Your favorite band is in town and you have no idea where to begin your stakeout. Well, a musician’s gotta eat, right? We surveyed four local music venues for leads on the nosh pits and watering holes where you’re most likely to “accidentally run into” your idols. Along the way, we learned about one dish performers are advised to avoid at Marvin (and one DJ who didn’t heed the warning) as well as surprisingly healthy eats available at the 9:30 Club and Black Cat. Spoiler alert: Your rock idol is most likely a vegan.
815 V St. NW Washington; 202-265-0930, 930.com. (U Street)
Food choices have exploded since the 9:30 Club moved to its current location in 1995. “When 9:30 got here, there were chocolate bars at the gas station,” says the venue’s publicist, Audrey Schaefer. These days many bands eat in-house at Food Food cafe, the most popular dishes being the 9:30 Club Sandwich (get it?) and nachos.
English soul singer Lianne La Havas and her entourage chose to dine at the Satellite Room — the grungy diner behind the 9:30 Club — when she played here in April. “It was a party of 20,” says manager Emily Wessel. “They had a family meal with us.”
1811 14th St. NW; 202-667-4490, Blackcatdc.com. (U Street)
At the Black Cat, bands eschew the hip restaurants cropping up on 14th Street and go for something cheap, tasty and local, says the club’s publicist, Maegan Wood.
David Johansen, lead singer of the New York Dolls, for one, is a fan of D.C.’s iconic Jumbo Slice Pizza. “I had to drive him to Adams Morgan at 2 in the morning to get him Jumbo Slice,” Wood says.
Likewise, the vegan lasagna at the club’s Food for Thought Cafe is particularly popular: It’s prepared by Bobby Ferrando, father of the Black Cat’s owner, who has been serving the delicacy since he ran a stand-alone version of the restaurant on Connecticut Avenue in the 1970s.
Rock and Roll Hotel
1353 H St. NE; 202-388-7625, Rockandrollhoteldc.com.
Not surprisingly, the uber-trendy Toki Underground is “the No. 1 place that people kind of flip out over,” says Jimmy Rhodes, booking assistant and production manager for the Rock and Roll Hotel.
When the Japanese band Boris came to town in May, the rockers stopped by the Taiwanese-style ramen bar both nights. Cibo Matto, Minus the Bear, Black Clouds and — chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s favorite — The Jealous Sound have also dined there.
Most of Toki staffers have some rock cred themselves: Bruner-Yang was once the guitarist for Virginia-based indie-pop band Pash, and general manager Joe Ostrosky is the drummer for D.C.-based Club Scout.
U Street Music Hall
1115 U St. NW; 202-588-1880, Ustreetmusichall.com. (U Street)
When producer and DJ Arthur Baker played U Street Music Hall in 2010, he ordered Marvin’s fried chicken and waffles. “We try to warn our DJs not to eat that before a show, because it’s such a heavy dish,” says Morgan Tepper, who oversees promotions and marketing for the music hall. (Luckily, Baker still rocked the crowd.)
Tepper says Korean restaurant Mandu is a viable choice for vegetarian and vegan musicians. Tim Sweeney, host of the radio show “Beats in Space,” is a fan of the dolsot bibimbap, sans the meat and sunny-side-up egg.
Electro icon Moby ate at Mandu’s K Street location during inauguration weekend, where he inspired a fan and fellow patron to show off some smooth moves: “Some kid [was] on the floor next to the table trying to do a weird yoga pose,” says owner Danny Lee.
To make up for the yogarazzi attack, Mandu chef (and Lee’s mom) Yesoon Lee prepared Moby a special vegan dish of chilled somyeon noodles. “She doesn’t know who Moby is,” Danny Lee says. “She went up to the table and said, ‘Mr. Moby?’ He raised his hand and laughed hysterically.”