace the traffic black hole with linear floating traffic, bike paths and three new parks.

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