America Eats Tavern is back, now open at The Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner. The restaurant is the brainchild of José Andrés, offering his own modern and stylized takes on classic American dishes, drinks and culture.
America Eats had its initial run in the old Cafe Atlantico space, where it was open for a year from July 2011-July 2012. At that point it was a collaboration with the Foundation for the National Archives, and was really about showcasing the history of many of the classic American foods we all love, but didn’t really know anything about.
Now, while history is still a focus at America Eats Tavern, it’s really all about putting out good food, and tying it to the past. You can take in as much lore as you want — there are informative booklets with intricate explanations of various American staples — but if you’re just there to eat and have a good time, then you don’t need to worry about why Andres turned this into that, and where that came from to begin with. Just eat it.
A few of the standouts on the menu include the foie gras-topped burger, the Maine lobster roll, a single-serve chicken pot pie, and the crawfish jambalaya, which serves two. From there, you can go as down-home or white-cloth as you desire, from bacon-wrapped hot dogs or Buffalo chicken wings, and the restaurant’s five homemade ketchup variations, to steak tartare or blackened scallops.
There are several varieties and preparations of oysters available, a selection of hams, cheeses and breads, and a seafood bar, with shrimp, crab, lobster and clams.
While each menu item gives you a brief shot of history, where and when a certain dish originated, for instance, you’ll also learn where the actual food on your plate comes from, with a list of the nearly two dozen local farmers and purveyors the restaurant sources ingredients from.
The cocktails are also American-centric, showcasing local ingredients and offering distinct takes on tried and true libations. For instance, one of many bourbon-inspired drinks is the Tractor Pull, which is somewhat of a spruced up Old Fashioned, with bourbon, orange marmalade, maraschino, lemon, and a spray of elderflower vinegar. You can get your classic cocktail without any sprucing up, too, opting for a traditional Jack Rose, Moscow Mule, Painkiller or Mint Julep.
The beer list is all-American, and there’s a comprehensive choice of wines, including dozens from Virginia. Even the non-alcoholic drinks are worth checking out, with house-made sodas and a range of refreshments, including legit Mexican Coke.
The new space features an open kitchen, a large bar area, raw bar, a private dining room and an altogether patriotic theme, from an American flag painted on the ceiling, to presidential pillows and various other nods to Americana. Visit AmericaEatsTavern.com to learn more about the restaurant and menu, or to make a reservation.