Sunday, February 10, 2008

Busboys and Poets

Since I’ve tried approximately half of their menu, (met half their wait staff, enjoyed a number of cocktails) I’d say it’s high time I wrote about Busboys and Poets.
When you walk in the door, you know you’re entering a real neighborhood hang out with a serious local appeal. Posters, postcards and papers line the entrance way, advertising community events, speakers, political movements. A few steps farther and you’re in a reader and eaters paradise. To the left- large tables to accommodate group meetings. To the right- a well-stocked bar ( I recommend a Bloody Mary), couches and chairs for regulars to peruse the net and enjoy a coffee, and casual seating for unfussy meals over conversation.
And straight ahead- books.
Because of their growing popularity, you’ll probably have a small wait before you’re seated, but it’s more of a blessing than a curse. On their web site, they claim they stock “progressive books to activate your mind and community.” I think their selection is so much more, and every time I look around I’m impressed with the collection of popular titles, unknown authors and historic pieces that really do the history of U Street (and other areas of DC) justice. Yesterday I flipped through a book concerning Blackwater, a magazine on organic food and a how-to about creating your own social change organization.
So when you’ve made your way around the bookstore and find yourself seated at either a couch, an old chair that will remind you of your mother’s living room or a more traditional table, you’ll enjoy simple food with smart ingredients. My favorite sandwich is the grilled brie panini, which combines the smooth cheese with caramelized onion and baby spinach. If you’re really in the mood for fries, go for it, but I’ve always thought the side salad is a better bet- it’s always a fresh combination of seasonal greens (and reds!) with a light, tangy dressing.
Other favorites include the bagel with lox, frittata with veggies, wild mushroom and gorgonzola burger, and the nachos (but you’re going to need a friend to help you with those.)
Maybe it would be difficult, by my nature, to dislike any place that combines food and books, but I’d rather just celebrate the fact that my community has a place where friends can share food, great ideas and comfortable surroundings. On occasion, poetry readings, local musicians, nationally recognized speakers and films, as well.
Here’s hoping your neighborhood has a place like Busboys and Poets!

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