As the weather warms up, and hopefully stays that way in the District, it’s the optimal time to get outside and eat! Mangia DC Food Tours provides the perfect opportunity, with walking food tours available in DuPont Circle and more recently, Georgetown. I had the pleasure of experiencing the newest tour, thanks to managing director Dave Saxe, who has managed to fuse work with pleasure in his venture. “I didn’t come from the food industry but I’ve always loved to eat. Being able to make my passion into a business has been a fun experience,” he explained.
About Mangia D.C.
Based in DuPont Circle, Mangia DC began in 2013 as an Italian food tour, hence the name. Tours occur Wednesday to Sunday each week, and showcase D.C.’s vast Italian culture, which was historically saturated in the Judiciary Square area, according to Saxe. Besides meaning 'eat' in Italian, Mangia (pronounced MON-JA), also means coming together to enjoy a delicious meal, which can be experienced with friends, or a group of diverse strangers, such as on one of Saxe’s tours.
Besides meeting people and eating great food, patrons get the chance to learn some history about where they’re going. “Georgetown was once a food processing district, so there was lots of food commerce in the 1920s…this tour pays tribute to that,” Saxe informed our group. The tour takes a detour off of the infamous shopping strip that is M Street and exposes you to local eateries and specialty shops you may not know exist in the neighborhood.
Georgetown Foodie Tour
Our first stop included a stint at Stachowski’s where we greeted with fresh from the oven pirozhkis. Besides being fresh, they were pretty substantial in size, and made for a good appetizer for our walk to the Georgetown Olive Oil Company. If you’ve only been using one type of olive oil all of your life, this store is going to be a revelation. With several olive oils, balsamic vinegars, salts and herbs available, you’ll get a chance to update your palette and expand your kitchen pantry.
After olive oil tasting, we were treated to a family style sit-down at Via Umbria, where we sipped on an Aperol spritz and dug into pork belly porchetta sandwiches. To say that the sandwich was delicious would be a major understatement. Full disclosure, I’ve since randomly day dreamed about this particular sandwich; it literally melts in your mouth. Also of note is that the restaurant itself makes you feel like you’re somewhere other than D.C., which I’m sure has something to do with the owners’ consistent trips to Italy.
To round off our good eats, we cut through the Georgetown canal and found ourselves at Dog Tag Inc. & Bakery, where we sampled oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. More than a bakery, the organization provides a work-study program for disabled veterans and caregivers. Many of us were excited to support their mission.
Eat, Learn and Enjoy
Saxe, who is a fan of Thai food and a good Sazerac, hopes that patrons take away the true mission of Mangia tours - “eat, learn, and enjoy.” I certainly did just that, and was surprised to find other locals on the tour wanting a new experience of D.C. The tour accommodates vegetarian, gluten-free and other dietary restrictions as long as you alert them in advance. Outside of this service, they also offer private food tours for up to 60 people (i.e. for corporate functions, anniversaries, etc), private gourmet cooking classes (including vegan Italian), and yoga with mindfulness eating workshops. Mangia donates a portion of their proceeds to S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) and engages in community service at local food pantries to give back.
For more information about Mangia DC Food Tours please visit www.mangiadc.com and tell them Will Drink For Travel sent you!
- Nyasha Chikowore