Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC: The Nacho Speaks of Rivers of Cheese Sauce

9 Aug

Next up in our summer series, “Nachos From Exotic Locales To Make Up For Rarely Posting,” is the lovely Washington DC!  We’ve reviewed here before way back in 2009, and arrived for this visit hungry for more museums, monuments, nachos, and above all, functioning air conditioning.  We found the latter two at Busboys & Poets, a bar/restaurant/bookstore/meeting place/social justice center (?) named in honor of Langston Hughes.  The “social justice center” part had us slightly concerned about the tempeh-to-cheese ratio, but what we found caught us completely by surprise:

  • Appearance:  (5) A toupee of shredded romaine alongside a vat of orange cheese=NOT what we were expecting!  With their green-and-gold color scheme, these could easily be the official nachos of the Green Bay Packers. Congealed cheese and a hint of tomato were the only signs of life from beneath.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (7) In deference to our vegetarian host Natalie we skipped the beef chili and got these with only the the roasted corn and black beans, which we very much enjoyed.  The chips were homemade but slightly stale and not salty enough.  The guacamole was fresh and citrusy and we appreciated the fresh jalapenos, which have proven to be exceedingly rare on nachos. And while we never like lettuce on nachos, we must acknowledge that it was fresh and romaine.  The real cheese was slightly burnt, and we were divided on the cheese sauce (surprise!)– some found it too cheap and generic-tasting for these nachos, while others found it a pleasant addition.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (5) There was not nearly enough salsa and cheese, so the cheese sauce did come in handy for some extra oomph.  We would be interested to try these with chili…though with all the other toppings, it was not too badly missed.
  • Price: (9) At $8, these were not at all the tourist trap we were expecting!  Finished handily by three.
  • Overall: 26/40.  You’d never guess that these nachos came from “a haven for writers, thinkers and performers from America’s progressive social and political movements”.  They seemed so…normal. That couldn’t be!  Perhaps the juxtaposition of the two cheese forms represented the immigrant struggle between assimilation and traditional culture? Was the oppressive lid of romaine a symbol of white male patriarchal domination?  And what does the heat of the jalapenos have to say about pacifism? We pondered until our ponderers were tired, or until it was time to catch our flight. Perhaps there is no subtext, no meaning, just a plate of mid-level nachos.
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