I don't know what landmark oldtime Washingtonians use to mark the city's rise out of the ordinary-food wasteland ... I suppose for me it was discovering the city's first Ethiopian restaurant, Mama Desta, on Georgia Avenue at Delafield Place.
It made a foodie out of me. Does anyone recall it?
It made a special impression on me for several reasons: First, the food was amazing! Nothing like this at Howard Johnson's, no sir! A newspaper article alerted me and gave me the courage to order what had been mentioned. From there I had only to look at passing trays (just to make sure none of them contained anything that looked deadly, or was still moving) to find more favorites.
Second, I knew the building ... I was raised directly behind it, on Delafield, until we moved to Virginia when I was 9. At that time it was The Eastern Star, a Chinese place where I'd order (American) fried shrimp every time, and at odd times I'd play with the owner's two kids after school.
There's nothing like one's first discovery that there is a world beyond McDonald's ... what do you call it, "altering your paradigm"? I could go on about remembering McDonald's ("Just 47¢ for a three-course meal," the radio would sing, meaning burger, fries and small soda) but that's for another time.