Unlike many of the young White House staffers who moved here from Chicago with the Obama family, Windy City native Katie McCormick Lelyveld has lived here for more than a decade: she’s a Georgetown Hoya.
But McCormick Lelyveld’s life in her adopted city came to an end in May, when she left her post as press secretary to first lady Michelle Obama to return home.
The move, she says, was not at all easy. But perhaps the most difficult thing of all to leave was the eclectic Washington food scene. With a penchant for both casual and more sophisticated fare, McCormick Lelyveld is in the know about area hot spots.
A down-home favorite from her student days is The Tombs. The Georgetown bar and eatery underneath the 1789 restaurant is also frequented by Vice President Joe Biden, who brunches there after attending church at adjacent Holy Trinity Church.
“I’ve been going to The Tombs regularly, so not being able to do that [will be sad],” McCormick Lelyveld says. She cited The Tombs’ brownie and a Bud Light as her go-to’s.
The sophisticated right-hand woman of Michelle Obama isn’t just about brownies and beer. McCormick Lelyveld is a huge fan of local chef José Andrés. “Oyamel, Jaleo and Zaytinya are always go-to spots. And Minibar is such a treat,” she says.
Good food isn’t the only thing that appeals to her about José Andrés. She cites Andrés’ work supporting the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative that encourages healthy lifestyle choices for today’s youth, revealing that both her politics and stomach are behind her District dining choices.
Never to be pigeonholed, the 10-year resident also loves eating out around her 14th Street neighborhood. “I’ve come to love Posto, and I love Cork,” she says. “There are several great restaurants tat are walkable from my apartment.”
“You can’t miss [it] if you’re a D.C. resident,” she says. The 18th Street hotspot transforms every Saturday afternoon into a brunch houseparty — or as the trés hip Parisian teenagers call it: “La Boum” – complete with dimmed lights, a D.J. and Champagne with sparklers.
While she is off to work for the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation to improve public policy, there’s no doubting what McCormick Lelyveld will be doing during her after hours in the Second City. We wish her many craft- cocktail happy hours and late-night deep dish, as she makes the move back to her hometown.