Today’s Food Newsbits: Restaurateurs Make The Move to D.C., Eatery Accused of Using Whale Meat Closes


It seems like the Washington, DC dining scene has really taken off over the past few years. Local chefs garnered six finalist nominations for the 2010 James Beard Awards, and diners were interested to hear last year that New York’s popular BBQ joint, Hill Country, would be expanding to DC, a city where names like José Andrés (a Beard nominee), Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Charlie Palmer are already leading the culinary pack. Even Bravo’s Top Chef is headed there.

A recent article in the Washington Business Journal took a look at why the Capital City has become so popular with restaurateurs, particularly in comparison to New York. According to the piece, lower rent and a better economy lure many to venture to Washington, DC.

D.C.’s allure is a matter of simple economics, said broker Tom Papadopoulos, who represented Hill Country and Kellari Taverna. “The economy stinks in New York, and it’s good here.”

With the Obamas frequenting local eateries, many have noticed the impact on the restaurant business.

“D.C.’s hip right now,” said Lance Marine, a broker at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., noting the excitement in the area during and after President Barack Obama’s inauguration. For weeks after Obama visited Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW, would-be diners were willing to wait in lines that stretched around the block.

Check out Washingtonian Magazine’s list of the best 100 restaurants in Washington, DC here.

A Southern California eatery recently accused of utilizing illegal whale meat in their dishes closed its doors last week. The Hump, located in Santa Monica, came under fire after guests were served whale and horse meat, a moment captured by The Cove, an Academy Award-winning documentary exposing the annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan. The restaurant’s parent company Typhoon Restaurant Inc., along with chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, have been charged with “the illegal sale of a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.”

According to a CNN article, the restaurant’s website stated:

“After 12 years doing business in Santa Monica, The Hump will be closing its doors effective March 20, 2010. The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species.”

~Jennifer Heigl