Has Anyone Ever Been to Busboys & Poets When it Hasn’t Been Extremely Crowded?

by Prince Of Petworth February 12, 2008 at 11:05 pm 33 Comments

IMG_6851, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I just don’t get it. I don’t think the food is that good. It’s not that cheap. It has free wireless but so do lots of places. I guess it’s a good place to meet up with a big number of folks. But tell me what am I missing? What’s the great appeal here that it is always, always jam packed?

  • I try to avoid B&P if I can. The food is terrible (I’ve written my own blog posts dedicated to it) and often the service is just as bad — I’ve been blatantly ripped off by the bartender before. It has it’s charm, but there are so many better places to frequent.

  • I found the food decent enough; not awesome, not terrible. Definitely pricey. More bucks than your typical poet (or busboy, for that matter) can spend on a meal.

    I’ve been there when it was crowded as hell, and when it was nearly empty — and no matter what, wait times were tremendous. Infact the wait times were far worse when it wasn’t busy. We had time enough to memorize every molecule of the menu…

    The main virtue was the comfortable seating & basic decor of the place. If only the service was better, I could overlook the mediocre food and really dig the place. But ehh….

    EHH, I say!

  • reuben

    I gave this place a bad review on the Yelp.com site. I used to think people slept there overnight or something. At any rate, it has always felt more like a scene – excuse me- “scene” to me… It’s not comfortable at all..

  • Anonymous

    Are you guys kidding? How’s their food expensive. It’s certainly more than reasonable compared to all the places around it. burgers there are like $7 vs $15 at Marvin right next door. Pizza is about $8. And the food is actually very good. Great political atmosphere. Free Internet. The owner is super-cool. The guy drives a Mini Cooper! I go there with my 4 year old daughter all the time and she absolutely loves it. The books they have in the kids section are very unique! I love that place!

  • Noah

    I think the food is pretty good…not great, but good vegetarian options nonetheless. They also have some pretty good beers on tap. And I personally haven’t had any issues with the service.

    I mainly go because I really like the atmosphere, the events they hold, the awesome bookstore, and the interesting crowd. Also, the place supports a really good teaching organization.

    I guess I understand the gripes, but it mostly sounds like your generic DC backlash against any place that’s “hip”.

  • Geezer

    Che-quoting lemmings following Che-quoting lemmings, all paying with Visa, except when it pays to Discover.

  • New Hampy

    I like B & P a lot! It attracts a range of people and it’s got a great upbeat vibe. I also like Tryst, but it’s a bit dark and better for when you’re in a mood.

  • Susan

    I like B&P well enough. I have only eaten there once, but the food was pretty good. Mostly I just go there for the interesting selection of books and magazines. But it is always really crowded and this makes it hard to have conversations.

  • Anonymous

    “the guy drives a Mini Cooper!”

    Uh, what bearing does that have on the quality of the restaurant?

  • Old Crumudgin

    Food is good, the waits for tables and service are a pain in the arse.

  • Jason

    The food is ok, its just the service that kills me…I used to go to bus boys several times a week (living only a few blocks away), now I avoid it at all costs…creme is a much better choice for brunch, grabbing a quick bite, chix is the best place in the area

  • Stockard Channing

    I like the food i’ve had a lot..and the coffee is great.

  • Anonymous

    i just had brunch at creme b/c i didn’t want to wait at busboys, and i was very unimpressed. i should have stayed at busboys.

    for a vegetarian, busboys is one of the best places in town. and while it’s not dirt cheap, it’s way better than places like domku and temperance for portion size and quality.

    as far as the owner goes, i don’t care what kind of car he drives (but fwiw i also drive a mini cooper–low price, good gas mileage, excellent parkability), but for years he’s been hosting a “peace cafe” between Palestinians and Jews, and as an Iraqi he has taken a very vocal stance against the war. He used to own mimi’s, and still owns the Lunas. Plus the bookstore at Busboys is great. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the type of local restaurant owner that i like to support.

  • Anonymous

    I freaking hate that place

  • Otis Gal

    It’s not crowded at breakfast.

  • Eric

    What I don’t understand is why B&Ps doesn’t open for true breakfast. I don’t think they open on the weekends until 10 am. I want my breakfast at 8 or 9 am! If you can’t open for breakfast, I’ll go somewhere else. I’m not interested in waiting an hour for Noon brunch on Sunday when the food is only so-so.

    Also, in response to the person who stated it is one of the best places for vegetarians, I beg to disagree. My sister is a vegan and I eat at vegetarian places with her a lot. She has had pretty poor experiences there and never has requested that we eat there.

