On Sunday afternoon, I went to a fascinating performance of a play based on Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven. The production blended the minimalism of black box theatre with 21st-century technology, and delivered a wonderful interpretation of a book that I’d thought would be unplayable in a theatre.
I’d planned on having lunch in the area before curtain time, so I was checking out menus for 14th Street restaurants when I saw this:
My eyes lit up like I was five years old and it was Christmas morning.
I’ve written a couple of times about Yo Mama’s in New Orleans, which was my favourite dive bar in the entire world. Yo Mama’s claim to international fame was its gigantic Bacon Peanut Butter Burger, the best hamburger that I’ve ever eaten, in a life rich with hamburger consumption.*
And now I had a chance to try a DC version.
Ted’s Bulletin on 14h Street, the place featuring the Bacon Peanut Butter Burger, is part of a small local restaurant group. It’s wildly popular, big, cheery, and bright. The greeter told me there’d be a 45-minute wait for a table, so I grabbed a seat at one of the bars.
The bartender and the server both knew Yo Mama’s, and we traded New Orleans restaurant stories while I waited for my Bacon Peanut Butter Burger.
But there would be no presents under the Christmas tree this year.
Yo Mama’s burger was half a pound of certified Angus Beef smothered with creamy peanut butter and topped with chunks of applewood smoked bacon. The one at Ted’s Bulletin was less than half that size, and the toppings—uncrumbled bacon and runny peanut butter—were simply thrown together. The fries were barely warm by the time they got to me.
A major disappointment.
Time to go back to the Big Easy, where they do things right.
*You might have noticed my use of the past tense. Alas, Yo Mama’s is no more, but its spirit lives on. In 2016, the owner left the site, taking Yo Mama’s name with him. About a week later, the restaurant re-opened with essentially the same staff and menu, under the name Port St. Peter. I haven’t been back since the new owner took over. Some people say it’s even better, some say not. The important thing is that the Bacon Peanut Butter Burger is still the star attraction.
Gotta say, though, that the name Yo Mama’s is clearly a better fit for a great dive bar than Port St. Peter.