The artisanal toast craze has, like so many other trends before it, made its way to D.C. months after the hype has died down. You probably remember the headlines from January: "Artisanal Toast is Apparently an [Expletive] Thing Now," said Kitchenette ("This is a step too far, Hipsters."), in response to a Pacific Standard Magazine feature about the dish's San Francisco origins. It elicited scorn and disbelief that people would pay four whole dollars for a piece of warm bread with some toppings on it.
If you call it crostini, does that make the the price a little easier to swallow? Because artisanal toast is just crostini that you eat at a different time of the day. The line between artisanal toast and an open-faced sandwich is also blurred here. Whether you think of it as a nice option for a light breakfast or the most twee horseman of the apocalypse, here's where you can find it (or avoid it) in D.C.
1333 14th St. NW.
This just-opened 14th Street spot is a coffee shop by day and cocktail bar by night. Pastries are baked in-house, and the three artisanal toasts on the menu -- avocado with goat cheese mousse, butter with French radish, and creme fraiche with jam -- range from $4.50 to $6. They're served on generously thick slices of Pullman-style bread. One cool thing about Slipstream's beverage program, which features five rare coffees described in great detail on their menu, is that they encourage guests to learn and taste through comparison: Order a One-and-One and you'll get to try your coffee with and without milk, to see how the flavor differs. You'll feel like you're in San Francisco here.
2. Pitzze (formerly Haven Pizzeria Napoletana)
7137 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda
This Bethesda pizzeria rebranded itself upon a return to its original ownership, and in addition to revamping its pizza menu, it now offers morning coffee service. In addition to fresh-squeezed juices and espresso drinks. From 7 to 10 a.m., $2.50 gets you a "toast bar," with "artisan rustic breads for you to toast and decorate."
3. Le Pain Quotidien
Multiple locations in D.C.
One of the seasonal specialties of this bakery/cafe is the avocado toast, $9.95, served with citrus cumin salt, organic chia seeds and organic extra virgin olive oil. You can also get a $3.90 serving of your choice of bread (ask for it to be toasted) with organic jams, butter and spreads.
4. Duke's Grocery
1513 17th St. NW
You'll also find avocado toast on the menu at Duke's Grocery. It's a knife-and-a-fork type of toast, a "mountain of creamy avocado atop a diet-busting wedge of buttered multigrain bread." Radishes, and an optional runny egg, are the toppings.
5. Farmers Fishers Bakers
3000 K St. NW
"First Bake," the breakfast menu at this Georgetown restaurant, offers you a choice of the following toasts, each $2: Cranberry orange with honey butter, chocolate cherry with dulce de leche butter, seven grain with cinnamon butter, brioche with chocolate butter, or apple walnut raisin with cream cheese and cinnamon sugar.
Bonus: The Washington City Paper reports that the owners of Baked & Wired plan to open a toast-focused bakery in Mount Vernon Triangle early next year.