  • It’s definitely one of those places where people want to be seen and see others. I like the whole concept behind it, but I’m not a huge find of crowded spots in general. I’d like to be able to hear the conversation I’m supposed to be participating in.

  • ColHeightsChic

    I just don’t understand why you must wait to be seated, even in the lounge area. The appeal of a place like that is to be able to choose which couch i want to sit on, especially if it isn’t busy. There’s something so odd, and so unfriendly, about the way they seat people. It rubs me the wrong way.

  • Amit

    BB&P sucks. The service is horrible, the food is terrible, its always too packed. Its a cool place to hang out i guess but when they cant even get a Diet Coke right (doesnt it taste like crap there?), i dont know anymore. But you eat whats closest to you, so i will probably be eating there in the future because its so convienient.

  • legalcat

    Obviously, either you love or hate this place. When I first moved to DC 2 1/2 year ago and went to BB&P, I was so relieved. It was the first place I had found in the city that had a similar kind of casual, funky, artsy, hard-to-describe vibe as my old neighborhood in KC. I like the food, especially if are a vegetarian and generally like the folks it attracts. Granted I haven’t been there in a while, basically because it is so crowded. However, still one of my “go to” places in this town.

  • Golden Silence

    I went there a couple of years ago to a poetry slam. Yes, it was crowded and hard to find a seat (even though I was the only person in my party), but I had a great time and enjoyed the experience. The group was diverse and had things to say.

    As for the food, I never tried it—couldn’t afford it. The chocolate cake (I think they prepared it) one girl had for her birthday there looked good.

  • Amel

    My spouse and I used to go to BB&P all the time when they first opened (in 2005) and since then we have seen the place take a dive (for the worse). I still like the events it holds and looooove how they support teachers; but the service and food quality has really gone down. Instead of eating there once a week like we use to, we probably visit more like once a quarter (only because its conveniently close). Evidently they are doing very well for themselves because I hear their location in Alexandria is just as crowded and they are getting another location in Maryland!

  • notyou

    The vegetarian items are good and they have Delirum.

  • Neat place, decent food, enjoyable book selection, good bar.

    Why the hate? It’s one of the more fun places to hang out in the 14th/U corridor, IMO.

  • gonzo

    sub-par food, bad bar (expensive and unknowledgeable). “I’d like another martini please, oh and could you please make it dryer?” Nothing like drinking a vermouth martini with a splash of gin. yack.

  • MT

    I like it because they have a progressive mission and support my values. They also have interesting events. The food isn’t the greatest, but it’s not horrible and they have lots of vegetarian options. They also serve Fair Trade coffee. I’ve never had any problems with the service.

  • pia

    i’m totally neutral about the place. i’ve been a bunch and its always just, to quote an earlier commenter “ehh”.

  • Otis Gal

    They do have other locations, one in VA somewhere and soon one on NY Avenue NW and 4th I believe. Anyone been to the VA one?

  • Jason

    I was at Bus Boys when it first opened, it was one of my favorite spots, the chicken salad was the best ive had (next to jetties)…the place has taken a major turn for the worse, i try to avoid it now, i hope they can get their act together before expanding further

  • verse

    I’ve never felt comfortable there, despite the many couches … like someone else said, i get the feeling i’m being ‘rubbed the wrong way,’ the food is definitely not good, the bar is terrible (anyone else hate the tall small glasses they use??) Also i have a friend who use to work there who swears they treat their staff like shit, thus the bad service(?).

  • Tim

    legalcat is right: you either love or hate this place. i think its being held to a really high standard by a lot of you for some reason, but i guess that’s a restaurant review… they must near perfect or get a negative review. like most restaurants, its not for everyone. definitely a destination place. for seeing and being seen vegetarian food and a fun atmosphere, its the place for you. making you feel good about yourself, or being rubbed the “right way,” not so much I guess.

  • MaggieRooHoo

    I’ve been to the location in Shirlington and thought it was just as annoying as the one on 14th. The wait was just as long too! Plus the Shirlington location has no real “waiting” area, so during your excruciatingly long wait for a table you are either standing on top of somebody or in someone’s way.

  • I actually like Busboys and Poets. I am vegan and I think there are more vegan options there than most places. I have only had to wait a couple times, and never more than 10-15 minutes, which I think is less than any other wait time on a Friday or Saturday night. It is also really inexpensive! It isn’t the best food in town or anything, but I think for the price you get good food. The service is fine, not amazing, but not bad either. I do absolutely love their soy chai.


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