Restaurant: District Chophouse, Dulles Airport
January 15, 2023
District Chophouse, the only restaurant outside of security at Dulles International Airport, is a weird place. In my two hours at the centre-most table, I saw:
- •a flight attendant in her first week on the job, trying desperately for ten minutes to order a chicken ceasar salad, only to end up with three chicken ceasar salads;
- •three of the palest ex-Marine’s i’ve ever seen, discussing Azerbaijan’s export policies in Virginia drawls;
- •the largest 2pm pours of Merlot I’ve seen since freshman year; seriously, some of these people were wearing white to fly and it was dangerous;
- •presumably at least a few spies of differing nationalities — if you want to meet with an agent before they flee the country, without subjecting yourself to the rigours of our TSA, this is an ideal spot.
So what brought me here, drinking a $13 Blue Moon? A three hour layover, and the prospect of not seeing my mom until she flies over to Oxford once the weather turns pleasant. I walked through customs, she hopped on the Dulles Toll Road, and we had a furtive dead drop of our own.
Instead of state secrets, my mom was passing along a new driver’s license — mine had mysteriously disappearedNot mysterious. I lost it. in CDMX, just moments before attempting to rent a car to go climb a volcano.Thanks, Robi, for adding me as an additional driver and saving the day. The replacement had arrived at my parents’ house and
The food was adequate and overpriced. The menu has an impressive breakfast spread, and exactly five non-breakfast options, three of which are burgers.Filled out by a filet mignon and ‘fresh salmon with orange beurre blanc.’ My medium-rare burger was returned a robust medium-well; my mom’s medium-well steak was served with more than a hint of blood. Sweet potato fries and the pickle were far above average. They were not busy.
All airport restaurants provoke an uncanny valley reaction — everything is almost right, you could almost be seated at a Sbarro in a mall in Poughkeepsie, but there’s a Truman Show feeling preventing normality. District Chophouse takes this a bit further, being outside the realm of the TSA. There’s a “patio” area outside the “door”,Entirely the same as the area inside the door, but with a slightly higher ceiling. and “windows” facing the Alaska Airlines check-in counter. Twenty meters away, you can see taxis and ubers and spouses attempting to drop off customers and loved ones, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police completely failing to keep traffic moving.
Would I go back? I hope not. Minimizing time in airports is a high priority of my travel planning. Getting through security and achieving access to the cornucopia of Dunkin’ and Potbelly and The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck should be any traveler’s goal. If you ever arrive at Dulles too early to check in, that’s your fault, and District Chophouse is an appropriate dessert.